Why We DO NOT Accept Self-Published Titles

January 9, 2012 News 69

 

If you’ve ever submitted a book to us for review, you’ve seen our handy dandy Request A Review form.  We love that form.  It takes the guess work out for everyone and it makes it easy for us to zone right in on the important information that helps us decide if we want to accept a title or not (personally, the number one thing I want is a link to your book info, preferably Goodreads, but an author/publisher site is fine too).  We still get direct emails (especially if they are from publicists or 3rd party publicity companies), which is fine too as long as they check our Review Policy first.

On our Request Form, Review Policy & Direct Contact page, it states very clearly that we DO NOT accept self-published titles for review or feature, yet we get multiple requests a week to feature/review self-published titles.  We understand that some of the e-mails we receive may be from authors who haven’t had the time to explore all the way through our request a review page (when you’re doing it all for your book, we understand that it takes a lot of time and effort), but we put that information out there for everyone’s benefit, and some requests are from authors who politely but explicitly ask us to go against our policy (‘I know you don’t accept self-pub, but…’).  We feel bad having to type essentially the same rejection email every day, and we’re sure it’s no picnic for the authors to have to read them either, so we’re hoping that if we explain some of the reasoning behind our no self-pub policy, it might help everyone. 

A big thanks to Rachel from Parajunkee’s View for her recent Book Blogging 101 post on why she no longer accepts self-published review requests.  Our reasons are slightly different than hers, but it helped us immensely to see another blogger explain her decision so we’re hoping our reasons will be helpful too.

Self-Published Authors Behaving Badly

I’ve had two rather unpleasant experiences with self-pub authors on this blog (one much more glaring than the other).  Basically, the first one came about very soon after launching ATUF in 2009. I think it was my third ever ‘I’d love to send you an ARC of…’ email and I was still so unbelievably flattered that someone wanted me to review their book that I didn’t even stop to consider that it was a self-published author.  Well, the book arrived, I read it, and I did not like it…at all.  Still, I was new to this whole reviewing thing, so I tried to be as diplomatic as possible and painstakingly pointed out the few good things in the book in an effort to balance out the truly terrible.  The author, however, took offense and started commenting on my review, arguing with me, and even going so far as to send me several emails accusing me of deliberately trying to ‘damage’ and ‘ruin’ any chance of success for their book.  It was awful. 

That was when I first decided that I would no longer accept self-published titles for review.  Unfortunately, my first experience was far from unique.  It happens somewhat regularly that a self-pub author will flip out over a less than favorable review and publically (and privately) attack the reviewer.  It’s an ugly situation every time it happens. 

My second not-so-good self-pub experience happened just this year when we decided to accept another self-pub title (at the time we didn’t realize it was a self pup—sometimes it can be tricky to tell the small press from the self pub) based on a few positive reviews and an intriguing description (and yes, a pretty cover).  The review was not overly negative, it was actually fairly positive, but the author didn’t think it was positive enough and didn’t want it posted.  We don’t do that.  We don’t even normally send a review to an author before it’s posted, but we made an exception this time.  I told the author that we publish all reviews whether they are positive or not.  Then the author questioned whether or not we understood what an ARC was because they said that the criticisms regarding the writing quality were to be expected in ARCs…I assured the author that 99% of the books we review on this site were ARCs.  The review posted.  The author emailed me again asking me not to cross post it on Amazon, Goodreads, and Librarything (which we do for every title we review as stated in our Review Policy).  Again, I told the author that we always post our reviews to those sites.  It never got ugly, but it was time consuming and, frankly, unprofessional.

That’s not to make a sweeping generalization that all Indie authors are like this, I know they are not, but those are the experiences I’ve had, and it doesn’t make me eager to try again.  But, even if you take the author interaction out of the equation (which you can’t), we still have several other reasons for not accepting self-published titles:

Attack of the Terrible Covers

I’m a visual reader. I just am.  Pretty covers appeal to me…and ugly covers tend to turn me off.  The sad fact is that most indie authors don’t have access to the amazing art departments that big publishing houses have (although of course a pretty cover doesn’t guarantee a good book).  We have access to a lot of books, more than we can ever review in a month, so if I’m looking at two vampire PNRs, and one has a gorgeous cover and the other has poorly photoshopped pair of fangs on a stock image I’ve seen on a million other books, I’m going with pretty every time.

Plot Holes, Spelling Mistakes, and Grammatical Errors, Oh My!

And that’s just the covers.  As I said, we get tons of self-published title requests, and occasionally I’ll read an excerpt, and more often than not…they are rough, really rough.  Poorly written, littered with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. 

Again, we get a lot of books to review at ATUF.  I know when I get an ARC from say, Ace, it’s going to have been picked over, scrutinized, edited for content and mistakes, and proofread by countless individuals before it comes to me.  And as Julia pointed out when we were discussing this post, “knowing a book has been well edited means we can write a review that focuses on the story itself, rather than distracting quality issues.” 

Plus, it makes a world of difference knowing that there is an entire publishing house standing behind a books saying, ‘We believe in this book. We believe you’ll like it.  We believe it’s worth our substantial investment in it.’  That’s no small thing.  With a self-published author, all I really know for sure is that the author likes it.  Big difference. 

Please don’t misinterpret what we’re saying.  NOT ALL self-published authors are going to react the way the two I dealt with did (and conversely I’ve had not-so-great run ins with traditionally published authors before too, but it’s been the exception to the rule).  NOT ALL self-published titles are going to be poorly written or designed.  In fact, the opposite is true as more and more services are catering to self-pub authors.  Even Big Publishers are offering services to self-pub authors.  Things are changing. 

…But…

I’m still not willing to risk another bad experience with a self-published author.  I’m not willing to gamble with a potentially poor book when I have so many professionally published titles at my disposal.  I’m not saying that will always be the case, but it is for now.  I know this isn’t fair to the good ones out there, but until the self-publishing climate changes, our review policy is unfortunately going to exclude them.

That doesn’t mean all review outlets share our policy when it comes to self pub titles.  There are countless reviewing outlets available the gladly accept self published titles (and Goodreads is an excellent place to start).  Even though ATUF isn’t a good fit for most self-pub books (and they’re not a good fit for us), the internet provides a multitude of viable options for authors to reach their audience. 

We’d love your comments on this post and our policy regarding self-published titles.  Where do you stand?  As a reader, do you like reading about self pub titles?  If you’re a reviewer, do you accept self-pub titles?  What made you decide one way or the other?

