Earlier today, through the magic of Twitter, I found my way to a post called Why Book Review Blogs are Doing it Wrong that left me feeling a little like Grumpy Cat Ygritte. I can’t exactly hate on the title, since I’ll be the first to admit there’s plenty “wrong” with the blogosphere, but I’m not quite willing to take credit for any failure of self-published books. According to the article, though, because my review policy states that I don’t accept self-published books, I’m not only hurting indie authors but also diminishing my own power. Phew. That’s a pretty big weight to bear. Let’s take a closer look at this.
The article starts with a problematic statement from the get-go: “What’s the difference between a self-published author and traditionally published author making their way in the writing world? Online—nothing.” But there is a difference: gatekeepers. Even beyond editors and the content of the books themselves, which we’ll set aside for now, most self-published authors are not supported by a team with the professional knowledge to help them properly market their book. What can that lead to? Bloggers being spammed on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads or added to mailing lists without their knowledge. Mailboxes full of e-mails from authors who may not take the time to read review policies or a few blog posts to see if their book would be a good fit with the content of a site. Of course, not every self-published author can be lumped together, but bloggers often see trends.
I think many bloggers that choose not to review self-published books do so because of repeated publicity mistakes, not because they aren’t willing to read indie titles. For me, it’s also due to limited time and the unpredictability of how frequently I post reviews. There’s a way to fix this, though! Learning how to properly pitch a blogger isn’t a secret – there are dozens of posts written on the topic and we’re just wishing they would be read.
What do you think about reviewing self-published titles? Do you exclude them from your review policy?