How to Find Great Books by Indie Authors

Red PencilThere’s a plethora of great books on the market by Indie Authors, but in the growing e-book flood waters there are quite a few that are less than satisfying, and far from the professional product you are expecting for your investment (time & money).

Here’s my method for finding great books and discovering emerging writers.

Can you trust reviews?

Yes and no. It’s well-known that some reviews are planted to increase initial sales to get a book on a list or two, and boost its visibility. That doesn’t mean you can’t trust reviews, but you should look at the spread of ratings. Most books will have a distribution with the majority of ratings falling within a small range. These are likely the most trustworthy. I like to read the bad ones first, and it’s usually easy to spot the bitter, “this was not for me” or “not what I expected” reviews. Then I move on to those that fall in the mid range, and usually I get a good idea if the novel is something I want to try out.

If there are only a few reviews, and they are all five stars with glowing praise, that doesn’t mean it’s planted, but be cautious. That’s where this next item comes in handy.

Sample

If you’re not 100% sure, sample the book before you buy.

For authors reading this, a generous sample is more likely to lead to a happy customer than a tiny excerpt. Once a reader has invested the time to read a quarter of a novel and is hooked, they’ll come back and complete the purchase.

For readers, this is test drive time. Get a cup of peach tea, glass of wine, or coffee and kick back. Either you’re going to love the story and the writing, OR you’ll delete the sample from your library and move on. You may be out a little time, but not the few dollars you would have spent on that particular title. If you love it, you’ll have another great author to follow, and you’ll know when you buy their other titles, you will have constancy in quality and content.

Indie Reads

Here are a few titles that made me stay up way past my bed time. The plots and characters are engaging, and the quality of the presentation (clean copyediting & professional cover) was spot on.

Cyberstorm by Matthew Mather

Cyberstorm MatherDescription from Amazon

Sometimes the worst storms aren’t from Mother Nature, and sometimes the worst nightmares aren’t the ones in our heads. Mike Mitchell, an average New Yorker already struggling to keep his family together, suddenly finds himself fighting just to keep them alive when an increasingly bizarre string of disasters start appearing on the world’s news networks. As the world and cyberworld come crashing down, bending perception and reality, a monster snowstorm cuts New York off from the world, turning it into a wintry tomb where nothing is what it seems…

Review: Believable characters, combined with strong writing, provides enough realism to make you think this could happen today. Just when you think this is another end of the world story, it takes an abrupt turn. Not for squeamish types;)

Timebound by Rysa Walker

Time Bound WalkerDescription from Amazon

When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence.

Kate learns that the 1893 killing is part of something much more sinister, and her genetic ability to time travel makes Kate the only one who can fix the future. Risking everything, she travels back in time to the Chicago World’s Fair to try to prevent the murder and the chain of events that follows.

Changing the timeline comes with a personal cost—if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And regardless of her motives, does Kate have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?

Review: Time travel stories are always fun to read. Time Bound is inventive and well written, with just enough tension to keep the pages turning. This story would appeal to ages mid teens and above, with lots of room to imagine joining the cause to stop the Cyrists.

Time’s Echo by Rysa Walker

Times Echo WalkerDescription from Amazon

A Kindle exclusive novella, set in the world of Rysa Walker’s Timebound. 

Kiernan Dunne abandoned his family ties to help Kate fight the Cyrists, and he’s never regretted that for one moment. But he doesn’t understand why Kate can’t remember that night in 1893 Chicago, when she turned back to face the killer chasing them through the smoky corridors of the World’s Fair Hotel. Kate placed the CHRONOS key around his neck and made his eight year old self promise to wear it always, and that’s a promise Kiernan has never broken. 

When Kate suddenly vanishes after a Cyrist-engineered time shift, that hidden medallion is Kiernan’s only hope for finding her. He returns to the Cyrist fold to look for clues, but his search will lead him back to the question that has haunted him for years–what really happened after he left Kate at the World’s Fair Hotel?

Review: A quick read, and also a great follow-up to Time Bound, this can be considered a supplemental story to the series. Book two in the Chronos Files series is due out later in 2014.

Poe by J. Lincoln Fenn

Poe JLFennDescription from Amazon

It’s Halloween, and life is grim for twenty-three-year-old Dimitri Petrov. It’s the one-year anniversary of his parents’ deaths, he’s stuck on page one thousand of his Rasputin zombie novel, and he makes his living writing obituaries.

But things turn from bleak to terrifying when Dimitri gets a last-minute assignment to cover a séance at the reputedly haunted Aspinwall Mansion.

There, Dimitri meets Lisa, a punk-rock drummer he falls hard for. But just as he’s about to ask her out, he unwittingly unleashes malevolent forces, throwing him into a deadly mystery. When Dimitri wakes up, he is in the morgue—icy cold and haunted by a cryptic warning given by a tantalizing female spirit.

As town residents begin to turn up gruesomely murdered, Dimitri must play detective in his own story and unravel the connections among his family, the Aspinwall Mansion, the female spirit, and the secrets held in a pair of crumbling antiquarian books. If he doesn’t, it’s quite possible Lisa will be the next victim.

Review: This is a good old-fashioned ghost story with some interesting twists, and a few chills. The descriptive scenes bring the story to life, as you get to see the story unfold through Dimitri’s eyes. Lighter than Stephen King, this blends humor with suspense in a unique way.

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When you find a great book, pass it along, tell a friend, tweet it, or share it on Facebook. This is how the  great books are discovered.  Thanks.

Shameless self-promotion;)

Wired Judith GainesDescription from Amazon

Jade Weekes emerged from the oily wash of the Seine five years ago with no memory of her life, but an uncanny knowledge of fine art, museum security, and a knack for walking away with priceless treasures. Now she’s tracking an elusive Van Gogh with ties to an underworld struggle that will reveal her forgotten past. 

Jade Weekes leaves Paris to track a priceless Van Gogh from St. Pete to Chicago. Her contacts are shady and she is beginning to think there is more to this job than a buyer wanting a gift for his wife. Otherwise, why would Simon Morrell, a rival thief, cross her path just as the FBI begins asking questions? 

Caught up in the six billion dollar international art theft industry, she enlists help from unlikely sources: film actor Alex Ford, and veteran FBI specialists Stewart Connor and John Young.