69 Responses to “Why We DO NOT Accept Self-Published Titles”

  1. Anna

    I totally get what you are saying in this post and sadly, I agree with you… Especially if you come to think all the recent drama between authors and reviewers. It's bad. Thankfully, the couple of experiences I had with self-published authors were great but bad things happen and I consider myself really lucky to have met only sane authors.

  2. Renee

    I write the review blog Fangs for the Fantasy with my partner. We do accept self pubs because we support the idea of an author having more control over their work. Published authors don't get to choose their cover art, or the name of their own work. We also know that a book published traditionally is not necessarily error free. Finally there is also the case that just like every social gatekeeper, publishers are biased and this negatively impacts marginalized people. We have seen on more than one occasion publishers reject having gay characters or a protaganist of colour. Self publishing means a wider possibility for diversity.

    I feel that there are traditionally published books that are just plain bad, just as there are self published books are bad. Every time you open a book you roll the dice. Whether an author is traditionally published or not, they can get precious about their work. I have had just such an experience with an author who was extremely passive aggressive about a review I wrote. In part, this is because we review all books from a social justice perspective.

    In the end, this is your blog and your policy. There should be no reason for you to publicly explain your choices. What works for you, is what works for you.

  3. YzhaBella's BookShelf

    I can understand your frustration at the issues you've had. But, perhaps through these experiences, you've become too quickly jaded. I've reviewed several indie titles and while yes, there has been issue, there has also been issue with an author from a large house. In fact, this large pub author has been the most viscous I have encountered. Authors are human, and no matter the publisher, there will be some who take offense and perhaps do not deal in the best way. Whether or not to review a self-pub'd author is entirely your decision but I'd hate to think you're missing out on some AMAZING tales because of the actions of a select few.

    Wouldn't it be amazing to be a part of the next ground-breaking, record making, most promising new voice?

  4. Bibliotropic

    I don't mind self-published titles, but I am quite picky about which ones I will and won't accept. I don't mind a terrible cover, since half the time I'm not looking at it, but I do admit that sometimes it's clear that nobody really cared about art quality when they just cobbled together an image they found online with some words in a prtty font.

    I can even forgive, to an extent, the typos and grammatical errors, since more and more I notice them in trad-pub works, too. Errors happen, and so long as they aren't happening every couple of pages, I can be lenient.

    But the biggest reason I'm cautious about self-pub books is the fact that it's so easy to get something published without any quality control. Plot holes, leaps of logic that make no sense, unrealistic dialogue. Unless the self-pub author invests in a good editor, those things are probably going to be there, and frankly, I don't want to have to muddle through them to try and figure out what the author was attempting to do.

    It's a fine line to walk, and more often than not I'll stick to books published in the traditional manner, but I'm not entirely opposed to a self-published book now and again.

  5. Bob (Beauty in Ruins)

    I'll admit, I'm more likely to put a mass market title ahead of a self-published one in my TBR queue, but I wouldn't accept or turn down a novel based solely on how it was published. If the story sounds like something that really interests me, then I'll give it a shot. Granted, I'll probably do a quick search of Amazon or Goodreads first to see (a) if anybody else has heard of it, (b) how it's been reviewed, and (c) whether the author has published anything else.

    More important to me than how the book was published, however, is how the review was requested. If the author put a little effort into matching the request the the blog, and demonstrates at least a casual understanding of what I generally read/review, I'm more likely to consider it. If it's just a blind request, or something that looks like it was spammed to a dozen other blogs, I'm far less likely to take the time to investigate.

  6. Paranormal Haven

    Very well said. I haven't had any bad experiences with self-published authors but I have read more than a few not so great self-published books. Of course there have been good ones (Jennifer Turner's Eternal Hearts). For us, it's a combination of no longer having a lot of reading time and a certain quality expectation from our followers that had us putting the no self-published books in our review policy.

  7. KLeRosier

    I wish there was some sort of umbrella organization or union over self-publisher editing providers and services. They could provide a "seal of approval" to indicate professional editing, a level of quality control :)

    I understand that you only have a finite amount of time to review books and an infinite amount of review requests. Drawing a line at Self-pub is an efficient way to reduce the request pile.

    I wish you had left it at that. Although I know it was NOT your intent, this explanation will add to the growing volume of negative publishing propaganda that claims self-published novels equate to poorly edited with ugly covers. Since your reviews are respected and I believe carry weight in the industry, this description holds solid weight.

    With a seal of approval system all self-published novels won't sink down with the trash.

    Please don't take this as flame. I love your blog and value your opinions! If you had to consider every possible ramification of every comment, opinion, and post, you'd be publishing meaningless fluff and I wouldn't look forward to reading it.

  8. Kathy Martin

    I also stopped accepting self-published books as of 1/1/12. I can't meet the demand. I read about 3 books a week and I buy about 6. Add in review copies and I am being buried in books.

    Filtering out the self-published will help me get my growing TBR under control, I hope. I had quite a run of books that suffered from poor editing that soured me on self-published books which also helped fuel my decision.

    When I began blogging I was flattered to be asked to read someone's book. But as a more established blogger, I am being offered more than I can possibly do. Something had to give!

  9. Lorelei

    I can understand that there are terrible self-published books out there. And that many of the authors are not very professional when rejected, or told their writing is bad. I'm really amazed however that many bad writers manage to get an agent and a gig with a big house. I had to put one down last night–gag me! Very glad I didn't have to pay for it, really. It had a great cover too. Go figure.

    I am NOT self-published, so it must be my not-so
    "pretty" covers which turn you off. Covers do not make a book great, as you've already stated in the content of this post. I was thrilled a year ago to announce that my first book in a series was out. I have a small publisher–but a publisher nevertheless. Yet in your email to me you said "we get these titles all the time" What? Your blog title says "All Things Urban Fantasy", my book is urban fantasy. I didn't even ask for a "review". I just wanted to be featured. Oh well. But I was featured on VampChix and a few other places and it was very nice to work with Michele Hauf. SHE has talent.

    This time with my second book, I thought okay, one more time I'll send ATUF a request for a feature/giveaway. I again explained I wasn't self-published and my email went ignored.

    So… I guess this isn't exactly a place to expect to be featured if you have an ugly cover, or somehow it doesn't appeal to you.

    But hey, I'm fine with it. I'm not having a break down or a hissy fit, but I just wanted to put my 2 cents up here. I think I can handle being rejected when after 30 years I was rejected by major publishers and agents and finally one small publisher thought I had a mesmerizing story… becuase baby I DO!

    Thank you for explaining your reasons.

