Many indie authors believe that book bloggers generally don't review self published or indie books. Instead of speculating, we decided to address this belief with data. Our conclusion is that this is a myth; many book bloggers do review books from indie authors. In fact, our analysis shows that book bloggers even rate indie books higher than books from the large publishing houses.
We analyzed 50,000 public Goodreads review ratings by book bloggers who are part of our book blogger directory. To be safe, we capped the # of reviews from any single blogger at 250, so that no one blogger's habits skewed the results.
Then we determined the book publisher for each book reviewed. The Goodreads API provided us with this information for many of the books. Some books were missing data, so we had to be a little creative. Ultimately, we could determine the publisher for ~80% of the books. We ignored the other 20%, though our guess is that a bulk of those books are self-published because a publisher would be inclined to advertise themselves.
Then we had to group the publishers into buckets - top 5 press, large press, small press, and self published. This was more challenging than we anticipated because Goodreads data is not consistent. One book will say it is published by "Penguin" while a different book may say "Penguin Random House", "Random House", or "PRH". They all refer to the same publisher. Furthermore, the top publishers have many imprints and we wanted to treat those books as coming from the parent publisher. Nothing a computer cannot solve, with some cleverness, Googling, and outside help.
Here are the results:
|Publisher Type||Average Rating|
|Top 5 Press||4.011|
Self published books compose a sizable portion of book reviews from book bloggers. Small presses contribute ~50% of book reviews. We were particularly surprised about the average ratings. Self published books have a reputation of being inferior in quality, but our data showed the opposite: self published books are rated higest on average. One possible reason is that the reviewer has lower expectations to begin with and then is pleasantly surprised.
Final note to aspiring indie authors: book bloggers are fair game. Many of them accept indie books and enjoy them! To get started with your outreach, we recommend using our free book blogger directory. You can filter book bloggers by those who accept indie authors and those who don't. If you want us to manage your outreach, you can submit your book to us.