Discussion: Book Bloggers Should Review More Indie?

I was recently made aware of a post interestingly titled 'Why Book Reviewers Are Doing It Wrong' - strong words from a blog named WiseInk, who, from what I can see, have never actually written a book review or own a book blog. This was under a gigantic picture of grumpy cat, presumably summing up the author's feelings about us nasty book bloggers.


You should read the post. It's quite interesting.

"What’s the difference between a self-published author and traditionally published author making their way in the writing world? Online—nothing." 
Ha. I wish and wish that indie books were exactly the same but honestly, it's not. Traditionally published books benefit from an editor, who tightens the stories up and makes them much more readable. I've read a lot of indie, and most of the ones that have not paid for editing, they do not read well at all and are full of grammatical errors. Traditionally published books also benefit from a lot of money which means much nicer covers. I don't really want to see your cartoon dragon drawing cover on my blog, I'm sorry.


"The result: book reviewers are ignoring indie authors when they decide which books they decide to publicly review. Review policies on countless book review blogs often cite—on top in bold, conspicuous letters—“we do not accept self-published books.” 
 Yes, and for good reason. Go and look at my followers. It's not so many, is it, compared the bigger bloggers? I'm in the UK too and I think I'm a fairly obscure, unknown blogger. So I wouldn't receive that many indie requests right? I could consider them? Try one request a day. That's 7 books a week. 30 odd a month. I got swamped, and trying to work out which of these thirty books I could accept and squeeze in with the other books I actually wanted to read was just nightmare inducing. I ended up not accepting at all an only recently allowed some self pubs to contact me.


"Herein lines a golden opportunity for review bloggers: they have a chance to create hype supporting the indie author gems and track their influence in a way they wouldn’t be able to do for big traditional releases."
Hands up those bloggers who have reviewed an indie book and had 1 million+ views and created so much hype. Now raise your hands if you've reviewed an indie book and because the readers don't recognise it, or simply don't like the cover, it has less views than a traditionally published book? Raising my hand here. There seems to be a misconception that if we review a book it automatically gets tons of views and sales. We really don't hold THAT much power.


"By writing off self-published books, reviewers are obviously hurting indie authors. But more critically—bloggers are diminishing their own power... By bloggers saying “no” to self-published books in an effort to decrease their submission piles, they are unfairly and unintentionally maintaining the stigma that traditionally published books are of higher quality and will garner more traffic to their sites."
We may hurt indie authors but.. I'm going to go ahead and be the bad guy here. So. What. Why should I, or any other blogger, feel like they should review indie books? How are we 'diminishing our power'? I may be the only one but I didn't open a book blog to go on some crazy power trip, I just like reading books.


"We think that review bloggers are only hurting their own business by turning down possible gems from indie authors."
Who is this we? We the people? We a couple of people in a shed? When did book reviewing become a business? Why do you care so much about what we all are reading? Why am I asking so many questions?

But most importantly, what's in it for us?

23 comments:

  1. I think that article is completely stupid! We are bloggers, not promoters or publicists. It is NOT our job to help indie authors. And E.L James did not get popular only through bloggers. The guy clearly has NO IDEA what he is talking about.
    I used to review a LOT of indie titles and someof them were just AWFUL and now I try to avoid unless I KNOW that it won't be that same problem.
    Great post Vickie :)

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    1. I used to review a lot more indie titles too! I've found that by only accepting review requests from authors who have paid for an editor, I get less requests and better sounding books. I also ask for an Amazon link so I can send a sample to my Kindle app.

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  2. Some really great questions that you impart the reader of your post with - indeed, what's in it for us? Why is it hurting our blog if we don't review indie? Are we not supporting the bookish community, when the writer of the article themselves seem to be doing so? As you know from Twitter, I was really angry when I saw the post, but I've dismissed it as someone trying to get attention by whining about book bloggers discriminating against indie instead of doing anything to change it themselves.

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    1. I agree, the whole post was made to gain attention - well, it got it. The only books book bloggers should be reading is the ones they think they'll enjoy. Most of us do this for no profit at all!

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  3. I think we need to consider the purpose of our blogs. Most of us are not all-around promoters of books. We each have a niche. One of the main reasons I blog is to let my teens know about YA books -- most of which are available in my library. I've reviewed hardly ANY indie books, and really don't intend to, since those books would not likely be in my library. (Yes, I wish I could afford some, but really I barely have enough budget to get all the main stream best sellers.) It is ridiculous to paint all bloggers with the same brush. And, really, wouldn't it be boring if we all blogged the same way, and for the same reasons?

