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.