09/17/2012 03:47 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2012

For Readers Drowning in E-Books, Author Collectives Offer a Lifeline

In an ocean of self-published titles, two questions keep bobbing to the surface: How can readers find quality e-books, and how can authors of quality e-books find readers?

The answer to both questions may well be the newest development in Internet-based book promotion: author collectives.

Author collectives are groups of authors with common interests who band together in order to more effectively promote their self-published titles. Two collectives, Rock*It Reads and Killer Thrillers, maintain high standards for membership, making it easy for readers to discover quality e-books via the groups' respective websites.

Rock*It Reads was formed last April by a group of traditionally published romance authors who are expanding into self-publishing. Their books are branded with the "Rock*It Reads" logo, which assures readers that a Rock*It Read e-book will be worth the time and money invested in it. According to an article in USA Today, Rock*It Reads authors will also be recommending "self-published gems that don't necessarily hit lists and can be difficult to find" in a new column for Barnes & Noble.

Likewise the 22 award-winning, bestselling, internationally published members of Killer Thrillers are similarly committed to bringing high standards and professional quality to their self-published works. Many of the titles on the Killer Thrillers website first appeared in print. Others are original e-books. All are written by talented, experienced thriller authors who've proven they know how to tell a ripper of a story.

Killer Thrillesr authors Brett Battles, Raymond Benson, Sean Black, Robert Gregory Browne, Blake Crouch, Karen Dionne, Timothy Hallinan, Katia Lief, CJ Lyons, Bob Mayer, Grant McKenzie, David Morrell, Boyd Morrison, J.F. Penn, Keith Raffel, J.D. Rhoades, Jeremy Robinson, L.J. Sellers, Zoë Sharp, Alexandra Sokoloff, Mark Terry and F. Paul Wilson have been nominated for and won major book awards. Others have seen their books optioned for television and film. Many have hit national and international bestselling lists.

Those qualifications do not guarantee that a particular reader will love all or any of the books offered, but they do say that a significant number of readers have found the books worth reading -- a crucial distinction, since one of the huge problems of e-publishing from a quality perspective is that in the brave new world of self-publishing, "gatekeepers" have essentially been eliminated.

One could argue that's a good thing, says Killer Thrillers author and screenwriter Alexandra Sokoloff on Murderati, "but I know from my years as a reader for film production companies how very much absolute dreck is screened out by early readers: agents, editorial assistants, editors -- and when I say dreck I mean scripts and books that should never have been read by another soul besides the purported author."

Sokoloff is all for allowing readers to discover books on their own:

"and it is true that the actual purchase or publication of a script or book is subject to personal taste, the specific needs of a publishing house or line, and the vagaries of the market. But those screeners also kept some seriously awful material from ever seeing the light of day."

"So now that anyone who can figure out the e publishing platform can upload virtually anything to Kindle, Pubit, Kobo and Smashwords, where's the quality control? You can argue that the readers are their own quality control now, but seriously -- the vast number of books -- and especially free books -- on offer has made sorting through the dreck that's out there (and oh yes, the dreck is out there) a time-consuming proposition for a reader."

For authors, it makes sense to join a collective to promote their self-published work. Promotion takes time -- time that authors would much rather spend writing their next book than talking about the previous ones.

For readers, author collectives like Rock*It Reads and Killer Thrillers offer romance and thriller fans quality e-books at a great price -- guaranteed!