"Sorry, we don't review self-published books." Too many publications from local newspapers to major national reviewers to ezines use this convenient way of slamming the door in the face of any author whose book is not published by a major traditional publisher.
Because I have chosen to self publish my novel Too Near the Edge (see the "About" page for my reasons), I have been knocking on these doors in the past year. And my nose is out of joint and flattened. I can understand that some reviewers might not like my book, might think it is boring, badly written, whatever. But they can't think that if they haven't seen the book.
So why won't they look at it? My brother, who has been a businessman all his life says, "That's just their business model. They use it as a quick way to cull out the trash because self-published books are less likely to be good quality."
"But is that sort of blanket condemnation fair?" I ask. "After all my novel won a national IPPY award. Shouldn't that vouch for at least a good enough level of quality to get it considered for a review?"
"I didn't say it was fair or ethical," he said. "It's just their business practice."
Approximately 800 books are published every day. So, yes, reviewers are deluged with books to review. Then, like a trendy new NYC bar, they man the door so that only the well-connected get in. As a social worker, I find that unjust. As a publisher, I find that unfair. As an author I find that offensive.
"But your books aren't available in major bookstores nationwide," they say. "Why should we review books that readers can't easily find?" Duh? Have they heard of Amazon and B&N.com? Availability is not an issue today as Jan Nathan (recently deceased Executive Director of PMA) explains in an excellent column in the January, 2007 issue of The Independent Publisher, entitled Dear Reviewer: Please Join Us in the 21st Century.
Ms. Nathan ended her column by encouraging all reviewers to move into this century’s book-publishing community. I would echo that and raise it to the level of a challenge. Reviewers should be in the business of judging books, not judging publishers. All we are saying is give us a chance.