Why Indies HAVE to Read and Review Self-Published Work


If you’ve self published, you know that the hardest part of the process is certainly not writing the book. In fact, writing it is the enjoyable part. Marketing it is the bane of indie author existence. After all, you’re authors, not professional marketers. Most self-published authors certainly aren’t rich and definitely can’t finance a marketing campaign, but we all know that without people finding out about your writing, simply hitting the ‘publish’ button online won’t mean a thing. You could have a work of art. You may have written the next Harry Potter series, but if nobody reads it, you’re done. Your work gets buried in the glut of other books. It will be hidden in between the work by a ninth grader and some fitness book that your thousand pound yoga instructor wrote.

That is where other self-published authors come in. Since trying to merge into the scene, I have met some incredibly great people that read, review, and share other people’s work when it comes out. Unfortunately, they are few and far between. It takes more than simply spamming my Twitter with yours or somebody else’s work (more than 10 spams an hour gets an unfollow). It takes a commitment on the part of all of us. I would like to think of the indie author scene as a group of colleagues. We can be the gatekeepers of the self-published world.

The first step is actually buying other colleagues work. Come on, will $2.99 really kill you? You spend more than that in gas to get in your car to go to the store. It will certainly make the day of the author when they see the sale. Second, if you like the work, review it and let everyone else know why you liked it. A book won’t sell without reviews, and we have to review each others work. Karma. Don’t expect your book to get read and reviewed if you snob it into the digital without bothering to help others out along the way. If you don’t like a book you’ve read, simply don’t leave a review. I know this is controversial, but guess what, someone outside of the self-published world will leave a bad review. As colleagues, we don’t need to hurt each others sales figured by posting bad reviews in public forums. My take on this is a key leadership principle – praise in public, criticize in private.

My personal goal is going to be to read and review one self-published book a week. If I like it, I’ll make sure to let everyone know. I’ll tell them on Twitter, Facebook, and I’ll post the review here on my blog. If I don’t like it, well, then I’ll let it slip quietly into the Delta Quadrant (maybe the crew of Voyager can check it out). We need to leave the bad reviews to the professionals, which most of us aren’t. The thing is, once we see good reviews, we should take the time to buy the book. Again, as Hugh Howey would say, they cost less than a cup of coffee. Anyone willing to put serious work into writing an entire book deserves at least that much. I have not published my own book yet, but when I do, I hope people take time to do the same. Take care!


12 thoughts on “Why Indies HAVE to Read and Review Self-Published Work

  1. Musings on the writing life

    I agree, and have thought about doing the same thing. You give what you get – and I totally agree on not leaving a review if you don’t have anything nice to say about the work of your colleague. Though I think it’s okay to leave a balanced review it doesn’t only have to be 5 star .

  2. Thank you Allen! Wow, I feel like you just wrote about the thing that inspired my friends Doc and Um and I to start our blog the beginning of this year…that’s what we do, read and review self-published books every week and then talk about them on our blog and Twitter, just because we want to help! Anyway, this line inspired me most: “Don’t expect your book to get read and reviewed if you snob it into the digital without bothering to help others out along the way.” I agree with you one hundred percent. By the way, what’s your opinion on reviewing books of people/friends you are already acquainted with before they were published? Doc, Um, and I decided to only review the work of “strangers” mostly to maintain our objectivity, but I’m curious what you think.

    1. Thanks for commenting and I am so glad you all started your blog for that purpose! As for leaving review for people you already knew before hand, I think in your situation it is a good idea to stay objective, since you have to maintain the reputation of your blog. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  3. I agree. Praise in public, criticize in private. And I, too, am all about supporting self-published authors. In fact, I only support self-published authors–buying their books, Facebooking, Twittering, etc., etc. Getting reviews from review sites or review blogs is next to impossible. You follow their blog or friend their Facebook, so they know you’re there (and your book). Yet, you read their posts, tweets, statuses, etc. every day and see where they’re reviewing or commenting about everyone else, or their book, BUT you and YOUR book. Frustrating, and definitely worth taking the time to unfollow them and try for more productive and popular sites and blogs. So, like you said, it’s very important that we can review each other’s work when reviews are warranted (or private criticism, when warranted). In the end, nobody is going to “make things happen” for us, but US! 🙂

  4. Great post!

    You’ve nailed all the points about helping self-published authors succeed.

    I remember reading this great quote:

    “How to make love to an author: Buy their book. Read it. And leave a review.”

    That about sums it up.

  5. Good post and very valid reasons for reviewing other authors books. Never thought of it the way you say it about helping with reviews. It makes sense. I buy lots of indie e-books and tweet about the purchases with an added link, especially the books from my followers. I’ve been wrestling w/doing reviews a lot. One thing I couldn’t do is leave a negative review, but after reading your post, I might start doing a few reviews (they won’t be negative). Some authors who give reviews go too far with their criticism. Seen a few who also have debut books coming out, but bash others works repeatedly and all I can say is that may the review gods have mercy on their books.


  6. Reblogged this on The Dark Geisha and commented:
    I agree with this post. Indie authors (and soon to be indie authors) must read and promote each other’s work because it can be difficult to get noticed. So shout about the short stories, novellas, and novels that you enjoyed. Most likely, you’ll get the same in return when your book hits the ‘Net.

  7. Pingback: What Your Support Means To Indie Authors | Author Allen Watson

  8. Pingback: Types Of Bad Reviews And What To Do About It | Author Allen Watson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s