Guest post by Tahlia Newland
The advent of ebooks and print-on-demand technology have revolutionised publishing. For the first time ever, it is relatively cheap and easy for anyone to publish a book. That is wonderful news for the authors with excellent stories who just missed out on getting a publishing deal. Such authors can now take their books directly to their readers; and if they have a professional attitude, get the help they need, and follow the exact same steps as those taken by a traditional publishing house, their book can be as good as anything put out by a mainstream publisher.
In that scenario the reader gains access to many great books that they would never otherwise see, sometimes for no other reason than that the time wasn't right when the author approached a publisher. Books for niche markets appear, books that would have been rejected as simply not in fashion, or as only relevant to a small number of readers. The big publishers can't afford to take risks, but authors can and will, and the result can be new and exciting literary movements. That's the good news.
The bad news is that if authors publish just because they can, without due consideration as to whether or not their book is worth publishing, or if they aren't well-educated and diligent in following due process, their product could be substandard, and there is nothing to warn the readers. Instead of getting a wider range of excellent books, the reader could face an overwhelming array of poorly conceived and executed ones.
In reality, both exist side by side, and since you really can't tell a book by its cover, if you buy a self-published book without due research you risk getting a bad one. On the other hand, if you refuse to buy self-published books you miss out on the many gems available at bargain prices.
Mainstream publishers were called the 'gatekeepers' because they kept the dross out of the book market. In that climate, readers could be confident that anything they bought would be a decent story and properly edited and produced. Now that anyone can publish a book, that assurance is no longer there. This is a dilemma for readers. How do they make sure they don't waste their money and time on an inferior product?
Readers don't want someone to tell them what they can or cannot read, but they also don't want to have to try to work out if a book is of a professional standard or not before they buy it. The gatekeepers aren't gone, but the fence has gone, and if readers are to make the most of the influx of new reading material without choking in the flotsam, they need someone to point them in the right direction. It's not always the best books that float, either; many excellent ones drown due to lack of marketing skills and advertising budget, and some poor quality books float simply because their author knows how to market.
In this climate, book review sites are vital, especially ones like Goodreads that show a wide variety of reader opinion, but even more important are reviews by people with qualifications in writing and editing. These are the people who know what makes good writing and can evaluate the craftsmanship of a book. Following their recommendations will save us from buying substandard books. This is the role of the Awesome Indies site. You may not necessarily like books listed on the site, but you can be sure that they are well-written and produced.
The Awesome Indies only lists books that reviewers with professional writing or editing qualifications have approved as meeting the same standards as those published by mainstream publishers. If you want to browse for the best Indie books, this is the place to do it. It’s kind of like a quality Indie book store.
Here is a quote from one reader that sums up how readers are responding to the site.
I found your site, its aims and professional approach not only impressed but also enthused [me]. Here, it appeared, I’d found a genuinely credible arbiter, a respected winnower of wheat from chaff. Clive S. Johnson http://www.flyingferrets.com
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About the author
Tahlia writes contemporary fantasy and magical realism with a metaphysical twist for both adults and young adults. She likes stories that are inspiring & empowering and that question the nature of reality, mind and perception. She has published several works of fiction, all awarded the Awesome Indies Seal of Approval. Her most popular books are You Can’t Shatter Me and Lethal Inheritance.
Tahlia is an avid reader, a respected book reviewer, an extremely casual high school teacher, and an occasional mask-maker. After scripting and performing in Visual Theatre shows for 20 years, she is now a bone-fide expatriate of the performing arts. She lives in an Australian rainforest, is married with a teenage daughter and loves cats, but she doesn’t have one because they eat native birds.