Can you explain why book reviewers have this prejudice?

First off, I want to say how much I appreciate every single person who’s taken the time to read The Brevity of Roses. And those who went the extra mile by rating or reviewing it, get a second gold star in my book. Most of you paid for the book, and I’m honored. Actually, that you parted with real legal tender to read my writing totally freaks me out!

First off, I want to say how much I appreciate every single person who’s taken the time to read The Brevity of Roses. And those who went the extra mile by rating or reviewing it, get a second gold star in my book. Most of you paid for the book, and I’m honored. Actually, that you parted with real legal tender to read my writing totally freaks me out!

But today’s post is about seeking reviews from those with a wider reach, a greater influence. As a self-published author, without a publicist, it’s my responsibility to seek reviews of my book. Public reviews act as a sort of official word of mouth, so of course the more popular the reviewer the better.

Unfortunately, all review policies are not equal. I won’t name names, mostly because I’ve checked out so many book review sites since April that I’ve twisted them all up in my brain like a rubberband ball.

Some I eliminated as soon as I saw mention of a reading fee because, right now, I couldn’t pay for a review even if I wanted to. Some ask for two, or more, print copies, ditto on the reason for eliminating them or, at least, moving them to the bottom of my list. Some only review certain genres, usually not mine.

But what’s the biggest reason for crossing them off my list? They don’t review self-published books. That’s their prerogative, of course, but I’m not sure I understand their reasoning. Sure many self-published books are badly written, or badly edited, or both. But not every book published traditionally is excellent on all counts either. Plus, if the reviewer doesn’t like the book, or the quality of the book, they can pass, right?

So, I think I’m missing something. I think I must not understand why people review books for the public. Can anyone explain to me why some reviewers shun self-published books as a policy?

Price my books at $.99? No thank you!

My decision to Indie publish The Brevity of Roses was not made lightly. I looked to self-publishing after I accepted that, in the midst of the current publishing crisis, books like mine were not highly sought after by the big NY publishers. It was up to me to find my readership. Since then, I’ve learned other reasons why going Indie is of benefit to me.

But make no mistake, my book is good enough to be published by one of those publishers. It’s not second quality. I work hard at my craft. Mine is not a book written in thirty days and edited once. It’s not a Penny Dreadful. So why would I price it like one?

Most Indie authors vehemently deny they need the “vetting” of any big NY publisher. I agree. So why price my book as if it’s not worthy? “But you’re an unknown,” they say. “You have to sell cheap to get readers to buy it.”

So, would signing a publishing contract with Viking, Knopf, or Random House suddenly make me better known? Or are we talking about vetting here again? Does having a big NY publisher trademark on a book’s spine guarantee it’s a well-written book, a quality read? Maybe once upon a time it did, not so much now. Far too often, what it guarantees today is that the publisher thought they could make a good profit on it.

I may not be the best writer you’ll read, but I’m far from the worst. I will guarantee that. You’ve probably bought books by debut authors before—and paid NY publisher prices. Granted, those publishers have expenses I don’t have, so you won’t see my e-book priced at $14.99. But you also won’t see it released at $.99 either. This is a personal decision, based in part on the fact I write general fiction with a literary bent.

I don’t believe quality self-published novels, like mine, will be taken seriously until their authors price them at respectable prices. I’ll price my books , both e-books and print, with respect to myself and my reader … because we’re worth it.

Your turn: I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.  Readers and writers, do you automatically consider Indie (self) published books as being lesser quality than traditionally published? Indie authors, am I just ignorant about pricing? Readers, have you bought—and read—a lot of $.99 e-books that you felt were worth more?


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Could I live without a hardcover?

From some of my recent posts, you may have gotten the idea I’d already made the decision to end my quest for traditional publication. Decision making is always a long, complicated process for me. I think I have a few extra convolutions in my brain. Or something.

I read pros and cons. I listen to the experienced. I think and think and think and find myself not much closer to taking a stand than I was at the beginning. I hesitate in a thousand ways. I like to think of this as thorough research. More likely it’s just fear of the unknown.

