Monday, November 16, 2009

An Indie Call To Action

Most of us indie authors talk a good game about how there are plenty of quality indie books available, and how there are plenty of terrible mainstream books. We also like to complain about the lack of variety and originality in mainstream book offerings as compared to indie books. Such musings generally lead to the conclusion that if people would just give indie books the same chance they give to mainstream books, if they would just put indie books to the ‘fifteen minute’ or ‘first ten pages’ test, the frequency with which they’d find books they would want to keep reading would be on par with that for mainstream books, and indie authors and readers everywhere would rejoice. It’s time we stop all the hand-wringing and blind hope, and make this happen.

Yes, we have the power. Every indie author is also a reader, and every one of us has a circle of influence. So if you’re an indie author or small imprint owner, I issue the following challenge to you:

1) Find an indie book you LOVE, from an author to whom you have no connection. The lack of a prior connection or relationship is important, since it will eliminate any possibility of a conflict of interest. Finding the right book will require you to put a few likely candidates to the fifteen minute/ten pages test, but if you’re not willing to do it, why should any prospective reader out there do it for your book?

2) Write positive reviews of your chosen book on every site where the book can be bought (e.g., Amazon, Smashwords, Scribd, Lulu store, Authors Bookshop, etc.; most allow you to enter reviews whether you bought a given book on their site or not) and on any reader community sites to which you belong (e.g., Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing).

3) If you’re on Twitter, tweet about the book and author, and include a link to a page where the book can be purchased. Use the hashtag #indieaction, to make it easy for everyone to find these indie action tweets (and some great indie books!).

4) Add the author’s site to your blogroll or links page on your own site.

5) If you were already planning to buy books as holiday gifts and your chosen book is available for sale, include it in your gift mix.

6) If you typically review books on your blog or website from time to time, review the book there as well. If you don’t typically post full reviews, just add a one- to two-liner about the book and author at the end of another blog post. Link back to this post if you feel you need to put your remarks into context.

7) Recommend the book personally to family, friends and coworkers.

8) Spread the word about this campaign to every indie author and indie supporter you know. Here’s a handy link you can share for this post –

This is not a shady scheme, and this is not a mutual back-scratching society. This is the many thousands of indie authors flexing their collective influence as readers for the benefit of the indie author movement overall.

Maybe you’ve never actively sought out indie books to read, and don’t know where to start. I’d suggest you begin by checking the top-selling, most-downloaded, and/or top-rated books at any of the sites listed below. Most of the bookseller sites listed allow authors to post a free excerpt (for your 15 minute/ten pages test); for other books, try looking up the author’s website to see if you can find an excerpt that way. Again, some time and effort will be involved here but you can gain a lot of insight into the typical book-buyer’s experience with indie books by going through this exercise.

Web Fiction Guide
LL Book Review
Small-Press Bookwatch
Podiobooks (podcast audiobooks)
Self-Publishing Review
The New Podler Review of Books
Top 100 Kindle Store Independent Authors

*These sites offer both indie and mainstream books, so you'll need to check the publisher name to see if you're dealing with an indie/small imprint book, or a mainstream release

I’m going to get the ball rolling by recommending an excellent indie book from an author who’s a complete stranger to me. The book is called The 6th Seal, and it was written by J.M. Emanuel. It’s an excellent, and truly scary, supernatural thriller set against an archetypal good vs. evil backdrop. If you enjoyed The Da Vinci Code but wished it had more depth, if you enjoy books by Straub and Stephen King, or any of the darker works of Neil Gaiman, if you like fictional explorations of Armageddon, mysteries, or stories built on biblical revelation, you really ought to give this book a try. You can read the first few pages of it using the Look Inside! Feature on, where it’s available in both print and Kindle editions.

In the coming week I’ll put my keyboard where my mouth is by tweeting and posting reviews of this book everywhere I can.

Now get out there and become part of the solution!


Unknown said...

Damn right! Great post.

Jane Smith said...

A great post, April. I look forward to reading a few of the recommendations you all come up with.

April L. Hamilton said...

Thanks, author & Jane. Grass-roots movement is what's called for here, I think! =')

Peter said...

Excellent post! I will be linking to this in several places.

Jeanne Dininni said...


This sounds like a wonderful way for independently published authors to support one another's efforts. It's also a refreshingly proactive way to make good things happen!

I don't have any published books out there myself yet, but I'm definitely planning to change that soon. When I do, I'll certainly keep your idea in mind.

Jeanne Dininni
Writer's Notes

Anonymous said...

How interesting. I was just considering doing something like this on a regular basis on my blog. Can't wait to get started now.