Thursday, 18 December 2008

What Book Reviewers Think About Self-Publishing

I've come across a couple of great articles about self-publishing, the temptation every struggling writer faces. They confirm my earlier argument that most writers should avoid it. Paul Krupin at Direct Contact PR interviewed a long list of book reviewers about their feelings when they receive a self-published book for review. The article is here.

It isn't pretty. There were comments such as,

"They go to the bottom of the pile."

"Do not send them, I will not read them."

"So far I have not found one that I would recommend to any reader."

"Rarely do I examine such a book, the quality is likely unappealing to readers."

Ouch. The thing is, book reviewers cover books their readers are likely to read. Since self-published books rarely make it into bookstore shelves, and are usually ranked so low on Amazon that nobody sees them, readers aren't going to find them. A common theme among the responses was an aversion to the poor editing, self-indulgent plotlines, and amateurish cover art found on so many self-published books. There was also a distressing confusion between POD (a method for making books) and self-publishing (which often uses POD)

On the other hand, several reviewers said they occasionally found good ones, and that they're far more likely to review a self-published work if it has a local angle. Check out Paul's excellent article for more information.

Kel Munger, book reviewer for the Sacramento News & Review has an informative rant on the subject here. The skinny: if you're a worthy writer, you'll put in the time and effort and eventually you'll be rewarded.

It worked for me. Well, with my nonfiction. Apparantly I have more time to put in before my novels are up to snuff. I guess I could self-publish them, but then what? Sell a dozen copies?


irishoma said...

Hi Sean,
Thanks for the thought-provoking post.
I've read articles written by agents who recommend if you're self-published not to mention it as a publishing credit in a query because they don't really consider self-published it as being published at all.

Sean said...

There are a lot of traps for the aspiring author out there, and self-publishing is a bad option for most books.

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.