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Why Book Review Blogs are Doing it Wrong

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What’s the difference between a self-published author and traditionally published author making their way in the writing world? Online—nothing.

 

Thanks to the Internet, indie authors are on a level playing field, sharing a readership with traditionally published authors. Because the Internet holds the majority of consumer sales, online is where it matters.

 

Browsing websites, creating blogs, skimming reviews, posting instant reactions, and starting conversations on a whim—this is why the self-publishing industry thrives. Niche readers are reached quickly and effectively, and a major portion of that success is owed to book review bloggers, both professional and amateur alike.

 

Today, we’re seeing a problem: while indie books are on the rise, the industry is experiencing the LAST holdout of indie stigma—remains of a time where amazon didn’t rule the world and the only people who went indie were unable to get a real deal.

 

The result: book reviewers are ignoring indie authors when they decide which books they decide to publicly review. Review policies on countless book review blogs often cite—on top in bold, conspicuous letters—“we do not accept self-published books.”

 

Blog reviewers are now one of the top ways readers fill up their TBR lists. They have a lot of power.

 

Let’s take a look at Mark Oshiro from Mark Reads—a full-time reviewer making a living from his self-published books. True story. As he experiences all the joys and sorrows of fan-requested books (ranging from The Lord of the Rings to The Princess Bride, but all traditional thus far) and TV shows, he creates blogs and videos about them. The popularity of his commentary grew to such an extreme that he transitioned from hobby blogging to full-time blogging—oh, and did I mention he tours?—and he compiled his reviews into self-published book and videos (like Mark Reads Harry Potter!) to help cover the cost of blog upkeep and video production.

 

Herein lines a golden opportunity for review bloggers: they have a chance to create hype supporting the indie author gems and track their influence in a way they wouldn’t be able to do for big traditional releases.

 

Just think of how much online talk it took to transform 50 Shades of Grey from guilty-pleasure fan-fiction to an international phenomenon and forthcoming film.

 

One fan-fiction site, then a self-published e-book with print-on-demand services, a raving review on a blog or two, and boom. Bestseller. Readers everywhere have held this book in their hands and E.L. James is a household name.

 

By writing off self-published books, reviewers are obviously hurting indie authors. But more critically—bloggers are diminishing their own power.

 

The power of the indie author revolution has lead more and more authors (novice and previously traditional) to take the power of publishing into their own hands. Floods of books continue to enter the online world.

 

By bloggers saying “no” to self-published books in an effort to decrease their submission piles, they are unfairly and unintentionally maintaining the stigma that traditionally published books are of higher quality and will garner more traffic to their sites.

 

But most of these reviewer sites are not working for big names. Theses reviewers are novices—working on their own, on the same level as self-published authors. You could say they are the indie writers of the review sphere.

 

For self-published authors, the Internet is an intellectual and creative playground. It is where indie authors not only come to make their work known, but where they have found a respected place next to traditionally published authors.

 

We think that review bloggers are only hurting their own business by turning down possible gems from indie authors.

 

Readers, do you agree?

 

 

 

 

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49 Comments

  1. Damn straight I agree. Your blog has totally turned me on to the indie publishing idea, and I would hate for my work in progress to be dismissed by a reviewer who saw it as less than legitimate.

  2. I run an author support service and I encounter this discrimination towards indie-pubbed authors on a regular basis. Unfortunately, I think this is an after-effect of the first wave of poorly self-pubbed books. I believe quality speaks for itself, but you do need people at least willing to consider self-pubbed books.

    I would love to connect with indie-friendly reviewers and bloggers-myauthorconcierge@gmail.com.

    • Yes, we agree that the first wave of self-pubbed books created a sigma that many in the industry can’t get past; however, its the self-pubbed authors, who put in the time and effort needed for success, who are breaking down that wall. The more that happens, the more reviewers will give indie books a chance–AND vise versa.

