Trad vs. Self-Publishing: Periodical Reviews

Blog 51 ImageIn 2014, I began a series of blogs about a first-time writer who’s completed a fiction manuscript and is deciding whether to search for a traditional publishing contract or to self-publish. When I left off, I was writing about non-financial considerations like lifestyle and control.

This week I’m blogging about a writer’s access to media reviews, mainly from newspapers and magazines. I’m focused on the Canadian experience though all indications are it’s the same in many other places.

There’s no two ways about it. As a writer, it’s very hard to get discovered. It may not seem like it sometimes but the writing is the easy part.

So, devoting time to promotion is key. Even so, many writers do the same thing and the discoverability problem remains. One thing that can make a big difference, though, is strong reviews.

There are several sources of reviews: readers/customers, blog reviewers and review agencies, among others. However, many of us think first of the book or review sections in newspapers and magazines.

Here, though, there’s a real difference between being traditionally published and self-published. A traditionally published writer at least has a chance of getting reviewed in a newspaper or magazine. For self-published authors in Canada, it seems closed off. I haven’t found a newspaper or magazine here that consistently reviews self-published books. And if you know of one, let me know!

Presumably this is a function of too many traditionally published books for too few review spots; shrinking book sections; the gate-keeping function traditional publishers are seen to provide; and the sheer volume of self-published books.

Outside of Canada, I’m aware of one newspaper that isn’t foreclosed from reviewing self-published books: The New York Times. Good luck!

Copyright ©2015 Peter Fritze

Buy False Guilt

Buy The Case for Killing.

Follow me on Twitter @PFritze.


Blog 50 Image (2)On February 8, 2015, I posted a basic pre-release checklist for a book written by an author who is self-publishing. In the next few weeks, I’m going to write explanatory posts for a few items in the checklist. These will nicely continue my blogs under the category How to Self-Publish.

This week, a short technical note on ISBNs. You will have seen them with a barcode on the back of most paperbacks.

“ISBN” is the acronym for International Standard Book Number. The best source for information about ISBNs is the International ISBN Agency, including the agency’s ISBN Users’ Manual.

An ISBN is a unique identifier for a book by edition and format. Different ISBNs are issued for different print and eBook formats of a title, and also for different editions. Before 2007, ISBNs were ten digits; beginning 2007, they became thirteen digits. ISBNs are recognized by many countries.

Computers came to be used in the second half of the twentieth century for order processing and inventory control. A machine readable book identifier for automated systems was obviously more efficient than long bibliographic descriptive records.

Obtaining an ISBN for a self-published book is not required in most countries. For example, Amazon Kindle relies on its own identifier system. Still, the benefits of ISBNs discussed in part 2 of the ISBN Users’ Manual make it clear that every self-pub author in her capacity as a publisher should be using one for each edition and format of her book.

For example, ISBNs are used:

  • to compile and update book directories, databases and catalogs;
  • to order and distribute books; and
  • within library systems.

Each country has a National ISBN Agency that issues ISBNs to publishers. You can find the one for your country here. Some agencies charge a fee. Canadians are lucky. Library and Archives Canada issues them for free.

Copyright ©2015 Peter Fritze

Buy False Guilt

Buy The Case for Killing.

Follow me on Twitter @PFritze.

My Guest Blog

This week, I’ve guest blogged for Melodie Campbell. Melodie is a crime/comedy writer, a winner of the Derringer and Arthur Ellis Awards, a fellow Canadian and just an all-around really nice person. I read her book The Goddaughter and found it hilarious.

Read my cringeworthy young lawyer experience on Melodie’s blog at

Back to a full blog here next week. Thanks!

Copyright ©2015 Peter Fritze

Buy False Guilt

Buy The Case for Killing.

Follow me on Twitter @PFritze.

False Guilt: A Short Prequel

FalseGuilt_FrontCover_Blog 44“Take her nice and slow,” their grandfather said, stroking the white stubble on his chin.

David tightened the recoil pad against his shoulder and drew his face alongside the stock. He pressed one eye shut, squinted through the front sight with the other and took a deep breath.

“Nice and steady,” Granddad added.

Paul stood ten yards back, fingers plugging ears, watching and anticipating.

A second later, a boom echoed through the Northern Ontario forest and the shotgun kicked high in the air. In the distance, a target pinned against a tree stump took it hard in the centre. Paul envied his older brother’s shot.

“Maybe you still got it,” Granddad said to David. “Despite everything.”

