The rise of the indie author is a fact, but instead of a reader’s delight the online bookstores are a frightening minefield of really, really terrible reads. If you shun self-published books entirely, you’ll miss lots of amazing and truly unique gems. But if you buy what interests you, things could go south very quickly. Learn how to find the great reads…among all those others.
Portrait of an Indie Author
Self-publishing platforms, like Amazon KDP, make it possible for anyone to publish a book. Indie authors like Amanda Hocking and John Locke used it to get their books out there, and millions of readers are glad they did.
But millions of readers also wish that some of those indies had just stayed offline instead. What’s good about self-publishing is also what’s bad about it: anyone can publish their work. This exposes readers to a multitude of badly-written, poorly-edited, ill-conceived books. So many, in fact, that it’s hard to sort out the good indie novels from all the bad.
Finding the Hidden Gems
Sure there are lots of bad eggs out there, but you can’t avoid all the indie books or you’ll miss out on some really great ones. Some experts predict that all books may one day be self-published, so you may not have much of a choice anyway. There are ways to sort out the great indie reads from the terrible ones.
- Sample: Go straight to the sample of the book, and if it doesn’t have one forget it. That’s your first sign. Your second sign of a bad read? Messy formatting. Check the sample of the book for proper format. This means you should see neat justification, paragraph indents and well-labeled chapter headings. If you don’t see great formatting, it’s not at all likely you’ll enjoy good editing and writing in the rest of the book.
- Reviews: Take a cursory look at the reviews for the book, if it’s got any (some indie titles won’t). Are there lots of low ratings? Do you see a lot of complaints about grammar errors, poor punctuation, bad spelling? If so, move on. If, however, the reviews are high and filled with exclamation points, you’re in for a pretty good read.
- Also Purchased: Scroll through the list of items that customers have also purchased, if it’s present. If you see books you recognize or you see that the author has a lot of titles listed, this is a sign that the book is good. If readers are buying this author’s other books, this one can’t be messed up too badly.
Read the blurb and take a good look at the cover to be sure the subject matter of the book interests you, but then take a closer look at those indie books. Some of them are very amateurish and truly not worth reading, though the same can be said of many traditionally-published titles. It is more difficult to find those hidden indie gems, but they are out there. Pay attention to key points and you’ll find really good reads.