    • As a reader, not a wteirr, I do see some of the major publishers reacting to the self pubbed world, mostly with YA books because the younger reader is so wired today with social networking sites. Sometimes they have reduced the price of their regular published first book in a series to self pubbed books of about 2.99 in an effort to get the reader to purchase the next book. I rarely buy an e-book for more than 9.99. Why bother? I have found many self pubbed books even better entertaining than the ones I bought off the shelf! And as you can read the first several chapters before buying, you can avoid the books that could use better editing or aren’t what you are interested in. I won’t go for the gimmick , but I notice many indie authors are teaming up with like minded authors and that is where I get many of my next book ideas from. They don’t want to team up with someone who they don’t view as a poor wteirr, and they help each other out with proofing, and ideas. Even Maggie Stefvater of the Linger series had an on-line wteirrs group before she became a published wteirr with Scholastic books. The age of the indie may not be good for the traditional publishers, but it is a golden age for the reader.

  3. I’m the blogger for Tattered Cover Book Stores. I love debut novels and want to love indie books, but I’ve heard very, very little from indie authors. While I am limited to what Tattered Cover buys, I find that even the folks who are self-publishing through TC’s Espresso Book Machine fail to send any information to the blog. Indie authors MUST do their own marketing. From my experience, many don’t.

    • Yes, that goes without saying. There is a distinction between self-pubbed authors who put in the time and effort for promotion and marketing and those who don’t. Books don’t get read if nobody knows about them. It’s the authors who do the marketing required who are raising the standard of quality for indie books, with time.

    • Hi Derek, this is not a pessimistic post, toughh I appreciate your input. This is reality. If you are not an author, than you might not realize that $500/year does not pay for editing a book, let alone an author’s time to write it or the cost to cover and market books. The last thing I would want are price fixers, and that is not what this is about. I think I speak for many when I say that earning 35 cents from a 99 cent book is hardly worth the trouble it takes to write the book. Everyone would love to be able to work for free, but authoring is a job like any other, and it can take a year or more to write books for some authors, so you are suggesting that perhaps authoring should be a hobby that means nothing and should not be taken seriously as a career? I tend to disagree with that for sure. While things are moving faster and on a larger scale, and that is exciting, there is no reason that indies need to give away their work. Build platforms, reach out and meet readers, in other words market your work on a larger scale. If you use giveaways as your means of marketing, that’s a plan for many, and it might work to bring on a few follow-on sales, but why give them away? That’s what I’m saying. Value your work and present it to the public as being valued. Hold a temporary sale with a price reduction and do it effectively with marketing surrounding the promotion that’s a great way to get noticed without devaluing your work on a long-term basis. This is an article about how low indies are going, and how as a community for authors, we should be thinking about producing quality work and valuing that work effectively, not price fixing. Authors can choose how they price this is information so they may make informed decisions.

    • Wow, thanks! This was a hot topic at the Wise Ink office lately, and we felt confident we weren’t alone in our opinions. We appreciate you sharing it on your blog!

  4. Re: “We think that review bloggers are only hurting their own business by turning down possible gems from indie authors.”

    No, I don’t agree, and here’s why: the search engines. Readers hit the search engines to learn more about POPULAR (bestselling) books. Book reviewers review bestselling books to get page views, readers, and to make money, if their review website is monetized.

    It’s all about page views. Nothing else.

    It takes time and energy to review books. The blogger’s reward is attention to his website when he reviews books for which readers are searching.

    This means that indie authors miss out on reviews on these blogs, but that’s not a hardship. There are plenty of review sites which do review indie books, so indies need to focus on those.

    I’ve been writing and reading for a long, long time. As far as I can tell, there’s no longer any stigma attached to indie books. Indie authors should be PROUD of what they do. :-)

    And they should review the books of their peers. Why not?

    Thanks for the link to Mark Reads; I wasn’t aware of the site, but kudos to him. He’s making reviews work for him.

    Indie authors can and should create their own blogs, and review the books of the authors they enjoy — indie, or traditionally published.

    The gatekeepers of publishing have long gone — or they have their own problems. I’ve always said that the way to get reviews is to REVIEW. So, review… :-)

  5. I think you’ve identified the problem – the floods of books. We’re inundated. It’s time consuming to separate those indie authors who employ the services of editors, beta readers and the like from those who upload and publish almost as soon as they type “The End” on their first and only draft. There are so many of the latter that it’s an uphill battle for the rest to market their books.

    E. L. James is actually an interesting example to use in this discussion. Is the ultimate goal to write and promote a truly good book or to make a gazillion dollars on a work of dubious merit?

