Here is what is new in the life of a freelance book reviewer.
A few months past, I received a request from a self-published author seeking a review for two of her books. I read the first book, wrote a review and posted the review on Goodreads and Amazon US. I alerted the author the review was up. Some reviewers do not alert the author. I do it as a curtesy.
The author emailed me and thanked me for doing the review, then added this caveat: Please remove the disclaimer about having received a copy of my book in exchange for an honest review. Huh? Next, she asked me to remove the publishing information that I listed as “independent.” Whoa!
I explained to the author that in the United States I am required to place a disclaimer in my review if I receive a free copy for review.
Now, this author is not from the United States and perhaps is not aware of the rules. I have been asked numerous times about the perception readers have in regards to self-publishing. New authors are often concerned if it will make them look bad if I tell people I received the book from the author for review. Some new indie authors do not even know how to send me a book. That does not offend me. New indie authors are learning. I’m good with it. I walk them through it.
I have a set format when writing my reviews: I start with with the Book Title , Author, Publisher, Release date and finally, the Disclaimer. I have done this since I first began writing reviews and I’ve never had a complaint about the above format.
Frankly, the author’s request that I edit the review made me curious. I wanted to know why. I asked. She gave a cryptic reply citing personal reasons. I asked around trying to figure out why this author is so adamant about hiding her independent status. A few independent authors have told me that they don’t advertise their independent status, but don’t hide it either. Most indie authors I know are loud and proud about their indie status. Anyway, I left the review untouched and went on about my business.
Weeks pass and I forgot all about it. Recently, another email popped up from the author. She wrote it really ‘bugged’ her that the information about her being self-published was out there in print for the whole world to see. She asked me again to remove “independently published” from the review.
What the heck?
I emailed the author and told her I wanted an explanation because I have never edited a review once posted and I never have taken one down either. Before I took such a draconian step, I meant to know the real reason.
Are you ready for this?
The author said: Self-published books are known for mistakes, typos, bad writing and anyone can publish a book these days. (Yes, they can. She did.) Furthermore, the author insisted she does not want to be lumped into that category. Here’s the nitty-gritty: She once landed an agent and her family was so thrilled they threw a big party
to celebrate. Her book was shopped around by said agent. Months pass. Traditional publishers were not interested—not even a nibble. She self-published. Now, because of my review, the author is fearful her family will learn she is self-published and she does NOT want them to find out.
All anyone has to do is glance at the copyright page when opening a book to learn if it’s self published or not. The copyright page tells who owns the publishing rights. If no publisher is named, I presume it’s independent. I don’t know how you can keep that a secret or why you would even want to. Half the New York Times bestselling authors are self-published and the other half wish they were.
The notion that self-published authors produce only bad writing, typos and grammatical errors is passé.
Yes, I still come across one or two books that are real stinkers, but for the most part the indie author has matured. Almost to a writer, all of the indie authors I know and review are serious about their work. Here is what I have learned: Whether indie or traditionally published—bad books die on the shelf. Early on, with the innovation of the Kindle, bad books did get a lot of attention. No longer—badly written books seldom—if ever, now get on the best promo sites such as Indies Unlimited, Bookbub, ENT, Pixel of Ink or OHFB. Books are vetted, thus they do not make their way to the larger reading public. It is mind-boggling how savvy readers are today.
Trust me, there are books in hardcover being sold for 30$ a pop loaded with typos. My daughter brought a book over to my house last week and showed me the mistakes she found in a hardcover book she’s reading. The book was written by a well-established author whose day job is writing. It’s published by a top five publisher. I find mistakes in print books all the time. Bad writing? Don’t even get me started. I’ve read some awful books put out by major publishers—and they do not fix mistakes from one print run to the next. Indie authors do.
I’m angry. This writer doesn’t want to be lumped with indie authors? Don’t hand me that line. She got tired of waiting for a nibble from a brick and mortar publisher and did what other smart writers do—she published the book herself. I do know some authors hide behind a fake publisher. They make up a name and slap that on their title page. This author could have done that. She didn’t. One suspects that while anticipating a contract that would give her status as traditionally published, she denigrated indie books. Now she has one of her own. She’s on the other side of the fence. I say she needs to bake Four and Twenty Blackbirds in a pie and learn to eat crow gracefully.
Here is the sad part. The author has a nice book. I gave it decent review. She doesn’t know how to promote it. She doesn’t know how to sell it. She doesn’t have an Amazon author page. With her attitude, what other indie author would network with her? Who will help her learn the ropes?
So, what say ye? Does it matter to you if readers know you are an independent author?
Are you up front about that or do you only mention it if you are asked about your publisher?
Do you think perceptions vary about independent authors from one country to another?
Does this author’s request surprise you?
Should I avoid adding the publishing information?
Do you think I should honor her request and revise my review?
Speak up and sound off because I want to put this dilemma behind me.
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