The Strange Case of Carroll Bryant -- A Call for Professionalism

on Jul 24, 2012
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.


Lectus said...

Isn't it crazy the things people get upset about?

Anonymous said...

I kind of really love you right now.

Stormi said...

I work with a lot of indie authors and not one of them have ever acted like that, it is totally unprofessional and crazy. He should be ashamed of himself. (yep its a he and I didn't know about this but now I am going to take myself and off his goodreads group as I don't want to be associated with this kind of thing) :(

Runaway Pen said...

Yeah I've never ran into this kind of behavior before either from indie authors, but the internet is a big place and there's bound to be a few crazies. It's really too bad that this kind of thing has to happen. Made me see the publishing world a little differently too.... No wonder it's so "inclusive," writers can certainly be wildly emotional people.... They gotta weed out the bad apples.... Just wish it didn't mean weeding out so many "good apples," too. :[

Runaway Pen said...

Lol thanks Misa! Just had to say something about this. Couldn't believe it when I read it myself... :[

Runaway Pen said...

The whole event is pretty crazy... and the fact that it can have such wide-reaching consequences.

Anonymous said...

I'm just starting out as an indie author, and it seems like everywhere I go, even more doors are slamming in my face because of incidents like this. It's difficult enough trying to demonstrate that my book is worth reading without having to prove that I'm not a crazy person, too.

Runaway Pen said...

Hi Erin,

Yes, I absolutely agree. I've noticed a slow depletion of indie book bloggers too. But I've gotten good responses from the bloggers listed at the bottom of my website, so I'd recommend contacting them and seeing if they're available for reviews.

It might be that, in the future, an official blog tour will really be the way to go... luckily they are still reasonably priced at most places. :)

Good luck promoting your books! What a crazy world...

Nadia said...

Wow I am glad you posted this. I too just published my first novel and it has been a struggle to find people who will do book reviews. Many policies I have come across state no Self Published Authors. We are not all crazy. Passionate yes and bring a unique perspective to the world. But that is a travesty that one person could act out so irrationally and give us all such a bad rep.

Nadia Kim

Carroll Bryant said...

I need to correct you a little. I did not "send" out books for review. I was APPROACHED by these people for a "free read" where they PROMISED in return, they would interview me on their blog and or review my book. I accepted their deal (promise) to which, some did not do as they promised me. Had they never approached me, I would have never sent them a "free read" because I never do that. I never approach anyone asking them to do anything for me.

As for them being mostly teenagers, oddly enough, the ones who "broke their promise" were mostly in their 20's.

As for "professionalism" - warning other authors of these "thieves" was my professional duty. Is there no expectation of "reviewers" being and acting professional? Where I come from, when you APPROACH someone (like I was approached) and offer a service inexchange for a product, you see the deal through. (I.E. You keep your word)

But to remind you one more time - I never approached any of these people, they approached me. (Bigg diff) You need to get your facts straight before talking about something that you obviously know nothing about.

And you would be so lucky to live next door to me. With everything I and my family does for charity, I might be the guy who saved your electricity from being cut off in the middle of winter to keep you from feezing. Or feeds you on Thanksgiving Day. That's what I do in my community, I give back. I help people. But you wouldn't know that because you don't know me.

Peace and love to all.

Willow harper said...
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