    Many reviewers I know have “no self-pub” policies for a reason – either they’ve read enough terrible self-pub, or they’ve been hounded for reviews by people who have done no research into what genres the bloggers actually read.

    I think the onus is still on the writer, not the reviewer. Know how to market, and only put that best foot forward. I sometimes use NetGalley to find review books. I don’t typically review self-pub, but a few weeks ago I decided to visit the “read now” section because I LOVE the idea of discovering the next great writer. The blurbs were terrible. Painfully, agonizingly, awful. If the blurb is that bad, I won’t waste my time reading the rest of the book. I keep trying to open my mind to general self-pub, but I need some writers to meet me half-way!

  6. I disagree. I’m willing to review some self-pubs (excluding the erotic, and the obvious knock-offs). Unfortunately, the vast majority–that have been sent to me–are early drafts. The punctuation is off, mis-spelling, and a lot have yet to figure out paragraph splits/formating. They can be very aggravating to read. And it’s hard to give a fair review, where something good is found in every book, when the writing is so shoddy.

    And on the part of the Traditionally publish bringing more views, they do. That’s where my viewers come from. If I didn’t enjoy reading in general, and liked to practice my editing skills, I’m not sure I’d take the indies on. Most are time consuming and, these days, time is hard to come by.

    This is why I see most reviewers don’t care to read indies. Yes, the problem is a quality issue, so fix the quality.

    • Right! Time is the key to mass acknowledgment that standard of quality for indie books is vastly improving, as those gems make themselves known. Thanks for the list on your site–so helpful!

      • Frankly, I don’t even bother with 99 cent tiltes. I have no compulsion to read something. I want to read something good and the continued success of a title and author will steer me to better quality. I don’t have a ton of time to read fiction, so I have to be choosy.I don’t know who these people are who can sit around with a kindle and while away the hours. Most everyone I know has a 2nd job or they spend their free hours on social media.However, I am happy to see publishing go from the hands of publishers to a more free form with self-publishing. Used to be you had to show up with your hat in your hands at an agent’s office. They in turn showed up with hat in hand at a publisher. And on with the hats in hand until someone in charge approved a title.Now, the free market decides if a book is worthy, not a publisher. I like that.

  7. I’m new at the reviewing/blogging business, just started my page a month ago. But I don’t discriminate anyone or any book by who or how it was published. I pick the books I like to read, and review them. Yes, after I tweet about the review, I notice if it was self published, because the authors come back to me by a note, retweet, just simple ‘thanks for the review’, the others I don’t hear a word from.
    I know some of my top 10 favorite authors are publishing they own books, I’ve already reviewed books by most of them, and received great feedback, both from readers and authors.

  8. I disagree. I DO accept self-pubbed authors, but I require that they have gone through the steps to have their manuscripts professionally edited. It’s impossible to edit your own book and SO. MANY. self pubbed authors just don’t bother. Further, I’ve had self-pubbed authors complain about my negative review – when their book was just poorly written. Had it been published traditionally, I’d have written the same review.

    LilMizFlashyThang said it well, when she states that the vast majority sent to me are early drafts — drafts that don’t need a review – they need editing and a beta-reader.

    I keep my blog as a hobby – I have no desire to be a full time reviewer – and honestly, it’s not about the page views – it’s about sharing my love of reading what I read. I just see a lot of fallacies/misunderstandings in this argument.

  9. More and more authors who are going indie are realizing that they can be their own publisher, but that they can’t do it on their own. This includes editing AND proofreading!

    We’re seeing this trend first-hand, as we’re in business, working with dozens (soon to be hundreds) of indie authors who are battling the stigma that comes with the “first-draft-ready-to-publish” mentality.

    For those of you who DO review indie books, do you have a requirement on your site for professional editing?

  10. So, you guys aren’t going to like what I have to say. Let me first start off by saying that I am a top 1% Goodreads reviewer and Founder of the GR group, Sisterhood of the Traveling Book. Heck, I even know several people on this page. Anyone who knows me, knows I am a HUGE support of indies. HUGE. All of the work that I have done in regards to reviews, for myself and STB focused mainly on indies, to help indies get critical reviews necessary for book sales. That was until….

