No Kids or Cowboys, Please

Bards & Sages is a print-on-demand and RPG game publisher that also runs an annual writing contest and, inexplicably,  reviews books. Why any author would want their book reviewed by a POD publisher is beyond me  – but I got a big laugh out of their criteria for review submissions:

What we review: horror, fantasy, science fiction, young adult fiction, paranormal non-fiction (such as ghost story collections, urban legends, etc), writer guides and resources, roleplaying games, parapsychology, new age/mysticism non-fiction, and non-fiction works regarding ancient civilizations, dark ages, or mytho-poetic literature. We give limited consideration to mysteries, biographies, humor/parody, and political science.

What we don’t review: Under no circumstances do we review children’s books, erotica, romances, westerns, self-help, how-to manuals, unofficial guides to copyright/trademark material, fan fiction, “ripped from the headlines” fiction or non-fiction, and any book that uses the words “witch” and “Wiccan” interchangeably.

I think the New York Times should adopt these same criteria, particularly the one about proper usage of "witch" and "wiccan." Nothing riles me more.

8 thoughts on “No Kids or Cowboys, Please”

  1. Makes aspiring novelists (like myself) wonder if it’s still worth it. And now self-pubbers refer to themselves as “indie” to continue to fuel the myth of “elitism” in the mainstream while trying to look legit and not desperate.

  2. They are right about romances and westerns, most of which are what I call factory fiction. Genres thrive when they have bright readers, and perish when they don’t.

  3. Ah, that made me laugh, thanks. So, in none of the books they review will there be a relationship between two beings? How will the story survive no romance?

  4. I’m glad my guidelines amused you.
    I just stumbled upon this. To clarify, the reason for the “witch” “wicca” reference is that I am a practicing witch and, for those of us that are not Wiccan, we get annoyed when people use the words interchangably. It is sort of like using the words Protestant and Catholic to mean the same thing. They are both Christian, but they aren’t identical.
    Other than that, not sure what your issue is. Is it that you don’t like people that run charity contests? You don’t like publishers that actually pay their writers? Or you just see someone using a POD printer and assume the worst without doing any research? We’re listed on and we’re listed at Preditors & Editors. Both of those sites don’t seem to have an issue with us or our guidelines. Not sure why you do.

  5. Gamers are big time readers who buy a lot of books. An honest, intelligent review doesn’t have to come from The New York Times. Bards and Sages might be small and use print on demand technology for printing and distribution, but that doesn’t make them any less legit a business than any other publisher or game system developer. Not to mention that for ten years now they’ve been a respected voice in the small press world.
    Funny, this blog post is the first time I ever heard of you, Mr Goldberg. I had to Google your name to see who you were. See what I get for tossing out the TV eight years ago and reading books in which authors knew the difference between “witch” and “Wiccan” instead.

  6. To Mr. Goldberg and Ms. Elrod – making fun of people never looks good. It makes you look like a bully. I wasn’t familiar with Mr. Goldberg’s work, but I bought SEVERAL anthologies put together by P.N. Elrod. My respect for you just took a nose-dive.


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