There are (at least) two sides to self publishing. Some self-published authors do it because they relish the process, while others do it almost reluctantly, frustrated by their inability to find a traditional publisher who’ll nurture their baby. Members of the second group are probably unlikely to be as successful as the first group — many of whom have managed to be wildly successful and have earned scads of money. (Be it said, yet again, self publishing does not mean second-rate publishing. It’s just a different way into the marketplace.)

In addition to the problem of getting their books into libraries, which I wrote about yesterday, one of the difficulties facing self publishers is attracting serious review attention. The number of print media book pages has declined sharply in the past ten years, and if large publishing companies are chafing at their inability to elbow all of their books into the review pages of noted publications, you can imagine the frustration facing the self publisher. Now, someone like Hugh Howey, who has established a huge following, will clearly suffer less than his frustrated peers. Print reviews of self-published books remain vanishingly rare: the key to success resides in social media. The most successful self-published authors have an audience which follows them on social media, and eagerly awaits news of their next offering. Jane Friedman provides a link to her 2015 report on social media use for the self published.

One extreme solution for those desperately seeking review coverage is just to buy it. I wrote about this under the title Sock puppetry a few years ago. For an account of how such endeavor can go awry please go to The Shed at Dulwich and view the amusing video there in which a paid reviewer takes things to their logical conclusion.

If you have a publisher you can blame them for whatever goes wrong — and this might just be one of the best reasons for some authors to go the traditional route.* If you’ve slaved to get reviewed, you can go wild if the resulting review isn’t as wildly enthusiastic as your own blurb would be, but realistically there’s not a lot you can do about it. Or is there? Here’s a cautionary tale from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books (via The Passive Voice). The Digital Reader provides a roundup of the same saga.

See also Reviews of self-published books.


*Other reasons are discussed at Do we really need book publishers?