    Last year, we had NUMEROUS incidents where either myself or those who review for STB, were attacked by indie authors for critical reviews given on their works. For STB, one of the authors even wrote a post about “screening” reviewers that a well known indie blog picked up without them even bothering to verify the information with us. The founder of this group even has my private email information and has sent me emails for getting my opinion on things. This author was demeaning to a highly intelligent, well educated, experienced female reviewer in our group and minimized her credentials as a reviewer and reader simply because this woman dared not to like his book due to his writing style and font. The final straw, he gave out information which could easily lead others to track her down and to be targeted by other authors.

    My story was just as bad. After I had sent a review back to an indie author and I dared to give his book 3.5 stars (which I rounded down to 3 stars for Amazon/GR rating) because I didn’t feel the book was worthy of a 4 star rating, I was subject to rants and stalkings that had me almost stop reviewing. To say I was emotionally abused by this man is not an overreaction. I was name called. I was threatened. It goes on. Netgalley wouldn’t help me. Amazon wouldn’t help me and Goodreads wouldn’t help me. That means I have to look out for myself.

    These are just two examples. I could go on and on. As a result, Rachel and Liza P. can attest to this, STB and myself are no longer taking on indie authors UNLESS they are referred by one of our author members or reviewer members. I know for me, I can’t take the risk of attack anymore, either for myself or my reviewers.

    When I review for the traditional publishing houses, I am working directly with the publisher. I deal very little, if at all, with the author.

    I also agree with April when I do review, I want to see final, commercial grade books. Not books that are laden with errors that I am simply meant to overlook. I just witnessed a vicious attack yesterday on a vendor because she dared to give the author feedback from reviewers on numerous grammatical errors in her COMPLETED manuscript.

    Until I get comfortable again, I don’t see myself going blindly back into indies like I did before. That won’t be until I see more professional behavior in the accepting of critical reviews and feedback. It is just too risky right now.

    • Naomi, we absolutely don’t disagree with you! Harassment is never okay, and indie authors should never get a pass for it because they’re just “too emotional” about their work.

      Laura, our Editorial Manager, has had some very scary experiences with harassment and stalking from her position as an agent. For agents, I shouldn’t say it’s expected because it’s part of their job–it’s absolutely not–but for someone who reviews books for their enjoyment (and NOT to make money from it), this kind of harassment is even worse.

      If you can’t deal with criticism, don’t publish, simple as that. I’m sorry that people like this have ruined a good thing, and I’m sorry you’ve had a bad experience come out of something as wonderful as books. All I can say is that we’re trying our best to screen out these crazies in the indie world, and many more companies are, too. Hopefully soon, there will be more reputable indie agencies, just like traditional publishers, that can put a stop to some of this.

    • I’m sorry to hear that an indie author stalked, threatened, and doxxed you. Ugh. That is terrible.

      But I really wish you wouldn’t let the awfulness of one individual ruin things for everyone else. This is the equivalent of shutting down airports after a terrorist attack.

      I understand that you want to take protective measures, and not go through something like this again. Why not have a legal document that authors have to sign in order to receive a review? A multi-step process (with legalese) would scare away the cretins who expect easy praise.

  11. As a book blogger, I generally steer clear of self-pubbed books. I don’t do this because I think all self-pubbed books are terrible (I’ve read some great ones), but because the pitches I get are. Rarely do I get a self-pubbed pitch that is personalized and relevant to my tastes, and when I do I take the book into consideration. I’m of the opinion that if an author can’t take 5 minutes to browse my site for relevance, then I’m not going to take the hours it requires to read the book. If I received better pitches, then I would read more self-pubbed books (and I have). Until then, I’m not going to feel bad for sending generic pitches to the trash folder.

    • Amen! You don’t have to apologize for ignoring requests that aren’t targeted. We talk on this blog all the time that the best marketing is personal, targeted, and not spammy. Anyone who spams is just asking for a rejection, no matter their publishing format.