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    1. Yes, I wouldn't call myself a book promoter at all as this blog is almost strictly reviews and discussions - I'll do the occasional giveaway but you'll never see one of those tour promo posts on here.

      You bring up a great point - best sellers are also cheaper. Buying an eBook is one thing but most self published physical copies are about twice the amount a best seller costs.

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  4. I read that article recently and really wondered why bloggers feel like they should have to read indie books, or really any other kinds of books. I read and review exactly what I want, whether it's a new YA release or a classic novel over a 100 years old. And I think you made a very good point when you said we don't actually hold that much power. Within the community of blogging, there are books that get hyped and a lot of love, but a vast majority of people walking into a bookstore are not regularly reading book blogs. The perspective of the article writer just seemed a bit extreme. If someone I know and trust is willing to take a chance on an indie and really loves it, I might, but otherwise, I don't have time to try to wade through and figure out which indies are good and which are less so.

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    1. Yes! I think bloggers tend to follow publishers and authors, so if they release a new book that's our genre, we feel safer spending our money and time on it. Then of course, everyone else does the same and it builds up the magical thing we call hype - one or two bloggers accepting an eBook that won't be seen on store shelves is not going to create this.

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  5. I do happen to read and review a lot of Indie books and have read some great ones and a lot of serious crap too! But I choose what books I want to read and review and I refuse to feel bad about all the books that I don't read or worry that I'm ruining careers by saying no to an indie author! I just want to read books. So a guy sends me his gothic vampire tale despite me saying I don't read gothic vampire tales, and I say no to it, send him into depression and destroy his chance to be the new JK Rowling and it's all my fault? Utter rubbish! I review and blog for fun. I'm not paid to make an author famous and frankly they won't get famous appearing on my blog anyway! So all this stuff about diminishing my power is bullcrap! Great blog post Vickie!

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    1. I know you do, I always see stacks of indie books on your stacking the shelves posts! I definitely haven't read as much as you but I have also read some amazing ones and some complete rubbish. The worst is when it's listed as being 300 pages and then you realise they meant 300 A4 PAGES. I hope you've never encountered that *shudder*

      Yes, indie authors often don't help themselves. I receive a ton of adult novel requests, despite clearly being a blog that only reads books related to ya books. Sending you a gothic vampire book when they know you don't read that just clogs up your emails.

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  6. Great post and I agree 100% with the whole thing about the grammar! editing! and covers. I do accept self published books, however I have become even more picky about what I read after experiencing some really bad books. I have a few automatic purchases of self published books that I will read, but now I do ignore a lot of emails,. Even if we didn't read the book, the time it takes to reply to the emails I get takes away from blog stuff, or books I want to read and review.

    We are also not the bad guy, this whole self published thing could be used on anything else, even down the the genres you don't review as that is doing the same things, turning down a book that could be getting a lot of notice from blogs.. There are a lot of other blogs out there that review self published, or genres that I don't read, that are probably well more popular than mine, so I don't see how saying now could hurt the book or the author.

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    1. That's a good point, you don't really see adult fiction writers yelling at all the book bloggers who don't review their books and the vast majority of us are YA readers! Perhaps it all boils down to money. Or fame.

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  7. I get all of my books from the library. So that's that lol. I'll have to check out the other article-thanks!

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    1. I used to use the library but then found myself not wanting to part with the books! D:

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  8. Ugh, that article really angers me and makes them sound quite ignorant of how it actually works being a book blogger. It definitely sounds like the writer has only heard one side of the story and never read very many of the random and unintelligible indies published.... I love how they hadn't replied to any of the negative comments posted (at least at the point in time where I checked the comments).

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    1. I think if the post owner had actually read some of the seriously dire indie books and requests we all receive, they might understand why we're so wary about saying yes!

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  9. I agree with pretty much everything everyone has said so far. Vickie, thanks for pointing out that the big difference between indie and traditional publishing is having an editor. It is VERY important to have an editor. I wrote a horrible review about a book because the author - wife of a very famous American author - obviously did not have one and had no clear plot or idea of where it was going. I have reviewed a lot of indie books - and in this regard I completely agree, vehemently - editors clean up and tighten (and in most cases strengthen) plot lines and character development. They play an integral role in the book business. If an author chooses to go indie, that's great, but they know going in with no blinders on that they are responsible for promoting their book and building those networking relationships. Most blog tours, even the small ones, are relatively inexpensive to schedule. There's quite a bit of exposure right there. My friend that got me started in blogging actually prefers self published. There are some folks out there that lean away from traditional publishing. It's not our job to find them, or be them. Book bloggers aren't required or indebted to indie authors simply because they "fight the system" so to speak and publish independently.

