Not all self-published books are god-awful (remember Amanda Brown's Legally Blonde?), but most are. In her blog POD-dy Mouth (girlondemand.blogspot.com), an anonymous 32-year-old novelist (published by Putnam) wades through thousands of publish-on-demand titles, picking out the rare gems. ''I caught a lot of breaks,'' explains POD Girl, ''so I started looking at the books that dind't make it.'' Here are her picks so far for 2006; all are paperbacks and available online.
1. NORTH OF SUNSET
Henry Baum (Lulu)
A Hollywood heartthrob and a sociopathic killer collide. ''The story is rough and angry and profane,'' says POD Girl.
2. THE DEATH OF MILLY MAHONEY
Susanne Severeid (iUniverse)
A mystery starring an ex-model, now a tabloid journalist, who tracks a friend's killer.
N. Frank Daniels (Lulu)
A high schooler descends into a world of sex and drugs. ''This book is haunting for one simple reason: It's convincing.''
4. THE MIDDLE-AGED MAN AND THE SEA
Christopher Meeks (Lulu)
A collection ''so stunning...that I could not help but move on to the next story.''
5. MISS ALICE MERRIWETHER'S LONG LOST CAKES & FURTHER ARCANE INDUCEMENTS TO WONDER
Barry Aitchison (Velluminous)
Sci-fi satire of small-town America in which a village just happens to disappear one evening.