Monday, June 25, 2007

Welcome to Odyssey Reviews

Who is behind Odyssey Reviews?
I'm a self-published author, a small-press publisher and an avid reader. I have had some on-again-off-again reviewers who've done some reading for this site, including KD Payne, Kris S, and Anna C.  I expect (and hope) our number of reliable reviewers will grow over time. Other people have offered and then flaked out. It happens. Even I've been known to flake out sometimes.

As a self-published author, I have discovered how difficult it can be to find good, helpful review sites that provide earnest review services to self-published authors. I do not believe that one should pay for approval or good words for your book jacket; and I am not pleased at the disdain self-published authors receive from some services. I understand that there are many bad self-published authors, but I also believe there are some exceptional ones out there, and I believe they all deserve the chance to be recognized for what they are by the readers they are trying to reach.

Our reviews are performed for the purpose of quantifying the value of the book we have read. In essence, is this book worth buying? We try to be objective about every book we read, hence the limited genres we read. If we read a book with subject matter that doesn't appeal to our personal tastes, but we see that it is a good book, well written, professionally presented, we will rate it based on that; assuming that someone who likes that subject matter would enjoy it more than we did. We might pick on various parts of the subject matter, but our final medallion rating will reflect the overall package. We are reviewing as readers, not as authors. Remember that, and be sure to click on the link in the red text below to fully understand our policy when it comes to reactions from the author.

We also understand that not all authors can afford an editor. But even the most basic tools, like spell-check, or having someone proofread your manuscript for you are available options to just about everyone. In part we do not have any tolerance for someone who submits a book with glaring flaws of that type. There's no excuse for that.
Yes, we specialize in reviews for Self-Published, POD books. If we're having a lull, however, we may just review whatever commercial book we happen to be reading at the time.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Before you submit, read this post. You must understand completely how this review process works before you bother to send a query. We want you to be fully aware of our methods before you move forward and submit your work for our review.

Basic Guidelines:
Any queries submitted that do not meet our guidelines will not be accepted. Our guidelines are as follows:
  1. We do not review erotica. We accept stories with tame sexual content that is in context, however books with detailed sexual descriptions, written expressly as erotica will be refused.
  2. Our preferred genres: paranormal, science-fiction, fantasy and mystery. We don't review these exclusively, however you do want your reviewer to like the genre they're reading; it may effect their final review and rating--so if your book isn't one of these genres, you might wish to find another review service.
  3. We also prefer books that have received at least some basic editing. If the book arrives, and it is outright unreadable for the spelling and grammatical errors, we will refuse the review. You need to know this before you send us your work.
  4. If your work is simply so unreadable that we cannot read it, or can only flame it with a horrible review, we will donate it to the library, and post nothing about it. Any books that rate 2 medallions or lower will not be posted.
  5. [UPDATE] We will only review hard-copy books. No .pdf submittals will be accepted. With the convenience of the e-reader now so readily available (Kindle, Nook, etc.) some of our reviewers might offer the option to email a manuscript in epub or .pdf format. Otherwise, a hard copy finished book is preferred, we do not accept raw manuscripts except on very rare occasions for authors we've already reviewed.
  6. All books must have an ISBN number, and be available for purchase through Amazon or another major bookseller site.
  7. All submissions must first go through the query process. Do not email us your manuscript, it will immediately be rejected.
Submitting your query:
Please submit the following information if you would like your book reviewed, and if your book is chosen for review, you will receive an email with a mailing address where you can send your book.
Please provide the following with your submission:
1. Author Name
2. Book Title
4. Genre
5. Brief summary
6. Amazon link, or Author's Page Link
7. Additional (brief) notes you think I should know about your book and story.
Please submit this by email to herodyssey (at) msn (dot) com.

So my book is accepted; what happens then?
  1. All submitted books are donated to Reviewers' Local Libary system after reviewed. The submitted book will not be returned to the author.
  2. You can expect to receive an honest and fair review based on the opinion of the reader. We will provide a concise, summary review as well as a medallion rating.
  3. All reviews will be posted on the book's Amazon page upon request by the author.
  4. You may also place the reviews on the book's Authors' Den page under Professional Reviews.
  5. Self-Published Books receiving 5 medallions will be added to our Listmania List of "Notable Self-Published Books".
  6. Even books we're not crazy about will get an objective review; however our medallion ratings will always reflect the readability of the book in the eyes of the reviewer.
What do the Medallions mean?:
We've sat down together and summarized what a medallion rating means on Odyssey Reviews, however there are grey areas, and sometimes other factors may affect a rating. We also do half-medallion ratings, but this list should offer some clarification. Please note that half-ratings do not apply on Amazon, so we will round up to the next whole star--however the medallion rating is the true rating by Odyssey Reviews.
  • 1 medallion: This book is barely readable--it needs serious revision by the author. It is likely that Odyssey Reviews would simply set the book aside rather than submit a scathing review.
  • 2 medallions: This book is not very good; but it has good 'bones'. Requires revision by author. We will not post a review for a book of this rating.
  • 3 medallions: This book is neither great nor terrible. It is forgettable; the style, draw and originality of the story leave more to be desired. Revision could improve it significantly.
  • 4 medallions: This is a good book. There are some flaws here and there that affect the whole.
  • 5 medallions: This book is above standard; and kept our reviewers reading. Earning five medallions also gets a book on our "Notable Self-Published Fiction" list on Amazon's Listmania.
The Indie Award of Excellence is earned by select books (5-medallion earners only) that are particularly excellent.  I and other Odyssey reviewers only award this distinction to books we think belong on the shelves of commercial bookstores alongside other traditionally published work.  We think these authors deserve an agent, a brick-and-mortar publisher and a marketing department behind them because they're *that* good.