Indie book evaluation sites assure readers of the quality of self-published books, but how can indie authors get involved? Find out today from Tahlia Newland of Awesome Indies. Also take a look at our previous interview with Jessica Bennett of Compulsion Reads.
Why did you decide to set up an evaluation programme for indie books?
I was frustrated with buying books with good star ratings only to discover that they were so badly written that I couldn't finish them.
Are you run by indie authors?
There is a big team of people behind the Awesome Indies; reviewers, readers, and a small admin team – lots of people doing their little bit, but Jen Blood and I do the posting on the site.
How does it work for authors?
Authors find a four or five star review from an industry professional and submit it as their recommendation. If the reviewer isn't a reviewer associated with the site then I email them and ask them to check the book off against a list of specific criteria. We define industry professionals as
- Someone with a degree in Creative Writing, English Literature or Journalism.
- An author, editor or publisher who is, or has been, employed in that capacity by a mainstream traditional publishing house.
- An Awesome Indies recommended reviewer – see the Reviewers page for the list of names.
What kind of reaction have you had from authors whose work you've reviewed?
Authors like knowing that their book has met the same standards as a traditionally published book, and those who don't make the list (aprox 60% of submissions to our reviewers) are given the chance to make changes and resubmit. Many like the opportunity to get specific feedback so they know what is needed to bring it up to those standards. Chris Longmuir said recently, ‘I'm really, really pleased that my historical saga has been accepted by Awesome Indies.'
What feedback have you had from readers?
The feedback has been very positive. Readers are relieved that they don't have to sort out the good from the bad themselves. All they need to concern themselves with when choosing a book is simply whether they might like a book or not.
Does it cost authors anything to have their book considered?
No, that's part of the idea . Listing is based solely on quality. Authors can pay a subscription to have their book featured more prominently, but basic listing on the site is free.
Do you effectively act as a marketing affiliate for book suppliers e.g. getting a small commission on each book ordered through your site?
Yes, but earning money isn't the purpose of the site, showcasing the independent books that are of the same standard as those traditionally published is the purpose, but for the enormous amount of time that I put into the site, it simply makes sense to have affiliate links.
What are you currently doing to attract readers to your site?
Quite a lot will be happening in the next couple of months. We're just moving it to a self-hosted website which will allow us to have better SEO and also to have greater capacity to have carousels to display books and so on. We're sharing a couple of adverts on Kindle Fire Department and in August on the 21-25th we're having a big Coming Out Party where we're going to declare ourselves to the world. Twenty five of us have pooled money and we've arranged adverts with some big sites and will be offering a 99c sale and some fun activities.
What is different/unique/special about your service?
I think we're the only site where the evaluation is done to a detailed criteria and by industry professionals rather than readers who may or may not have any real knowledge of what makes good writing. Our marketing push is that we're for discerning readers, and we hope to be able drag some of those readers who presently refuse to read indie over to our site to dip their toes into the independent fiction revolution. We hope that, before long, whenever anyone sees the AIA symbol they will recognise what it means ie that the book is of the same standard as anything put out by a mainstream publisher.
It also has an important role for many authors, because being on the list gives them the same kind of stamp of approval that comes from being published by the mainstream. It means that even if they don't sell many books – which happens if they're writing for a tiny niche market – they know they have a good product.
Not yet a member? We'd love you to join us .
Happy August and see you soon!