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Book bloggers are lucky in that talented authors often send us a copy of their book to read and review. It’s a mutually beneficial scenario wherein the blogger gets a good story while the author gets their work trumpeted to the blogger’s audience. But what about readers who are just looking for a good read in their favorite genre and aren’t sure where to go looking? How do they find something that will satisfy their desire for a well-told tale?

Author Aderyn Wood tackles this subject of quality from a reader’s perspective in follow up to a guest post she did here back in December (Click here to read Part One)

They’re all yours Aderyn! *Passes mic*

The self-publishing revolution has destabilized the deeply entrenched gatekeepers of the traditional publishing world, and now there is a growing mountain of books for readers to choose from. This change in the publishing landscape has its pros and cons, and just in case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know them, here they are:

The Pros? According to Best Fantasy Books, the benefits of reading Indie books are threefold.

  • Firstly, there’s the “thrill of the hunt” – the chance to find a potential bestseller before anyone else. This is particularly tempting for book bloggers and reviewers. Imagine if you were the first to review The Martian!
  • Secondly, you can find “a wide variety of eclectic fiction that you’d never ever see published the traditional way” – Western Sci Fi anyone?
  • And thirdly, Indie books are generally much cheaper than their traditionally published counterparts.

The second point resonates most strongly with many readers. Traditional publishing houses are notorious for delivering more of the same. So many rejection letters cite, “It doesn’t fit our list” or “This type of book doesn’t sell”. What they mean is, “you haven’t written another X, Y,  or Z, so we don’t want to take the risk.” Good thing is Indie authors CAN and DO take the risk, so picking up an Indie book can be very rewarding indeed. You can find something different.

The Cons? By now, the cons are as clear as that mountain I mentioned. There are books that frankly should never have been published. Books with more than the odd typo, a plethora of grammatical issues, tense inconsistencies, Mary Sues and plot holes readers can fall through.  But, it’s not as scary as some commentators would have us believe. Such books are readily identifiable, and if a reader wants to spend money and time on them, well, that’s their choice. There’s a self-published fantasy author I know of (and who shall remain nameless) who sells books like crazy. Books with a fair dose of grammatical issues, as well as a heavy sprinkling of clichés, stereotypical tropes and other writing sins. And readers can’t get enough.

But. Let’s be discerning here. We’re after quality fantasy Indie fiction after all. How can you find the gems among the turnips? Here’s some methods I’ve been exploring:

1) Find book blogs that review Indie fantasy books. Make a list of your favourites, the ones whose reading taste align most with your own, and check them on a regular basis to glean ideas about what to read next. ‘Hmmm.’ I hear you mumble. ‘Where can I find a book blog that reviews Indie fantasy fiction?’ Well, THIS blog of course! Stop reading my post and check out Anela’s reviews  here on Amid the Imaginary. They’re detailed, thoughtful, respectful and honest. She puts a lot of effort into her reviews and she has a high standard, so you’re assured of a good fantasy read. Another resource for finding Indie books is The Indie View. It collates the ‘latest Indie reviews from around the web’. Scroll through until you find some fantasy reviews.

2) Keep an eye on the Self Published Fantasy Blogoff (SPFBO 2016) organised by Mark Lawrence.  The Blogoff is a competition of sorts. 300 self-published fantasy titles are divided among ten well established fantasy book blogs, whose reviewers set to work on choosing just one book from a group of 30 to go through to the final round. This leaves us with the finalists – ten quality Indie fantasy books. Last year was the first year of the blogoff and those ten books are now on my tbr list.

3) As well as following book blogs, you might join a forum or two in which Indie books are promoted. Kboards is a big one and has a Book Bazaar where you can find the latest published works as posted by the authors, but you’ll have to search for the fantasy books, and just because they’re posted, doesn’t mean they’re going to be your idea of quality, but it’s a place to find the Indies nonetheless.

4) If you’re in the mood for doing a little window shopping from the couch, a great way to spend an hour on a Friday night, is to grab a glass of wine and just start browsing through that mountain of books on Amazon (or your site of choice).  Indie books are becoming increasingly harder to identify, as their covers are fantastic. Look for books with no ‘publisher’ listed, or ones with the author’s name as the publisher. Although, some Indies are now including their business name or imprint as the publisher as a way to further their professional look.  Most of the books in Kindle Unlimited are Indie books, so this can be another way to search for them. I’ve made my own checklist for finding those hidden gems, and I usually discover 1-3 books to add to my ‘to read’ list over at Goodreads. So, here’s my elimination checklist:

  • Title
  • Cover
  • Blurb
  • Reviews – a handful of positive and negative reviews
  • Sample – first page, just like in a bookshop!

If a book passes all of these checks, it’s added to the list. It’s amazing how many books don’t pass the ‘title’ test and this makes the author in me realise just how important the title is!

But of course, the age-old way to find a good book is word of mouth. So spill, anyone got a great Indie fantasy book to share? Or, a way to find ’em?

Thanks so much for another great post, Aderyn!

Aderyn’s latest book, The Earl’s Daughter, is the second installment in her paranormal mystery trilogy. The first book, The Viscount’s Son, is available for FREE until May 20th — Only two more days so pick up your copy today!. To find out more on Aderyn’s blog.

Michael D’Angelo doesn’t normally investigate murder, but since they never found Emma’s body, she’s technically just a missing person. But he doesn’t investigate those either.

After the Earl of Wolston reads the translation of a sinister and ancient text published on his daughter’s blog, in the days leading up to her disappearance, he reaches out to Mr D’Angelo, convinced that evil forces are at work: something beyond the ordinary, something not of this world, something unholy.

Fortunately for Michael, Paranormal Investigations are his specialty. But as Michael unravels Emma’s last days, and the secrets inscribed on her blog, he begins to question whether such knowledge is too dangerous to pursue.

About the Author

aderynFrom high fantasy to paranormal, Aderyn’s stories cover the broad spectrum of Fantasy. Inspired from childhood by the wonder and mystique of Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising and the adventures in Tolkien’s The Hobbit, her love of the Fantasy genre has been life long. As a writer, she brings characters and places to life in stories filled with magic, mystery, and a good dollop of mayhem.

Aderyn studied Literature, History and Creative Writing at university, travelled the world, and taught English before becoming a full-time writer. She is also a part-time farmer passionate about self-sufficiency and poultry. She lives in a cosy cottage on a small farm in Victoria, Australia with partner Peter, their dog, cat, and a little duck called Snow.

Explore her work at http://aderynwood.blogspot.com