Hey Indie and Self-Published Authors — You Stink.

*Editor’s note: The title of this post was chosen by its author Neal Wooten, and it does not reflect his view of Indie Authors, nor the view of The Indie Times. It was meant to be sarcastic in reference to a post made by an employee at a company that is paid to do book reviews. Both The Indie Times and Neal Wooten are fierce supporters of independent artists everywhere.


This is from the Facebook page of San Francisco Book Review:

“I think it’s a day for me to immerse myself in the hundreds of truly wonderful books we get into the office instead of holing myself up in my office with the crappy self-published books.

 “Note to authors: Just because you think you have a great idea for a book doesn’t me you should publish it.”

Wow!  You don’t even hear that kind of negative speak from places like Kirkus or Foreword, who each have a paid review option as well.  This is exactly the kind of “group-them-all-together” discriminatory mentality that non-traditional authors struggle against every day.

Crappy self-published books.”

Doesn’t me [mean] you should publish it.”

Unbelievable!  I have always said that it is sad that the stigma in the publishing world, propagated and promoted by the upper echelon of the industry, filters down to store owners and managers, who seem to want to elevate themselves to that lofty level.  It’s like a guy selling programs for the Kentucky Derby thinking he’s on the same social or financial level as the horse owners and high-rollers.

But this is a book review organization.  Does anyone else see the paradox?  Its sole purpose is to let the authors, and the world, know how good or bad the book is.  It’s like a food critic who stays away from ethnic food, or a movie critic who waits for others to explain it’s a good movie before he’ll evaluate it.  Maybe San Francisco Book Review needs to hire a company to review the books before they review them.

I have had one experience with them myself and have all the emails saved.  I submitted Reternity for a paid review and never heard from them in the ten weeks they claim to be able to complete the review.  When I contacted them, they told me they never received the books.  I provided them with the tracking info, which included where they signed for it, but didn’t get an immediate response, so I asked them for a refund.

They miraculously found it.  But then I was given several dates by which the review would be completed, each one erroneous, and each time I had to make contact again.  Finally I had enough and again asked for my money back.

Here’s the response I got: “Your review came in late last week, and I’m sure it isn’t one you’d be pleased with. The reviewer did not like the book at all.”

I laughed at the professionalism.  The only thing missing was “nanny, nanny, boo, boo.”  Of course after reading their Facebook post, I now realize why my novel, Reternity, could not have possibly received a good review from them.  I am, after all, a “crappy” author who has no right publishing a book.

Luckily, there are several organizations out there who judge a book by the writing and story, which is probably why Reternity has won six national awards and was named to Kirkus Reviews Best of 2011.

So, my fellow Indie and self-published friends, use your own judgment.


Neal Wooten, Publisher/Indie Author/Illustrator/Cartoonist

Managing Editor; Mirror Publishing, Milwaukee, WI,
Author of Reternity,

Posted by on May 25, 2012. Filed under Books,Neal Wooten,This Indie Life. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

93 Responses to Hey Indie and Self-Published Authors — You Stink.

  1. Tony

    May 25, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Your a jerk and you can’t even put a sentence together without grammatical errors.

    On a lighter note, I have read hundreds of “major” publishing company’s books and they are crap.

    I have read many self published books and they contain excellent stories both fiction and non-fiction.

    You are full of yourself and I am pleased that given the current trend of eBooks and self published writers who promote their books themselves and do well, you and your arrogant peers will join the ranks of the unemployed.

    • Hahaha

      May 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      So many angry people on here… and so many misspelled words. I love it.


    • Erin Birdsall

      May 27, 2012 at 4:00 am

      Neal, well written response. Heidi, I think you need a career change or an attitude adjustment.

  2. Virginia M.

    May 25, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Everyone has a right to publish, and the merit of the book is in the eye of the beholder.

    Heidi….”it’s cover” error! (its)
    “Okay for a child to learn from?” -ugh!

    Seems even the reviewer is less than perfect.

  3. Archie Roberts

    May 25, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    The only good books are not just the books that make it to the large publishing companies. That is just like saying that any good idea can only be supported by large banks. They can take a lesson from Walt Disney who was refused many, many times because his idea was not good enough. Now look at Walt Disney company. And as you said, food critics go to 5 star places not ethnic or mom and pop places. Reminds me of one of the lines on one of my poems, “Be careful the things that come out of your mouth, what starts as a whisper can soon become a shout”. This critic is shouting their stupidity throughout her review. Is this a learned process.

  4. No matter what the label is, the cream will rise to the top. The gate keepers have every reason to be mad… they have been standing on shaky ground for a long time now.

