I find often that Indie/Self-Published authors get marginalized by bloggers. Their covers are not as cool as the big-name publishing houses. Their marketing campaigns aren't as sophisticated and can sometimes consist merely of word-of-mouth dependent on friends and bloggers or emailing with requests to read and review their book. Some do this better than others. And some, even if they aren't fantastic at selling themselves or their books, deserve recognition for that amazing works of fiction they have written.
My objective with Indie Author Week is to make other bloggers aware of what they could be missing by ignoring indie author review requests and to get them psyched up to enter into the realm of indie fiction. So today is my Indie Authors/Books list post.
5 Rules of Thumb
I Use To Decide Whether or Not To Accept An Indie Review Request
- The review request contains my name and is somewhat personalized. This is important to me because it means they actually visited my blog and took the time to look around a little bit. I haven't made my name super easy to find for that reason. Form requests tend to end up in my recycling bin whereas requests that include some kind of comment on my blog's content or some other facet tend to get a more in-depth look from me because I feel like I personally am being asked, not me and a million other bloggers.
- The book I'm being requested to review fits in the genres I list as being willing to read. Again, this says to me that the author really visited my blog and looked around at what I had to say. Review requests that fit under categories I have said I would never read make the author come across as careless and not all that committed to seriously marketing their work.
- The review request is well-written. As in no grammatical or spelling errors and demonstrates that the author has a good grasp on the English language because I don't read books in any language other than English, So a review request for an English language book should sound like it was written by someone who understands and can write in English otherwise I probably won't understand or appreciate the book.
- The review request is friendly and yet still professional. I don't fault usually for lack of marketing skills because I know that is a sharp skill set that not everyone has, but I do tend to ignore requests if the author attempts to sound intelligent but comes across as pompous instead as if they are doing me a favor by asking me to read their book. What I really look for is an author who uses their own personality and love of their book to sell me on it. As in the case of my most recently read and loved indie book, The White Lilac by Christina J. Adams, her introduction to herself and her book made me immediately hop over to Amazon.com to click on the "Look Inside" to read what was there and I am so glad I did!
- Sometimes it's just about a hunch. One indie novel I read only because it was sent to me in an ARC tour turned out to be one of my most favorite books ever but I never would have read it because the synopsis, written by the author, highlighted strange side-issues rather than the snarky, funny, satire-iffic main point of the book itself. I could have passed on the tour and sent the book on but I had this strange feeling that I would be missing out on something so I plunged in. Turned out my hunch was right!
5 Things I Love About Indie Publishing
- More Accessible Books
Indie books are, by necessity, more available to readers than big-name publishers. They need to be so they can find an audience that better funded big-name publishers only need flash their logo and a $150,000 marketing campaign to achieve. Big-name publishers charge $17 to $25 for new releases which generally only come out in hardcover to begin with whereas indie books tend to be first released in ebook form for far lower prices. Not to mention, unless you're experienced, big-name publishers aren't emailing you to read their books the way indie authors do!
- More Accessible Authors
Similarly to the reasoning behind accessibility of books, the authors themselves are working toward a different goal than authors of big-name published books. Those authors go on tours to do signings and be available to the lucky few who can get into those signings but indie authors are striving to forge connections with the readers themselves because they want & need them. These authors are (usually) more down to earth and ready & willing to write a special post, do a giveaway, and/or do an interview with you. Some will even chat on Twitter with you!
- More Creative License
Because they don't have to fit into the genre system of big-name publishing labels, I have noticed a trend of FAR more creative genre-crossing elements in indie books. Heavy Issues cross with Spirituality with Rated-R language. Zombies become snarky, kick-ass protagonists in love stories. The characters are quirky, more niche-serving than mainstream media. Which is why I get sad when I see indie book mills churning out cookie-cutter books that the author has ripped off from mainstream media. Writing is about creativity and indie authors have so much more freedom for it.
