A challenge to self-publishers

GoldenTicket2Thank you all for your comments, here and on Twitter and Facebook, about the question of reviewing books from self-published authors. I am learning a lot. Hey Zetta Eliott--how about another article from you for our pages on this subject?

A number of commenters have suggested that the Horn Book begin a column highlighting the best of self-publishing for children, but I don't think this does our readers much of a service. We (he said, drawing his emeralds warmly about him) are not interested in reviewing the best of a certain manner of publishing; we are only interested in the best.  The Horn Book Magazine has the luxury of not being a comprehensive review source (The Horn Book Guide is that, but if I invite self- and e-publishers to add to their already heavy workload, Kitty and Katrina and Shoshana will quit), instead reviewing only those books we think are the very best for young people. As Pat Hughes, with admirable generosity, pointed out, there are plenty of great books that aren't reviewed by the Magazine, books that get starred reviews elsewhere and even books that win a Boston Globe Horn Book Award. Sometimes it's that we have a demurring opinion, sometimes we like a book but like other books more, and sometimes we are just wrong. This is why God gave us more than one review journal. To publish a column of "the best of self-published" is to review with an asterisk.

Here is what I want to try, as an experiment. I invite self-publishing authors to send me ONE book that he or she thinks is comparable in quality to the books recommended in The Horn Book Magazine. I strongly advise that you read a few issues to see what kind of books we like and what aspects of a book we consider in arriving at our judgments. Be forewarned that I may publicly mock any entry that provides egregious evidence of someone not having a clue; I will also tell you on this blog about the books I like.

Call it a contest, although, unlike most other contests, or, erm, review sources for self-published writers, there is no entry fee. The prize(s) will be a review written by me for the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. I RESERVE THE RIGHT NOT TO GIVE A PRIZE IF I DON'T RECEIVE A BOOK I THINK IS GOOD ENOUGH. The winner(s) and selected runners-up, if any, will also receive a year's subscription to the Magazine. Here are the rules:

1. Send one copy of one book (either a finished copy, f&gs, or a bound galley) before 12/15/14. It must have a  publication date of January 2015 onward. Include ISBN, price, distributor, and email contact for you. It must be a book intended primarily for young readers within the range of 0-18 years. Only printed books (hard- or softcover) may be submitted and they will not be returned to you. You will not be provided with an acknowledgment of receipt.

2: Mail the book to:

Selfie Sweepstakes
The Horn Book Inc.
300 The Fenway
Palace Road Building Suite P-311
Boston, MA 02115

Do not call me. Do not visit me.

3. Make sure it arrives by December 15th and is marked "Selfie Sweepstakes" on the package. Entries arriving after that date or without that marking will be discarded unread.

I don't know or care if these rules set a high bar or not; they represent what we expect from all publishers. I am very interested to see what I get, and I will keep you posted here on Read Roger about the progress of the submissions. Please put any questions in the comments here, and feel free to distribute notice of this contest among your fellows.
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.
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Chris Mason

Hello Roger, could you please direct me to a link of this contest results. As a in the author myself I am interested in what the outcome was.

Posted : Apr 03, 2018 10:09


Leila Boukarim

I realize this discussion took place years ago, but I was wondering if there were any plans for another round of the Selfie Sweepstakes. Thanks!

Posted : Jun 22, 2016 01:41


Tom

Mine will be in the mail tomorrow. Thanks for the opportunity.

Posted : Dec 10, 2014 05:03


Trahern Cook

Hello Roger, I am confused about the publication date required for submission. I just had my book printed in the last week through Createspace with a copyright of 2014. How would I send you a printed book prior to December 15, 2014 that has a publication date of January 2015? I hate that I may have missed this opportunity to participate. Any advice for future opportunities would be greatly appreciated.

Posted : Dec 03, 2014 02:16

Roger Sutton

That's just fine, send it along.

Posted : Dec 03, 2014 02:16


Elsa

I just mailed over my picture book, I think you have a fair deal going on here. There is a certain charm and vulnerability to Indie-Picture Books, that I absolutely love. We have the freedom to create, to succeed, to fail- complete freedom paired with savvy knowledge creates something magical. My book is on it's way, BRING IT ON!

Posted : Dec 02, 2014 01:57


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