  5. Herb Nordmeyer

    May 25, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    I have a book on my desk from a major publishing company that states the White Winged Dove is a non-native species that was introduced in the 1950s when caged birds were released in Florida. I was hunting White Winged Dove in South Texas in the late 1940s. I guess the elite from the book world do not consider Texas a part of the United States of America.
    Herb Nordmeyer

  6. Concetta Payne

    May 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    I’m lost for words, Neal. I also noticed her error (me) instead of (mean). Thank you Neal for bringing this to our atention.

  7. Judith Futedu

    May 25, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    This is beyond the pale.

    I’ve read crappy books by a lot of mainstream
    un-self-published writers. That is not to say that some self-
    published writers are not in the same vein.

    To be truly fair, judge the books on their merit; not who published them.
    Are you so threatened that you can’t judge? Or just oblivious to quality.
    Many famous writers were first self-published. Do some research.

    Your remarks are a detriment to the arts. You are just a critic.
    I have no use for critics; not even the best ones. Try to write a book.
    I don’t think you can. You are also a self-agrandizing phony.

  8. Linda Hales

    May 25, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    You would think that a true professional would be more concerned about editing his work. Oh well, blatant errors can happen to the best of us, even to those nasty Indy publishers! See example of your non-existent editing below:

    “Note to authors: Just because you think you have a great idea for a book doesn’t me you should publish it.” (and that glaring example was right out of the gate!)

    You should give credit where credit is due but then you could only do this if you read every book that you have decided to trash, simply because they are self published. Of course, you do associate yourself with the fine literature that meets the high standards of the traditional publisher. Cases in point – Paris Hilton and Snooky have both attained #1 Bestseller status overnight (to their credit, I suspect not.) To cut to the chase, it is only about what sells that matters to traditional publishers because they have no choice if they want to stay in business.
    My advice to you is to accept the fact that any industry, whether independent or not, experiences a shakeout so that only the cream rises to the top. There is room in this game for all of us but to tell the truth, if an author wants to get a fair shake in the publishing world with even a hope of recovering costs, he must take charge of his own destiny. I much prefer to be in the drivers seat, thank you very much!

  9. TC Booth

    May 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Wow. This is so disappointing. I don’t even know what to say. It’s too bad that he isn’t professional enough to critic the book aside from the publisher. Sad.

  10. Dick Waters

    May 25, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Despite the obvious mistakes in her article, one can agree with her–she was having one of those days.
    I wonder if her management knows about her rant and agrees with her position.
    If I were her manager; I would be more than upset with her personal opinion going public.
    What goes around comes around.
    There’s good and bad in everything, even at San Francisco Book Review. Everyone can get better, but they need to be motivated. If I was her manager, I would motivate her!

  11. Maranda Russell

    May 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    I don’t know her personally, but Heidi comes off as very pompous, arrogant and narrow-minded from this rant of hers. Sure, some self-published books aren’t any good…and some traditionally published books aren’t any good, but it doesn’t mean that you should blackball an entire group of authors or publishers. The sad thing is that Heidi is missing out on some really good books. Her loss.

  12. E.D. Arrington

    May 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Ironic that this biased comment comes on the heels of the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. I wonder if Heidi read the books of any of the winners or finalists in the 60 categories. In case she hasn’t, this work is equal to or exceeds that from major publishers.

  13. Jeanne Miller

    May 25, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    I can only imagine what happened in her office this morning. Let’s see…the boss approached and said:

    “Heidi, before you leave today, would you mind writing a public rant that will effectively cut off one of our major income streams? K. Thx.”

    What a strategic career move that was.

  14. Laura Marlowe

    May 25, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Say WHAT?!? First, I know eighteen-year-olds who can write -who DO write- more polished, professional and interesting works than this drivel, and sans grammatical errors. (The grammatical errors and lack of eloquence in the SF Book Review article are scary.) Second: “…hundreds of truly wonderful books we get into the office…” HUH? If these “wonderful” books haven’t yet been read by this reviewer, how does this person know that they are wonderful? Lastly, what kind of person lumps everyone (here: authors) into one category? How illogical, unfair, narrow-minded and just plain mean…and we can imagine why this person needs to exhibit meanness. This so-called reviewer cannot possibly have read and reviewed the many inspiring, educational, making-a-difference indie books that have been gaining in popularity, partly thanks to the efforts of self-promotion etc. Well, point-of-contact-for-Sponsored-Review-program, you have got a lot to learn…and I hope people unfairly judge YOU by your cover. SIGH. Note to Neal: Loved your article and the line “Maybe San Francisco Book Review needs to hire a company to review the books…” Brilliant, well done!

