An Unexpected Turn On BookSirens

An Unexpected Turn is now available for free to reviewers on BookSirens.

If you aren’t aware of BookSirens, it is a site similar to NetGalley, but not nearly as large. It also focuses on both the reviewers and the books. From what I’ve been able to see so far (and I’m REALLY new at it), most of the books offered are indie or small press.

For book bloggers/reviewers, once you establish an account, you can get review copies to read for free. It also allows you to see a stats breakdown for what you’ve read and where you fall in your reading habits if you tie into your Goodreads account. These stats and the info you put into your profile also helps authors/publishers find you to invite you to read books you might like. You can see mine here for an example.

For authors or publishers, you can list your book for a small fee and it becomes available to potential reviewers to download. This is a paid service in that you pay that initial listing fee and then another small fee per download, but the reviewers themselves are not paid. You also have complete control over the total amount of downloads when you set your book up (and can change once it is there) allowing you to control the total amount you are willing to spend. Your book is then available for a 3 month period (at least at the time of this posting) for those potential reviewers. Oh, BTW… you don’t pay for the downloads per reader when you have a reader you’ve invited to review your book download it through the link BookSirens provides the author.

Since my book has JUST gone live, I don’t have any feedback either way on how successful this is as a promotional investment, but I will be writing a follow up when this is all said and done. In comparison to other options I’ve looked at, this seems to be very reasonably priced for this type of service, so I’m hopeful.

 

So… That Was A Flop

I’m a little done with attempting new ideas with regards to getting book bloggers and indie authors together for now as there seems to be little to no interest. I will post anything interesting that I find in my own search on the off chance that it helps someone else out, but for now, there will not be a listing of participating bloggers. Sorry if I got anyone’s hopes up in that regard.

Book Bloggers and Supporting Indie Authors

Since publishing my book and attempting to get more involved in supporting other indie authors, I’ve noticed there are several issues that indie authors face. One of the biggest issues is getting exposure and reviews.

How many readers will actually pick up a book that has zero or only a handful of reviews or even just ratings? How many of you have the bias assumption that if there are only a handful and they are all good that they are reviews written by friends of the author so not legitimate? I’ll admit, I struggle to overcome this bias myself because this does happen sometimes. Not all the time, but I have seen it. This is a hurdle that a lot of indie authors struggle to overcome.

Getting book bloggers to review your book is also a huge struggle. Not all bloggers take indie review requests. Then you have to find a blogger that is interested in your genre. Then, and this seems to be a big issue with some book bloggers, is actually getting a response. I’m talking at all. Not just an agreement to read. This leaves the person requesting the review sitting in limbo wondering if their contact request got lost in the ether or at the bottom of someone’s spam folder. The second part of the blogger review struggle is sometimes actually getting that review once the reviewer agreed to do so. This is again problematic if that reviewer doesn’t notify the author they won’t be reviewing the book after all.

I’m seeing this from both the indie author perspective and the blogger perspective, so I can see how this is problematic on both sides. As a blogger, I want to read quality books in the genres I prefer to read in. Yet there is still an unfortunate number of indie authors that feel very strongly that the DIY method is perfectly fine when it comes to editing, formatting and cover design. I respectfully disagree with this stance because I do not believe that you can be objective enough to do those things for your own book. It is because of this that I can see why so many book bloggers shy away from reading indie books. As an author, even if I don’t fit that mold, I have to overcome those biases to get a blogger to read and agree to review my book. It is an interesting place to sit, that’s for sure.

I have run across a few places that are working towards creating databases of resources for indie authors, including bloggers. It is still incredibly difficult because you still have some of the above issues. So, here is a little bit of advice, from both sides of the indie author/blogger support perspective:

If you are a blogger that doesn’t want to review indie books, please make that clear on your blog so we can pass you by. We don’t actually want to waste your time or ours contacting bloggers that aren’t interested on an even basic level.

If you are a blogger that wants to support indie authors, please:

  • Have a review policy on your blog that states you are open to indie requests.
  • Make it clear how you want to be contacted and what things need to be in that contact, like blurb or a link to the book.
  • List the genres you are willing to read.
  • If you have other requirements, like the book formats you accept or anything else that may impact your decision to read or not read, add that to your review policy.
  • Please note that print copies are expensive for authors to provide. If you really don’t have a preference, please be willing to consider an ebook.
  • Double please here – respond one way or another to all requests! Yes, this can be overwhelming and a lot of work, but things do end up in junk and we never know that you actually got the request.
  • Give a rough time frame that requests will be responded to, again, because junk happens. Authors don’t want to feel like spammers for resending a request.
  • If you agree to read a book, please give a rough estimate on when you will be able to get to it. As a mood reader, I can completely understand how this is not always an easy thing to do, but even a broad time frame is better than “I’ll get to it eventually.”
  • If you agree to read a book for a review, please let the author know if for whatever reason you’ve changed your mind and can’t do so or if your estimated time frame has changed. I can’t speak for all authors, but that kind of communication is a huge stress relief because it means you are going to do what you said and not ghost us.
  • Posting on the major sites (this may vary by country) like Amazon and Goodreads in addition to your blog are massive things for indie authors, so do as many of these as you can.

As an indie author, I totally understand readers being picky. I am a picky reader myself. I can’t speak for all indie authors, but I do think that most would understand you specifying your requirements as a reader and being okay with saying no if something doesn’t work for you because we really want readers that are, hopefully, going to enjoy our work. Even if you only read one or two indie books a year because that is all you find that interest you, it is better than zero.

 

If you are an indie author looking for book reviewers, please:

  • Don’t spam every single book blogger out there on every platform they exist on.
  • Don’t expect reviewers to purchase your book. They are doing you a favor, the least you can do is provide a copy of your book.
  • Don’t send your book unless a reviewer has agreed to read for you.
  • Read the review policies of the reviewers you are considering requesting from and don’t request from them if your book doesn’t fit in their requirements. It’s okay if you aren’t certain, but take the time to see what they’ve read if their policy isn’t clear to see if you are even close.
  • If they have instructions about contacting them, follow those instructions.

 

Having a relationship between book bloggers and indie authors is really critical to an indie author’s success. This also gives readers and bloggers more books to chose from, which is always a plus. Being courteous to each other and respecting what part each of you play is just as important.