In the comments to the last post, mesadallas asked another question I thought deserved to get moved where it would be seen more. (I’m going to come up with a title for mesadallas along the lines of New Topic Inventor in Chief.)
“With more and more authors having no choice but to go the indie route I would think the site reviewers would realize that the publishing world is changing and that they need to change with the times. * * * Why do you think romance book sites have this policy?”
McD gave an answer, which is part of the reason: “I think review sites try to avoid a flood of self-published work.”
I’m going to give my take, but keep in mind I haven’t made any study of the subject. This is just my opinion after hanging out on indie forums and reading blogs by a good many authors for the last 15 months since I first self-published Rottweiler Rescue.
There is a considerable stigma attached to self-publishing. It comes from the days when the only way to self-publish a book was with a vanity press that charged a fortune and left the author with 5,000 books in his garage. He then sold maybe 100 to family and friends and was left with a garage full of moldering books — probably until his wife had hysterics and he had to pay another fortune to get them hauled away.
And why did anyone do this in the first place? Well, the term “vanity press” kind of describes it. Someone who couldn’t get published in traditional ways and who was determined anyway, self-published. And mesadallas’s comment carries a little of this thought: “With more and more authors having no choice but to go the indie route….” But the truth is authors always have a choice. Anyone can choose to pursue traditional publishing as the One True Way. Many still see giving up as more respectable than self-publishing.
So IMO the review sites that won’t look at indie books aren’t doing it so much because of quantity as because of quality. They cling to the idea that self-published = dreck. And there’s a whole lot of terrible self-published work that anyone can bring up to justify their position. The traditional publishers are gatekeepers, they say, and save us all from the “tsunami of crap.”
The problem is when Amazon opened its digital publishing platform to indies, they started a different kind of tsunami in the publishing world. Amazon announced the other day that indie John Locke (never traditionally published) has now sold over a million ebooks. He sells his books for $.99. That’s still $350,000. At what point does everyone admit that considering an author who gets a publishing contract with a $2,000 advance and actually sells 200 books worthy of review and ignoring John Locke is silly?
Amanda Hocking is a millionaire because of her self-published YA paranormal romances. She’s going to continue self-publishing but also signed a deal with St. Martins for $2 million for, as I remember, a series of 4 books. How does anyone say we’ll review her St. Martin’s books, but the indie published ones, which sell like hotcakes, are dreck and we won’t look at them? Those barriers and rationales just aren’t going to hold up much longer.
My guess is in the near future we’re going to see more and more review sites modify their policies about indie books. In the meantime, since indie reviews at some respected sites are rare, it’s a real thrill for someone like me to have my books reviewed by sites that resisted indie books in the past, and I’m grateful that they’re in the forefront of the changing book world.
Tidbit: I never read any of John Locke’s books because they didn’t sound like my kind of thing, but recently I saw that he had a western out. Not a romance, but a straight western, and for anyone who reads westerns, it’s a darn cute read. He’s got a follow up to it I’ve just started. The first one is “Follow the Stone,” and the second is “Don’t Poke the Bear!” The covers made me hesitate because they make the books look like contemporaries, but they’re set in the Old West, and of course even at $.99 I’m a confirmed sampler. “Follow the Stone” made me realize why he’s sold those million books. I paid a heck of a lot more for Robert B. Parker’s Appaloosa westerns, and the enjoyment level was very equivalent.