In tour news, today I am guest blogging over at Babbling About Books and More, talking about the balance between character and plot. I will post the link as soon as that goes live.
So I’ve recently subscribed to a bunch of self-publishing and indie publishing oriented blogs. It made sense to start keeping tabs on the movers and shakers in the movement since I’ve pretty well decided that I’m part of it. I have, so far, come across a wealth of interesting information and people who are passionate about the indie publishing cause. But of course it was inevitable that I’d come across some posts I don’t agree with.
Yesterday I read this post on Self-Publishing Central, which is an Open Letter to Amazon. The gist of the letter is that the author feels that there should be a separate rating system for indie books that was made up only of so-called qualified and unbiased reviewers reviews, as opposed to the existing system whereby the writer proposes that indies pad their reviews with 5 star ones from friends and family.
I have a number of problems with this.
- I could be wrong, but the proposed solution seemed to me to essentially say that the opinions of isolated readers who haven’t reviewed hundreds of books simply would not be taken into account. Now I don’t know about you, but I certainly haven’t read and reviewed hundreds of books on Amazon and I would hazard a guess that most typical consumers have not. Yet I believe that the opinions of these consumers are valuable and important as THEY ARE THE AUDIENCE.
- Regardless of whether some self-published authors pad their reviews with friends and family, if the book is a real stinker, REAL readers are going to come out and contradict all those 5 star reviews. And really, nobody is going to write a 5 paragraph glowing review for their cousin. The average consumer has a brain and without using very much of it, is perfectly capable of determining the validity and quality of the reviews offered. That’s why they have that whole “helpful” “not helpful” button you can click on each review.
- This proposed system seems to deliberately separate out indie or self-published works to be flagged as such. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be flagged as self-published. I want my book to speak for itself with the professional cover, well-crafted blurb, and solid formatting. I want it to run neck and neck with the products of New York publishers and for the reader not to notice a difference unless they go actively looking to see who put it out.
- The whole post just smacks a little too much of whining to me. Self-publishing is a hard row to hoe. Anyone who chooses this route knows (or should if they have done one iota of research) that they will have a mountain to climb. There’s no reason that they should get special treatment for choosing to go this route. And yeah, you have a lot of competition and it’s hard to get noticed. That’s why you put together a solid marketing plan and recognize the fact that it takes TIME (and yeah, I’m speaking to myself on that one to quiet down my own impatience). The most important thing is that you put out a professional product with a good cover, good summary, and good formatting. Ultimately the work will speak for itself.