by Erin Mitchell
I was thinking this morning about a post topic for today, batting a couple of options around, when POOF! Perfect topic dropped right into my lap via Twitter (of course) when I received a link to this blog post, which is an open letter to book bloggers from a self-published author.
I did not use the term “independent” above deliberately, because I think of “independent” as “not one of publishing’s Big 6." I don’t mean to offend anyone…but I see self-published authors as just that, not as independently published.
Like many of my favorite people on the planet, I have a book (among other things) blog. Much to my amazement, I get pitches from authors and publishers pretty frequently asking me to read and review specific books. For the record, I do consider self-published books, both for my blog and in my professional life. Doesn’t change anything I’m about to say…
Since Ms. Zupko has addressed her letter to the generic “book bloggers,” I’m figuring she means me, and so I’m also figuring I can and should respond in this forum in the hopes it helps someone out there understand the perspective she alternately attacks and chastises.
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."
Many book bloggers choose not to review self-published books. That’s their choice. Respect it and move on. It’s not as if there aren’t plenty of book bloggers out there! And besides, if a site doesn’t review self-published books, chances are good their readers aren’t likely to want to buy your book anyhow. Wearing my publicist hat, I’m very grateful for review guidelines, particularly when they’re clear and straightforward. You should be thanking people who state this.
Book bloggers...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.
Wow, that was a whole crapload of assumptions. Thank you for clarifying what I do and why. I never could have figured that out all on my lonesome.
I have never met a book blogger—and I have met a lot of them—who chose to blog because she or he couldn’t “break into tough traditional markets.” We didn’t all send our CVs to the New York Times or The Guardian, get rejected, and then start a book blog. I’ve also never heard tell of a book blogger who left “behind traditional methods of reaching an audience.” Reporters, occasionally, but not book bloggers.
So why do you only review the same books the traditional reviewers are looking at?
It’s really simple, actually. Many self-published books are lousy. To be a self-published author and ignore this fact is a sure path to marketing failure. And while I’m at it, just as some folks who work in traditional or independent publishing are jerks, some self-published authors are difficult to deal with, taking offense when someone declines to read her or his book instead of just saying, “thank you for your consideration.”
…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.
Good for you. Great. Excellent. Glad to hear it. This does not change the fact that not every self-published author goes through any process other than moving fingers over a keyboard.
We read what we want to, when we want to. Blogging is in addition to our day jobs, and there are, last time I checked, a finite number of hours in the day. So for Ms. Zupko to so blithely suggesting that we all:
Consider not rejecting us outright and consider considering each book on its own merits of first impression.
is, at best, insulting.
Ms. Zupko, here’s the thing: book bloggers don’t charge readers to access their blogs. So the claim that “book bloggers… ARE self-publishers” is silly, and does a disservice to an argument about which you are obviously passionate.
Ok, that’s it. But before I sign off, to recap the marketing lessons Ms. Zupko provides:
- Do not—ever nor under any circumstances—insult your audience. Want book bloggers to read your book? Don’t treat them as idiots.
- If a book bloggr says s/he doesn’t review self-published books, respect it and move on.
- Focus whatever energy you might have invested in a post such as this to getting your fan-readers to share their love of your book through social channels. This can be a super means of attracting book blogger attention.
- If you are going to post something like this, for the love of all that is holy, include your contact details. If a book blogger was to read your post and agree with it, how is she supposed to ask you for a copy of your book? Doing something designed to get attention and then making it hard to reach you makes no sense.