  15. Lorena Bathey

    May 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    It seems extraordinary to me that someone who is paid to read and critique books is out there whining about having to read and critique books. And while I, an Indie author and publisher, agree with Heidi that we in the Indie arena need to put out quailty well-edited product, I wonder if she noticed the several errors I recently found in the big name author’s book. Errors happen to the best of us. But I think this is a call to arms to make sure our self-published books rival anything a traditional publisher would put out. That means using the utmost professionaliam. That way when reviewers like his have a bad day, they can’t pick on self-published authors.

    • Neal Wooten

      May 26, 2012 at 4:58 am

      That’s it in a nutshell, Lorena. It’s like saying, “I’m here to tell you if the book is good or bad, just don’t send me any bad ones.” She’s still ranting about self-published books on the San Francisco Book Review FB page.

      Let’s be honest. I seriously doubt James Patterson, Clive Cussler, Stephen King, etc, are paying San Francisco Book Review for reviews. I would think the sponsored reviews come mostly from small titles. So it’s sad that her prejudice lends itself to a need to publicly trash said authors, authors who are (or were) willing to give her money.

      You have got to admire her principle, albeit rude and arrogant. She’d rather have a review site full of her “wonderful books,” which according to her, all it is required to be wonderful is to have a real publisher, instead of an income

  16. Rebecca Fronzaglio

    May 25, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    For once, I’m lost for words. Well ok here’s just a couple. *#*^!!! *&+!. Thanks Neal for your great passion for us Indies. You’re like the mayor of Indie-opolis. PS. (If that’s spelled wrong it’s ok. I’m practicing to be a book critic). PS. I had a dog named Heidi. She spelled better too. (Even when she was having one of “those” days)…*sigh*

  17. Marge Dawson

    May 25, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    So glad I self-published my non-fiction book on pearls and did not waste my money sending a book and paying to mail it to The Indie Times for review. What a cheek they have to paint all of us with the same brush. I have had such good reviews from all who have bought my book and one look at my website will tell you it is very well researched and presented and full of beautiful color pictures. “Pearls of Creaton A-Z of Pearls” LLC will go a long way as I am also my own Marketing Manager, and will continue to market it.
    As I am not a well known author and choose to market it through the great contacts I have made through Linkedin, besides others. Marketing it is a pleasure to me as I know my Market is wide open. Author Marge Dawson.

    • Michele Jennae

      May 25, 2012 at 10:13 pm

      Marge, the post is about the San Francisco Book Review, not The Indie Times.

      At The Indie Times, we support indie artists of all genres and propose to encourage them in their professional creative pursuits.

      Michele Jennae
      The Indie Times

    • Neal Wooten

      May 26, 2012 at 4:35 am

      Great point, Marge. I think you meant San Francisco Book Review. lol As far as I know, the folks at The Indie Times have never lumped all the authors of one specific area of publishing together to bash them. And it certainly wouldn’t be the Indie side. Thank goodness for web sites like these that support us Indie authors (and give me a place to vent.) lol

  18. Marge Dawson

    May 25, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    “Pearls of Creation A-Z of Pearls” is available on Amazon and Barnes& Nobles for $29.50 and please publish my that will be great, thanks, Author, Marge. Dawson.

  19. Michele Jennae

    May 25, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Marge, as the editor in chief of The Indie Times, I would like to say that the post is about the San Francisco Book Review. The Indie Times is not a book review agency, although we do have some books submitted for review from time to time. We do not charge for reviews. We appreciate you taking time to comment on this post.

    Michele Jennae

  20. Debra-Lynn Bellefeuille

    May 25, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    About to submit my first book, “Sipping Coffee Watching Life Go By” whereby this type and forms of critical reviews by individuals with no compassion or love of written work, possibly not even loving their work and it is only a job and not a love of the job, pass personal frustrations and judgement through their reviews.
    All I want is for my readers to have a good laugh while having a relaxing read.

  21. Irma Jacobs Tirro Author of The Lonely Snowflake and It's Almost Friday

    May 26, 2012 at 4:19 am

    Amen, Neal. You hit the nail on the head and I hope it’s felt.

  22. Sandra White

    May 26, 2012 at 4:32 am

    It’s difficult to take her comments seriously when the grammatical and spelling errors abound. I can’t see what the publishing (famed publishing house or self-publishing)has to do with the quality of writing. Some are bound to be good, some are bound to be bad. Wake up, Heidi, that’s life and ALL professions fit. I read constantly–four or five books a week, several genres, countless different publishing sources. Many, many books from the leading publishing houses barely merit my time–some I quit reading after the first few chapters.

  23. Caddy Rowland

    May 26, 2012 at 5:12 am


    “Having one of those days today” must mean a day where you don’t proof your own comments. If you want your rant to be taken seriously you should follow your own adice and edit your comments before publishing them. Even I, as an indie author, could do better than that!

