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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have recently got back in touch with a school friend who is now a senior editor at a certain NYC periodical of long repute...

Anyway we were talking about the small number of reviews that they do, and how they haven't looked very much at the "e-edition only" market, and why, so I though I'd pass his remarks on to you folks.

As a magazine that does book reviews, they get a lot of unsolicited copies from agents and publishers and they already don't have time to look at them all. Faced with what seems like teeming thousands of new indie e-books, they are a little overwhelmed. Selecting what to read and review is already a big problem for them, and they know of no adequate means of pre-selection of Indie e-books to read and review. As a result, they have not yet dipped a toe in the water.

This is a magazine for which culture is important, but as I say, book reviews play only a fairly minor part. How can they find out which books to review?

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Another remark that he made that I wanted to pass on was about online reviews - either on blogs or review sites or on Amazon et al. Speaking about mainstream trad. published books - though this probably applies to all books - he said that the best reviews were not those found in magazines and newspapers, but those written by readers, online. The reason is that a magazine has to appeal to a broad range of readers, and editorial decisions are taken over the content of the review that keep it in line with knowledge and expectations of the readership of the magazine, as well as general editorial policy. Online reviews are written by people who want to pass on their experience of the book, but who have no such editorial restraints. The word that my friend used was "erudite" - you get the most erudite reviews online!

Readers who give thoughtful, well written reviews should be encouraged as much as possible. Do any writers respond to the reviewers who are insightful and intelligent rather than effusive? How can they be further encouraged?
 

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I've always assumed that your friend's "business" was like so many in the entertainment/arts industry in that relationships play a big role.

The old addage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know," being sage.

Traditional publishers, agents and publicist no doubt have a full Rolodex (do such things still exist?) of people who help sell books by whatever method. They've probably built this database over the years, and I don't see how indies can complete. I might debate on the side that indies don't have to complete, but that's another post.

How many indies can do lunch with NY editors? How many of us can send birthday presents to NY Times reviewers? How many LA gossip colonist care about Huge's abs?

Until more of us hit the ball out of the park, I think this avenue of exposure and marketing is closed to most.



 

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Hmm. As a general rule, I don't respond to reviews. But if I were to respond, I think it'd be pretty tricky to respond differently to the "insightful and intelligent" ones as compared to the others. My sense is that you need to treat reviewers more or less as equals if you don't want responding to backfire. I suppose you could try to track down a thoughtful reviewer and respond to them privately, but would that really encourage thoughtful reviews? That person is already a thoughtful reviewer.
 

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Harry Dewulf said:
Readers who give thoughtful, well written reviews should be encouraged as much as possible. Do any writers respond to the reviewers who are insightful and intelligent rather than effusive? How can they be further encouraged?
A few of us respond to reviews, some with success, but the general consensus is it's best not to, for reasons Becca touched on. There have been all out Internet flame wars between indie authors over responses to reviews.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Joe_Nobody said:
Until more of us hit the ball out of the park, I think this avenue of exposure and marketing is closed to most.
Which is a pity, since a lot of indies are writing good books and selling them, but not getting noticed by the mainstream press just because they're hitting singles. I'd like to find a way for those people to get noticed.
 

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I know this response will ruffle some feathers, but I don't see indies getting exposure like this until rankings are associated with earnings.

Common stereotypes of the indie author is someone who gives away a free books, perhaps sells a respectable number of copies at .99 and primarily deals in ebooks - POD at best. These myths allow the dismissal of rankings/lists that are published by Amazon or other sources.

For a long time I've felt that all of the sales rankings, author rankings, best seller lists and sales reporting available on the net result in a major disservice to the indie author.

The truth...where the rubber meets the road...is in the author's income. This is, of course, a direct relationship to the retail sales price and volume. Any business in any industry uses this similar metrics as a measurement of success. Why not publishing?

If someone were to publish an accurate ranking of author gross income, I believe indies would be viewed in an entirely different light and many doors would open immediately. As the old addage goes, "follow the money."

 
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The fundamental thing indies must understand is this: big newspapers and magazines do NOT exist to promote you. They exist to serve the needs of their own audiences. Everything a publication does is geared toward the goal of keeping its own readers reading. In regards to book reviews, these publications aren't interested in helping people find obscure books that are only available on Amazon. They are interested in helping their readers decide between books they are already considering. People don't pick up the NYT book reviews section to discover unknown authors. They pick it up to get trusted feedback on something they are already considering. Whenever you see an indie book get reviewed in a big publication, it didn't get reviewed because some reviewer stumbled upon it and wanted to help it get discovered. It got reviewed because it ALREADY made a mark and people wanted to know more about it.

They also have a finite number of slots available and can't waste them. Regardless of everything else, when a trade book gets submitted for review you at least know it will meet certain bare bottom standards insofar as production value. It won't be some double-spaced creature written in 14 pt comic sans with alternating margin sizes (would anyone be surprised to know I just came across an indie book like this :eek:). The reviewer doesn't know if he or she will like it. But at least the reviewer knows the book will be readable.

There are tons of wonderful indie books out there, but we can't ignore the fact that the worst trade published book is still 100x better than the worst indie book.

The best way, in my never humble opinion, to encourage publications to review indie books is to help point out those books that deserve attention. Spend less time getting upset that people "discriminate" against indies and more time pointing to the indies who are going it right and pushing them forward. I've started reviewing books again (right now, only those I buy or get through certain channels) to do that. I cross post the reviews on Goodreads and Shelfari and Librarything and plug them on my FB and Twitter feeds. We've got the Best of the Independent eBook Awards going on right now to encourage people to nominate their favorite indie books.

One thing I noticed: when I stop worrying about promoting MY books and start talking about other people's books, I get more traffic to my book pages. Because if I refer someone to a great book, they start to trust me. And when they trust me, they are more likely to want to read my books.
 
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