putting my idealist hat on…

This post was inspired by Chuck Wendig’s “Why Your Self-Published Book May Suck a Bag of Dicks.” (Very funny, by the way – go have a read!) And I also have my indie author hat on today too, so this is what you get. I’m gonna crap out some rainbows here, so bear with me.

There needs to be a system of checks in indie-publishing. Not gatekeepers, like the traditional publishing industry has, but it will serve the same purpose.

There needs to be a reputable reviewer, somebody with a website, who is opinionated and *loves* to read. And they need to charge less money than fracking $425! I don’t expect it to be free. I’d pay twenty-five bucks or something for the service.

Because you know what, readers DO NOT WANT to slog through 90% bullshit to find one gem in self-published books. I don’t want to either. And until they don’t have to, I’m afraid self-publishing will always carry that stigma.

Aren’t bloggers already doing this, to some extent? Sure, some of them are. But I’m not sure their voices are being heard. And still, even with independent book bloggers, a lot of them won’t even read self-published books.

We need someone with a loud voice, somebody willing to slog through the slush. (That’s where the twenty-five bucks comes into play?) Someone who comes with some weight in the publishing industry, somebody everyone will respect and listen to? (That person is not me, definitely not me, or anybody I know. Maybe you know this person?) And by reviewing, they’ll put a sort of “stamp” on this indie book. Let’s say three-tiered. Passable, good, and fracking amazing? Then indie authors can go ahead and put that stamp on their cover. “My book was rated “good” by Joe-Schmoe-book-reviews.” Then the book stands apart from all the other self-published slush out there.

And some people will fail. I say, let them fail. If they don’t put in the hard work, why should they pass? That way, there’s still no gatekeeping. If you want to get your book out there, then by all means, go for it! But at the same time, we’re not all flopping around in the same slush. Those of us who work harder will be allowed to shine.

“But what if Joe Schmoe just didn’t like my work!?! He didn’t get my vision!!!”

Fair enough, this does happen sometimes. Maybe it can be a panel of reviewers? 12 of them, like a jury or something. Readers who enjoy work from across all genres and styles. That’s fair then? I mean, really, if 12 people all agree that your book sucks, then it probably does.

But we need this. We need something like this. Because all the other esteemed reviewers out there, the prizes and competitions, they don’t want us to play. So why can’t we just make up our own game?

So there’s an idea. Pass it on. Talk about it. Somebody start it up!

9 thoughts on “putting my idealist hat on…

  1. I like this idea. Maybe a blog with a couple of reviewers who can pass on word of good indie books they’ve come across. Because it’s all word of mouth, and that’s the most frightening thing at the moment.

    I’m still looking for good reviewing sites that will review self published. I’ve come across a couple that will accept self published for review, but it still comes across to me as if they were reluctant. But I still hold out hope for this.

  2. Lunar, but when it works, word-of-mouth is the best kind of advertising you can get! (And it’s free! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    I’ve had my eye out for reviewers who take self-published books too. We’ll have to compile a list somewhere.

  3. I would love to find a blog/site like that. It seems like there’s SO MUCH self-published crap and as a reader, I don’t have the time or inclination to wade through them all to find anything good.

    I actually can’t believe no one has done this yet. Is self-publishing still that new? I have no idea.

  4. What Amazon needs for ebooks: a “Trusted Reviewer” program, some way of judging whether the reviewer is quasi-independent and reliable. Shouldn’t be that hard to implement. There’d always be people gaming the system, so that argument against it shouldn’t stand up. Pay the person/people–from a fee charged to every self-pubber who wants to put their book up there. ๐Ÿ˜€

    On Chuck Wendig’s blog, Laura wrote: “why canโ€™t there be a single critical consensus? As indie authors, weโ€™re sort of making up our whole industry, so canโ€™t we establish something like this for ourselves?”

    There would have to be some way of ensuring it’s not a case of scratching each other’s backs. (I’ve seen this constantly on the various blogs of self-published authors, writing/blogging coaches, and ebook publishing experts.) Or perhaps I should put that differently: the readers of reviews would need reassurances that in the overwhelming majority of cases, the reviewers are critics, not evangelists.

    One way to do this: I’ve heard there’s an organization of independent/self-pubbed writers. There was mention of it on Konrath’s blog. This organization could charge dues, then pay some reviewers. That would provide the necessary arms-length perception.

    just my 2ยข

  5. Carla, it’s true, sadly, there is so much crap. And that’s why as a writer, I’m hesitant to take my pretty stories and voluntarily throw them into that gutter, lol! But I really do love the freedom of indie-publishing (when it’s done properly). I really don’t know which way I’ll go. I’m still very torn.

    Self-publishing is actually not new at all. It’s just becoming more an option (and thus more talked about), for both good writers and really bad ones, because new technologies make it easier.

    LP, agreed about Amazon reviews, and that’s all across the board, even on something like children’s toys. It’s so hard to tell if the review is authentic, or just the seller with their friends and family posting fakes.

    You’re right, there would have to be measures in place to make sure it didn’t look like we were just patting each other on the back. If the reviews were genuine though, then naturally some of them would be bad ones, and that would look pretty genuine, I think ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanks for stopping by!

  6. You could take care of some of the perception of “patting on the back” by taking a page from academia and doing blind submission and review, particularly if it’s people you know who are doing the reading. It wouldn’t work as well if they’ve served as beta readers, etc., but they could bow out of the process if they accidentally received a work to review that they’d read before in some form.

  7. The review blog I’m sort-of-working on (although it doesn’t focus on literary fiction, mainly YA/fantasy/sci-fi and occasional chick-lit and classics) is planned to accept self-pub’ed as well. However I’m thinking I’ll only accept to review books which I’ve been -offered- as opposed to books I’ve just gotten sent my way without having a say in (and obviously books I come across on my own). That’d make it a bit easier for me to, get a blurb about it and look at my calendar and actually be able to say “no” if I have too much on my plate or if it doesn’t interest me. (I’m working on getting it back up, but when it was up for a brief while I got some 10+ comments about reading people’s self-pub’ed works so it’d work out best I think if I got proposals instead or found titles on my own rather than have them thrown at me)

  8. Sorry for the delay in responses – I’ve been in my writing cave! (That’s a good thing, right?) ๐Ÿ™‚

    Lunar, they actually do look pretty legit, from what I can see! Awesome, I’ll bookmark them too!

    Rachel, oh, cool! Thank you for sharing how it works in academia. There are really so many different possibilities when it comes to publishing, it’s foolish to think the traditional way it’s been done will always be the best.

    Vilde, oh, that’s awesome! I didn’t know you were working on a review site! You’re right though, you absolutely do need to set yourself up with a policy for what you’ll accept and how, because otherwise you’ll be spammed, lol! And you’d probably want a dedicated email address for it too, rather than receiving all those requests in your personal mail. I think receiving proposals or blurbs is a great idea! That’s how literary agents work with query letters as well – just a quick email to look at, and either you like the look of it, or you don’t, and if you don’t then you just press “delete” lol!

    Oh, and it now dawns on me – this whole digital shift might likely put the balance of power in the hands of reviewers rather than agents/publishers. (I know I’m not the first to say this, but it really does feel almost certain.) When publishing no longer has to do with “gatekeeping” anymore then reviewers will be important in the process as curators instead. You might be a very popular lady in a couple years! ๐Ÿ™‚

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