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.
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.