A Book Blogger’s Advice to Indie & Self-Published Authors
I think the new self-publishing possibilities afforded to writers and authors is one of the best things technology has brought us. There are so many great stories out there waiting to be told and now they can reach people in a new way that doesn’t require a publishing house bigwig’s approval. One of the things we love as book bloggers is getting to bring some spotlight to books that deserve the recognition. We’re an official book-review blog listed at the Book Tweeting Service and Book Review Blogs. We get several book review requests from indie authors and publishers a day, a few we accept but most we don’t.
Now, I’m not going to pretend to know how to do you indie authors’ jobs but I do think I have some good advice as a book blogger from an important cog in the machine of indie publicity. Here’s my two cents:
Get an editor you don’t personally know. I know that it costs money. I know that money is something most indie authors often don’t have a ton of. But it’s worth it. I can read a self-published novel and know within the first few pages if they’ve had a good professional editing round or two. I’m sorry but there are going to be phrases, sentences, characters, and even story lines that you may be attached to as an artist but that simply aren’t good for an organized and cohesive book. Pay someone to be honest and break the bad news to you. Trust us, we can tell the difference and it’ll come across in our review.
Be professional in your review requests. If it wasn’t rude and mean I would screenshot a choice selection of the e-mailed review requests we get and publicize them. Some of them are ridiculous! Incomplete sentences, grammatical errors, no information or courtesy in the salutation and sign-off. Why would I review your entire book when you can’t even put together a professional email request?
Get a great graphic designer for your cover. Again, this goes with the first one. I know the cash flow can be a trickle for new authors but this is important. Like it or not, a lot of readers judge a book by its cover. Don’t settle for a messy cover design that looks like it was designed on Microsoft Paint. Find a graphic designer, maybe through the local community college, that can put together a great artistic interpretation of your book that you’re proud to show off.
Have a publicity packet or press kit ready. Things that make a blogger’s life so much easier (and go along with my “be professional” tip up above) are ready-to-go press items. Pictures of the author and book cover in different sizes; links to the Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads pages for your book; interview questions and answers; and social media and contact links for the author are all so important. I’ve accepted books for review simply because their press pages are so put-together.
Be courteous. Yes, we may have accepted your book for review. Yes, we are sure that you’re nervous to hear and read what we think. Please be patient and courteous. We’ve stopped doing business with certain publishers, blog tour organizers, and authors before because they don’t have this quality. Don’t forget that we don’t get paid for what we do. Essentially this is a favor that we do because we enjoy reading and sharing our opinions with the internet world.
Hopefully none of this comes across as bratty or mean. I love indie authors and publishing and have been so impressed with the books that have come to me, and also less-than-impressed with others. I want these tips to help self-published writers who want more listeners and readers for their great stories. Good luck, and keep sending the requests our way!