This is a preface to a blog I’m in the process of writing concerning self-published books. I was recently asked by a published writer, if I intended to review self-published books. It was an easy question to answer. I will review anything that I, or any of the other five reviewers at Bookin’ with Sunny, believe is a book worth a reader’s time and/or money.
That being said, it made me think more seriously about where the publishing world is headed, with more and more writers bypassing the big six and striking out on their own. Make no mistake, this is occurring with increasing regularity.
My comfort zone when recommending books on Bookin’ with Sunny is drawn from my experience as a bookseller. A lot of terrific book review sites/blogs that are hugely successful, are genre driven, primarily or exclusively reviewing children’s literature, chick-lit, romance, SF, fantasy, history, memoire, etc. Bookin’ with Sunny is broadening its genres reviewed, hoping that we will appear more and more like a neighborhood bookstore staffed with well-read employees reflecting a broad range of subjects.
So where does the reader go for suggestions as to what is worth their time and/or money? Usually we turn to our friends. Or, if we are lucky, there is a neighborhood bookstore still in business. But what do we know about a book that has been self-published and hasn’t had the benefit of national advertising or reviewing? A good reader doesn’t like to trip over misspellings any more than a good editor does. Not all self-published books have been through any rigorous editing process. It reminds me of that old TV cereal ad in which two siblings push away a bowl of cereal, a new brand and one they’ve never eaten before. Refusing to taste it, they push the bowl over to the youngest sibling with the words, “Mikey won’t like it, he hates everything.” But, to his and everyone else’s surprise, Mikey digs in and loves it.
Bookin’ with Sunny isn’t quite there yet, but we have begun to review self-published authors whose books we think are worth reviewing. For the self-published book, we also pay attention to the product itself — the paper, binding, print, cover. We’ve also been looking at books from very small independent presses. Because I feel strongly about brick and mortar bookstores, I will look for those authors with distributors so that their books can be purchased at your local bookstore and not just online from Amazon. The bottom line has not changed, only that we’re now thinking of ourselves as a review/bookstore; a one-stop shop where reviews of many genres can be found, reviews that are trustworthy and helpful, and where there’s at least one intriguing title for everyone.
More on this subject will be posted soon. -s.s.