Pre-publication Reviews: Not for Indies?

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With my latest release, I didn’t concern myself much with pre-publication reviews, but I did do them with every release of The Survivor Chronicles. I thought long and hard on the issue, and I decided not to worry about it this time around-instead, I went into overdrive after the release to send out review requests.

Why? I had several thoughts about the issue, and time management, editing to a final manuscript, and time vs. release issues disuaded me from the practice. In this article, I’ll discuss a bit about the pro’s and con’s of pre-publication reviews, what they are, and why they didn’t work for me this time around.

Now, don’t get me wrong: reviewers are valuable. They’re wonderful, actually. Love them to death more than they will ever know. I try to be easy to work with, I don’t hassle them, and I am as generous as possible. If they tell me it will be 6 months to a year, I say, “Fine, I’m just glad you’re willing to take a look at it, really.” If they decide not to review the book, I tend to carry on a brief, pleasant conversation to see if they’d be willing to look at anything in the future (unless they’ve indicated they don’t read the genre, didn’t prefer the style, or so on).

That being said, I’ll go ahead with the first issue that is about reviewers and muddle my way through it so as to be careful about the way I put it. (read: I’m not belittling reviewers) The first reason I decided against pre-pub reviews was that it can take a long time–an awful long time in some cases–t0 get a book reviewed. Reviewers have lives, and I know my place: I’m not the center of it. The less fortunate side-effect of that realization is that I don’t have huge swaths of reviewers at my beck and call who are waiting for me to publish the next book. Fans and readers? Sure. But, reviewers receive lots of submissions, and it can take a long time to work through them, finding the ones they want to read, replying to the ones they don’t, reading the books, and writing the reviews and posting them around.

In order to get pre-publication reviews, I’d have to send them an unedited manuscript. Seeing as how that would be against two of my beliefs–review the final copy, not a work in progress, and review that which the readers will be reading, I couldn’t put it together because it would have delayed the book release. As we all know, the sooner a book is out, the sooner a book can start earning back the time and money invested to make it a reality. And since we were creeping up upon the Christmas season, I had to get the thing out the door. We had spent a long time editing and fixing it up, cover art was finalized, distribution was in line, and all that. And, just in case anyone had any doubts, I don’t fault reviewers for this; authors should appreciate everything bloggers and reviewers do for us. Without them, we wouldn’t have the exposure and presence.

Second and third, time management. I always struggle with that; there just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything needed. Sometimes, you just have to do what you can. I decided to invest my time in polishing the cover artwork and working with my editor because the quality of the book is foremost. Who would care about it if it didn’t have polish? Would it matter if I got a handful of reviews on a book that I knew needed a lot more work to be enjoyable?

I did pre-publication reviews for my other books, and it taught me valuable lessons, namely the ones above. Since I was writing in a series, it became more difficult to secure pre-publication reviews on the new releases. Why? Because any new reviewers would either have to review beginning from the current book or would have to go back and re-read everything prior to the current one to “get it”. This is a problem for pre-publication and post-publication reviews, of course, but after publication, you have a little more time and less pressure to work with and find reviewers.

Which brings me to my closing point: relax and breath. Post-publication, it doesn’t matter in the self-publishing world whether you get 1,000 reviews right out the gate. You need some, and you need to work at getting them from reliable, honest sources, but at the end of the day, books are–for the most part–timeless and ageless. So what if someone picks up a book ten years after the publication? To them, it’s a new book, full of new experiences and new adventures. A book may slow down as it ages, but self-publishing can be maintained for as long as you want, and you can have revivals with new reviews ten years down the road.

Best of luck. Just wanted to share a little with you. Until next time.


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  1. Julie shaw  December 27, 2011

    When will part 2 of a world forsaken be released

  2. Brian  January 10, 2012

    As soon as it’s ready, of course. 🙂 I hope to work on AWF (and perhaps finish it) during the editing period of The Consuls of the Vicariate. While my editor has the book, I hope to have a little time to work on it before starting the next in the fantasy series.


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