    Good to know how you really feel about indies. I won’t bother to ever ask for a review from you, as I expect reviewers to be able to spell. I also expect them to be open minded. You fail on both counts.

  24. I still like to believe that the Indie publisher is not the same as self-publishing. But, there are many good books pass by the big publisher’s hands. They do not read every submission.
    Heidi has a job in which she would probably not have gotten if they read this article first.

    • Neal Wooten

      May 26, 2012 at 8:33 am

      Hey Bolivar. There is a difference in Indie and self-published authors, but all self-published authors are Indie authors, and they all face the same discrimination. I’ve just never seen it come from a review organization. But all negative and biased comments that lump certain authors together are unfair and such arrogance should always be addressed

  25. Sarah Mamika

    May 26, 2012 at 6:04 am

    Doesn’t sound like a bad day to me, but more like a problem with superiority and professionalism. Think of all the pleasure and enjoyment she’s missing. What a shame.

  26. millie r

    May 26, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Let’s send her a copy of Mark Twain’s first published book. Oh – wait, we can’t – it was self-published!

  27. J.Smythe (author:" Mason Mayne, Federal Investigator"

    May 26, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Right on, Neal. So,what are the qualifications to become a reviewer? Does one have to be an English/Journalism graduate from Haaavaard, or Smith?
    It certainly doesn’t sound like they ever had any Military training either…an ex-Marine can always tell! Keep up the good work and whenever you get a chance read Mason Mayne, Federal Investigator; it’s on all the e-readers (due to the fact as I can’t find a ‘real’ publishing house and a decent ‘reviewer’!) As always, Semper Fi!

  28. Alicia Freitas

    May 26, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Oh my- did she wake up on the wrong side of the bed that day???? Some people just delight in making others feel “less than” thinking it will help them feel “more than”. When in essence she just looked “small minded”. It is a shame and sad- I think I will just go to the beach with my BIG COMPANY PUBLISHED BOOK that I am having a difficult time finishing because the 3rd to this popular series really should have been BETTER written, edited and reviewed…. But I will not let IT win!

  29. Antoinette A.

    May 26, 2012 at 8:17 am

    I totally and completely back Neal and his statement. You go Neal!!!

  30. Lenore Lang

    May 26, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Thanks, Neal, for continuing to fight for the “little guys” who write good stuff and want to see it published, no matter what! Lenore

  31. Leslie Tesch

    May 26, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Thanks to everyone who supports the new authors and tries to give them a break. Thanks Neal for watching for discrimination. I too have read many best sellers that weren’t worth the paper they were written on. Good books are good no matter who publishes them. A well written book is in the mind of the reader.

  32. Patty Silhacek

    May 26, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I would not dignify her statement by even commenting on it. See all the attention she is getting? Oldest play in the book!

  33. Barbara

    May 26, 2012 at 10:18 am

    So this is what happens when the establishment runs scared eh? I hope poor Heidi has a better day after she gets canned.
    Great job Neal!

  34. Brian T Shirley

    May 26, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Thanks Neal, my complaint is that we are the only ones who will see our responses to this elitism. There are bad books everywhere, just as there are good books. Some of us don’t have the capitol, the connections or the patience to got through the traditional routes. I have 2 comedy books of one liners that I sell after my shows that have great covers and they sell quite well, but I’m sure Heidi would slap hereself in the forehead and roll her eyse if one of my books slid across her greasy desk. I’m going to the facebook site and have a look around. I’m not sure if I’ll post anything there, but I will continue to get the word out about us Indies and how we are treated. I’ve already ranted on a few blogalk and regular radio interviews. When I raech a certain level in the entertainment industry, be it comedy or writing, I’m going to set up a fund or cahrity for indies like ourselves. Something to give folks a jumpstart that really feel they want to write.

  35. SFBR

    May 26, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Heidi did not tar all self-published authors with the label “crappy”, just those that are. Even counting for differing levels of taste and interest, some books (self-published, indie published or from major houses) are bad. Poor editing, poor writing, poor design and poor illustrations.

    We do not require that self-published authors pay for a review, unlike Kirkus and PW. We offer that service for those people who “need” a review. Sometimes for a pre-pub blurb, sometimes to kick start a marketing plan or just for a independent view of their book. But anyone who meets our guidelines (within 90 days of publication) can send in a book for review with no cost (granted we only review about 25% of all the books we get in each month). Nor when we review a self-published or indie book, do we put them in a separate review category. They end up in the same category as every other book with that genre. We’ve done that purposefully, so a reader interested in mass market mysteries can read a review of the new James Patterson book in between two other books they’ve never heard of. All treated the same. This was done on purpose to help indie authors get the same coverage of any other author, NYT bestseller or not.