In my last indie vs. traditional post, I concluded that a book published by one of the big NY publishers carries no guarantee it’s a better book, in any sense, than an indie-pubbed book. Yet the stigma of “lesser quality” still attaches itself to the idea of self-publishing. I confess, I’ve been guilty of that prejudice.

I have another book prejudice. I love hardcovers. If cost were never a factor, they would always be my first choice. Alas. Because I’m on a budget, I’m okay with trade paperbacks (soft-cover.) But I loathe mass-market paperbacks. If I indie-pub, my book won’t be in hardcover. End of dream.

So, let me consider other advantages to having my book traditionally published.

More publicity: Or not. Nowadays no matter how a book is published, for the majority of debut authors most of the task of publicizing it will fall on their shoulders. Still, that Big Publisher’s name does carry some weight. This is almost a draw.

Wider distribution: Yes, for a while. According to the latest I heard, the typical debut author will have a book on the shelves of brick and mortar bookstores for about 2-4 months. After that, it’s reduced to special order status. As an Indie author, I would not get the thrill of walking in B&N and seeing my book on the shelf, though if I choose the right options and self-pub as POD, my book could also be a special order by those stores. Safer to assume it would sell only online. I’d say the scale tips toward traditional—except I wonder, where do YOU buy most of your books?

More profit: True—if I received a $5,000 advance. Is that likely? I don’t know. I know there are Indie authors who make buckets of money every month, but they are not debut authors, and most of them are non-fiction authors. However, my self-pubbed novel might sell quite well. Or not.  Even if I received only a $2,000 advance from a traditional publisher, I might come out ahead profit wise. Toss up.

Those are all logical considerations. However, as a writer—as a person—I’m not always logical. To be honest, “always” is probably stretching it. I feel more than I think. So, what are my feelings? *sigh* I’m still working on that.

Your turn: I know some of you have already made the decision to become Indie authors. What was your deciding factor?


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Speak out on reading

Today, I’m asking you to help me with a research project, and I have four bright, shiny polls for you. Yeah, I know you already voted this month, but we haven’t had a voting here in awhile, and I think it’s the best way to get the answers I seek. Plus, in my polls, your vote actually counts.

Absentee votes? May I ask those of you who prefer to read my posts secretly to please participate in these polls? You will remain anonymous.

I’ve used the generic terms e-reader and e-versions in these poll questions, and print version applies to any print-on-demand option. If you do not yet own an e-reader, but use a reader app, please respond in Poll #3. Examples of reader apps are Kindle for PC or Stanza for iPhone.

Please feel free to voice your opinions in the comments section.

 

Thank you for participating. If I could ask one more favor, would you please re-tweet this post? More votes equals a better research sample.

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Can we get together and discuss this?

I know very little about self-publishing or e-publishing—or even small press publishing. I wanted to get that out of the way, so you understand I’m asking for information and discussion today, not stating an opinion from a knowledgeable viewpoint.

I do know that vanity publishing (where the author pays money to the “publisher”) is NOT something I’m interested in. But the longer I travel this agent query road, the more I find myself wondering about other publishing options. I haven’t given up trying to find an agent to represent my novel to a big name publisher (I have queries and partials out) but when I allow myself to read agent statistics, I tend to question whether I ought to face those facts with my head rather than my heart.

Consider this: established agents receive a conservative average of 50 queries a day—that’s almost 20,000 queries a year—but during that time take on maybe 5 new clients! Sobering odds, huh?

If you’ve ever looked up the agent who represented your favorite author, chances are you found that said agent “does not accept unsolicited queries.” The fact is the best way to get an agent to consider your query is by client referral. How many of you know an author offering to put in a good word for you with their agent? Show of hands.

For the most part, I search for new agents trying to build their client lists. They are just as hopeful they’ll discover the next best-selling author as we’re hopeful we are that author.

I know I’m not the only one who’s curious about the other publishing options. Natasha recently wrote a post about this. And super agent Nathan Bransford has written about e-publishing and self-publishing options.

So now, I’d like to know your thoughts. Have you considered (or chosen) one of these options? What do you know about the pros and cons? Do you think what you write should be a consideration? In the end, does it come down to a simple decision of why you write, whether you write just to share a story vs. writing to make money?

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