Professionalism means different things to different people, I guess. Recently, I’ve started to think more and more about the levels of professionalism in the book industry, particularly when it comes to indie writers.
I’m probably in the minority, because despite my cynicism, I tend to operate on the assumption that other people are inherently reasonable, well-meaning and empathetic. I go out of my way to help people, and I generally assume that other people will do the same thing. But it turns out that that’s not always true.
It’s a sad fact that I’ve already had to update the review policy on my book blog to explain that I no longer accept books from indie authors. The reason for this is pretty simple – it’s just not worth the hassle. They seem to forget that I don’t get paid to review their books (if I charged my hourly rate, they’d be looking at £100+), and they also seem to forget that I get offered literally dozens (if not hundreds) of books per month. One person recently had the cheek to order me to read faster, despite the fact that I average 3-5 books per week as it is.
Indie authors also seem quick to retaliate in the case of a bad review. I’ve had problems in the past with people asking me for an honest review, and then complaining when I didn’t like it. One person threatened to sue me if I didn’t remove my negative review. Two more have posted reviews on my books in retaliation – both of them used fake names, and they used the same fake names to give their own work glowing five-star reviews.
The irony here is that in each of those cases, the minimum score that I gave them was 3/5, and I also provided constructive criticism. When people do that for me, I welcome it – I use it to try to improve. I certainly don’t send letters of complaint to reviewers‘ employers, as someone recently decided to do to me.
There have been other instances that I don’t want to go into, but suffice to say that the publishing industry is a mixed bag. Some people are nice, and some are not. Some people are only out for themselves, and some like to look out for everyone. Unfortunately, if you fall into the latter camp, there will always be people who seek to take advantage of you.
As for me, I’ll be pivoting slightly, and starting to be a little more selfish. I’m sick of giving people my time and having them kick off about it. Sometimes, you just can’t win, and like any other industry, there’s no shortage of unscrupulous folk who try to take advantage of other people. I don’t – and will never – do that, at least knowingly. But I’m no longer going to be a pushover either. It’s not worth it.