Guest Blog: Bloggers Rights by Kevin Doyle


My friend Kevin Doyle, author of the awesome One Helluva Gig, got wind of the bru-ha-ha over at The Rock of Pages. Between that fun experience and some others he’s had recently, he was inspired.

And, as I like to do for my friends when they are inspired, I allowed him space here at West of Mars, to share his inspiration. Love his thoughts, hate ’em, disagree or agree, it’s all good so long as it’s civil.


Like a lot of writers, especially those of us of the indie variety, I spend a fair amount of time scouring various web sites and blogs, seeking out people willing to review my work. Although one of my publishers is excellent when it comes to providing lists of sites and reviewers, it’s still a tedious, frustrating process. In general, of every ten sites I land on, usually nine are either not currently accepting requests or accept e-books, which is the main medium I work in to date.

Of those who do seem likely, I’d say on average I get a response from one out of every five I contact.

Still, one perseveres.

But something that I’ve noticed more and more in the last few months is reviewers not accepting self published works. This doesn’t directly affect me, as my works aren’t self-pubbed, but I do come across some who also don’t accept works from micro or small presses, which category my works definitely fall into. And how do I respond when I come across such a restriction?

I move on to the next blog on the list.

Recently, I saw a posting on Facebook where an indie writer took reviewers to task for not accepting self pubs. This person made it rather personal, demanding to know where the reviewers/bloggers get off setting requirements for who they will and won’t review. He made allusions to a few big names who were originally self published and stated that reviewers who don’t do self pubs were working to keep him as a slave (actual word used), consigning him to having to work for a living at a job he hates instead of just writing, as he deserves to be able to do.

Come again?

First, full disclosure and a disclaimer. In three years, my first book has sold less than ten copies. My second, in a year and a half, has sold less than twenty. My third, which came out earlier this year, is doing better but has still sold less than twenty. So I’m not somebody who’s got it made looking down on the little guy. Also, some of the comments ahead may irritate some. So here we go:

The posting I mentioned above really incensed me. I’ve been writing fiction, mainly short stories and only recently books, for decades. My first short story, “The Prime Ingredient” appeared in 1988 in Starsong, a small for-the-love publication from South Carolina, and my first book, One Helluva Gig, came out in 2012. Do the math, and you’ll see it took me a while to get even this far.

Over the course of this time, I’ve had a few encounters with creative writing students and teachers, corresponded with fellow indie authors, and of course participated in group discussions over different social media, primarily FB. What I’m about to say is directed towards some people in the field, but definitely not all. I’m guessing that the same could be said of folks in the art, music or acting fields.

In short:
Nobody owes you anything. You may have the greatest talent every, some talent, or no talent at all. Whichever, you are not entitled to any attention or recognition. If you get some, fine. If you manage to have great success, more power to you. But just because you decided to take on an activity does not require that people cater to you.

If I have a blog or website where I review books, or anything else, it’s my site. I’m the one putting it up; I’m the one putting my name, time and effort into it. And guess what? I’m the one who gets to decide who or what I do or don’t review.

It’s called freedom, folks. Someone who owns a store gets to decide what merchandise they do or don’t sell. A homeowner gets to decorate their house how they want. And a person who decides to spend a large chunk of their time, unpaid in almost all cases, reviewing books, gets to decide what they do and don’t review.

Specifying what type of books they review is no different than specifying what genre they will review, or whether they review e-books.

My guess would be, and here’s where I’m going to tick people off, that several of these reviewers have suffered through self published books of exceedingly low quality. They may think, rightly or wrongly, that the quality isn’t the same as traditional publication, and they don’t want to waste their time with it.

Notice, though, that I said rightly or wrongly. Whether they’re correct is irrelevant. It’s their blog/ site, and they get to choose what they do and don’t do.

My experience, completely anecdotal, is that those who protest most vociferously about their “entitlement” to recognition and praise are the ones least deserving of it. Just because five of your family members tell you that your work is the greatest thing they’ve ever read doesn’t make it so. This is somewhat related to experiences I sometimes have in my teaching. Numerous times I’ve conferenced with parents confused as to why their child received a poor grade on a paper. Often, their response is along the lines of “But I read it over and thought it was great. So who are you to say it wasn’t?”

Uhmm – I’m the teacher.

And at some point in the next week when I check out a new web site offering reviews, and I see that they don’t accept e-books for review, or only want family friendly material, or only accept work from a certain type of publisher, guess what my reaction will be?

Well, okay. It’s their blog, and they’re the ones who get to set the rules.

On to the next one.

Again, thanks to Kevin for his thoughts. Hopefully you can see why I love the guy. And if you run into those badly edited self-published books… you know where to send the authors. I’m always glad to save an author from bad reviews because of poor editing.


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