Why Are Indie Authors Neglected by Book Bloggers?

One of the hardest things for Indie Authors is garnering reviews for their books. Books need to get noticed, to get reviewers to point them out to other people. Be it word of mouth or glowing review that you can proudly reference on your site, if it doesn’t get noticed, it doesn’t sell.

Being a reviewer who opens her doors to indie authors, I’ve seen this struggle from the authors themselves, and I’ve also talked to many other book reviewers about it. It seems like very few bloggers are willing to review Indie works. Some of it is for reasons that the small-press and/or self-published author can’t help, but some of it they can. So, why are Indie Authors neglected by Book Bloggers? Here’s three reasons, and how to fix them.

1.) Afraid of retribution over bad reviews.

This is a frequent one I see talked about, and it is a huge problem. I’ve seen it talked about several times. I’ve also seen it happen to one of my fellow book reviewers. He DNFed a book and did a partial review because it was – to him – really bad, and the author harassed him, threatened him, you name it. Told him that he did the book a disservice by not finishing it. That it got much better after a certain percentage, etc.

Guys, gals, this happens enough that it’s a fairly widely held fear in the blogging industry (at least that I’ve seen). That means enough reviewers have had some horrible experiences that it’s left a scar. This isn’t their fault, authors. It’s the author community’s problem as a whole. If a book blogger / reviewer is in any way, shape, or form, reviewing books like they should be, you’re not going to get a bad review just because they’re toe-rags. You’re going to get a bad review because for some reason, they did not like your book.

In a blog post I recently read (which was hilarious), I saw an author in the comments section say that sometimes he’d ‘turn his fans loose’ on a bad review by posting it on his Facebook page. Now, I realize that for the ridiculous reviews (mostly seen on Amazon, sometimes on Goodreads), where it’s obvious that the person really shouldn’t have even picked up that book, it can be tempting and making fun of those reviews can be funny…but in general, you need to avoid that. Don’t think its okay to ‘turn your fans loose’ on a reviewer. It’s not. Don’t think it’s okay to personally harass a reviewer about their review of your book, either.

(I need to point out here that this isn’t a specific indie author thing, either. There’s been at least one case fairly recently where a well-known author turned her fans loose on someone who dared to dis her work. )

Bottom line: If you can’t accept that not everyone is going to like your book, then you need to shelve it until you mature a little bit.

How can YOU fix this? How about a line on your website stating your policy for interacting with reviewers? Or even a note at the bottom of your email to the reviewer. Have it state something like “While I am extremely grateful for all reviews received, please understand that I have a policy of not responding to reviews once they are posted.” Anything to help soothe that fear – as long as you actually  mean it

 

2.) The work isn’t edited and proofread!

Here I place more emphasis on proofreading than editing. Because, the simple fact is  I can’t treat your work as a professional piece if it doesn’t look professional. If it’s littered with spelling errors, punctuation errors, etc, then I’m going to assume you don’t care about presentation. This automatically lowers my opinion of your book. Other bloggers are the same way. We might cut you some slack because you are an indie author, but ‘cutting you some slack’ is NOT the same thing as ‘a free pass for hogwash’. I also give some leeway for ARCS, but all it takes me is 20 seconds on Goodreads or Amazon to see if your book is already out for public consumption. IF it is, IT IS NOT AN ARC. You can’t rely on beautiful covers and big names cross-promoting your work, so what crosses our desks needs to be tight.

( This goes for small-presses too, not just self-published. I’m not naming names, but y’all have sent me some pretty sketchily edited work that’s already been published for a while.)

How can YOU fix this? Er…if I have to spell this out, you probably shouldn’t be writing a book to begin with…

 

3.) Obviously didn’t read the Review Policy.

It’s clear when authors don’t take the time to read the review policy, or to really look at the site.

You should not blind submit. Do not blind submit. You should not blind submit. Do not blind submit!

We get random submissions for things that we clearly don’t review. Those are actually easy to laugh off, but it’s the ones from authors we might actually review that are twitch-inducing. If you don’t respect us enough to spend two minutes reading our site, why should we waste our time on your book??

Example: Sci-Fi & Scary is currently closed to e-book submissions. I have this mentioned in a prominent spot on the front page (look in the upper right of this page.) I have it spelled out in big bold letters in my review policy. It’s mentioned at the top of my Review Submission form. YET I still get e-book review requests.
Proof2 why are Indie Authors neglected by Book Bloggers

So, the first thing I do is scan the completed form checking for child death, and formats offered. I don’t look at the book title, the goodreads link, anything, until I’ve eyeballed those two things. So, if I see that you’re submitting a mobi or PDF even though I’ve got it plastered everywhere that I’m only accepting paperbacks for review, I’m not even going to look at the rest of your submission. You’ve already wasted my time, and yours. I type out a (nice) reply, saying “Sci-Fi and Scary is only open to paperback submissions at this time. Feel free to resubmit your work when we re-open for electronic copies”. I then file it in a folder I have called “Rejected Review Submissions” and don’t think of it ever again.

