Allen Schatz published his first book two years ago. After things didn’t work out with an agent, he went the self-publishing route and knew he had to market on his own, which meant contacting reviewers.
Some said yes, many said no.
But Schatz noticed a change in the business around this time and self-publishing didn’t seem like a death sentence for his writing career.
“By the time my former agent released me, things had changed enough for me to go the self-publishing route,” said Schatz, whose first book was Game 7: Dead Ball. “It really wasn’t hard finding reviewers. There are a number of sites and people who give indie/self-writers support this way.”
Certainly, there are book blogs and websites willing to review self-published authors, but there are still many that do not. The lack of interest from many sites, especially mainstream media outlets, motivated Al Kunz to create his own site.
“As I got more involved in my review blog and started following several other blogs, websites, and Internet forums related to indie publishing, it was something that was always being discussed,” Kunz said. “They would discuss the small percentage of people who purchase and presumably read a book who post a review (which, I understand, their obligation ends at the time of purchase).
“I’d see stories of authors trying to get a review from their local newspaper, not to mention hassles when they’d attempt to convince their local bookstore to carry their book or do a book signing. None of these things are necessarily easy for traditionally published authors either, but in many instances indies are excluded as a matter of policy.”
Kunz has been slammed with submissions. The traffic to his submission page and the list of indie-friendly reviewers is high. However, he has noticed that some reviewers have actually closed submissions for a little while, because of the vast amount of requests they receive.
“It comes down to a question of supply and demand,” Kunz said. “There are a lot of indie books out there and not a lot of reviewers, either on blogs, or customers who routinely write reviews of what they’ve read.”
Schatz doesn’t get turned away as much as he used to, but the initial marketing was tough to handle when he had people telling him he “wasn’t a real writer.” However, Schatz stuck with it and has noticed a trend in the direction of reviewers opening their doors for more submissions.
Between his three books, he probably has about 50 reviews on various websites.
“There’s a certain ‘snobbery’ out there about it, still, despite the improvements I noted,” Schatz said. “I will agree there are tons of badly written self-published books, which doesn’t help, but all of us are certainly ‘real.’”
Kunz has also noticed the move toward more reviewers accepting indie submissions, but he knows it’s a slow one as well.
Helping the awareness of self-published authors are success stories such as that of Amanda Hocking, or E.L. James‘ Fifty Shades trilogy. These made it into the mainstream consciousness and have been a model for writers and publishers to follow.
“Many book bloggers in the past have specifically excluded self-published books, and I suspect when self-publishing really started to gain in popularity, that this trend escalated,” Kunz said. “But there seems to be a growing realization that the self-published books of today aren’t always like those of several years ago. I think a lot of avid readers were the early adopters of e-books, and many of them who decide to start a book blog have been exposed to indies, recognize the need, and are either going to be open to reviewing indies or even specialize in that. Not unlike my story.”