Indie writers and reviews

Once again, I visited a promising-looking Speculative Fiction review site, only to find the words: "We do not accept unsolicited, self-published works for review."

I understand that there are excellent reasons for this. Most such blogs and sites are run by volunteers, who do them in their spare time, often in between writing and holding down a day-job. To put it simply, it takes a lot of time to read and review books, even when you are doing so for pleasure. And most if not all such sites have enough and more than enough good quality trad-published material to keep them fully occupied for ever. a so-called "hybrid" author - in my case, one who was once trad-published and has now brought out an indie or self-published novel together with my back-list - I can't find sites that will review my most recent book.

One or two publications such as Kirkus Reviews will review self-published writers on the payment of a fee. An honest review is guaranteed, whether good or bad. But so far, I have not found any sites that will review self-published books, in part due to the sheer volume of them coming out every week. (With one exception, mentioned further down the page).

There are sites that will advertise self-published books, for free or for a fee, depending on the site. Some of them, such as Bookbub, vet the books they advertise, though the fees are concomitantly higher. But they are helpful portals to direct readers - the customers - towards a selection of interesting books. That is what we have been trying to do at the Speculative Fiction Showcase.

But what is lacking at the moment is a site (or sites) that will review indie fiction - in my case, indie Speculative Fiction, aka Science Fiction and Fantasy.

I'm not talking about Amazon's customer reviews, which are another topic altogether. They are more like a form of feedback, where the readers can let the writer know whether they loved or hated a book. And they vary enormously in length and detail. They are product reviews, and are a useful tool for writers, and for readers to discover what they may or may not find enjoyable.  I know that some people have enjoyed the book, and others have hated it. I have been grateful for both, including the negatives.

What I am talking about is something like a book blog, or a web-site - and there are many of them, well-known to readers and writers of genre fiction.

I have to say that, since I self-published my third book in May 2013, this has been the most difficult aspect of the experience. It may be different (and worse - or better?) for authors who are purely self-published; I had rather naively imagined that it would be easy to find blogs, or sites, or magazines to review the book. I quickly realised, as I came down to earth with a bang, that this was not going to happen.

I'd like to offer a conclusion, but I can't do that. I was delighted when Donald Crankshaw was kind enough to review Malarat for Black Gate last year. My earlier novels were reviewed at the time they were originally published. But at its most basic, what I miss is a lack of feedback.

I know I'm not alone in this. You don't want to seem desperate, but very quickly desperate is what you become. And then you are at risk of doing inappropriate things, like spamming (by accident or design).

Note: this will not do.

If it seems like a solution, it isn't. If there is a solution, I'd love to know what it is.


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