  10. Brenda Hyde

    I've read many excellent self-published titles recently by authors that are also published by traditional publishing companies. The editing and covers have been just as professional as any put out by publishers. Sure, there are bad apples in the bunch, but I've found they are not the majority. Plus I can show you some horrible, nightmare worthy covers put out by publishers.

  11. Julia

    I love all of these comments, they could be a post in and of themselves. Thank you for the well thought out responses! Consider this an umbrella nod towards the comments regarding blog policy, our own as well as others. I think it's great that everyone thus far is able to understand why we might set this particular policy for ATUF, while many of you also were able to articulate interesting and valid reasons why others may benefit from a different choice.

    I'd like to throw out another question to the group, particularly focused on the typo/continuity matter. Even with traditionally published books, ARCs can have issues. Sometimes they're minor things that I feel won't make it to print, sometimes they're larger pacing or dialoge problems that I *hope* won't make it, and sometimes no amount of editing will change a book that I fundamentally am not enjoying.

    My current practice in reviewing, if I feel I may be dinging a book for something that won't make it to final print, is to point out the issue with a caveat to readers that they may never see it. For the extreme problems, however, I sometimes wish I could just pull the plug on a review and switch into beta-reader mode and send my comments directly to the author/publisher. "No really, let's keep this between us, these are the problem areas that catch my eye…" It's a different service, focusing on the author rather than prospective readers, and I know there are only so many hours in the day… but do you guys ever feel tempted to put down the "reviewer hat" and pick up your red pen?

    In closing (and back on subject), navigating on-line interactions is one of the great challenges of the modern world, both personally and professionally. @KLeRosier, your comment is a great example of leavening criticism with reassurance, something that becomes all the more important when communicating through a purely written medium. If your written disagreement (or review) is perceived as overly harsh or agressive, many readers will simply disregard it. I think this comment thread is one of the best examples I've ever seen of thoughtful, engaged discussion, and what makes it effective is how each of you established a basis and support for your opinions. Very cool.

  12. thebookjunkiesbookshelf

    I think it's sad that our book blogging community has gotten to the point where we feel that we have to defend the decisions that we make on our blogs. So it specifically says in your review policy that you don't accept self-published books. I feel that if an author is trying to push a self-published book on you they clearly have NOT read your review policy in it's entirety.

    At this time I do accept self-published on a VERY limited basis. But this too could come to a screeching halt if things go bad with the author.

    One of my first review requests was a self-published author. I read the book, wrote the review and posted it. Basically, it was a really great book but I'm quirky enough that the spelling issues brought the rating down. The author was actually very nice about it and has since when about getting an editor and trying to get in at a small scale publisher.

    I'm hoping to avoid the nightmares that have been taking place in the blogging community but authors behaving badly.

    Thank you for opening this up for discussion! Bravo!

  13. Erika Badass

    Your blog, your policy. I'm cool with that. What I wanted to respond to, was the statement that Indie or Self-Pub authors fly off the handle. As evidenced over the last two weeks on Goodreads, Four Authors attacked reviewers, and they are represented by major publishing houses. I read and reviewed a book recently from Penquin which Told the entire book. It was all telling, no showing. Makes me wonder where the editors really are, or why the editing has become so lax as of late. Just because a book is pubbed by a big house, doesn't always mean it will be free from errors or plot holes.

    So saying, there are many self-pubbed books that are awful. Just as there are many big six books that are awful.

    We accept requests from self-pub and small indie press houses, but if the book isn't interesting, the cover isn't nice, and the first page is completely disheveled, then we pass.

    I take it case by case, because there are some true gems in both instances. Two of my favorite books of last year, were self-pubbed novels.

  14. Maria

    It's your blog and your policy, I've read some good and some bad self-published work and I can understand your frustration and why you feel this way. As a reader, I usually stick to the self published works of authors who have already been published by either a traditional print publisher or by a well known ebook publisher. I feel like they already have experience writing and I hope they have used a halfway decent editor. I know there are bound to be mistakes but I'm hoping it won't be too bad. I tend to stay away from never before published self-publish authors unless they get really good reviews from places I trust.

  15. CK

    I can't help but wonder when exactly did good manners go out the window? Is it because with the Internet people don't interact face-to-face?

    It seems that authors behaving badly is becoming quite vogue. It doesn't just happen with self-pub'd authors, however. It's on the verge of becoming a marketing tool. That is something that all reviewers might have to deal with in the near-future. (Scary thought as it is.)

    But I feel that, 'Your house, your rules'. For an author to come to your house, ask for a review then complain about, that's just bad manners. It's like being invited to dinner at someone's house, then complaining to the host that the decor is cheap and the food is bad.

    I take each book on an individual basis because there is no guarantee each time you open a book. Last year, one of my favorite authors disappointed me, not just with the way the story was written but also with how it was edited.

    So my policy is, if a blurb interests me, I will read it. I am more lenient with self-pub's. If it's bad, I decline to review. If the author wants to know why, I'll tell them. But if a book has a publishing house behind them, then all bets are off, especially if it is one of the Big Six. There is no excuse for a big publishing house to put out shoddy books that have less thought put into them then some fanfiction I've read. Yet they do, quite often, because they nurture the concept that they are 'legit' and 'real' and 'gatekeepers' who only put out quality products.

  16. E.B. Black

    As a reader (and not just a writer), it's too bad you don't review self-published books. It would be nice to know which are good and which are bad, since, for the time being, I'm kind of reluctant to purchase very many because the quality of the books can vary wildly and is completely unpredictable.

    I'm not against your decision or anything though. I can understand it.

  17. Amberkatze

    Totally agree and admire you guys for saying it loud and clear. I may just point some authors to this article in the future…

  18. SusieBookworm (Susanna)

    I don't generally review self-published books, either. There's a few that look really great and turn out to be so, but most of the ones I've read were just filled with errors and poor writing.

  19. Arianne Cruz

    I go ahead and review self-published authors only for a blog tour. I'm planning to publish an anthology in the near future, but it's good to know that you don't accept self-published authors, that way authors like me won't have to waste your time and mine :) I understand your frustration, I read many authors with horrible grammar and spelling. I'm reading one right now! But the storyline is amazing so I'm trying to give it a bit of slack. But my reviews are honest and I make sure to write that I do not appreciate such mistakes in a book.

  20. Cherie Reich

    I definitely understand why you would choose to hold such a policy. So far I haven't had a problem with the self-published authors I've worked with and whose books I've reviewed. I do read self-pubbed books too. Of course, there are good and bad books in both, and sadly, it only takes a few people to ruin it for everyone else.