“What about me?” Paul asked, walking toward them.

“We had enough for today,” Granddad said. He intercepted Paul with an arm around the shoulder and lowered his voice. “I got to talk to your brother. Hang back a bit, okay?”

Granddad emptied the handgun and two shotguns of ammunition. He gave the handgun to Paul to carry, and David and he each took a shotgun. They began the trek along the worn path to Granddad’s truck.

At first, Paul respected the request and stayed back ten yards. But curiosity drew him closer.

“What are you, twenty now?” Granddad asked.

“Ah-huh,” David said.

“Well, don’t you think it’s time to act responsibly? Hell, when I was your age, I was lookin’ to get married already.”

“Different times, I guess.”

Paul knew where Granddad was heading.

“Not so different, son. The drugs and that crap are different, though. Why are you involved with that stuff?”

“I’m not really,” David said.

“According to your mother you are. And I can see it in how you hold the guns.”

David grunted. “I nailed that last shot.”

“You were miles wide with the others.” Granddad sighed. “You need to take your well-being seriously. What you do affects people.” Granddad snapped his head back toward Paul. “Especially him.”

“I’ll try to remember that.”

“You do that.” Granddad paused. “And one other thing.”


“You can talk to me if you want to. I don’t think your mother’s any good at that. Too excitable.”

In his mind, Paul agreed. Then he imagined, and dismissed, telling Granddad the secrets David had shared with him.

“I’ll try to remember that, too,” David said. He slapped the back of his neck. “Man, there are a lot of mosquitoes out today.”

“I’m immune,” Granddad said.

The path opened to the end of a dirt road. As he opened the doors to his pickup, Granddad held his head low, worry crimping the lines across his face.

Paul scrambled into the middle of the truck’s bench seat. “Can I have this one day?” he asked, looking at the handgun. David slammed the passenger door shut, his broad shoulders crowding Paul. He hunched in sullenness, looking back at the forest.

As he started the truck, Granddad gave a low, growly laugh. “You wish. Put that thing in the glove compartment. I don’t want nobody to see it.” The pickup crept forward, tires crunching gravel. “How do I know you’ll be careful with it?” he added.

“Cause I will,” Paul said. “You know me.”

“I suppose I do,” Granddad said. “You think your mother would allow it?”

“Yup. I do.”

“You’re wrong there. But I’ll think about it.”

“Great,” Paul said, his legs starting to bounce.

“But only when I die,” Granddad said. “And that’s not somethin’ I’m planning for a long while yet.”

Copyright ©2015 Peter Fritze

Buy False Guilt

Buy The Case for Killing.

Follow me on Twitter @PFritze.

False Guilt Is Out! What I Learned.

Blog 47 Image At last! I’ve self-published False Guilt.

The eBook is broadly available on Amazon (here for Canada, U.S., U.K.). Use a Kindle or the free Kindle app on your tablet. The print version is also available in the U.S. and U.K. and coming to Canada shortly.

Here’s the blurb.

“Paul Tews, a rising Toronto mergers and acquisitions lawyer, is on a leave of absence for anxiety. An invitation to Rome from a woman with whom he’d once had a close encounter seems like a perfect remedy. Instead he finds that all things captivating have an ugly side. Friends confess baffling secrets. An art collector leads a double life. Passion deceives.

Paul must save himself from it all—and his past involvement with murder.”

And here are the key things I learned from writing False Guilt.

Sometimes, it’s not all about the murder. There’s a murder mystery in False Guilt. But I was just as drawn to the effect of the murder on a close-knit group of friends that includes the protagonist.

Group dynamics take a lot of thought. Individual characters were important, but so were the dynamics between all the friends, especially in relation to the protagonist. I had good editorial help there.

Flawed characters are interesting. Content characters make me drowsy. Those fighting battles don’t.

So are characters seeking redemption. The search to overcome past misdeeds never gets old.

Using two settings is fun. False Guilt takes place in Toronto and Rome. Two settings added dimension even if it was more work.

Research never stops. Among other things, I researched police procedure, art theft and Roman food. As the story deepened, so did the research.

Sex. My theory is that sex is worth considering in a crime thriller if it advances character development. Those scenes are the hardest to write though.

Character names. If enough pre-release readers tell you a character’s last name sounds like an insect, you change it.

Thanks to all prospective readers!

Copyright ©2015 Peter Fritze

Buy False Guilt

Buy The Case for Killing.

Follow me on Twitter @PFritze.