Happy New Year! After a year of being completely shut down from accepting any new books for review, I'm excited to announce that our submission process is now open again, and all of us here at CCLaP are looking forward to presenting the 200 or so book reviews we hope to get through by the time 2017 is over. That said, though, we've made some big changes to our policy regarding what kinds of books we will accept for possible review anymore, so I wanted to start the year by detailing them in full and explaining why we've made the decisions we have.
As regular visitors know, one of the things that really set us apart for the last ten years was our open policy of reviewing every single book someone took the time to send us, minus such genres we generally don't review like Young Adult and poetry. And while that served us fine for many years, unfortunately this started becoming a problem about three years ago, as the process of finishing and publishing a full-length book has become easier and easier, especially now that Amazon's CreateSpace program makes this process nearly effortless and completely free. And at the same time, we've also started hearing more and more in the last few years from a growing amount of independent book publicity companies, ones not associated with a particular publisher but that take on any self-published or basement-press author who just happens to have several thousand extra dollars to spend on their services, companies that are pretty indiscriminate when it comes to the actual quality of the books they represent, just as long as their clients can pay the bills for promoting them.
The result? To be blunt, a glut of barely readable books that are more and more flooding the market, tens of thousands more of them every single year; and unscrupulous publicists taking advantage of our open review policy, sometimes sending us upwards of 50 to 100 titles a year, almost all of which were terrible slogs that we could barely get through. That's what caused our to-be-read pile to swell to 75 unread titles about three years ago, which we were never able to whittle down because new books kept coming in as fast as we could read the old ones; and that's why we stopped taking submissions altogether for an entire year in 2016, so that we could finally get that list down to zero (which we did).
Now that we're accepting books for review again, we're making some radical changes to our policy, in the hopes of not getting into this kind of situation again, one that's unfair for everyone involved; it's a chore for us as reviewers, it eats up our time so that we don't get around to the truly deserving books, and it's a waste of these authors' money who hire these independent publicists, when those publicists know full-well that we're going to give the book a bad review but send it anyway. As a result, the changes to our policy now include:
--We no longer accept books from independent publicists, only ones who have been hired by and work directly for the publisher of the actual book. (We're also always happy to accept books directly from authors, so keep it in mind if you're someone who has otherwise hired a publicist to do that for you.)
--On top of not reviewing Young Adult titles or poetry, we no longer accept short-story collections; there's just too many of them out there now, and there's simply not enough from a critical standpoint to say about any of them. I know this will be disappointing to many of you small-press authors, and for that I apologize.
--And perhaps most importantly, we no longer guarantee that your book will be automatically reviewed just by sending it to us; specifically, if a reviewer is finding nothing positive to say about it as they make their way through it, they have the power at their individual discretion to give up on the book and not review it at all.
Our hope is that these new changes will make our review system here more robust and worthier of an audience going forward; a lot less bad reviews, a lot less mediocre books not worth your time, and a greater concentration on fantastic small books that may have escaped your attention otherwise. What we love to do here at CCLaP is bring books to your attention that deserve that attention, exquisite little books that would otherwise fly under the radar of most readers; we hope that this new submission policy will allow us to do more of this going forward in 2017, and to avoid most of the mediocre books that have been choking our TBR pile for the last three years.
As always, we have no formal automated system you have to go through to submit a book to us for review; simply write to me (Jason Pettus) at firstname.lastname@example.org with the title in question, and we'll hopefully get you into the review stack that day if your book qualifies. We're always happy to accept physical review copies (write to obtain our mailing address); but seriously, save yourself a lot of time and money and just send us an ebook instead. We accept both Kindle/MOBI files (preferred) and EPUB (no PDFs, please); we also belong to the ARC distribution services NetGalley, Edelweiss and BloggingForBooks, if you happen to use any of those instead. As always, we look forward to hearing from you.