A couple of months before I began this blog I did a little research to see what kinds of book review blogs are out there and how I might offer something different to readers (I’m sure none of you who have followed me for a while are surprised that I researched first.) I checked out review formats, read countless posts, and had a look at many review policies. To my surprise, many bloggers stated point blank that they will NOT under any circumstances consider the review requests of self-published books. I was taken aback by this preemptive rejection. “So, what,” I thought, feeling my snarky side rear up, “You won’t even have a look to see if you might like their premise? Just ditching that ENTIRE group of authors? And you call yourself a BOOK BLOGGER??”
Thus, the mission of my blog became clear: I would review self-published books exclusively. With so many places shutting the door on Indie authors’ work, mine would be open to them. And only them. There are so many other blogs that will consider traditionally published book review requests, and so few that take in self-published, I figured they’d do fine without me. When readers visit my blog, I thought, they’ll know, regardless of what review they come across, it’s of a self-published book. Not every review would be glowing, I knew that, but I also knew that I’d find some gems out there too, unique stories and intricate plots from unknown authors trying to get their work noticed, and I wanted to help them do it.
What I didn’t expect were the resentful responses I’d occasionally get from authors published through small presses. An e-mail would come in asking for a review. I’d double check to make sure they were self-published (because even though my review policy clearly says those are the only books I’d review, sometimes these came through anyway). I’d reply, letting them know that, while I appreciate the chance to read their work, my blog is dedicated to self-published authors. Most would answer politely and wish me well, but there were some that came back with rather bullying retorts. These ranged from a couple of short, vibrant words, to long, articulate paragraphs. In fact, there’s one in the comments of my Review Policy right now (which prompted me to pen this response).
I know that authors of small presses are required to do all of their own marketing, the same as self-published authors. I know that because their work is with a small press that they aren’t able to sell it as cheaply as self-published authors, thus making it even more difficult to capture readers when one is an unknown. But these authors have something that the self-published don’t: They can say they are traditionally published. You’d be amazed the number of doors that opens on the blogosphere. (Like I said, I’ve done the research.)
I’m sure it’s annoying to come across my closed door when you’re from a small press, and I empathize with that, but self-published authors deal with this all the time, not to mention the lingering stigma that self-published work is of a lesser quality. My mission, aside from giving them a leg up, is to dispel that stigma. To show readers that there is incredible talent out there among the self-published. These are authors who have worked hard, juggling day jobs and home life. They’ve scrimped and saved to get a good book cover, find decent editing, formatting, and finagle a marketing plan together. On their own. And contrary to the belief of some, these are not people who have loads of money to throw around. They have suffered and sacrificed financially in pursuit of their dream, only to find a vast world of bloggers who won’t even read their review request.
To all those whom I have had to turn away because they are not self-published, I know it feels unfair, and for that, I’m sorry, but the review policy stands. I do read other books aside from self-published ones, but those won’t be reviewed here. This space is for the self-published only.