I try to avoid internet drama at all cost. (1) It's dumb. 2) It's a waste of time. 3) I don't even know you people!) But as I cruised through my favorite book blogs this morning, I ran across a "Change in Reviewing Policy" by Bookish which was my first introduction to the Strange Case of Carroll Bryant.
Basically, this "guy" Carroll Bryant (or is it a girl? Still confused) sent out a bunch of books expecting reviews. S/he claimed the books didn't get reviewed as promised after several months of waiting. S/he then went crazy and sent an evil, nasty email to a teenage book blogger telling her to go kill herself and other mean things. You can read more about it on Evie's "Bookish" blog.
Now, Evie has the right to do whatever the hell she wants with her review policy, but because of this instance (and a few other cases of harassment from indie authors), she has decided to close her doors to indie book reviews. Meaning, indie authors once again lose an opportunity to be seen next to authors from big publishing houses.
This brings me to my main point: Indie Authors need to conduct themselves in a professional manner. ALWAYS.
One of the benefits of the traditional publishing world is that authors are usually represented by agents. Agents carry themselves with a certain level of professionalism and understand the nuances and etiquette of the publishing world. If you're a newbie author who has never been to New York before, no sweat -- an agent will take care of you and ensure that you don't embarrass yourself.
But indie authors have A LOT to make up for. Not only are we unrepresented, our books are notoriously unedited, badly formatted and lack well-designed covers. Because our reputation is already shoddy, we must carry ourselves with a ridiculously sharp professional edge. Which means....
1) Not begging for reviews like a starving orphan,
2) Not responding to bad reviews like a rabid animal,
3) Not making ridiculous lists of book bloggers who "don't do their job" (I mean for Crimie's sake, they're mostly teenagers) and
4) Not initiating or instigating internet drama.
The Indie Publishing world is a workplace, not a playground. But I suppose even in an amateur workplace, there exist the "amateurs of amateur," those on the very bottom rung, like Carroll Bryant, who harass teenagers for supposedly not posting a book review.
Here's the deal: if you send your book to a teenager for a book review and s/he doesn't post it, LET IT GO. That's the risk you take.
If you write an email to someone like Evie asking for a review, and she turns you down for whatever reason, DO NOT EMAIL HER AGAIN unless several months have passed.
Which brings me to my thoughts on reviewing Indie books in general....
I feel that closing one's doors to all indie authors feeds into a heirarchy that is rigidly structured and traditionally inclusive. There is
something special and unique about bloggers who review indies. Indie book bloggers have a
powerful position. The success/failure of a book depends on
their opinion in many ways. There is something exciting and a bit risqué
about that. As a book blog reader, I also like hearing about indie books that are well written and worth buying.
That being said, I've heard from several book bloggers that receiving hate mail and general rudeness is more common than one would think. This is despicable. Rude authors ruin it for everyone.
I understand why Indie review blogs might become more selective with what they decide to feature. For instance, a lot of Indie review blogs have closed their doors to everything but official blog tours. This might be a safer way to continue working with Indies. It also keeps a lot of people out, especially if you don't have a marketing budget.
As I said before, Evie has the right to do whatever she wants with her book review policy. But I hope that other blogs don't close their doors to Indies because of this blatant lack of professionalism.
Consider this an apology from the Indie World. I am sorry that people like Carroll Bryant exist. If s/he were my neighbor, I would build a great big wall between our properties and never speak to her/it/whatever again.