Thanks to the Internet and the rise in indie and self-publishing our choices of reading materials has skyrocketed; there are genres and niches for everyone's tastes and price points -- but as a reader looking outside the traditional publishing system, how do you know what book will really capture your heart and mind?
Luckily, the rise in indie publishing also sparked a rise in indie reviewing. For example, IndieReader.com offers a wide selection of staff-written reviews from their one star equals "Really bad; there's a reason this book is self-pubbed" to the five stars, "Excellent; must read." You can sort the reviews by fiction versus non-fiction and by genre. One of the better features of this website is the IndieReader Discovery Awards that represents the best from the website's reviewed books in a given year. With these great books on one list, you can quickly and easily find something worth reading from this new realm of publishing.
Traditional media is also getting in on the indie reviewing act. Kirkus Reviews indie published books in the same fashion as traditionally published books. While authors pay for these reviews, they have no control over the content of the review, resulting in the same unbiased treatment that all books submitted to Kirkus receive, meaning readers can trust they weren't written by someone's best friend or grandmother. They too have an annual award making finding a new book to enjoy an easy one click process.
Another trend in indie books is the author consignment; check out your local indie bookstore to see if they have any arrangements with self-publishing authors. Some stores now carve out space to share the works of local authors. The Clinton Book Shop in Clinton NJ does just that--even giving local authors space on their website. Indiebound.org is a great resource for finding these bookstore gems to see if they offer any local indie finds.
Social media is another great way to learn about and follow indie authors and readers. If you find an indie author you like, show them some love and follow them Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads. Who are they reading, writing about, and talking to? Check out some of the books they share. Ask them what to read next. You can also search Twitter for certain hashtags like #GoodRead #AmReading #MustRead to see what others say about books they love. Start following people that read things you like. One of the best things about this new publishing marketplace is the level of access we all have to each other and new books. Spark up a conversation with an author or reader you like, and you just may start a literary friendship.
However you find the next book to hit your nightstand, give indie books a try. With so many amazing voices bringing their work directly to readers, you could be the one to discover the next big book everyone will be tweeting about.