February 04, 2009
Lulu CEO Admits They've "Easily Published the Largest Collection of Bad Poetry in the History of Mankind" | printable version
One of the banes of our existence as a POD publisher is that most of our competitors don't vet manuscripts for quality and, thus, publish a lot of garbage. Sure, there are some gems in there but, heavens, if you saw what we see on a daily basis, you'd be amazed. I'm not trying to be harsh or to hurt anybody's feelings but, honestly, wouldn't you want somebody to tell you if your book was really, really bad before it went into print? Sadly, most POD publishers are far more interested in how much money they can get out of you than they are in the quality of your book.
POD publishers who publish anybody and everybody should at least require authors to get their manuscripts into publishable form before putting their books on the market. But, of course, they don't force authors to get their books professionally edited and, despite the fact that publishing bad books puts their entire inventory in question, and despite the fact that doing so will undoubtedly anger some of their customers, who were expecting a good read, they keep filling the market with bad books.
Since so many POD publishers do this, most people assume that all POD publishers publish anything and everything. However, there are a few POD publishers that care more about quality than quantity. At BookLocker.com, we are one of the very few who reject most manuscripts. In fact, I'd really like to hear from other POD publishers who also vet manuscripts for quality (who really do, not ones who falsely claim they do - yes, they do exist!).
Some POD publishers claim they don't publish "everything" but you then find out they only reject manuscripts that contain extreme adult situations, or books about how to steal credit cards, or how to build bombs, etc.
Last week, in an article in the New York Times, Robert Young, the Chief Executive of Lulu.com, admitted, "We have easily published the largest collection of bad poetry in the history of mankind."
With this statement, Bob managed to:
1. Insult his own authors (the poets), who are also his customers
2. Put the quality of his inventory in doubt, thus potentially scaring away reading customers (and hurting his authors)
3. Perpetuating the perception that all POD publishers publish garbage
It appears I wasn't the only one who fell out of my chair when I read his quote.
Here are some quotes about his statement we found online:
From Lulu's own forum:
"You can imagine how I felt after reading this in the New York Times. I mean even if the guy feels this way, doesn't it hurt folks like myself who published many worthwhile poets and spent a lot of money with LULU saying that? I mean how about LULU's credibility, and their loyal customers?"
"NO WONDER Lulu has no interest in actually helping authors SELL BOOKS."
"I'd listened to a radio interview with Bob Young a while back--and I could have sworn he had said the same thing then. And to think, the Lulu moderators went mad trying to tell me I hadn't heard what I'd heard."
"No-one vetts self-published books, allowing even the most puerile piles of crap to adopt the guise of polished, professional prose."
"Not very encouraging for his poetry clients."
Lee Goldberg said:
"It's sad that there are so many suckers out there."
Mrs. Giggles said:
"Still, you have to admit, it is just poor PR for a CEO to dismiss his client base like this."
"Probably the worst con (about self-publishing)? The author may be deluding him/herself into thinking what they have is worth publication."
And, our favorite is from Collin Kelley:
"The quote from the NYT piece that chaps my ass is from Lulu CEO Robert Young: 'We have easily published the largest collection of bad poetry in the history of mankind,' Young said. Yeah, what about all those micro-presses who use Lulu to publish some of the best poetry in the country? I suggest Young take an extra helping of STFU. Those 'bad' poets are paying his salary."
If you google Bob's quote, you can find many more discussions about it online.