  21. Mary

    Years ago I entered a short story contest where I was told I could have my short story published in an anthology. I did and I won a spot in the book…this was years ago and I didn't realize it was going to be a self published book or what that even meant. Afterwards I got my copy and read the other stories in the book and some were down right bad. Going back now I can honestly say that my short story wasn't all that great either. lol

    But that was my first glimpse into self publishing and after writing a few reviews I was contacted and asked if I would read a review copy of a book and post a review. I read it and it was so bad I actually wrote to the author and told them I didn't feel comfortable reviewing the book because I really didn't care for it.

    I've read a few more self published books and while some are alright, most of the ones I've read are just not worthy of being published. In my eyes they are self published for a reason…that reason being they were not good enough to be traditionally published.

    I no longer read/buy/accept for review or even enter a contest to win a self published book. It's just not worth my time because 98% of them aren't worth reading…but that's just my opinion.

  22. Amelia James

    I am self-published author scum. Most of my author friends are too. I'm sure there's nothing I can say that will change your mind about SPAs, so let me just say this.

    Some of us put a lot of hard work into our books. Some of us hire cover designers and professional editors. Some of us use beta readers and critique groups. Some of us get bad reviews (when we can get them), and some of us get great reviews. Some of us have actual writing talent.

    If you don't want to read or review a self-published book, that's your right, but don't dismiss us all. That's not fair to anyone.

    Thank you.

  23. Kainani

    I am a avid reader. I do read some self-published books but normally it's shorts ones that cost under $2.00. I rather not risk spending a whole lot of money on an author I am unfamiliar with or if it's a 1st time author. I normally base my decision to read a book by the blurb and on other reviews posted at Amazon or Goodreads.

    I do find that some self-published books do have a lot of grammar and spelling errors but if I am enjoying the book, I can over look it. However, I am like you, totally visual. Although you can't judge a book by it's cover, I do. I am totally drawn to a book with a good cover. That being said, I have read some good books with bad covers and one of my first thoughts is, they need a better cover.

    In all, your policy is YOUR policy. I think it's a good one. Keep up the great reviews. Thanks

  24. SciFiGuy

    Agree with everything you said although I am not as concerned over self-pub author behaviour. Bottom line is I review for free. My time is precious and my leisure reading is too. If I have to choose between reviewing a self-pub author lacking an editor and proof-reader vs a professionally produced book, then it is no contest.

    Note to self-pub authors: work as hard as those authors who have secured an agent and a contract. Pay your dues. Just because the internet makes it easy to self-pub doesn't make it the path you should choose. While not all professionally published books are good, at least I know they have been the through the process.

  25. SciFiGuy

    Another thought as I just noticed Amelia's comment above. IF self-pub authors could forma co-op or in some other way certify that there novels have had a professional editor or proofing done, then that would satisfy most of my concerns. I would review such a novel (time permitting). Of course another drawback to most self-pubs is that they only infrequently have hard-copies.

  26. Janet Periat

    As a self-pubbed author (pubbed humor columnist/pubbed erotica author) of a series of novels that my agent said the big guys would never get (gay characters, older heroines, weird and quirky Left Coast sense of humor) I would also like to send a message to all self-pubbed authors. You get one chance with your first book. You have to make sure it's professionally edited and as good or BETTER than what's available from the Big Six. Or you make us all look bad.

    And as far as you reviewing or not reviewing self-pubbed books, why would anyone require you to do what you don't want to do? I agree you shouldn't have to justify yourself.

    But do me one favor, once in a while, check out a self-pubbed title. Many of us are falling through the cracks of the Big Six. My last rejection from Penquin: "A real page-turner! But I don't think it has million dollar possibilities." Big Houses only want best sellers now, no growing-the-author's-base. All they want are blockbusters.

    That being said, my work is quirky. So my agent said to self-publish, that the current publishing model was holding me back. So that's what I've done.

    I treat myself as a small house. My product must be as perfect as I can get it before I release it. I wish I was the standard.

    So I understand your reticence, but don't block yourself from what may be good work. Doesn't mean you have to review the books, but you may want to check them out once in a while. First five pages will tell you if the person is worthy of reading.

  27. Stephsco

    I'm assuming the majority (if not all) book reviewer blogs are not getting paid, at least not a living wage, and the reviewers are doing this out of a love of reading and sharing good books. I post reviews on my blog but it's only from books I've purchased with my own money or borrowed from the library. I reviewed 2 ARCs I got from a conference. You have every right to put your own limitations on what you review. It's your time and effort.

    Also to clarify, "indie" publishing would mean an indepdent publisher that is not a corporate giant pub house, but it is still a publisher where an editor would be involved, correct? I see indie and self-pubbed used together a lot and wondered the distinction, or if the terms are erroneously being interchanged.

  28. Hope Welsh

    I wish I could say I didn't understand. As a writer that's been published both by publishers and has self-published; it's understandable.

    For many writers, just seeing their book in print via an e-book or a real 'hands-on' book is huge. Of course no writer thinks their book is bad.

    Unfortunately, it's very hard to sell a book to New York. The internet is filled with self-published authors that have gone on to publish with New York. Would they be in NY without having self-published first, though?

    Two authors come to mind. Amanda Hocking who is a YA author that sold millions of books as a self-published author, and made the USA Today Best Seller list. NY came to her, naturally.

    Another is HP Mallory. She self-published her series, and now is signed with NY.

    There are many self-published authors out there. Personally, I judge a book by the story, not by who published it. That being said, I've read very good self-published books, and I've read some very bad self-published books.

    If I was doing reviews still (I used to do a monthly column for Romantic Times) I'd decide whether to read something based on reading the first chapter. I can usually tell pretty quickly whether I'm going to like a book or not.

    I've read some truly horrible NY published books. I've read NY books with glaring mistakes–such as one of my favorite Jayne Ann Krentz books–Gift of Gold. An entire paragraph was repeated. After years, it still bugs me that such a mistake got past their editing and proofreading department.

    I definitely look at book covers–but I don't judge a book by the cover. The simple reason for that is the fact that authors in NY have very little say on their covers.

    As a reader and a writer, though, I certainly respect your choice not to read indie books. But I can't say that I agree. There are some really good e-books. I think perhaps a policy to make that determination based on either a synopsis or a first chapter read of the title before deciding to review would be an idea to consider.

    Even just the review request can be a good indicator of whether or not it's worth the time to review. If someone can't manage to fulfill the requirements or put together a coherent paragraph on why one should read their book, it's going to indicate to me that I don't want to waste my time.

    Reviewing books is hard work. It's very difficult to be tactful when you simply don't like a book. Kudos to you for doing reviews in the first place.

