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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007 12:50 pm
Your “New York Times” Review: $399
Posted by: Keir Graff

Amazon.com‘s new POD division, BookSurge.com, offers DIY authors a menu of services that make the early days of self-publishing (“Where do you want us to put these boxes of books, sir?”) look like the Dark Ages. But in Slate’s Hot Document column, Bonnie Goldstein discusses an a la carte item that goes Kirkus Reviews‘ Kirkus Discoveries one better: a “New York Times Review”:

The most interesting add-on BookSurge offers is, for $399, a personally crafted review written by “New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Tanner Marsh.” (Ellen Tanner Marsh’s bodice-rippers Reap the Savage Wind and Wrap Me in Splendor graced the New York Times trade- paperback bestseller list in 1982 and 1983.) Not surprisingly, many BookSurge titles boast enthusiastic reviews by Marsh.

As this Hot Document discovers, Ms. Marsh is refreshingly free of the blindered solipsism that causes so many reviewers to listen only to their guts: 

Unlike most book reviewers, Marsh is receptive to input from authors. If you click onto the next page, you’ll see an e-mail that BookSurge LLC’s editorial services coordinator, Thomas Kephart, wrote Bowman regarding his “New York Times Review.” Quoth Kephart: “Ms. Marsh agreed that your suggestions were more descriptive, therefore she used your wording to make the changes you desired.” Kephart’s e-mail makes that other New York Times reviewer, Michiko Kakutani, seem, in comparison, downright stuck-up.

Strangely, references to this service, including the direct link, have been removed from BookSurge.com since this new wrinkle came to light. Perhaps they’re simply updating the pricing schedule–$399 for the first draft of the review, $99 for each round of the book author’s revisions?

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