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  10. I actually commented on that post, and was quite insulted by the site implying that we SHOULD be reviewing indie authors, which of course is a personal choice. I do read the occasional indie, but authors that I CHOOSE to support, and not books that are thrown at me simply because I blog. I agree that there are some brilliant indie books, but from my own personal experience, they have been few and far between. So many I've begun and the lack of editing has been so evident that it makes some of them painful to read. Completely agree about the amount of power we supposedly have. Bloggers are more a point of reference for reviews of books that readers have already heard of, or buy in that genre, but an author probably sees it more as free advertising. The big difference for me, is that I prefer to deal with publishers than directly with authors when I have no former knowledge of their work. They act as a buffer, especially if you don't like the book, which a few indies haven't appreciated and I've even received a few questionable emails asking why I felt the need to pull apart their work. It felt as though those few were only looking for praise, and I won't be guilted into giving a book a better rating than is deserved. It comes down to choice, and they need to respect that. Great article Vickie <3

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  11. Vickie, this post is spot on! There are a few indie books that I have read and liked, and I will post reviews about those. But that is at MY discretion, because it is MY blog. Sounds really nice for Mark's Books, whoever he is, but um, my blog (and the majority out there I presume) makes zero dollars. So I mean, great for Mark and his trips to wherever, but that is simply not a fair comparison. Your point was key too- my readers probably aren't going to want to read about a bunch of books they've never heard of. So when I *do* select an indie book to review, it is for some reason (perhaps I think it will appeal to my readers, it's really unique, etc) because if all I posted were unknown books, no one would visit again.

    More importantly, I read what I want to read. I review what I want to review. Isn't that what makes my reviews honest, unbiased, and trustworthy? If I was only writing things because I HAD to write them, then you wouldn't (and shouldn't!) be trusting a word I wrote.

    (Also, the "evidence" this post suggests as a success story is Fifty Shades? If THAT is the result, then please, no!)

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  12. Wow, that article is dumb and so off the mark. And I think a lot of bloggers do read indie authors. Just because they don't accept review requests from them doesn't mean they don't read them. I BUY all my indie books.

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  13. I hadn't seen this article, but I've heard this argument before. And my response is simply, I read what I want. I didn't start a book blog so I could be an influential voice in the industry, I started it so I could talk about the books I'm reading anyway.

    There are more books out there than anyone could ever read. And self-published authors (even, maybe especially, the quality ones) have to admit that self-publishing is one big slush pile. So maybe, instead of trying to guilt unpaid hobbyists into sifting through that pile, they should be coming up with ideas to change that. I don't doubt there are gems out there. If it were easier to find them, more bloggers would be open to it.

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  14. This point is on point. Seriously. I read that article, and I couldn't believe how one-sided that guy was being. I've never turned away an indie author/novel because it was indie but rather because I knew that it wasn't for me. I /knew/ that if I reviewed it, it wouldn't be a nice review. So would these indie authors prefer a review from a reader who WANTS to read their book or from a reader who's being guilted into it?

    I honestly couldn't believe the audacity of that guy to discriminate against book reviewers. He's talking about how he wants indie authors to have higher "stats" (aka sell more books) when all book reviewers are doing by reading popular books is trying to increase their stats. It's extremely hypocritical of him to insinuate that we should sacrifice our blog stats for indie authors' books getting out there. And I've noticed that reviews of lesser known books with lesser quality covers don't get as many views as new books that have just released.

    By reviewing an indie book that I have no interest in or has an unattractive cover/title, not only will I be hurting the AUTHOR but I would also be hurting my blog.

    Sorry, I got a bit carried away...

    Tori @ Bookish Affairs

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  15. Apparently, the writer of the article is quite of an ignorant. There are differences between trad. publishing and indie publishing. For one, the later is often goes without a professional editing and cover, etc. and it's not even the author's fault. Writing a book with little external opinion and finding your own mistakes are very difficult. But we have to filter by something and this is a valid, benefitial way for both sides. Also, yeah we tend to bold that part and it's quite logical why. I think if he/she had done their research, he/she would have guessed that it's for a reason. It's hard enough to get people read your policy, let alone taking it seriouly...

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