    Hopefully, you'll consider the other side as the number of self-publishing GOOD authors grows.

    There are now quite a few NY authors that are going the indie route–because frankly, the money is very often much better.

  29. Abigail

    I should have started this post with an apology to all the MANY MANY self-published authors who work hard to produce the best books they can with the resources available to them, and would never for a moment entertain the idea of going off on reviewers who negatively (for whatever reason) reviewed their books. I know that we are the ones who are missing out by our no self-pub policy, and I’m genuinely sorry (and sad) about that. It isn’t fair that the badly behaving ones have cast a stigma over the self-publishing community. The fact remains, however, that they have. And unfortunately, those are the ones who are largely responsible for this post and the many other reviewer policies that other bloggers have had to adopt excluding self-pub titles.

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the self-pub authors who commented and privately emailed to say that, while you may respectfully disagree with our policy, acknowledged that we are free to set our own guidelines. Thank you for that.

    As we said in our post, we know that the self-pub is changing. More and more authors are going indie because of the freedom and control that they can have that @Renee rightly supports. You are 100% right that traditionally published authors are not magically immune from writing bad books, with bad covers (wow is that not true), nor are they above behaving badly as the latest ‘author behaving badly’ fiasco that erupted last week (which I would link to if the author hadn’t taken it down) proved. This was a traditionally published author who had several books under her belt and really should have known better by now. Obviously not.

    And even though, yes, author behavior is a factor, it’s not even the main reason behind our policy. Doug @SciFiGuy said it perfectly in his comment. It’s about time. There 600+ traditionally published titles published each year in the paranormal genres. At any given time we have 100+ titles in our review queue. Even being the voracious readers we are, we can’t read them all. Not even close. So we make decisions based on a number of factors. Certain storylines grab up, other are turn offs. A favorite author blurbing a title could make the difference. For me, there are certain publishers that I’ve come to trust to consistently put out great books. More often it’s a publicist who sends me titles that they believe in (and since I trust them, I do too). I don’t have that with self-published titles. It’s a total, complete, 100% gamble every single time with a self-published book because there is zero quality control. Zero. It could be a book that somebody with very little experience wrote in a couple days, and then uploaded it to Amazon. Or it could be from the author who slaved over it for months or more with beta readers and critique partners, hired a professional editor and proof-reader, the whole nine yards. I don’t know. But I do with a traditional publisher.

    I would agree with @KLeRosier about an ‘umbrella organization’ that could somehow rate self-published titles. I can’t imagine what something like that would entail, but the idea is very appealing. If you ever start a seal of approval system, let us know!

    @Lorelei – I’m sorry we weren’t able to accept your book (and truthfully, I cannot recall your title(s) and the reason behind our rejection). We do review UF, but not every UF title is going to appeal to our reviewers. It’s a three shot deal here, if a book meets our basic requirements as outlined in our Review Policy, it gets offered to our reviewers (there are three of us now), and if everyone passes (and the reasons can be extremely varied), they get declined. Ditto for a feature. Sometimes declined emails get shot back to us because submitters mistyped their email address in our request form. I can only assume that’s what happened with your second request. Congratulations on finding a publisher who supports you and stands behind your work.

  30. mladyrebecca

    As a reader, I appreciate your policy. It may not be your intention, but a side affect of not reviewing self-published books is you seem to always review books that are novel length and are available in paperback form.

    On Goodreads, I can't count the number of times I fell in love with a blurb only to find out it's actually just a short story only available in eBook form. As someone who likes doorstop sized books and long series, short stories rarely cut it for me.

  31. Anonymous

    If I were the author, I would have just taken the criticism and tried to improve my book in the future. It's not your fault you didn't like it. If you don't like it, then you just don't. No one can force you to change your opinion.

  32. Cathy @ Abnormally Paranormal Reviews

    I used to think only the self-published authors were acting this way over bad reviews, but sadly, this isn't the case anymore. In the past week or two, quite a few traditionally published authors have done exactly the same things with reviewers who reviewed their books, or another author's books, negatively. All authors are the same, no matter what.

    It really doesn't make sense to single out self-pubbed ones anymore.

  33. KB/KT Grant

    I'm open for reviewing self published work, but most request are from these authors who do blind emailings, ask me to review their book I wouldn't read because it's not the genre I like or overall what they give me has a horrible cover, no editing and whatever else.

    Now I only review self pubished books by glowing reviews and wonderful word of mouth like Susan Ee's Angelfall. Might be the best self published book I ever read behind Courtney Milan's historical romance novella.

  34. Lexi

    As a reader I have nothing against self published authors, I have found some gems. But I have also found that there are more that are underimpressive, makes it harder to find the gems.
    For a blog these are very valid reasons to not accept self-pub authors. Too bad not everyone buys into the any publicity is good publicity, even if it is true. Not everyones tastes are the same.
    Good luck fending off all the self-pubs!

  35. Jo

    Interesting post and comments — and made me think about the books I accept for review. I am open to self-published books, although I am pretty selective about what I choose to review, especially if it sounds like the kind of book I don't usually read. I'd rather be a bit choosy and be able to give something a balanced review, than accept everything and anything and then do a poor job of it. I did accept one book recently that sounded great, but when I read it, I really didn't find it resonated with me (and I just didn't like it much). I wound up contacting the person who had sent it to me, and asked if they'd rather that I not post my review — and she was very gracious, and we had a good conversation about it. As it turned out, I didn't post the review, and agreed to pass the book on to someone else that I thought would like it more.
    What was really nice was the fact that I was able to have this kind of conversation, and it was all polite, etc.

  36. Anonymous

    Well, I understand your frustration on the self-pubed peeps. However, I've been working fervently on my book since '08'. I've been in a great critique group. I've entered portions of it to different contests. Not with hopes to win but to see where it stood and what was wrong with it.
    Finally, it's good enough for beta readers to read it. When they're finished and I'm finished picking through peebs I'll send it to a professional editor.
    Also, I've read many books by famous authors who made my eyes glaze over because the plot was bad and sentence structure sucked.

    To be honest, you're not being fair but discriminating. And you never know when you'll find a diamond in the ruff.

  37. Anonymous

    Self-pubed, anyone? peebs? Ruff? Okay, then.

    Check your grammar before posting if you are going to criticize someone for not reviewing your novel.

  38. Anonymous

    I agree with Renee from Fangs for the Fantasy. I have just finished reading a couple of books by a New York Times bestselling author who is published with a reputable publishing house. The work is appalling!