- Less Big Market Agenda
Big-publishers act like fashion houses, dictating what the standards are for the season. They can squash a genre or subgenre and bring out new ones regardless of whether or not readers are ready to say goodbye or hello. With indie publishing, authors can write and publish whenever and whatever floats their boat. Which means that while big-pub is trying to marginalize the gritty dystopians in favor of more light-hearted matchmaking ones, I can still find gritty dystopian gems like The White Lilac being written!
- Less Pressure
And maybe this one is just silly, but sometimes it can feel like, when browsing blogs, one must keep up with the up-and-coming from big-pub. There're tons of memes about what you're waiting for and cover reveals and being on top of the most NOW books can be a hard game to play. Not so with indie publishing. They are timeless in a lot of ways and there's no pressure to keep up with the anticipatory marketing. I love that about indie publishing. I truly do!
5 Indie Authors You Should Get To Know
Because they are funny & friendly & excellent people!
- Angela Carlie [AngelaCarlie.com]
The first of Angela's books that I read was Dream Smashers, a heavy issues novel that I adored for its outside-the-box style. Since then I have kept in touch with Angela, reading Land of Corn Chips (a terrific middle grade fantasy novel and the two Lords of Shifters series books). Angela is super accessible and always bright, sunny, and up for a quick email or tweet!
- Anne C. Michaud [Anne Michaud, Writer]
I can't remember how I first ran into Anne, but I do know that I was quickly addicted to her Friday Flash writings, short fictional pieces posted Fridays. She has a knack for the eery and writes horror like I haven't read since Matheson. Anne is a great cheerleader and always makes a little time for fans & bloggers even when she's super busy!
- Christina J. Adams [Christina's Goodreads.com Profile]
My newest author contact in the indie department, Christina caught me from the beginning with her personablity in the email she sent asking if I would review her novel The White Lilac. From further interactions with her, I can tell Christina is super enthusiastic about her book and believes in it 100%. I enjoyed it so much that I am looking forward to more from Christina. Keep an eye out for a post by her on Wednesday!
- Jennifer Sommersby [The Imminent Resettlement on Planet Jenn]
Though I haven't spoken to Jenn a lot in the recent past due to her busy schedule, when she was making the blog rounds for her book Sleight she was always available for questions and always ready for something new to market it. She's a fantastic mom and has, at times, swapped stories and advice with me. I keep my fingers crossed that she'll be back around, bringing Gemma & Henry (the main characters from Sleight) with her!
- Rusty Fischer [Zombies Don't Blog]
I could write a book about how much fun it is to read Rusty's novels. But one of the greatest things about reading them is that you can really feel his personality in the lives of his characters and their worlds. He is hilarious and seems to be endlessly willing to interact with readers and bloggers. If you haven't read anything written by Rusty, you are seriously missing out!
5 Indie Books You Should Read!
- Anathema (Cloud Prophet #1) by Megg Jensen
Forget prophecy. Make your own destiny. Sheltered from the outside world with no hope for escape, slave girl Reychel dreads her fifteenth birthday - when her master’s symbol is burned on the back of her bald scalp. Her best friend disappears the night before, leaving her to face the branding ceremony alone. She soon discovers nothing is as it seems when people desperate for freedom beg for Reychel's help. Can Reychel learn to believe in herself?
- In The Storm by Karen Metcalf
Abandoned by the world around her, Carly believes she is fated to a life of torment at the hands of her stepfather and is desperate for an escape. When she can bear the abuse no longer and gives in to a thunderous rage, she suddenly finds herself in an unfamiliar, yet beautiful, storm world. This limbo between dimensions appears to be her private sanctuary, but it may just be her purgatory. No one escapes fate without sacrifice, but is the price more than Carly is willing to pay?
- Into The Shadows by Karly Kirkpatrick
Paivi Anderson has it all - friends, a spot on the varsity basketball team, wonderful parents, and quite possibly, her first boyfriend. It was everything a freshman in high school could ask for. Her perfect life begins to crumble when she discovers her name on a list distributed by a power-hungry presidential candidate. How could anyone think of Paivi as an Enemy of the State? Could it be because of her special powers? No one was supposed to know about them, but the mysterious messages in her tater tots say otherwise. In INTO THE SHADOWS, Paivi quickly learns who her friends are and is forced into a reality she didn’t see coming.
