Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What I Want To Know

Welcome to TNBBC's "What I Want To Know" - a mini series of sorts that will hopefully answer some of the questions and quiet some of the concerns I know fellow bloggers, authors, and publishers have regarding how to choose a reviewer or book to review, review etiquette, how to pitch and be pitched.. among other things.

Last week, the bloggers shared their views on writing negative reviews. The ball is now back in the Author and Publisher's court and I want to know:

What is your opinion on bloggers/reviewers who refuse to accept review copies from self published or independent authors/publishers?

Here is what they had to say:

"Luckily, in our experience, I don’t think we’ve ever had a reviewer refuse to accept a review copy from us because we’re an independent press. (Who doesn’t love free books?!) We certainly understand if a reviewer doesn’t have time in their reading/reviewing schedule to add another title, or they don’t think their readership is a good fit for the book in question. But I certainly hope reviewers aren’t turning away publishers just because they’re an independent press." - Marisa, Graywolfpress

"The number of books being self-published/indie-published is increasing dramatically due to e-publishing/POD. Unless the self-published/indie-published book comes with a glowing recommendation or blurb from a well-known author/authority, I understand that bloggers/reviewers need to institute policies like this in order to sift through the slush. A book published by a well-known publisher means that there are dozens of people who have vouched for the book's quality. I've only self-published small comics and parodies (via Scribd), and would frankly be shocked if anyone actually took the time to review them." - Andrew Shaffer, HuffPost columnist and author of GREAT PHILOSOPHERS WHO FAILED AT LOVE (Harper Perennial, Jan '11)

"They are out of touch with the changing world of publishing, especially when it comes to small or independent presses. There are, sadly, many self-published books that are poorly written and edited, but on the other hand, some have more attention to detail than their big publisher counterparts. This year's Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, Tinkers, was published by tiny Bellevue Literary Press and had not been reviewed by many of the big magazines and only sold a couple thousand copies. Now it's a bestseller and the author has a three book deal with a major publisher. Don't overlook small books from small presses -- their are treasures to be found." - Collin Kelley, Poet, journalist, social media consultant, author of Conquering Venus

"We're an independent publisher so, we're disappointed, but otherwise no opinion. No time to do anything else but move along." - VagabondagePress, Arts/Lit Online 'Zine The Battered Suitcase

" The bigger the reviewer is, the harder it is to reach them with something, and I sort of understand that. Granting that it's the small publisher that is most in need of the publicity a major review can bring, there's a law of averages in play in terms of quality. But if you're a small blogger/reviewer blanket-declining indies and self-published books? Those are what you SHOULD be looking at.

I'm reminded of a story. In college a friend and I were interviewing to host a show on our college radio station. When the obvious question-- what would we play-- came up I answered with a list of the music I usually listened to. This was the wrong answer. The station played small indie rock, not U2 and Springsteen. The question wasn't even whether those bands were any good (although I suspect the station manager's answer to that would have been "no") but why I would want to play something that you could hear on any other station? For some bands college radio was their only exposure.

I feel the same way about reviewers. I can go anywhere to read a review of, say, Jonathan Franzen's latest book. Give me something I can't read about anywhere else.
- " - Gene Doucette, author of Immortal

I love Gene's final sentence. "Give me something I can't read about anywhere else"! Why read and review the same 50 books that everyone else is reading and reviewing? I want to read reviews on great books that I might never have heard of. I want to expose myself to those amazing unknowns and then spread the word to anyone who will listen!

I know this has been a topic of discussion on blogs and other social forums before, and I really wanted to address it and hear what the indies thought - how do they feel when they see review policies that say "no self-published or independent" books, or "all books released independently have grammar and spelling errors, poor content", etc.

Most of you know me well enough by now. I will read just about anything that comes my way. If the summary sounds interesting, and the book is pitched well, sign me up, I'm game! I am always on the look out for that next best book, and you never know who will write or publish it!

I say - give the little guys a chance! Blockbusters and award winners are not the only books out there worth reading!

What did you think?

Was this post helpful and insightful? Was there anything here that shocked you? What experiences have you had with independent publishers or self-published authors that support or negate what you read here?

Next week, it's back to the bloggers to find out what their opinions are on self-published and independent authors/publishers. Be sure to check it out!

Note: We are quickly closing in on the end of the current "What I Want To Know" series. There are three weeks left. I am still seeking publishers and authors who would like to participate in the next series! Please email me at or tweet me @tnbbc.


  1. This is a great post. I understand how hard it is for a self-published author/ small publishing house it is to get reviews. There are only a handful of blogers, like myself, who gives those books a chance. I have found while some books are not so great, I have found quite a few that have blown me away.

  2. I find this sad, although I understand the quality concerns some people may have. It would completely defeat the purpose of my blog (being the review and promotion of "lesser known books") if I did that though! Ha ha! Indie publishers are quite welcome in my world :D

  3. Ahhh.. I knew there were some indie supporters out there! It does upset me when people refuse to review self published and indie authors based on one or two bad books. I cannot tell you how many indie books I have read this year that I've named "The Next Best Book" - it kills me to know that many readers out there may never pick them up!