    I'm an unpublished author still learning the craft and I was a wee bit shocked to see basic errors (grammatical, structural and plot-wise) in these books. I regularly fix these things in my own work, but they were glaringly obvious in these books. And this isn't the first author on the NYT list who's work is below the standard I would expect from someone benefiting from the skills available from well known publishing houses.

    This is just a little bit disconcerting! I'd like to think that should I be lucky enough to be accepted by these places, my books would go out as error free as possible.

    I believe there are some shockers out there in the great land of the self-published, as there are some pearls which have been rejected because they don't fit within 'norms'.

    It saddens me that you have had such poor experiences with self-published authors. These two people, more than anyone, should understand the need to be professional about their work and that means accepting the good with the bad.

    Here's hoping that things change and you can dip back into the world of the self-published author, without getting your toes bitten!

  39. Shirley Wine

    A very interesting blog…the comments even more so. It is great to have a discussion like this for both self published and large house published authors.
    I have recently acquired a Kindle and have been devouring books and I've found some great self published books…and some not so great. But in the end it comes down to personal taste. One book I bought because of its reviews was downright dismal and not at all what I expected. And it was a well publicized book from a large Publishing house.

    But again it's your blog your rules. Why would an author submit to you if it contravenes your specific guidelines?
    As the young one's say: Duh! Get with the program.

  40. Bron

    It's your website and you have every right to clearly state your rules, and authors should respect your stance.

    However, self-publishing is going to get more and more confusing as more and more traditionally published authors also self-publish – will you reject them too? Where do you draw the line? I'd hate to think that I'd miss out on a big named TP author's review of their latest book because they self-published it.

    I have a funny feeling over time you will have to amend your policy. Maybe self-published books by originally TP authors might be reviewed. But as others have pointed out, I have read some wonderful self-published books from authors who have never been traditionally published, and some terrible TP books. Everyone is different in their view of a 'good' book, that is what makes the world interesting.

    For instance, just because a book is not picked up by a publishing house does not mean it is not good. It may be that they don't quite know where it fits or how they would sell it. Or there is another book very similar. These books are perfect for self-publishing as they find their own niche market.

    I love the self-publishing world. It has opened my world to more great stories and writers at reasonable prices. Long may it last.

    It comes back to the fact that it is your site – your rules. Just don't get left behind in this very fast changing e-publishing world.

  41. Spellboundbybooks Melissa

    This post was well thought out and I have to agree wholeheartedly with what you are saying. I know there have been a few books I've come across over the last few years that the covers have turned me off completely… and then there are others that are so full of grammatical errors that I just put the book down and shake my head.

    I review Self Published because there are alot of great authors who have chosen self publishing to have better control over things and majority these days that I accept have taken the time to invest in their packaging. They've put the time in to not just edit once but go over and over to make sure they haven't missed anything.

    I run Spellbound By Books but I am finding it hard dealing with the onslaught of review requests coming through from Self Published authors and tend to knock alot back since I accept alot from actual Publishers.

    I think we need some bloggers out there to review self pub to help promote the fantastic authors that have chosen this path.. but at the same time, self pub authors should take the time out to read Review policies and when it is stated that you DO NOT accept self pub or a certain genre, accept it and move on.

  42. KB/KT Grant

    Anon: "Self-pubed, anyone? peebs? Ruff? Okay, then.

    Check your grammar before posting if you are going to criticize someone for not reviewing your novel."

    An author is getting paid for their work, a reviewer or blogger is not. Your point is mute. And we're supposed to take your comment seriously when you won't put your real name down?

  43. adrianaryan

    I see what you're saying. As book reviewers, you simply don't have the time to wade through piles of crap. A publishing house gives you at least some sort of standard, even if that standard seems to be gradually slipping. A self-published author has no "backing" so to speak.

    I'll be self-publishing for the first time this year, and am hiring a cover designer and a professional editor. It's sad that there isn't an organization that can give me the seal of approval I need. It's my hope that there will be soon, because sadly enough, self-published authors need the good reviews more than the traditionally published authors (especially those who already have a backlist) do.

    Thanks for your opinion!

  44. Anonymous

    What does the fact that I get paid or not paid have to do with anything? Are you being discriminating against bloggers? And if your grammar is that bad and you want to be an author, maybe taking a class is in order.

  45. Anonymous

    Or you know, checking your comment for grammar before you post it? When the topic against reviewing self-pubbed is bad editing?

  46. Anonymous

    And its your point is moot. Please, GOD, please, hire an editor.

  47. Marlene Harris

    Those of us who review on our blogs definitely get caught in the "so many books, so little time" paradox. I read 6-ish books per week, and I'm never caught up.

    I do take self-published books IF they are in my genres and if they sound good. And if the info I can find on Amazon/Goodreads/whatever promo sites are available looks reasonably good.

    But I don't promise specific dates for the review, because my schedule is full until April. If someone is still willing to send me their book on that basis, then that's okay.

    I've read some really terrific self-published books, and picked up some commercially published books that I thought would be good that were just 'meh'.

    YMMV

    Marlene @ http://www.readingreality.net

  48. Jodie Riverina Romantics

    Ok, hoping this will be short and sweet, but I doubt it.

    I see both sides of the story, but being a reviewer myself it is hard to keep yourself open for self pubbed books.

    A reviews job isn't all enjoyable reading, fluffy slippers and good coffee. It's reading the good, the bad and the ugly.

    For me, I want to promote the great books, the ones that make my toes curl in pleasure and not in annoyance.

    And unfortunately the self publishing industry is a lot like the first few episodes of American Idol. A whole lot of people who think they are damn fine – when its obvious to everyone else that they aren't.

    Yes, there are a HEAP of great self pubbed books out there, but those HEAP are only a needle in a whopping big haystack.

    And people that follow your blog don't want to continuously read about books that suck like a Hoover – they want to know about great books.

    I also agree with Abigail on the horrible covers too. I am all about the pretty covers. I can't express it more – if you've spent so much time working you butt off to write a masterpiece (and believe me, I know how hard it is) please, please, please put as much effort into making it aesthetically pleasing.

  49. SM Reine

    This is a very interesting discussion.

    It's more than fair to draw the line at independently published books, given the volume of review requests. Your blog, your rules.

    But as others have said, bad behaviors and poor quality are hardly limited to self-pubs. Anne Rice has her history of public tantrums, and so does Laurell K Hamilton (whose recent books are almost unreadable). It seems hardly a week passes without a scuffle between authors.

    Writing is very personal, and creative types have fiery personalities. If you want to avoid drama, this is probably the wrong business to be in. ;)

    In any case, competition is stiff. Serious authors hire help, so it's getting hard to tell the difference between a decent indie and a Big 6 book. If an indie book is competing with its traditionally-published brethren, why not treat it the same way? You can always refuse to deal with authors who behave unprofessionally.

