As a blogger, I absolutely love being contacted by an author and asked to read and review their book. There's something infinitely special about being chosen to read something someone has put their heart and soul into. It's a fragile child they are putting out there for the first time to either be loved or shredded and it must be one of the most difficult things an author can do.
Looking at that from the standpoint of authors with well-established, big name publishers, it may or may not be very difficult because they have great PR people who comb through lists of trusted bloggers that they know will be fair and objective. The author may know very little about that process unless they read the blogs themselves. Which isn't to say it's not tough to have your children put into the hands of strangers who may or may not like them. But as far as I can see there is a nice layer of detachment between the author signed to a big name publisher and the indie author or the self-published one. I have yet to be asked to read a book by an author signed to a big name publisher (though I have been requested by marketing managers or PR people to do so a few times).
No, it's the authors themselves that request me to review indie or self published books which are usually only available in eBook form. The most recent, Dream Smashers by Angela Carlie, has to be one of the greatest interactions I've had with an author. It was very real and I could tell just how much of her soul must be in the story by the way she spoke to me about it before and after I accepted and began reading the book.
One of the best interactions I've had yet with an author was with Steve Harper who wrote the King's X series of novellas, which I am working on reading at the moment. He took the time to dialog with me about my review of the first part of the story and get a better understanding of what I meant in what I had said. I was flattered that I, as a blogger, was important enough to be scrutinized by the author and I enjoyed the honest back and forth of our mutual feedback.
The thing that I've noticed about the indie and self published stories that I've been requested to read is that they all are fantastic and well written. It makes me wonder just exactly why the author has not been signed to a big name publisher. I invite authors to explain it to me, whether they made the choice to avoid or were rejected. I'm very curious. I've read too many books written by authors signed to big name publishing houses that really should never have put pen to paper and here are these AMAZING stories that are being promoted by the authors themselves rather than marketing managers or PR people.
For years before I started book blogging I had heard that people don't take indie or self published books seriously and that it's a very difficult road to take if you want your book to be read. I was told that if I ever wanted to have a book I had written read by more than 10 people, I would have to win a cosmic lottery and be favored by a book editor at a big name publishing house. Books like In The Storm by Karen Metcalf, Dream Smashers by Angela Carlie, Right Side Talking by Bonnie Rozanski, and the King's X series by Stephen Harper should be receiving MUCH bigger notice than the authors themselves may be able to drum up on their own. I wish I could personally buy 50 copies of each of these crazily well-written, incredible stories and hand them out to 200 people I knew would run with them and make sure every person they knew read them.
But I obviously can't because I don't have that kind of money. So I want to encourage any blogger contacted by an indie or self published author asking them to read and review their book to not discount the request because the book isn't one you've heard of or seen well publicized. I can promise you that you will be missing out on something you will really enjoy. They touch on really great topics including social issues that beg to be heard like meth addiction in Dream Smashers and child abuse in In The Storm or give better exposure to issues like epilepsy like in Right Side Talking or they are just pure fantastical imaginative fun like King's X.
Now I do know that everyone's experiences are different but I have had nothing but the best time reading and reviewing these books. I would hope that anyone and everyone in the blogosphere would aid these authors in spreading the word about their great books.
If you are aware of an indie or self published book that an author is looking to promote, please feel free to send me an email and I'll definitely sneak a blurb up onto my blog or New Books for New Bloggers about it.