Dear Book Bloggers:
I am setting up a blog tour to promote my independently published novel, The War Master’s Daughter. Through this effort, I have had occasion to visit many of your sites to learn about what you do, how you connect readers to great books, and what your reading interests are. I think, by and large, what you do is a really terrific service. However, I must say that I was particularly dismayed to find so many sites where I read this or a similar line, sometimes bolded or underlined for emphasis:
"I will not review self-published books."
Dear bloggers, while I understand the source and continuation of the stigma on independently published work, I do not understand it coming from you. And this is why:
Traditionally published book reviews appear in established magazines, journals, and newspapers. Book reviewers are paid for their work. A team of publishers, editors, graphic designers, and support personnel work together to put out a high quality product, leveraging traditional methods and channels of operation. Because of existing infrastructure and fickle audience tastes, traditionally published book reviews tend to focus on the same general crop of books—traditionally published ones (and even then, only those with a relatively high profile).
Book bloggers, however, are different. You are mavericks. You love to read and to help other readers find new books to love, and you didn’t get hung up trying break into tough traditional markets. You chose to go it on your own. But more than that, you are entrepreneurial and multifaceted. You are your own editors, your own designers, your own marketers. You work every day to build your audience and you strive to put out a quality product. You are leaving behind traditional methods of reaching an audience in favor of a model that is more flexible, more dynamic, more democratic and personal. You chose direct ownership over your work AND over your own failure or success. That’s incredible.
You know what? That’s what independent publishers and authors do, too.
That you would close your hard-earned doors to people who have the same entrepreneurial spirit as you is at best disappointing. At worst, it’s duplicitous and condescending. You chose to go the non-traditional route. So why do you only review the same books the traditional reviewers are looking at?
I’ll keep this part of the rant short, but suffice it to say that when you hold The War Master’s Daughter in your hand, you will find it impossible to differentiate it from a book that went through the legacy publishing machine. What is a “self-published book” if you can’t tell that it’s self-published? If a tree falls in the woods . . .
I’m not going to lie about my book and tell you that it was legacy published. I’m not trying to put one over on you. “I accidentally read, loved, and reviewed a book that the author put out herself! I was DUPED!” But if I didn’t tell you I put it out myself, you wouldn’t know, short of looking me up on the web and seeing me proudly proclaim it.
Dear book bloggers, you ARE self-publishers. Don’t forget that. The next time you are laying in bed at night trying to think of your next post, considering a new platform, wondering whether you should hire a professional to design your site, or worrying your audience is too small, remember the other people who are doing the same thing: authors. Consider not rejecting us outright and consider considering each book on its own merits of first impression. Is it available in print? Does it have a nice cover? Are you hooked after two pages? That's what matters—not the imprint.
After all, if all the authors and publishers suddenly said, “I do not give my book to self-published book reviewers” where would you be?
Publisher, SMLX Books
P.S. To all those bloggers who do consider “self-published” work, and especially those who don’t even differentiate books based on publisher, thank you for all that you do. (A special shout-out to my very first blog reviewers, The Action Prose and Alien Red Queen!) Please help others to see the light.