    Of course, that doesn't solve the issue of volume, but there you go. Like I said… your blog, your rules.

  50. Kayelle McClive

    While I totally understand the reasoning, the logic is flawed. There are authors out there that might have already done the published route and decided that instead of handing their royalties over to someone else they'd rather keep more for themselves. Doesn't mean their book is greater or less than if they have had an editor go over the book.
    Sure authors books are their babies and some people are going to be morons no matter what they do.
    I feel you're losing out on the chance to read some great authors. But.. your loss I guess. Someone else will take the time somewhere.

  51. Jackie (Literary Escapism)

    Sadly, I have to agree with most of your reasons Abigail. LE doesn't accept self-pubbed titles either and while we share some of the same, the main reason for me is because I started to get irritated with them wanting me to do some promoing and then standing me up. My time is just as valuable as theirs and it was getting to me on how disrespectful they were of me.

    We also had an instance with a bad review. The author sent one copy and between the time he sent it in and we posted the review, he had his book edited and never sent us an updated copy. It's fabulous that he took the time to get it edited, but if you've sent out copies for review, it's not our responsibility to make sure we have the most updated copy. It's the authors.

  52. ParaJunkee

    Thanks for the shout out. I appreciate it. I'm always torn with self-published novels. For one, my natural instinct is to support them – they have put so much work in their novel and it has been rejected and rejected — and now it is going to be rejected by a reviewer. How terrible is that? But, I've had such bad luck with negative reviews and self-published authors. They are so sensitive, probably because of all the rejection, that sometimes they bite back. This reinforced my decision to stop accepting author solicited reviews in general. Not, to mention the ridiculous amount of requests I was getting daily. It was almost impossible to go through the emails. It's like one day you have no one requesting you review their book and the next – 10 books a day.

    Yet, for new bloggers and reviewers just starting out I hate to scare them away from self-pubs. I always give the advice to take a look at the cover – does it look professionally designed? Take a look at the synopsis is it something you would like? Maybe read an excerpt – does it have typos? I think that small percentage of self-pubs that hire a designer to create their cover and hire editors to proof their work are worth the time to review. But, when you have multiple requests coming in daily – it gets kind of hard to do that kind of research before you accept a book to review. I feel like I'm rambling. I'll sign off now. XOXO

  53. Abigail

    It's a shame, really. I wish I had the time to explore self-pup, just as a reader. But it's wildly impractical as a reviewer given the volume of requests we receive. Here's hoping a 'seal of approval' system gets started somewhere.

  54. Abigail

    Rachel, I was so glad when you wrote your post on your policy. I was feeling awful about this, but getting pretty frustrated by the requests I was getting from people who clearly weren't taking the time to even 'look' at our review policy. Still, I didn't anticipate this response, but I'm more convinced now that it's the right decision for ATUF.

  55. Emily

    I think this is very, very true. The ease of digital publishing that makes so many people wary is also what is helpful for "established" authors who are digitizing their backlists, releasing free content, continuing a series that their publisher has decided for whatever reason to not carry any more, etc.

  56. Emily

    Interesting post! I think ultimately this is a tremendously personal decision that each blogger has to make for her- or himself. I do a lot of work promoting indie authors because I think it's tremendously cool that someone goes off to a day job, works all day, comes home and does all their real life things that have to get done, and still has the drive and desire to create a story and want me to read it. Plenty of traditionally published authors do that as well but the indie authors are where I've built the best relationships.

    I think the saddest thing about the blogging world is that bad behavior can happen anywhere at any time and can come from anyone. Not all of it is deliberate- I've been offered plenty of traditionally published books from publishers and author representatives that in no way, shape or form fit my review policy. I'm not going to just cut them some slack because they have a Big Name Publisher in their signature. The spelling and grammar thing gets me hot under the collar too- if a publisher is going to charge me $7.99 or higher for an ebook then that ebook had better be immaculate, because they are telling me that their product is of higher quality and therefore should merit the higher price. All too often it isn't, and then there are excuses as to why- budget cuts, timelines, whine, whine, whine. Indie authors just get relegated to the spam box when they have mishaps like this, so in many ways I feel that indie authors are held to a higher standard.

    Like I said, ultimately this is a tremendously personal decision and I totally respect folks who for whatever reason have decided to limit the type or quantity of books they'll review. I've had really good experiences with indie authors and traditionally published authors as well, but the volume of review requests I get means that I go on an extremely case by case basis when accepting books for review. I mean, I'm so behind right now that I'm not accepting books from anyone- you have to do what you have to do.

    Again, great post and I love the discussion that's been generated!

  57. Anonymous

    I was cheering for you until you decided to open that god-awful can of worms and invite people to start this ridiculous "there are just as many bad professionally published books as there are self-published books" debate. That's a huge pile of horse crap. I'm so very tired of it, and it's perfectly ok for you to just state your reasons and end it there. How much more "discussion" do we have to have about it? This is a divide that will never be bridged. The truth is that many self-published WRITERS have formed a clique, and a lot of them have an attitude. They promote and buy each other's books, review each other's books, and abuse social networking sites by spamming the crud out of people's walls. Networking is not the same as using FB to promote and sell your books. If you dare to disagree with them on issues such as ebooks/readers, most of them will get really nasty. There are some benefits of digital/electronic books. For me, it's NOT self-published books. I like 99 cent short stories by my favorite authors (no, they aren't self-published). Whatever happened to the sense of honor and hard-earned status that come with getting a book accepted for publication? Yes, there are problems with the traditional system, but for the most part there is good reason that their work has not been accepted. There are may be three self-pubbed titles that I've seen on Amazon with covers that aren't ugly as sin. Members of their clique start little businesses designing covers and think that they're pros because they can find their way around Photoshop. That doesn't make a good designer. They rarely if ever have professional credentials that qualify them, and they still charge quite a chunk of change for crap. The same goes for "editors." No credentials. No educational background. No professional skills or experience (except for "editing" a few self-published books). Also, not surprisingly, these people are also self-published "authors!" One self-published writer posted that her readers told her that her book was riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. She had the book "professionally" edited and paid over $200 for those services. I kind of felt bad for the girl–for about a minute. Desperation makes people vulnerable. The websites for all of these self-publishing pushers are unattractive. The ads they create for their services have errors in them! How can you advertise your services as an "editor" when you can't even write your own copy?! Bevel, emboss, and drop shadow do not make a good cover and knowing how to use those features doesn't make you a cover artist. It's getting out of control! Your policy is spot on. Put it out there and don't invite discussion on the matter. It just makes you look like you're apologizing for it, and I hope you won't allow yourselves to be bullied into changing it. There are PLENTY of sites out there that are all about self-published authors. Why is everyone bending over backwards to cater to them? Enough is enough. I think it's pretty obvious where people stand on the issue. If you self-publish, you're not going to like this policy. End of story. Of course, there are some really talented writers who have rightfully been able to find success by self-publishing. But they are the minority, especially those who actually belong there. This industry is going down the WRONG road, and I'm so disappointed. I appreciate this policy, and I enjoy your site!

