Cashing in on the Book Business

I’ve been looking for book review sites, trying to find places to send my books for review when they are finally released in January or February of next year. There are so many people with published books trying to get them reviewed that most of the good places aren’t accepting or else they charge exorbitant fees. Even the not-so-good places have a waiting list, and many of them charge a fee, too. (Rule of thumb: don’t pay for a review on a blog with less traffic than yours.)

The problem? When self-publishing first became popular, the authors were more or less satisfied with selling 100 copies to family and friends, but now they are learning how to promote. With the big guys making most of their debut authors do their own promotion, writers are beginning to wonder why they should bother with traditional publishers — if authors have to do their own promotion, they might as well get paid. Several bloggeries I’ve read mentioned an expected explosion of self-published books in 2009, and that a large percentage of those books will be aggressively promoted by their authors.

Makes me wonder if the whole book business could implode, with more writers than readers. Many of the people I’ve come in contact via this blog are readers as well as writers, but at least half of the writers I meet elsewhere do not read books. Nor do they buy them.

In the future, perhaps more money can be made reviewing books than writing them. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a reviewer. It’s tempting — especially if I could find others who would be willing to review the genres I don’t read. It’s one way to eventually cash in on the superabundance of published, POD, and self-published books out there, and I’d never lack for reading material. I have only a few objections: I’d have to review for nothing until I could build up a reputation, and I’d have to give strangers my address. Also, I am so jaded when it comes to reading that I’m not sure I could think of anything nice to say about any book, and if I tried to say something positive about a book with negative appeal, would it harm my (so far non-existent) reputation? Even worse, all that reading would take me away from writing, and I have enough distractions as it is.

But still, it’s something to think about as I try to figure out how and where to promote my books.

8 Responses to “Cashing in on the Book Business”

  1. J.D. Finch Says:

    Sorry, Pat, but if implemented, your idea won’t help the cause. With the transparency of the Internet, even if you didn’t fully disclose that you were a reviewer for hire, you would be quickly outed and criticized. It is hard enough for self-publishers to gain credibility in today’s publishing atmosphere. Writers having to pay for their reviews as well as for publishing their books would bring another level to the problem. It seems to me that adding review-for-pay to self-publishing would simply be circling the wagons and not pressing ahead at all. There has to be a hybrid of self-publishing and traditional publishing houses. I don’t think it is Xlibris or any other current model. What it is remains to be seen.

  2. A. F. Stewart Says:

    I’d be happy to review your books for my blog, if you like. I can’t guarantee you a great deal of publicity, but hey it’s a review.

  3. Pat Bertram Says:

    J.D.: Charging to review a book is becoming prevalent among the major reviewers due to the number of books on the market, but your point is well-taken. Gives me something more to think about.

    A.F.: Part of the problem of reviews is that I won’t have the books to send out for review, but I was planning on asking you if I could be a guest on your blog when the books finally come out. Should be interesting when they do. I’m getting used to this in between stage of not quite being a published author.

  4. joylene Says:

    A writer who doesn’t read; isn’t that amazing? Shocking actually.

    I don’t know what to suggest for reviewers other than J Kaye Oldner and ask for a list of reviewers. She’s on the net. I think what helped me most was word-of-mouth. Get out there and do as many readings and signings as you can. Word will grow from there.

  5. eBookGuru Says:

    If your books will be available in Electronic format, we will review them for you.


  6. GABixler Says:

    Hi Pat…I enjoyed reading your entry… one major comment I want to clarify is your remark about numbers of blog followers. In this internet world of social networking, I think numbers on a personal blog may be misleading about the true numbers of people who read that reviewer…at least it is for me. You see, as a professional reviewer…and blogger, I post to nearly 20 sites. My goal is to be where the individual client I am working with wants to “set up shop”. Many times, I help the individual, especially those who are not familiar with the internet, get established at a particular site… While I am trying to build up a “following” on my blog, I am not too concerned…as long as individuals who are interested in reviews realize that my postings will be at just about any online appropriate site they may use.

    Now, on to payment…I’ve had this discussion before on other sites. So I’ll add my thoughts for today…if your book has not been successful in attracting a major publisher, and you still publish…then, in essence, you are taking on all of the publicity and marketing responsibilities of those major publishers. All professional book reviewers are paid, in one form or another. It’s not going to change. If you are self-publishing, then you should assume you will pay for reviews.

    I think what you may alternatively consider is what your options are without reviews. Can you do sufficient self-promoting without support from reviewers…then I say, go for it! Whatever works to get YOUR book sold is what you should do… but if you are going to seek help, please assume you are going to pay for any services that a major publisher would be doing!

    Best wishes and success on your own books!

  7. Pat Bertram Says:

    Glenda, thank you very much for your input. This whole promotion thing is very confusing and complicated, escpecially when one is more or less going it alone. I guess I need to figure out a way to come up with some promotional money.

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