As Suw Charman-Anderson recently wrote in her article, “New York Times Reviews Self-Published Book” on Forbes.com, “If there’s one thing every self-published author yearns for, it’s to be reviewed alongside traditionally published books. ” While she goes on to say that “for most that’s a dream that is unlikely to come true,” that just may be changing.
Good sign #1: Late last year, the New York Times published a great review of Alan Sepinwall’s self-published book, The Revolution Was Televised. USA Today also did an interview with Sepinwell, Time magazine reviewed it as did The Huffington Post, and the New Yorker.
In a word, as Charman-Anderson says, “Sepinwall got the kind of coverage that “most traditionally published authors can only dream of.”
I agree with what she further stresses: the “idea of a division between ‘traditionally published’ and ‘self-published’ is becoming a ridiculous construct with no meaning whatsoever.”
In today’s book business, and as Sepinwell’s book demonstrates, indeed, the fact is “the best of self-publishing can compete on equal terms with the best of traditional publishing.”
So why don’t we see more self-published books reviewed like traditionally published books? Again, Charman-Anderson is spot on: “lack of infrastructure.” A lack of third-party infrastructure, that is.
In traditional publishing, the publishers have the relationship with reviewers. That does not automatically mean an author’s traditionally published book will be professionally reviewed, however. That depends on the book’s marketing budget.
Reviewers rely on publishers to ferret out at least minimum levels of good quality. When it comes to self-published works, more often that not, there is not this third-party between the author and reviewer. And at least historically, reviewers don’t want to deal with authors directly.
I have to say that, as a reviewer for my LiveTrue Books collection, I don’t mind dealing with authors (of traditionally published and self-published works) directly. I make sure that authors know the parameters of review submission (e.g., it has to fit into the “livetrue” theme), and keep the communication to a minimum until I have read and written the review.
But there is also an argument to be made for the third party role. With self-published works, so far we see Amazon and sites like Goodreads performing this role – sort of – because the reviews are made by readers, that, let’s face it, for the most part are not professional book reviewers. These “reviews” are also “not a dependable substitute” because of how easy it is to fake or manipulate them on these sites.
The problem is not a lack of quality in self-published works today, as much as it is lacking a way for more professional reviewers having go-to’s in “picking out the brass from the muck” for non-traditionally published works.
Could this need point to a new kind of business – a business opportunity? You bet.
However it develops, one thing for sure, the days of assuming “self-published” is automatically the “muck” are over!
Are you a self-published author? What book review experience have you had?