  12. I am also one of the ones that will disagree with some of what you have to say. I’m a book blogger of almost 5 years and regularly get around 200 queries each month. I work full time and can’t possibly read 200 books a month. So…I brutally pare down the number I accept to a reasonable number. Do I respond to all the queries – nope – not enough hours in the day. If I did that, I wouldn’t have time to read at all. I actually go through periods of time when I totally shut down to reviews as I find it just too overwhelming to choose. So many authors looking for a review or feature! That being said, do I feature indie authors? You bet! I research them first, however. I don’t want to be the target of an attack. But I do the same for traditional authors – I call it due diligence.

    I’m also an indie author of 6 books. I see book promotion from both sides of the fence. Do I have difficulty getting promotions/reviews sometimes? Absolutely! That’s where relationship building comes in. I have a group of readers waiting for my next book and will read and review anything I write. This is the same for many authors that I know.

    Lastly, I’m the creator of the Book Blogger List – a database of well over 1500 book bloggers. Since all the listings are created manually, I’ve read the descriptions for and visited the sites for each and every book blogger that I’ve listed. Do some state that they refuse to consider indie authors – Absolutely – they are few and far between. Even those book bloggers who have found themselves trying to review a rambling, unedited and obviously unfinished manuscript will respond positively to a polite, well written, targeted query.

  13. It just sucks that a lot of self-pubs are getting such a bad rap, more so on their online behavior then their actual writing. And this hurts self-published/Indie authors like me from getting my work reviewed. I just did a six week book promotion and most book bloggers stated that they no longer accept any indie books for review. :-(

    So, I agree that they might miss out on a gem by not accepting self/indie books.

    I respect book reviewers and their time, and always try to be courteous and professional. Sure, I’ve made a few dumb mistakes.

    What I “don’t” understand is the need to ridicule the author or book reviewer by insulting them publicly. There seems to be such a lack of respect in the literary world, thus giving many book review sites a bad rap, too. I think this another big reason that reviewers don’t want to read self/indie books now.

    So I suggest a solution…

    One way a reviewer can offer to read Indie/self books (and avoid any possible author or reviewer bashing) is for the reviewer to reserve the right “not” to write a review. If the author agrees with this stipulation, then the reviewer should accept the novel.

  14. Actually I completely disagree, and while this is a well written article I don’t think you’ve explored the reasons for WHY a blogger might not accept indie books for review. A lot of indie authors send extremely rude review requests (I’ve done a blog post on my blog if you want more details and direct quotes.) Of course the majority of indies are lovely but like most situations it only takes one to ruin it for others.

    • I’m reluctant to call someone an “author” if they never learned how to write properly. And I’m reluctant to call someone “indie” if they’re unaware of the business, or publishing alternatives.

      If the bar is set too low, then why not raise the standards for what we call an indie author?

  15. Also, it all comes down to personal choice. I don’t believe you have the right to make such a generalised statement such as book bloggers are doing it wrong. It’s personal choice, there IS no right or wrong. I firmly believe each blogger has the right to blog however they want.

  16. As a blogger and someone who has interned in the traditional publishing industry, I think this topic is a little more complex than the article makes it out to be.

    First, I’d like to point out that the majority of book bloggers are people who are doing it for fun, as a hobby. They are in no way writing to make money, or get followers, or get business–so turning down certain book requests can’t really “hurt their business.” And, because bloggers are writing and reading as a hobby, they have the right to choose what types of books they read and review.

    Second, yes, the self-publishing world has come a long way and in many respects indie authors are on the same footing as traditionally published authors. But in many ways, whether it’s fair or not, they don’ have the same resources. When I read a book from a traditional publisher, I know up front a long of things about the book: 1) a team of editors decided something about the book is good, 2) the book has an editor who worked with the author on content, 3) it has a copy editor who worked on grammar and consistency and 4) it has marketers and publicists who, yes, will probably convince the author not to send a blogger who gives them a negative review hate mail.

    When you read and review a lot of books, these things are important. I want to read books that are good, and a traditionally published book has already gone through a vetting process. Yes, self-published authors can definitely work with editors and copy editors and proofreaders, but I don’t have the same guarantee that they did. Maybe this will change in the future.

    That said, as a blogger, I don’t take many review requests in general, from either indie authors or big name publishers, but I have taken requests from both in the past. So, if bloggers are careful about researching review requests from indie authors, I do agree that they can find some gems.

