Any independent author knows that it’s hard to make a meaningful connection in a sea of people when new faces are popping up constantly. Any author also knows how important it is to make these types of connections, but what few people are willing to talk about is how hard and frustrating this process can be, especially when it comes to book bloggers.
Since the very start of my publishing journey one message has been the same: book bloggers are your best friend. In theory they can work a miracle for your career, but in reality is that what’s really going to happen? After two books I’ve come to this conclusion: no.
This month alone I must’ve sent out between two and three hundred queries to different bloggers and it was probably the biggest waste of time of my career. First off, good luck finding one who still accepts submissions! I understand that they are busy and in demand people but it makes it no less frustrating at the author’s end trying to find what’s basically a needle in a haystack.
Secondly, good luck getting a response. You will not get any type of response from the majority of those who do accept submissions. In all fairness, some do write on their blogs that they’ll only write back if interested, but for the rest how hard is it to actually politely decline a submission? Or at the very least, acknowledge the person?
The part that gets under my skin the most has to do with those so-called “reviewers” who only want your money. I did get a bunch of responses to my many queries, mainly from people who wanted me to pay them to review a book that I’d be giving them for free despite being listed on websites such as IndieView who list bloggers who review for free. At least it’s all supposed to be free.
And don’t even get me started on all the unsolicited spam emails you’ll then be getting from even more people wanting to dip their fingers into your wallet. This enormous frustration of mine has even boiled over to me starting my own (actually free) book review service. I don’t promise you the world, my opinion probably won’t be the break your career has been waiting for, but I’ll be your ally. I’ll give you the time of day, I’ll acknowledge your hard work, and most importantly I won’t demand any money from you.
I also won’t be accepting all the submission requests that I get, and I probably won’t be advertising this review service outside of my own social media (at least not for now) to keep things clean, honest, ethical and personal.
In all fairness, I must also acknowledge that there are many good, honest, devoted and ethical book bloggers out there. I have been fortunate to make contact with some of them and they are gems in the sea of spam and scams targeting independent authors, and particularly new and inexperienced authors.
Despite this, I probably won’t be wasting anymore of my time on sites like IndieView (even the admin didn’t respond to my emails) looking for reviews or anything else for that matter. I’ll probably just hire one of the many companies that get book you a complete virtual book tour complete with reviews, interviews and guest posts often for only around $50.
They’ll handle all the dirty work and the frustration for me, and I’ll only be paying them to do that service. None of the people who will be reading and reviewing the book will be getting a dime. That’s the real difference between hiring a company to do the work and paying someone to read what you give them for free, something that I find absolutely disgusting considering how difficult and expensive it can be to put out a book by yourself.
This is a cautionary tale for other indies who might just be starting out and trying to find their way around this maze. My advice to you is that you should never pay an average joe to read your book. The only time you should ever pay for a review service is when getting a professional editorial review from a trusted company who is a reputable name in the publishing business. There are many out there, do your homework and you’ll be rewarded instead of scammed.
As we go along, I will be sharing my own experiences with different services and companies that I’ll be using and that I have used up until this point. Ultimately you’ll have to decide for yourself what you want and what works for you as no two authors will be successful the same way, but with my two cents I hope to pay it forward and thank those who have advised me and guided me on the right path.
If you have any questions or just want my objective opinion on something don’t be shy to post a comment or send me an email. I won’t ignore you (unless you spam me of course) and I’ll try to help you as much as I can, free of charge.