Joining the reviewers: a bit of give and take

In this week’s blog, Evie Woolmore discusses her decision to join Awesome Indies as a reviewer.

In the last blog of 2012, it was noted that I had exchanged one of my books, Equilibrium, for review with Tahlia Newland, author of Lethal Inheritance. It was an interesting experience, knowing that I was going to get a thoughtful review from someone who genuinely cared about providing an opinion – not unlike the editorial experiences I have had as an author, and that I have provided in my other professional lives. The blog suggested that the exchange aspect was not part of the rules of the new game, particularly not for the other reviewer. But it got me thinking.

What if – in this raw, still evolving world of indie publishing – I could consciously participate not in making rules as such, but in establishing a community of indie writers who – rather than waiting for print publishing reviewers to review our work – collectively contribute to establishing a strong, credible review culture of our own work that promotes quality.

Admittedly, there are some who will think that getting indie writers to review other indie writers is like asking British newspapers to regulate themselves. Pointless, and unlikely to contribute to a raising of standards. But that is to make a few assumptions that I think we can challenge.

1. Indie writers will always scratch each other’s backs, giving flattering reviews in exchange for flattering reviews. Yes, some people operate on that basis. Let’s not lie about it, let’s not pretend it isn’t true. Follow me, I’ll follow you; praise my book, I’ll praise yours. Even print-published writers have been going to extraordinary lengths to promote Continue reading

Indie Book Review Sites (1)

As part of our quest to promote allonymbooks‘ novels to a wider readership, and as part of engaging in The Guardian’s quest to find independently published books for review, this week’s blog surveys some of the organisations and websites which offer a quality review process. Definitions of quality in the review are naturally dependent on the quality of the reviewer as much as the book, and a review generally says as much about the person reviewing as it does the subject of the review. But in this context, a quality review process is independent, generates a review of reasonable length and depth, and has no requirement for payment in exchange. Like independent publishing itself, the review process is a work in progress, but here are some suggestions of good places to find reviews of independently published books. Rather than cover ground already covered for alternative and science fiction by Dan Holloway in his Guardian blog, here are some sites which focus on other genres.

The Historical Novel Society

The HNS has been in existence for around 15 years, having been set up initially in the hope of reviving interest in what was perceived at the time as a declining historical genre. The Society publishes a printed review magazine, The Historical Novels Review, and its website includes all its more recent print and online reviews, including an Indie section, which is expressly for ‘electronically-published, subsidy-published or self-published historical novels’ where ‘historical’ refers to a setting that is at least 50 years in the past. Reviews of indie books are made on the basis of selection by a dedicated editorial staff and their reviewers are drawn from their membership, of authors and readers of historical fiction. Submitting an indie book for review is very straightforward – fill out a form of information about the book, and await a response from the editorial team who will contact you if they want to review your book. The reviews Continue reading