  17. I don’t have that policy right now, but I might have to impliment one because there are just too many requests. In fact, I started a separate non-published email for other blog business and within two weeks I had already gotten two requests. How did they get the address? And of course one of them was rude when couple of days went past and I had not replied. That is the biggest reason bloggers aren’t taking self pubs and some indies anymore. THE RUDENESS!!!! Most of us blog for free, so why should we put up with that? The self pubs and indies have their fellow authors to blame for the shift. Right now I don’t review very many big name books on my blog because they don’t need it. I still review self pubs and indies, but only those I come across on Netgalley, Edelweiss and First Read giveaways. Word of mouth from other authors I have worked with is also another way I find them. We do this for free, so we get to do what we like.

  18. Thanks for a great post. I am in total agreement. Many self-published books are of outstanding quality. Self-published works should not be discriminated against. I have read many self-published creations and they were all of the highest quality. Since the inception of my blog, http://bookfezt.com, I have welcomed self-published authors and their reads. We respect authors and their projects. If it is a commissioned review, the author has the option in first screening the review before publication – http://bookfezt.com/reviewing-policy

    However, from experience I have some minor recommendations for self-published authors. In competing in a very competitive environment, authors of self-published works should consider the following before going to market with their publication. Layout, editing and proofreading – there is nothing worse downloading a book with a great story line but full of typos. I often see reviewers commenting about this and have experienced it myself. Cover design – you have to dress it up. The cover is key in selling the book.

    When launching a self-published book, it is important for the author to embark on a well planned and designed integrated social media marketing campaign.

    When the author decides to take to Twitter, Facebook and possibly have a Blog, these should all speak the same language as far as the design and layout is concerned as it grants credibility to the actual publication. I often come across a great publication, but when you arrive on the author’s Twitter, Facebook or Blog profile it doesn’t resemble anything of the greatness of the book. Like with self-publishing services, there are great services out there that can help an author with the rest.

  19. I disagree. The problem isn’t a blanket issue with bloggers and reviewers, it’s the amount of review requests we receive, ultimately falling on the endless promotions most of us tend to be flooded with. It’s the random requests that are nothing more than copy and paste emails. If an author doesn’t bother to personalise their email, then I’m surprised if any reviewer agrees to review for them.

    One reason we’re saying no? All it takes is one aggressive self published author who we’ve politely declined that takes it one step too far. I’ve been harassed and even abused for not enjoying their book. Yes, they may be few and far between, but to put it bluntly, I’m not dealing with that crap.

    And here’s another http://jaydpromo.com/ look familiar to anyone here who’s frowning upon reviewers? It’s a book blogger list that authors are encouraged to purchase. Our email addresses are being sold for a profit, and yes, it’s illegal. You can’t blame us for being disgruntled and painting you all with the same brush, after all, the article and replies come across are sharing a similar mentality.

    But the main reason I choose to decline. You’re too involved. If we only choose to read traditional published books, it’s because we don’t deal directly with the author. We can safely dissect a book without the fear of abuse, offending or being made to be monsters and labelled a bully on one of those anti Goodreads sites. It sounds extreme, but it happens.

    We know it’s your bread and butter, but ultimately we have the freedom of choice to either accept or decline requests for any or no reason at all, and that should be respected.

  20. Although I do accept reviews from indie authors as time permits, I’m afraid I have to disagree with you as well. As Shannon pointed out in her post, there are two big differences between self-published authors and traditionally published authors: their editing and their interactions with bloggers. Yes, this is a generalization and it isn’t true of all indie authors. That said, if a book is from a traditionally published author, I know that at a minimum the book will be well edited. This isn’t a big deal for me, because I’ve found that simply reading an excerpt of an indie author’s book is often enough for me to know that their book is also well edited. It is an extra time commitment though and as someone who blogs as hobby while going to grad school, time is at a premium for me.

    This brings me to the second issue – indie author interactions with bloggers. Although some of my best author interactions have been with indie authors, either in response to positive reviews or thoughtful responses to average reviews, the number of bad interactions other bloggers have had make me nervous. Taking the time to make sure an indie author hasn’t been terrible to other bloggers is another additional time commitment. I also receive a plethora of e-mails where the author clearly hasn’t read my review policy, clearly has no idea what genres I review, and hasn’t even bothered to get my name right. This makes it very hard for me to find the time to respond to the many professional requests I get from both indie and traditional sources because I’m swamped by the unprofessional ones.

