Now that I consider myself a “seasoned” self-publisher (five books), I am growing more sensitive to the traditional publishing industry’s bias toward us DIYers.  I have my share of rejection letters, but no, I am not sour grapes.  I get it—there are a lot of us who can’t land an agent or publisher because the quality of our work doesn’t measure up to that of our traditionally published brethren.  While I may be among these less-than-worthy ones, there is evidence of sufficient talent among us, coupled with today’s new publishing technology, that dictates independent authors/publishers should no longer be ignored, let alone continue being perceived as inferior.

I admit I no longer make any effort to mail off submissions to agents or publishers.  A lottery ticket has better odds, costs a lot less than my submissions package and doesn’t have any built-in prejudice toward me.   So instead, I attempt to seek out and submit materials to anyone or anything that makes sense and has potential of presenting an opportunity.  This is a slow, tedious process as many of you know and I steep in my juices for a long time waiting for a response that seldom comes.   But that’s part of the process, so be it.

What has become difficult for me to accept is the automatically closed door and how some people have no hesitation to slam it in your face before you can even say hello.  Case in point:  bookreporter.com.  This website is part of The Book Report Network which consists of six websites catering to various book reader demographics.  They focus on book reviews or book-related feature material. Their slogan: Where Readers and Writers Click.  Their content and presentation is well done and should appeal to any avid reader.  However, don’t expect to find any reviews or features on self-published books.  They don’t accept them because they feature only “books that are available with wide distribution offline as well as online.”    There are many in the industry who erect this barrier, thinking it justifies their keeping us guys out.

I found this concept perplexing in the case of bookreporter.com and its sister websites since it puts them in the position of dissing the very medium they have built their entire presence on.  All their beautiful websites are insignificant to readers, I guess, since you cannot walk into a Barnes and Noble and pick up a hard copy of their book reviews or feature reports.  That is, after all, the argument they use against self-publishers, claiming our lack of availability on the street is reason enough to reject us.  I challenge anyone who disputes the idea that amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com are not dominant channels for the distribution of books.

In my letter to the editor, I suggested to The Book Report Network that they should actually add yet one more website if they really want to properly represent today’s marketplace—and that’s a website that features self-published books.  It’s 2014, I reminded them, and time to acknowledge the new technology, the new supply of product and finally embrace the medium they themselves call home.

I suggest to all my self-publishing colleagues that you follow through as I have when you see our status being attacked, disparaged or shut out altogether.  Like all start-ups we need to establish ourselves as legit and put folks on notice that we are here to stay.  I know I’m not going anywhere.


About Marc Kuhn

I am a retired radio exec. I've worked at major stations in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Miami. That was then. This is now: I've published seven books and this blog thingy. Need to know more? Really? Okay, I bare/bear all at http://marckuhn.com The other links are for the websites of each of the books I've written. I've been busy! Hope you'll stop by and check them out. Thanks for your interest!
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  1. Marc Kuhn says:

    Thanks Deb–appreciate your stopping by my blog. I did not attempt to submit a book to them. I went to see what their submission procedure is and that is where they explain they are not interested in self-publishers. I think they simply lump indies into one bag and assume they do not have access to the same channels as a publishing house. I have published all my books through CreateSpace and I cannot complain. True, I can’t walk into a Barnes and Noble and see my books there, but they can order them if I ask and they are on the B&N website which CreateSpace takes care of, not me. Paranoid or not, I just sense the book industry is very snooty. I am quite the pedestrian so the chemistry is already bad between them and me. But I am not looking for much from my writing. It’d be nice to make back some of my expenses and hear about people who enjoyed my books, but even if one is used to help steady a wobbly table leg, I’d take that as a positive!


  2. Deb Sanders says:

    Interesting blog, Marc, about another effort to discriminate against Indies. I do have a question, however. Are they refusing authors represented by small digital presses as well as Indies? “…books that are available with wide distribution offline as well as online” could apply to Amazon authors who print publish through Create Space. Amazon offers wide distribution. I would find it even more annoying if they allowed reviews of books from small digital publishers with no print distribution. I turned down a publishing contract to go Indie. Many mid – list authors from the NY houses have decided to independently publish their back list as well as future works, so we know there are good Indie authors out there. It sounds like this company has a back door affiliation to traditional publishers or else they suffer from archaic views. Either way, it’s their loss. Good for you for voicing your opinion.


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