    When someone purchases a sponsored review, Heidi is the one that sends it to the author for approval. Our policy is that if they don’t like their review, they can swap it for an ad in the paper. That was also something that no other publisher does that we know of. If your review is negative, you still get promotion from us. It’s extra work since we have to now design an ad for them, but we see it as an additional service so that those authors don’t feel like they didn’t get anything from us after a negative review.

    Our reviewers are told to review sponsored reviews like any other book but with an extra 100 words or so. If they have issues with the book and are giving it a negative review, they need to say why. Specifics so the author can get direct feedback as to why the review is negative. Most authors take that feedback as what it is. Some however take the “your reviewer sucks”, “your reviewer isn’t qualified to review my book”, “what do you know, all my friends loved my book”. And those emails end up being dealt with by Heidi. And many of them turn into personal attacks.

    We can avoid dealing with some obviously bad books. We don’t request the latest Snookie book for review because we don’t want to deal with it. There are plenty of books sent to us by the major publishers that we filter out on the sorting table as “too bad to review” as well.

    Bottom line – we have supported indie books since we began, self-published or otherwise, and will continue to do so. Many of those books are good and get great reviews. Some are bad and get bad reviews. But they don’t get bad reviews because they are self-published. They get bad reviews because they are poorly produced.

    • Neal Wooten

      May 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm

      Point in fact, Heidi’s rant on the company Facebook page of San Francisco Book Review, did in face refer to all self-published books as “crappy,” and all books not self-published as “wonderful,” followed by the degrading assertion that they should not publish.

      And what do we get from them by pointing this out? An advertisement. We get lots of misdirection to justify these horrible comments, claiming she didn’t mean this or that. What a shame. An apology would have been a lot more professional, but again, professionalism apparently is not their goal.

      About a year ago, I had a discussion about them with Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware. She warns all authors about unknown companies like these who charge a fee for reviews. Amazon does not recognize them as legitimate reviewer and has banned them from posting reviews on their customer review section. That should tell you everything.

      And as horrible as all that sounds, I still had no problem with their company or the way they do business, until… this attack on ALL self-published authors, and the subsequent lack of acknowledgment and responsibility for such attacks. Heck, they’re still defending this on their FB instead of erasing it or apologizing for it.


  36. Sherry

    May 26, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Actually, anyone with an idea can publish a book. That’s part of the world we’ve created where there is a free exchange of ideas. The market will determine what is “successful.” Hats off to everyone who has jumped in to the self publishing pool. The sinking or swimming is up to us.

    Daily Spiritual Tools, the Book

  37. Neal Wooten

    May 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Point in fact, Heidi’s rant on the company Facebook page of San Francisco Book Review, did in face refer to all self-published books as “crappy,” and all books not self-published as “wonderful,” followed by the degrading assertion that they should not publish.

    And what do we get from them by pointing this out? An advertisement. We get lots of misdirection to justify these horrible comments, claiming she didn’t mean this or that. What a shame. An apology would have been a lot more professional, but again, professionalism apparently is not their goal.

    About a year ago, I had a discussion about them with Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware. She warns all authors about unknown companies like these who charge a fee for reviews. Amazon does not recognize them as legitimate reviewer and has banned them from posting reviews on their customer review section. That should tell you everything.

    And as horrible as all that sounds, I still had no problem with their company or the way they do business, until… this attack on ALL self-published authors, and the subsequent lack of acknowledgment and responsibility for such attacks. Heck, they’re still defending this on their FB instead of erasing it or apologizing for it.


  38. Connie

    May 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Great article, Neal. Sounds to me like they might be feeling a little threatened?

    I just finished reading the second paragraph at the top . . .

    (This is from the Facebook page of San Francisco Book Review:

    “I think it’s a day for me to immerse myself in the hundreds of truly wonderful books we get into the office instead of holing myself up in my office with the crappy self-published books.

    “Note to authors: Just because you think you have a great idea for a book doesn’t me you should publish it.”)

    . . . they need to check their spelling – it should say “mean” instead of “me” in the paragraph above this one – hmmm, and they consider themselves superior?????

  39. Holly M.

    May 26, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    I actually LIKE that the title was deceiving…one would think Neal Wooten was the one who didn’t like indie authors, just by reading said title; but delve deeper, folks; Mr. Wooten comments on an article written by (I believe, if my memory serves me) a SF newspaper contributor, in regards to HER opinion about Indie and self-published writers, and how she can’t stand their sub-standard works, but she fails when she lumps all indie writers in this catagory. Rule number 1 anywhere in society; NO ONE wants to be lumped in a catagory, placed in a box, labeled if you will…NO ONE. We as a society, but I think Indie artists especially, are sick of it more than anyone. Maybe this SF newspaper writer gets labeled a lot; maybe she’s projecting LOL….just thinking out loud.

