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An Open Letter To Indie Authors

An Open Letter To Indie Authors

I watched the drama llama rear its ugly head again last night in the latest indie author/book blogger drama on author Carroll Bryant’s Goodreads page.  And I just had nothing to say right then.  It made me sad, even more so as he quickly back-pedaled and deleted every comment, and eventually his blog post.  He’s since posted an explanation (and The List on his personal blog), but I am not linking to it, because that’s not the purpose of this post.

I want to express why book bloggers blog.  And how hard it can sometimes be.


I read for the sheer enjoyment of it.  I’ve always loved to read.  You love to write, but I bet you also love to read.  We have that in common, I think.  You work extremely hard on your books; hours, days, months…. sometimes years, before the day finally comes that you can push it out into the world with that final labored breath and mark it “done.”

But you know it’s not done.  So do I.  Because as indie authors, you also have the job of marketing your baby to the general public, which includes this weird “new” world of book bloggers.

Who are we?  What do we mean to you?

I can tell you what we are not:  we are not a media outlet whom you can take advantage.  We are not here for YOU.  We are here in US.  We blog about books to share our love of reading and to spread that love amongst each other.  Promoting you is purely a side benefit you reap – and us, too, if we enjoyed your book.  I know it’s irritating that you sent your book to someone months ago, and they still haven’t reviewed it.  I have dozens in my to-be-read pile that fit this bill and I feel the weight on my shoulders a little every day.  But I’m a mood reader.  That is to say, I read based on how I’m feeling at a given moment.  I would rather read your book months  – years – later, if it means I’ll enjoy it more and be able to give you a better review.

The idea that bloggers don’t pay for books is hogwash.  I don’t think you realize how much work goes into one review of a single book.  If you sent me your book today (and let’s assume it’s the average 80,000 words), it would take me roughly 247 minutes to read it, in total read time.  I’m a faster-than-average reader, at 324 words per minute (don’t ask, I took a test a while back), but that’s not speed-reading.  That is still over four hours invested in your book.  So far.

Then I have to sit down and write the review, which can take anywhere from one to two hours, depending on the content of your book.  After I’ve written your review, I still need to set it up on my blog, format it, find all of my affiliate purchase links (that literally earn me maybe a penny every one-hundred clicks), find your social media sites, the book synopsis and link everything up accordingly.  After all, is said and done, I’ve invested approximately seven hours into your one book.  If your book was 9.99 at the Agency pricing, I earned $1.43 per hour.  If your book was $0.99 (as are many indie ebooks), I earned $0.14 per hour.   Reflect on that for a minute.  Fourteen cents an hour.  That’s how much you essentially paid me to market your book.

I don’t know a single blogger that takes a book with the intention of never reviewing it.  I do know that my policy states a review is never guaranteed, so basically, “gift me a book at your own risk.”  This isn’t necessarily a “save my rear” kind of thing (although it sort of is), but you must understand that we don’t just receive books from you; in the last 2 – 3 weeks, I’ve received seven review books in the mail from publishers.  If you count the ebooks, it’s probably closer to double that.  Many of these were unsolicited from publishers, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to read them.  And I have an obligation to keep the publishers happy, too.  And I want to keep them happy; they publish some of my hands-down favorite authors!   And then it’s not as if these are the only books I am getting; I also buy books I want that I didn’t get for review.  The book blogging world is its own ecosystem.  We know each other, we read each other’s opinions and we buy books based off of these opinions (or not, in some cases).  It’s a misconception that bloggers don’t pay for books.  We might spend more money on books than the average book consumer, although this is of course just an assumption, based on my own personal experiences.  However, I can tell you that I spend much more on books than I ever did before, simply because I read book reviews, find out about new releases and I get to talk to authors and publishers.  Yes, I’m getting free books, but I’m buying them, too.

It sucks sending your book to a blogger and then waiting and waiting for a review.  Like I said, I have dozens in my pile that I just haven’t gotten to, for one reason or another.  I have every intention of reading them, but other books and, well, life get in the way.  We’re not just bloggers; we’re career professionals, athletes, parents, siblings, students, lovers, pet owners…we are life-livers.  Sometimes I only have one hour a day to dedicate to my blog and reading.   Some days I can’t do anything with it at all.  But that’s why we aren’t professional reviewers. We’re doing this because of the love of reading, not because we have to.   We’re only book bloggers.  And we love to read books.

If you can remember that when corresponding with us when talking about us, when making lists and websites of us, it will do you a world of good.  If you feel like you’ve been attacked by a blogger, yes, I expect you to walk away and take the high road.  You are the professional here, not us.  That doesn’t excuse us from bad behavior, but it does mean you shouldn’t act as such in return.  Nothing good comes from arguing on the internet, especially when your livelihood is at stake.  If you can remember that, dear author, things will be great.

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