Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Drama: Can We Get Over It?

Was reading a review over at Big Al's Books and Pals that ended up being a huge thing because (a) the author was less than able to handle a less than perfect review and (b) the assumption that somehow her performance would rub off on all "indie" authors.

First, the author (Ms. Howett) is not an "indie" author. She's self-published. There is a difference. Second, why on earth would it be assumed that us readers would believe that all writers are the same?

As a very voracious reader, I have jumped into the ebook 'revolution' with both feet and my eyes wide open. Because the price of self-published books tends to be less than traditionally published books, I have no problem taking chances. I would have to say that 90% of the ebooks I buy are by authors I had never heard of before. Of those, I have been disappointed about 5% of the time. Most of my disappointment comes because the authors are also their own marketing department. They don't market their product well. This is what I see as the downside of self-pubs. If I am looking for a cozy mystery, I am generally disappointed if it turns out to be a Christian treatise. That is purely a marketing problem.

The rest of the disappointment comes because there are so few who will review these books. Big Al's is one of the few. There are honest reviews there. Its hard to sort out the honest reviews from the family reviews at places like amazon.com and I really prefer the honesty.

I don't believe Ms. Howett did much harm to any other self-publishing author. She mainly hurt herself. I think she may have done some harm, though, in that there may well be some would-be reviewers who may now take indie and self-pub authors of their list of people to deal with. Which is a huge shame. We as readers need independent reviewers. We rely on them for the honesty. The fear of someone blowing up at them for being honest may be enough to keep them away from doing what we readers need.

With or without independent reviewers I, for one, will continue to read books by self-published writers. I may not always care for the books, but it is a lot of fun looking for the diamonds hidden among the cubic zirconia. But its a whole lot better to have some roadmaps, and those are offered by the reviewers.

I would ask that independent reviewers please don't let the actions of a minority keep you from doing what we, the reader, needs. Thank you.


  1. Personally, I don't let things like this affect my decision making process when it comes to reviewing books. Only personal experiences, and thus far, it's been overwhelmingly in the favor of the author and Indie.

    That's not to say I've had bad experiences with both self-published authors and indies. I have. But I take them on as individuals and know that just because one turns out to be an asshat, they do not represent the whole. Like I said, I've had more positives than negatives.

    I hope when the dust settles, other reviewers will try to see it the same way. But I can't speak for them, only myself.

    Great post. Thank you for keeping a cool head and sharing your thoughts.

  2. Thank you for your thoughts. I had seen (in the heat of the moment as it were) a few reviewers who said they would probably steer away from the self-pubs. Which to me would be a loss.

    I, too, hope that when everyone has had a chance to cool off that this will be seen simply as a speed bump and not a mountain in the middle of the road.