  40. Sandra Fishel Brandon

    May 26, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Thanks Neal, for supporting and encouraging novice writers. We do have creative ideas and stories, even if we can’t get the “big” publishers to give us the time of day. I recently got an email from a friend teaching young children at school. He was reading “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” and one little boy interrupted and asked if he would read my book, “Grandpa Fixes Breakfast” instead :) . That was as important to me as a good review. What better review is there than when someone your book is intended for really enjoys it!

  41. K. Blanc

    May 26, 2012 at 4:35 pm


    While there certainly are some poor-quality self-published books on the market, there are also a few dreadful titles published by the big houses. It is therefore unfair and inaccurate to target self-pubbed titles as “crappy.” Allow me to introduce one of the WORST picture books I’ve ever read, titled CAN I JUST TAKE A NAP? (Simon & Schuster, June 2012) Yes, that’s right: the lofty S&S Books For Young Readers has dropped the quality ball — big time.

    CAN I JUST TAKE A NAP won the 2010 Cheerios New Author Contest. The prize? A publishing contract with S&S. Well folks…this book is written in a banal attempt at rhyme that elicits groans and actually grates on the nerves. Yet it was published by one of the biggest publishers in the world. Why? One can only assume that the publisher’s decision was influenced by the smell of $$$ courtesy of General Mills, the sponsor of the contest. Hmm…

    Why have I laid out this long story? To demonstrate that even a major publisher can put out “crappy” books. And hopefully CAN I JUST TAKE A NAP? will end up on the desk of Heidi-the-book-reviewer!

    • Hahaha

      May 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      What was the name of that bad book again?

  42. One of the commenters above said it best, “Let the market determine success.” If a book is good and the author works to advertise it around, it will sell. At that point, who needs a bitter, jaded, arrogant, can’t edit her own words, poor excuse for a reviewer anyway?!

  43. Elle Casey

    May 27, 2012 at 6:53 am

    I love the Internet. Before social media, someone like this would have been able to just keep on being a … well … what she is, and no one would have known. But not anymore! Thanks for writing the great article. I love the epilogue. :)

  44. Neal Wooten

    May 27, 2012 at 8:38 am

    This is a comment from a person on Linkedin: “Neal: While I don’t support the reviewer’s comment, I unfortunately don’t feel comfortable supporting your idea to ‘take a stand’ either.”

    I keep coming back to this line and wished I had addressed it earlier. Self-published authors have been discriminated against for years. They have been called names like “Vanity Authors” and lumped together into a derogatory group of under-talented wannabes.

    I truly believe it deserves talking a stand against the unfair oppression and biased remarks wherever and whenever they show their ugly heads. But that’s just me.

    My dad was extremely prejudiced against one particular minority, and was quite vocal about it. Finally, at age 14, I stood up to him. And believe me, my dad was the strongest and most violent person I’ve ever known to this day. But I made the decision that I needed to “take a stand.”

    During one of his colorful, degrading, name-filled rants in which he claimed once again that ALL of them were lazy, no-good, drug users, I spoke up. I said, “Dad, that’s not fair or accurate. Let me ask you this. If every one of them on earth was bad—except one, would it be fair to judge that one by the others?”

    I stood fast awaiting my punishment. But to my surprise, my dad agreed. “No,” he said. “It would not be fair.”

    Imagine throughout history if people shared the attitude of this poster. Imagine if no one took a stand during the civil rights movement. Now you might argue that was more important, but that comes back around to your own prejudices. Maybe to some people self-published authors are not important enough as human beings go to take a stand for, but that’s just not how I see it.

  45. Pingback: Hey Indie and Self-Published Authors — You Stink. | The Indie Times | Chazz Writes

  46. Joe Hefferon

    May 27, 2012 at 12:33 pm

  47. Dianna Skidmore, author of "Can You Be Like Me?"

    May 28, 2012 at 6:19 am

    I was at a dark place in my life, after loosing my job of 31 years to downsizing, when my children’s book was accepted for publication by Mirror Publishing. Having been rejected time and again by the BIG house publishers I had all but given up. My book has been reviewed by the best: teachers & principals who see it’s merit and purchase it for their entire K-2 classes, libraries who request it, parents & grandparents who purchase it for their children, and most importantly to the children who say, “read it again”! The wonderful illustrations were skillfully & thoughtfully drawn by my sweet sister, Theresa Walker. I put her illustrations up against any published books on the market! I know the value of my books and so does my publisher. Thanks Neal for giving me a chance when others would not!