    I do think bloggers who assume indie authors are all evil and write terrible books are wrong. I appreciate your reasonable responses to other commentors who have disagreed with you. However, I think the title of your post is link bait and rude link bait at that. I also think the way you place the blame entirely on bloggers is offensive. Bloggers have bolded policies refusing indie reviews because so many indie authors ignore review policies entirely. Bloggers refuse to review indie authors because some indie authors have spoiled it for everyone else. Bloggers don’t have “a golden opportunity…to create hype supporting the indie author gems”; indie authors have a golden opportunity to generate support for the books through book bloggers. If they’ve wasted their opportunity, it’s not book bloggers who are to blame.

  21. Jessica thanks for a great and inrnsiipg article. I’m a UK-based Indie Author. My first novel MERDEKA’ was not taken up by the industry because it was deemed to be niche historical fiction with no mass appeal (it is set in Malaya in 1957). Both Amazon and Facebook (targeted ads for a reasonable cost) have been fantastic in helping me to publicise and sell it. While the sales numbers are not yet in your league, the eBook is doing well on Amazon’z UK site and has been well reviewed by customers and professionals. I love the feeling of being at the cutting edge of a revolution in publishing, and of letting the readers decide what they want to read without the filter of literary agents and print publishing houses. Now working on a novel set in Malaya/Singapore during WW2 .

  22. I purposely cut out the use of who publishes the book years ago…You are right, there is no difference in about 99% of the books. Those who have published without regard to editorial review are the 1%…meaning that’s not many in comparison to all that do quality work…

    I have even taken a few writers off the streets you might say…those that are trying to figure out where they fit within the structure. If we really care about books, then we should be nourishing the struggling writers whenever we can…

  23. Honestly, “doing it wrong” is probably a fit offensive to most bloggers. Most book bloggers don’t have a “business” as you say. Blogging is their hobby. They read the books they want to read, so to say they’re “doing it wrong” is like saying “you’re doing art wrong”. There is no right or wrong way to read.

    I used to accept review requests on my blog. I stopped because I got tens of requests per week and I only gave one book above 3 stars. The overwhelming majority of books were ones that clearly weren’t in line with my preferences, were addressed to “Dear Blogger” (auto delete), were addressed to the wrong blog (auto delete), or I did accept them and didn’t like them.

    Eventually, I put a huge notice on my policy page that says I do not accept any review requests. Period. I realized that I have much better luck when I’M the one doing the requesting. I don’t want to sit and listen to pitches. I’d rather do the requesting myself (NetGalley). Or, in the case of indie books, I’d rather buy a book that sounds amazing and gets pretty good reviews than listen to review requests all day.

    Even despite that notice, I still get a ton of review requests from authors who clearly haven’t even bothered to read or pay attention to my policy page.

    I guess I’m trying to say two things:

    1) Just because a blogger doesn’t accept requests from indie authors doesn’t mean they don’t read indie books. If they’re like me, they don’t accept requests but they will buy, read, and review indie books that sound good.

    2) Even if a blogger doesn’t accept, read, or review indie, that doesn’t mean they’re doing it wrong. It’s their blog, it’s not a business (usually) and they can read however they want.

  24. Oddly enough, most of the books I review on my book blog are Indie Books. Not exclusively mind you, but a great number of them.

    To be honest, it has its pitfalls. I have to turn down a lot of the requests I get–usually because the book doesn’t sound interesting, the author was rude, didn’t read my FAQs, or sent me something that is obviously not targeted (I read romance books primarily but I’ve had people send me cookbooks and investment non-fiction too).

    Like some of the other commenters, I’ve also had a lot of indie authors harass me after a negative or less-than-stellar review. Does that mean I’ll stop reviewing Indie titles? No, but it does make me cautious with which ones I’ll accept.

    The appeal of the more traditionally published book is that it comes without 90% of these problems. I don’t have to worry about a publisher bad-mouthing me, sending me something inappropriate, or presenting me with a book that’s got 80 errors a page (yes, that happened once) and because it’s traditionally published and marketed well, I know I’ll be getting an influx of visitors to my web page to check out the review (something that indie titles often lack)–so I can understand why a lot of book bloggers don’t accept Indie books.