- Dream Smashers by Angela Carlie
Sixteen-year-old Autumn has spent her entire life worrying about others. Her ailing grandma, meth-addicted mom, and a best friend who is always in trouble. She's spent the last few years attempting to worry less, to be carefree, without success. Enter Evan, whose radiant attitude is an Autumn magnet. With Evan at her side, Autumn's able to let some of her worries go as they trudge through life's difficulties and fall for each other in the process. A girl who no longer wants to care and a boy who cares enough for the both of them, Dream Smashers is a love story, but most of all, it's about letting go.
- Open Minds (Mindjack #1) by Susan Kaye Quinn
Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.
5 More Indie Books You Should Read!
- Sleight (AVRA-K #1) by Jennifer Sommersby
When circus-dwelling Gemma Flannery learns she will be attending public school for the first time in her seventeen years, little does she know that fitting in with her 12th-grade classmates will be the least of her concerns. A pro at hiding her knack for seeing the dead (“shades”), Gemma is grieving the recent suicide of her mentally ill mother, a process eased by the introduction of her first real love interest, the charming and painfully handsome Henry Dmitri, who is harboring his own collection of dangerous secrets. Together, they will be presented with a frightening challenge: to assume their roles as heirs to a 3000-year-old magical text, the AVRAKEDAVRA, a book the über-rich, sleight-of-being master Lucian Dmitri would do anything to get his hands on. As each terrifying layer in her new reality melts away, Gemma unearths truths that her quiet, nomadic life with the Cinzio Traveling Players is not at all what she’d always cherished. Gemma and Henry must rely on each other to stop Lucian’s diabolical plotting that will bring the world to its tired, scab-riddled knees, and are sent on the flight of their young lives, to save themselves, their families, and the world from the darkest kind of destruction.
- The Soulkeepers (Soulkeepers #1) by GP Ching
When fifteen-year-old Jacob Lau is pulled from the crumpled remains of his mother's car, no one can explain why he was driving or why the police can't find his mother's body. A beautiful and mysterious neighbor offers to use her unique abilities to help him find his mom. But in exchange she requires Jacob to train as a Soulkeeper, a protector of human souls. He agrees to her demands, desperate for any clue to the mystery of his mother's disappearance. But soon Jacob finds himself trapped in a web of half-truths, and questions her motives for helping him.
- Spider Wars (Lords of Shifters #2) by Angela Carlie
Jess' life has never been ordinary. After all, life on the road with an immortal family of gypsies is hardly predictable. Living in the small town of White Salmon, Washington has brought some normality to her life. But when her cheating, sometimes boyfriend, Nicu, gets involved with a group of arachneshifters, life gets a little sticky. Will she be able to save him from the web he's spun? More importantly, how much is she willing to risk to get him back?
- Vamplayers (Living Dead Love Story #2) by Rusty Fischer
At the Afterlife Academy of Exceptionally Dark Arts, Lily Fielding is a measly trainee who dreams of one day becoming a Savior—those who visit vampire-infested high schools and put down the undead with their deadly crossbows. When Lily and her classmates Alice and Cara begin their latest assignment, it seems like just another run-of-the-mill gig: they’re to simply spot the Vamplayer—part vampire, part player—identify the popular girl he’s set his sights on, and befriend her before the Vamplayer can turn her to do his bidding. Before long, however, the Vamplayer sets his sights on Lily's friends, and she is left to face the threat alone while protecting her friends from the dark forces she has sworn to resist.
- The White Lilac by Christina J. Adams
Fifteen year old Caryn Tobin is willing to sacrifice her life to save the world, and to atone for her part in the death of a friend. Kai Garrett will risk everything to discover his past and why he was abandon. When their paths join, they form an unlikely friendship that could change everything. The fate of the world hangs in the balance.