  48. Victoria Williams-Fisher

    May 28, 2012 at 7:38 am

    What I don’t (or maybe I do) understand is what are the “big shots” so afraid of? Indie authors taking over the world?
    One question for Ms. Heidi, How many books have you written? Seriously? So, those who can’t write have the right to judge?
    My neighbor recently read a book written by a very famous author, and out of respect I won’t mention his name, but it was so full of mistakes that my neighbor said he lost interest in it. Not all books are perfect, just like all posts. Heidi, you are a real m-e-a-n-i-e!

  49. Alannn Keslian

    May 28, 2012 at 8:14 am

    So many people who make money out of the book trade are seem desperate to deter anyone new from publishing. I wonder why.

  50. Jodi Fiore

    May 28, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Wow! Thank you again Neal for bringing this type of unfortunate drama to my attention. I think the writer and all of these Indie-bashers are simply jealous – we have learned not to take ‘no’ for an answer! We continue to achieve success no matter what obstacles the big house publishers put in our way!
    Neal, I cannot thank you enough for all of your continuous patience, honesty and assistance through this wonderful journey of writing!

  51. Becca Mills

    May 28, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    The editor’s note re the headline is wholly unnecessary. A bunch of readers who are interested in indie publishing are highly likely to recognize irony. Eds, better to deal with one or two stupid reactions from people who glanced at the headline and didn’t bother to read the article than to sound like you’re talking down to all the rest of us.

    Neal, great article. I do think this prejudice against indie authors is weakening rapidly. So many of the top 100 sellers at Amazon are indies (or, like Fifty Shades, indie in origin), that it’s getting harder and harder to be so dismissive.

    That said, I do think it’s important to get the message out to indie authors that outstanding editing/proofreading, formatting, and cover design are important elements of a book. Traditionally published authors have always needed and received professional help in those areas. The vast majority of us need it too. Putting out an amateurish book not only damages one’s own chance of success but also helps fuel the stereotypes of people like Heidi.

  52. John L Hoh Jr

    May 29, 2012 at 10:07 am

    I come at this from both sides–the indy publisher and the book reviewer.

    Do indy books come to me that need some refinement? You bet. But I also get books from the traditional publishers that could have used some tweaks and touches. Or could have had a better cover design. Sometimes I wonder why the author didn’t ask a friend to give it a read-through (I know I do). But overall, while typographical errors might be distracting, I review the content and ascertain if the author stated a purpose for writing and met that purpose.

    As an indy writer, I get that feeling of frustration that somehow I’m not “good enough” to be published. Quite frankly. many authors who *do* get published aren’t really good enough–they just have fame or noteriety to give the book name recognition and thus the publisher will hire a ghost writer to clean up the manuscript to sell millions of copies. Therein lies the rub. Publishers want titles that sell millions of copies; many of us have a message to say that may not be applicable to millions of readers. That doesn’t mean we’re not “good enough”; it simply means, in the eyes of editors and publishers, we are not “profitable enough”. Or the publisher has narrowly defined genres and if something avant garde comes along, they lack the imagination to know how to market that book.

    Everyone has a message to tell. The fact that the message can be improved is not the issue. The fact that a review copmany, seeking to profit by reviewing books, will trash its target audience is amazing. They may regret that Facebook post when people stop sending their books–and money–for reviews.

    In conclusion, as a reviewer I strive to give constructive criticism. I am proud that we have given Indy writers a fair hearing at I also feel priveledged that I have reviewed Indy books that went on to become movies or TV series (I was one of the first to review the book “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” which became a hit TV series with the late John Ritter. Words cannot express the joy in being the first to spot new talent.

  53. Stevie

    May 29, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    It’s sad to see someone who is supposedly one of the “gatekeepers” for readers to rely on be so narrow minded and place judgement based on prejudice instead of quality and merit.

    Keep fighting self-published authors because we’re a part of a new age of publishing and it’s no longer a bad thing to be doing it yourself but more of an economical choice based on preferences, not on a lack of quality.

    • Becca Mills

      May 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm

      It may be blah to an adult, K., but my two-year-olds love it. Only Peeny Butter Fudge is more favored. Unfortunately, bad people don’t always put out bad books.

  54. Lisa Sarver

    May 31, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Why is there such negativity towards the nontraditional publishing path? Is this merely resistance to change? Back when digital cameras were introduced, I took my good ol’ time replacing my 35mm film camera. I recently jumped on the digital camcorder bandwagon. And I’m still hanging onto my DVD/VCR player until I’m forced by the electronic industry to make the Blu-ray switch. Don’t even ask me about an e-reader. I simply can’t make the change…not yet, anyways. Traditional publishers are indeed taking notice of Indie authors thanks to the internet. Just ask any author, like Silvia Day, who was sought after by a traditional publisher after her self-published book attained a high volume of sales. One shouldn’t judge a book by its cover unless it’s the cover of “Bared to You” which resembles the cover of “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

  55. Tima Maria Lacoba

    June 5, 2012 at 2:51 am

    Well done, Neal. Perhaps Heidi should be told about, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ Poorly written, no plot and absolute drivel, yet it’s traditionally published.
    If that’s the type of ‘good’ books this arrogant woman is referring to, then please Lord, keep me out of the hands of the traditional publisher!
    Give me indie any day! For it’s glaringly obvious they don’t know they’re talking about.

