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Bringing Sexy Back to Self-Publishing

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Want to get an instant eye-roll from a traditional book editor or reviewer?

Just say the words, "self-published." Not that there aren't killer books that go the self-publishing route. We've all heard about the monster bestsellers that started out that way, from What Color is My Parachute to A Time to Kill. But, for the most part, self-publishing still gets a bum rap. And, truthfully, much of it is deserved. Especially now.

Because technology has made it so simple and affordable for anyone with an idea to turn it into a book. And just like a paintbrush and a canvas doesn't an artist make, an idea and a keyboard doesn't an author make. Most self-published books are, well, um, not good. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be written, though. If you're drawn to write and you love the process, go ahead and write. And, if you want to see your labor turned into a book, go ahead and print it. Won't cost you much these days. But, there's often a huge difference between the product that's the result of your own edification and the one that survives editorial acquisition, development and scrutiny.

Which is why self-publishing has gotten such a bum rap.

Enter IndieReader.com, the brainchild of traditionally and self-published author and publicist, Amy Edelman. Edelman's vision is to create an online hub that spotlights the best of the best in the world of self-published books and give readers a high-quality alternative source of great books from standout self-published authors.

Edelman shares:

"What so many people don't realize is that self-pubbed writers are not a group of frustrated, no-talent writers. Rather they include established authors like Stephen King, intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and Lisa Genova and Brunonia Barry, writers who couldn't find anyone to publish their books, did it themselves, and landed on the NY Times bestseller list. It is my belief that there are many more great works and writers out there, just waiting to be found by adventurous readers."

Edelman does concede, though, there is geometrically more noise in the self-publishing world than signal.

Which is precisely where sites like IndieReader.com add value to the process.

On the author side, IndieReader charges authors a $99 annual fee, which includes a $25, non-refundable submission fee (much like film competitions and colleges). If your book is not accepted onto the site, you get all but the $25 back. The fee covers the time it takes to do reviews, maintain and publicize the site. In return for the fee, authors get their own web pages on IndieReader.com to sell their books and the IndieReader.com crew works hard to establish themselves as the premier destination on the web for great indie books.

On the consumer side, readers know that the self-published authors who "make the IndieReader.com grade" have been vetted, hand-picked and anointed cream of the crop. Which begs the question, exactly who is this mystery board of self-publishing tastemakers and why should we listen to them?

The core group includes Edelman, who is herself a big-house and self-published author, publicist, PR/Marketing Director, Claire McKinney, also a former acquisitions editor from a mid-size house, and Editorial Director, Carrie Cantor.

All have strong editorial experience and years of understanding both what's good and what readers value. But, Edelman is quick to point out,

"We are absolutely not replicating the kind of vetting process that publishers do. The primary focus in mainstream publishing is not so much on the quality of a book or the information it offers but rather on whether it has a market of a particular size that can be easily reached and whether the author has a substantial "platform." At IR, our one criterion is: Does the book offer something of value to some readers? We do not consider the marketability of the book at all. We are looking only at its content."

Does that mean you'll like every book Edelman and her team select?

Not likely, but with an estimated 200,000-300,000 largely unedited and unvetted self-published books flooding the market every year, sites like IndieReader.com offer a strong value proposition. They give book lovers who seek to support undiscovered, talented writers a way to wade into the waters without spending all their time dodging duds.