How can YOU fix this? Don’t. Blind. Submit!

So, there you go. A few answers to “Why are Indie Authors neglected by Book Bloggers?” Three big reasons why book bloggers won’t read your work, and how to fix it.

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13 Responses to Why Are Indie Authors Neglected by Book Bloggers?

  1. Yep, those are three good reasons. 🙂

  2. Tim Learn says:

    I agree and understand this one hundred percent. I’d have to say, though, getting hateful after a bad review isn’t always just indie authors, but you have a higher chance of finding one in the indie pile than the standard publishing one.

    Good points!

  3. Re: #1. Thank you for your recent review of Escapee, even though it wasn’t your kind of book. My reaction was “oops” I goofed and I should’ve known not to send an SF book with so much romance. Indie authors who retaliate are the worst kind of unprofessional, IMHO. We NEED reviewers, so antagonizing them is kind of incomprehensible to me.

    • Well, I’d imagine there’s not many females you know that you have to be careful not to send ‘so much’ romance too, lol!

      Exactly. On one hand, I can understand why someone might be upset to get a bad review. I think writers are effectively releasing a part of themselves to the public when they publish a book, and a rejection of that part must feel pretty personal. On the other hand, do you really want to risk getting a reputation as *that* kind of writer? I know book bloggers talk to each other! I’ll recommend books to ones I know, and if I hear of one of them thinking about reviewing someone from an author known to be a bit sketchy, I’ll let them know about that too.

  4. Hear. hear, the ARC point is vital, please don’t think a reviewer is only worth your second best piece of work, after all a reviewer is a lot more likely to be the one to review your book and shout about it than Joe Bloggs the invisible buyer. This is where I believe some “publishers” don’t help. They expect the author to still seek out reviewers and market their own book, yet they won’t provide the best copy of the book in a popular format to send out to reviewers.

    I’m keen for authors to offer their book in a helpful variety of formats, kindles are very popular and for me the number one format is a mobi file, then an e-pub (which can be read on non kindle e-readers and the newer style kindles.) Both these are free to send out.

    Authors with Amazon.com accounts a can offer to gift an e-copy of the book so that there is a chance that when reviewed it will show as a verified purchase when written. But this method is a “cost” to the author.

    Yet many authors still ask if I would like a PDF file. PDF’s are less secure for sending to an “unknown” person, plus there are a lot of PDF programmes out there and when I try to upload a PDF file to my kindle, kindle convert it to the latest style they hold and then to my kindle and the conversion distorts the original formatting, it will remove letter spacing, paragraph spacing, even move paragraphs making the read a difficult one. So authors PLEASE move forward from a PDF file there are many free ways to create better MOBI files and make you look professional in your approach to getting your book reviewed.

    • PDFs make me cringe.

      Here’s an interesting tidbit for you: I got offered a PDF, but when I looked on Amazon, I saw that there was obviously a mobi copy available since it was on Amazon (specifically on Kindle Unlimited). I asked the guy “Hey, can you just send me a mobi? Its on Amazon, so I know the format is available.”

      ….he didn’t realize that .mobi was the format that Amazon released. I don’t think he honestly knew that mobi was a format period. I wonder if there needs to be some education done in that regard.

  5. This is one of the biggest reasons I’m anonymous. I’ve read too many horror stories about authors attacking reviewers. Moreover, indie authors just don’t have the professionalism or maturity to accept that sometimes their books aren’t enjoyable. I’ve removed books that I’ve wanted to read after I’ve seen authors “set their fans loose” on people. It’s disgusting.great post.

    • I have to say in the Indie Authors defense, I, personally, have never had a bad experience (YET!). They’ve been very polite and easy-going. I definitely appreciate them 🙂 But yes, I’m constantly wary of getting a crazy one.

  6. John Freitas says:

    My family and friends always seem to like my stories, not matter how bad they are. Nice, but it really does not give a reliable feedback.
    So I use blogger reviews to learn my mistakes and correct the narrative if necessary. I took a few suggestions from Lilyn, who is always spot on.
    And just fyi, a few bloggers state on their page that they won’t leave any feedback on Amazon, if they didn’t like the book, which I think is a win-win for both blogger and writer.

    • I hadn’t realized that some bloggers state that on their profiles! Hmm, I’m not sure what I think of that, to be honest.

      I’m glad I was able to help you, John 🙂 You’re right, too, in that friends and family are just not the right people to go to for objective reviews. Thanks for commenting!

  7. imyril says:

    Excellent points. Poor formatting and basic spelling / grammatical errors are an absolute killer for me – it can mean a DNF within the first chapter. If an author needs a copy editor, I’m happy to have that conversation. If the author needs a beta reader, I’m happy to have *that* conversation. But if an author asks for a review, I do expect a book that’s ready to go and that I’d be prepared to spend money on…

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