    I see this article’s point of how it’s hurting indie authors and bloggers to avoid indie books, but by the same token, there are a lot of problems with accepting indie books that can’t be ignored. In an ideal world, every author would be professional, kind, and diligent in their editing… but that isn’t the case in the real world.

    I think if you’re going to complain about how book bloggers overlook indie books, you also have to address the lack of quality and professionalism associated with many indie books–book bloggers didn’t create this problem, indie authors did… and taking book bloggers to task over it isn’t going to change anything. It’s not that the book bloggers are being snobbish and looking down on indie titles (we love books in general… we really don’t care who wrote them)… it’s just that we’ve all had experiences with the problems associated with these books, and for people who are not paid to book blog (that is a big no no in this hobby–yes this is a HOBBY, not a job) the hassle often isn’t worth it.

    • Arguments like this are baffling:

      >> I don’t have to worry about a publisher bad-mouthing me, sending me something inappropriate, or presenting me with a book that’s got 80 errors a page (yes, that happened once) and because it’s traditionally published […]

      You can refuse to review books. If you get a book with 2+ typos on the first page, then don’t read it. If you smell a hint of unprofessionalism, then don’t read it. You’re in control of your own standards.

      >> the hassle often isn’t worth it.

      I’m picturing a flustered reviewer, inundated with self-published titles, unable to choose which ones are quality. But if you’re unable to recognize quality … why are you a book reviewer?

      I agree with the original article. Book reviewers who are *good* at recognizing quality, and who focus on indie books, have a real chance to make a difference in the industry, and to stand out from their competitors.

  25. Hi, everyone!

    I thought this post was spot on. As a self-published author, I find it increasingly hard to find book bloggers who are willing to take a chance on indies or self-pub. Right off the bat, their review policies dictate that they are just not willing to review indies at this time. Why? Most bloggers aren’t citing bad experiences with horrible indie titles…. They’re claiming that their TBR lists are too long to review in a reasonable amount of time. So, what is on their TBR lists? Traditionally published books about 90% of the time. In my opinion, this is because of a stigma that indie or self-pub books are just not good. In my humble experience, I find that all that I read now are non-traditional books, and I haven’t read a bad one yet!

    The issue being brought up about grammatical errors is really poor…. I have read traditionally published works with one or two grammatical errors which slipped by the editors. I overlooked them, because the story was good. I even have pre-publication review copies of the Unseen Series by Richie Tankersley Cusick that is full of grammatical errors, and yet, those copies were shipped by a traditional publisher to reviewers before the final edit. The most successful self-published author, Amanda Hocking, had a massive amount of grammatical errors in her works. It didn’t stop reviewers from reading and reviewing them, spreading the word quickly. Now, she has re-published her books traditionally and is making a fortune. Where are those reviewers who spread the word for her? I could use some. In the end, what I can do for traditional published pieces, I can do the same for non-traditional books as long as the story and character development is there.

    Now, about promotion. I don’t know about most small press or self-pub authors, but the money for promotion is not so readily available for some. I, for example, do all the formatting (for e-book and soft covers), made cover art for my books digitally, created merchandise on zazzle, created art for bookmarks (for distribution in public places), etc. I love to do it! If one has the funds to do less, than sure. Why not? But when money is not so plentiful to invest in one’s creative endeavors, book bloggers should be a great free source. When they do not give books a chance, promotions just falls apart.

    Thanks,
    Sandra Madera
    http://www.sandramadera.com
    http://sandra-madera.blogspot.com

  26. I agree. The path is being paved for indie authors, but there are concerns about quality (editing and such) in this industry. I have created an indie publishing company that has a model that I think will overcome this problem. We have a submission system in which the author submits their work (for a fee), and then they either get accepted for publication with 70% royalties, or they get comments on how to improve the manuscript. They can then make revisions and resubmit the manuscript for another round of comments or acceptance. this can be done up to three times for one submission fee. Our promise to the author of no form rejections is one we can keep with this model. In this way we hope to improve the quality of the work and make the final product great. http://www.cawingcrowpress.com