  56. Sharon Farmer

    June 11, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    I know I am a smart lady and am often told I am a life-long learner but I never knew reviews could be so ugly and so full of assumption (Assume means to make an “ass out of you and me”. That is what reviews of self-publishers seem to be sometimes. Neal’s book is amazing, and everyone I have shared it with loves to concept of the young man in the book learning, sharing AND showing his intelligience.
    Neal shows his intelligience so bravely, and so do I, one of his authors. My book is SIGHTS I SEE WITH MY DESERT LEMON TREE and I share it wherever I go and sell with confidence and appreciate the positive feedback, never negative. One of the best things I share is that anyone can write a book and should never, ever give up or become discouraged. Shame on you Heidi! Read my book, a true story with a magical twist honoring nature, the elderly and the US Air Force. Thanks for the opportunity to comment. Sharon “Sherry” Farmer now sharing my Arizona book in beautiful Montana in person!

  57. Sharon Farmer

    June 11, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    I just commented from a motel lobby, as I am a very busy grandma of 3 boys on vacation with me at this time. I also just read all of the above comments and am so fortunate to have found Neal and Mirror Publishing as I have learned so much from him, not only on how to illustrate and put together a book but also how to build one’s self-esteem, recognize their God-given talents and how to stand up for themselves and others they believe in. Well, back to educating my grandchildren. Wow! They better double check ALL of their hurried emails for spelling erros! By the way, Neal taught me to read a book from back to front to catch all my errors. It works! I have found MANY in famous published books! Again, shame shame shame on you Heidi!

  58. Mackenzie Brown

    June 14, 2012 at 1:48 am

    This is a continuing theme put about by the old guard. Fortunately Joe Public is more discerning than this type of comment might suggest. As already stated there are good and bad books whether they are available via the traditional route or self published origin. The sands are shifting beneath the feet of the old publishing world and they don’t like it.

  59. Yvonne Mason

    June 15, 2012 at 5:24 am

    This is exactly the reason I march to my own band, forget the drummer. I refuse to pay someone to review my work. I find they are not only annoying they are arrogant and most times stupid.
    I have been publishing my own works since 2007 and have been writing since I was a kid. It took over 30 years before I was finally in print. I was rejected so many times it became laughable.
    My point is this. I don’t care what they think. I write because I can. I do my own marketing, and have some one that designs my covers. Traditional houses and tradional reviewers as well as agents are losing the strangle hold over readers.
    I have seen some book covers come out of traditional houses that look like a kid designed them. They have no imagaination and it shows.
    Sadly the tradtional houses have editors that most english teachers would red pencil to death. They preach editing but yet they use spell check like a bad drug. Gone are the days of ready each line and each sentence. Gone are the days of pride in their work. It appears as if indies have more pride than they do any more. Now it is all about the bottom line.
    I will stay as an indie even if they approached me which they won’t. I don’t fit their box.
    And just as a side note. My audio book A Voice from the Grave won this years first place at the CIPA EVVY awards for audio books.
    I must be doing something right

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  63. Robyn Safarian

    July 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I am fairly new at this. I published my first children’s picture book back in May. When I started looking into the possibility of getting reviewed or announcing the book on relevant forums I noticed – for the first time – how much hate is targeted at indie authors.

    As someone who enjoys reading I couldn’t care less about who’s published the book. What matters is the content of the book, the writing style, the story-telling and the overall quality of the prose. Regardless of being indie or traditionally published some books are good and some are bad. So where does this idea of all big publishing being great come from?

    By the way if you guys haven’t had your share of negativity against indie authors you should check out some of the Amazon forums.

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  66. Linda Bahnan

    March 24, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Your ‘editor’s note’ is very patronising! Wot: are we stupid?

  67. Linda Bahnan

    March 24, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Fortunately for you ‘dear editor’, Heidi has proved by this article to be a prat who can’t even write English grammatically.

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  81. Caro Eardley

    November 6, 2013 at 12:36 am

    Hmmm…while I entirely agree with these many indignant replies to Heidi’s scurrilous and scandalous comments, here’s a more effective response: vote with your feet! Boycott the darn company! I wouldn’t want – never mind PAY for – a review from such a bunch of bigoted morons.

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