Publisher's Weekly has become so desperate in the face of declining advertising and an eroding subscriber base that it has decided to whore itself, and its good name, for a few extra bucks.
The magazine is launching PW Select, a quarterly "special issue" devoted to reviewing self-published authors, which would be a great and laudable thing… except that they are charging aspiring authors a $150 "processing fee" to be included. So it's just another vanity press scam, an advertising supplement pretending to be a review publication, aimed squarely at deceiving aspiring writers out of whatever money iUniverse hasn't already shaken out of them.
But it gets even worse, my friends.
PW has also decided to piss all over their journalistic integrity, and the minimum basic standards of ethical journalistic conduct, by drafting their staff of reporters and critics to participate. This creates a terrible and untenable conflict-of-interest for PW writers, who are now reviewing, and reporting on, authors who have paid for the opportunity.
The entire PW editorial staff will participate in a review of the titles being considered for review, and we'll likely invite a few agent friends and distributors to have a look at what we've chosen. No promises there, just letting some publishing friends take advantage of the opportunity to see the collection.[…] We briefly considered charging for reviews, but in the end preferred to maintain our right to review what we deemed worthy. The processing fee that guarantees a listing and the chance to be reviewed accomplishes what we want: to inform the trade of what is happening in self-publishing and to present a PW selection of what has the most merit.
Do they really think that charging a $150 processing fee is any different than directly charging for reviews? Do they really think they are fooling anyone?
It's sad that PW, once a fine and reputable publication, has decided to follow the example set by the disgraced, and widely derided, Kirkus Discoveries, and prey on the desperation of aspiring authors…sullying PW's good name in the process. But they have waded one step further into the sewer by dangling the enticement of possible agent representation or contract from a publisher as an incentive to submit to "PW Select." This puts them solidly in the ranks of vanity press scammers.
If PW wanted to honestly and informatively report on the self-publishing field, and give worthy self-published titles the attention they deserve, while still maintaining journalistic integrity, objectivity, and good name, they would have done their special issue without charging authors to have their books included and reviewed. Or dangling the possibility of agent representation and a publishing contract to self-published authors for their participation.
This is a money grab, a blatant attempt to exploit self-published authors to improve their sagging bottom line. It's PW pissing on their own good name.
It's pitiful, disgraceful…and very sad. PW and its staff should be deeply ashamed.