I've worked with self-published authors since I launched IndieReader back in 2007. And while in that time they've come a very long way, one thing that has not changed is the difficulty in finding outlets to get legit reviews. And after that, the problem becomes how to make sure those reviews--often written by book bloggers with a small readership--get the widest amount of exposure to book-lovers.
Why is that so important? Because although there are many places to get reader reviews--Amazon and GoodReads are probably the most well-known, there is a lot of hanky panky, so much so that a Cornell sociologist recently pointed out that (referring to Amazon), "...a very good book could be killed by a group of people for malicious reasons."
Yes, it sounds crazy that a small group of people (or, sock puppets, who post fake online reviews that wreak havoc with the whole system) could have so much power over how certain books are judged. And choosing a next read--let alone an indie--is hard enough without a Mission Impossible-type counter espionage scenario going on.
But the truth is, unscrupulous reviews aren't much of a problem for traditionally published authors--many of whom get reviewed in mainstream pubs (from Publisher's Weekly to People to The New York Times to the New Yorker). But what of indies--and the people interested in reading their books--who are hard up to tell the real reviews from the fake ones?
This is where the idea for Rabble came from, a website that will aggregate trusted, verified reviews into consensus, like Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes do for movies. The site will scour the publishing landscape, pull a sentence or two from each review (pre-vetted to insure its credibility, with a link to the complete review source) and come up with a consensus for a final Rabble score.
In addition to being able to see immediately where a book rates on the Rabble scale, the site will also be a brilliant place to explore. There will be lists, via the Rabble Listatron 300, that include the best to worst rated titles, author interviews, and much much, more. And for the first time anywhere--and this is most important--indie titles, which are still mostly shunned by mainstream reviewers--will rub shoulders with traditionally published books, just like god intended.
Fact is, the publishing world is changing faster than you can say Random-Penguin-Schuster. Indie bookstores, those bastions of helpfulness which gleefully recommended the best new titles, are scarce. What's needed, almost more than another season of Homeland (right NOW), is a great place to find out how your faves rate, and discover new authors and titles.
With your help, Rabble will be that resource.