Too often I see indie authors upset and discouraged by bloggers policies that state “No self-published books!” many times I have seen authors take this personally like the reviewer is saying they are less worthy. Sometimes these authors even try to tell the reviewers that they are missing out, that they are making a mistake by not accepting indie books. But here’s the deal, it isn’t (always) personal.
Yes it is true that there are readers out there who do think being traditionally published is better than self-publishing. Readers who turn their noses at the mere mention of self-publishing (and organizations, author festivals, awards…) But not every reader is so. Yet still many are closed to accepting self-published book review requests. Why is that? Well here is a breakdown from a book bloggers prospective.
1. Volume of requests
When I was accepting review requests I would get flooded by requests from self-published authors and marketers who worked for self-published or indie authors. In all my time reviewing I did not receive a single request from the big five publishers, yet I still ended up with an impossible amount of requests to fulfill. The majority of book bloggers blog for fun and do not receive any compensation for doing so (and yes free review copies are received but this isn’t a perk, it is an exchange for much more time and effort than the book cost). In order to keep sane many bloggers only accept requests from larger publishers simply because it is manageable. By reviewing from the big five a reader can request and receive a limited number of books, review books already owned, and check out library books all without feeling swamped under a to be read pile that is much too large for any reader.
Now does this have anything to do with the author? No! This is simply a way for the reader to manage their hobby and enjoy it.
2. Quality of work
Now this is where it can be a reflection on the choice to self-publish. As a reader I have read many indie works that have been professionally edited, formatted, and designed but I have also read some down right garbage in terms of quality. Not taking into account the story, there are things that must be done for a book to be of quality; editing, formatting, and cover design. Unfortunately with the freedom of self-publishing also comes the fact that there is no guarantee for readers that these three things have been done. If I receive a book from a traditional publisher I am guaranteed that the book has been edited, formatted, and designed by a paid professional. Although I still may not like the book (and may even think it terrible) I am at least guaranteed that it will be readable unlike self-published work where there is no guarantee at all since the author has no one he must report to before clicking the publish button.
Now this might be a hard thing to read if you are a self-published author who has paid for good editing, formatting, and design but please read on as I’ll talk about why this does still matter and how readers do take notice!
This is one of the hardest things for me to write about. When I first thought about starting a blog to review books I almost didn’t because of the behavior of some authors against bloggers. It was a nasty flame war that seems so common on the internet these days, it can be easy to ignore. But we can’t ignore it. Unfortunately there are always some bad apples in the bunch that ruin things for many of us. For self-published authors, these authors who have lashed out at reviewers for deserved one-star reviews have made many bloggers cautious and rightfully so. The difference here between self-publishing and traditional is again that the self-published author has no one she must answer to. Unlike a traditional author who is under a contract and answers to a larger company a self-publisher is on her own. So who can a blogger turn to if a self-published author behaves poorly? A lawyer? That seems to be the case for most but many can’t afford that. If a traditional author behaved badly a blogger could document the encounter and reach out to the publisher to handle the matter. And poor behavior many not be of this caliber either. I have also seen authors (and marketers) send requests for books in a genre the reviewer does not accept meaning they did not read or ignored the reviewers policy. I’ve also gotten requests to review books even after I stopped accepting requests or even worse gotten them on my work email even though it was clearly stated my work email was for contacting me about my services only. Because of authors behaving unprofessionally many bloggers do not accept requests from self-published books.
Now again this can be hard to read if you are a self-published author who appreciates bloggers and accepts warranted criticism, but let’s break this down even further.
Although a blogger may not accept requests from self-published authors this does not mean they do not read self-published books! Too many times when I see authors trying to tell bloggers to review self-published books I think they forget this fact. A blogger may not accept requests from self-publishers just like a publishing company may not accept unsolicited reviews. It is a form of protection from all the things mentioned above. These reviewers may very well read indie authors they know produce quality work and are professional in their behaviors. This is where your editing, formatting, and cover design are key. When making connections with bloggers your book must be of quality in order to receive reviews.
So let’s stop trying to convince these readers to change their policies and instead focus on what we can do as professionals in this industry to produce quality work and make the connections we need to get it out there.