  58. Anonymous

    You know what? STOP bullying sites who have this policy with the "don't get left behind in this very fast changing e-publishing world." It's a very one-sided and misinformed perspective, it's condescending, and the argument itself is based more on wishful thinking than reality. Yes, e-publishing has become a big deal, but it's nowhere close to taking over the entire publishing industry. Further, it's very troubling that those who make such statements seem to be pleased to see traditional publishing abolished along with bookstores and libraries, for that matter. This attitude is a result of reading pro-self-publishing/ebook business pros that feed us inaccurate and distorted statistics. Of course you love this "world." Take a look at the big-picture and it might not look so pretty. Consumer culture seems nice at first, giving us "access" to everything in a snap. It's truly a shame. Books as commodities. There is nothing sacred anymore.

  59. Scooter Carlyle

    I accept self-pubbed books on my site, but the experience has been very trying. I've only had one author flip out, though it was in a very malicious, passive-aggressive manner. The rest of the self-pubbed authors were very kind, even though the reviews were very poor. I was very careful to couch my language to illustrate the problems and to avoid making it sound like a personal attack.

    I have not read a good self-pubbed novel yet. I know they're out there, but for me it's been like trying to find a needle in a haystack. The first few very, very poor. At first, I emailed reviews privately to the authors and did not post them publicly. Now I post all reviews because one author tried to get me to edit for him.

    I have nothing against self-pubbed authors and I think it's a good option for some people. Unfortunately, the ease of self-publishing has flooded the market with substandard books. My policy is that self-published books have to have been edited by someone other than the author. So far folks have honored that and the quality has improved.

  60. Anonymous

    I can't really tell which post you're addressing, but it's silly to compare an online conversation to a BOOK. I would think people of all backgrounds would be able to participate without being criticized for grammar. A bit elitist, don't you think? None of us make perfect use of the English language in casual dialogue, so this is just silly. This is a common strategy used to shut people up who happen to disagree with the prevailing view on the subject. Do you really expect that everyone here is going to check their work like it's a book report before posting it? Please. On the other hand, if you write a book and plan to sell it, or you're asking someone to review it, then you need to invest in editing. By the way, why don't YOU check your comment before posting? My guess is that you probably think yours is perfect.

  61. fishgirl182

    great post. i am very wary of self pubbed titles as well. i have been lucky and have read a couple of really good ones and a few bad ones, but nothing untoward has happened because of them. i don't know if authors sometimes understand that not everyone is going to like your book. really, they're just not. and it sucks and it hurts, but you'll get over it. if your book is good it will find an audience.

    and yessss, i hate the covers of self-pubbed books sometimes. they can be so cheap and cheesy looking. sometimes i'd rather just have text than a really cheesy stock photo cover.

  62. Law Reigns

    I support Indie writers on my blog http://www.lawreigns.com. Sorry, I'm a rebel at heart.

    I also would like to say this is a very humorous blog post. I disagree with it because it sadly mocks those who have talent and meet with great success through utilizing the tools many self-published authors use. Has anyone heard of Brittany Geragotelis? She was giving her book away for free on Wattpad which landed her in a bidding war. E.L. James' novel Fifty Shades Of Grey was selling on the internet with it's bland cover way before a Big Six saw it.

    Even Stephanie Meyer was photoshopping images and self-publishing her book Twilight before it went big. This information, sadly, has been removed from her blog.

    There are so many undiscovered jewels in the Indie field that blow up big! I want to be the one that discovers a jewel for my blog. How cool would that be?

  63. E.C. Adams

    Parajunkie is now accepting submissions for review by self-published authors. Rachel roped in someone specifically for us.

  64. BR Kingsolver

    As an author, I make it a point to read the review policies prior to requesting a review. That’s how I ended up reading this post. While it’s discouraging to find so many reviewers who won’t accept self-published works, I understand it. I read 1-2 books a week, and at $9.99 that’s up to a thousand bucks a year. If I can get my fix at $2.99-$3.99, the difference is a ski trip to the Rockies. I also find a number of low-priced books by trad-published authors, who occasionally self-pub.

    However, the number of free or cheap books that I DNF is fairly high. Good stories with shallow characters, plot holes like a third-world dirt road, and major quality issues are common. One commenter above mentioned some kind of certification for independently published books. I think something else will happen.

    Currently, publishing on B&N, Amazon or Smashwords is free. I think we’ll see a backlash against poor quality, and it will hit the retailers in their wallets. I foresee Amazon requiring a fee for publishing, with the money used on vetting books for quality issues. It won’t eliminate the poor plots or shallow characters, but it will eliminate the typos, blatant misspellings and word-usage mistakes, poor grammar, etc.

  65. VMG

    I have self-published in the past under a different name, and have an urban fantasy book which I am planning to self-publish soon. I came across this site while looking for venues to send ARCs too. This isn’t a beg for a read — in addition to being self-published there’s an erotica element that would rule out my book for this blog.

    I just want to say I totally get it. You’ve got enough books to review without dealing with unpleasant people. I just hate when groups of people with little in common get lumped together because of one commonality — especially when I’m in that group!

    It’s hard to make a case for why you shouldn’t prejudge self-published books. They are more likely to have ugly covers, have major plot problems, lack proofreading, etc. etc. and the author’s are more likely to behave unprofessionally — as they are not professionals.

    And yet, there are some good ones out there, and there’s always the thrill that you might discover something special. The only suggestion I can come up with would be a policy wherein you develop a filtering system/tree — butt-ugly cover = automatic no, grammar error in description = automatic no, etc. Maybe check out the author’s previous behavior as well.

    Having made the decision not to even try to go the traditional route with my new one, I’m at a loss to come up with a decent argument against your policy other than “No, I’m different.” I will be trying some new things — joining a Net Galley coop, print giveaways on Goodreads, etc. etc. I can only hope that by trying to behave professionally, and putting out a product that meets professional standards, some readers and reviewers will take a chance.