Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It's Tough to Get a Self-Published Book Reviewed - Part I

I was just reading a reviewer’s blog that describes why they don’t accept self-published (SP) books to review.  Their main reasons were SP authors can have bad manners and argue over reviews, SP books usually have substandard covers and too many plot holes and grammatical mistakes.  These reasons for the policy excluding SP books made me laugh.  Well, maybe not LOL laugh, but it made me smirk a little.

I’m sure that there are SP authors that can’t take a bad – or even less than perfect – review without firing off a heated email. Obviously, that’s extremely bad form.  It’s better to find out where they live and stalk them. Just kidding.  Really.  But I know of traditionally published (TP) authors that have done the same.  Recently, an author of a well-received, TP, first-in-a-series book, ridiculed many reviewers of the second when certain plotting details were criticized.  And this author’s disparaging remarks were in public forums and blogs.

I’ve seen a lot of fantastic TP covers, and many mediocre TP covers as well. You know what I mean, all those covers with the author’s name and the title in ginormous print, surrounding some okay photo or illustration must have taken at least five minutes with photoshop to design.  And while a fantastic cover can help sell a book, it shouldn’t necessarily mean that a less than fantastic one should relegate your tome to non-reviewable.  The reviewer can certainly comment about the cover art as part of the review, but to not review it at all based on their interpretation of the cover art seems a bit harsh.  My first book, Special Offers, had a perfectly hideous cover when I first released it.  Someone even nominated it for Goodread's worst cover.  It still got reviews -- good ones -- even with the grimace-inducing image (but I did change the cover art, eventually).

Which brings me to the final reason why these reviewers won’t review SP work: SP authors can’t write worth shit.  Now, I have read a lot of traditionally published books as well as many self-published ones.  And, for the most part, a fair percentage of the SP stuff is a bit iffy when it comes to plotting, grammar and spelling.  But just yesterday, I was reading a new book from a very popular paranormal romance author where she wrote about one character saving another’s life by establishing an unobstructed airway – in his ESOPHAGUS.  Really?  There’s a reason the procedure is called a tracheotomy.  Because one’s lungs are attached to one’s TRACHEA.  The esophagus is what one’s food slips down en route to the stomach.  And the author correctly calls it a tracheotomy later in the book.  And how did this get passed all of the TP editors, beta-readers and ARC reviewers?  Plus, I already counted three typos, and I’m only 75% through. 

So my point is this.  Rather than an outright refusal to review the dreaded SP book, why not read the first chapter.  If it sucks, then don’t read any more and forget about it.  Or post that you read the first chapter and you wanted to shove a sharp pair of scissors in your eyes rather than have to keep reading.  And it’s not just because I am a SP author.  I think it’s a little snobbish to restrict oneself (and one’s blog readers) to the creations that are brought forth by TP companies, as if they have all the answers and do everything so much better than anyone else. Sure they do.  That’s why Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino landed a book deal with a TP house.

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