When it comes to book promotions, IndieMuse is doing things differently. At the foundation of IndieMuse is its curation process. We live in times where you can’t trust sources in much of anything. Readers face a glut of information, of new releases thrown at them each and every day. Only so much time to read. How does a reader discover top quality releases?
There can never be a fair system to any of this, because, in the end, everything is subjective; therefore, nothing can ever be definitively ranked as the best of. But still experts claim they’re, in fact, experts, and we have a hierarchy of classics in American literature. Some of these ‘classics’ are truly mediocre offerings now hyped to be superior. I won’t mention any by their titles, but, as a reader, I’m sure you can make a list of your own.
So I started IndieMuse as a blog so I can share my favorite independent authors. Then this entire concept got me thinking: am I just going to add another blog or site where I state my subjective opinion on what’s good and what’s not. Not such a unique idea in this (or any) day and age.
How Book Promotions & Recommendations Work
The curation process was then adapted so that I could run a site where a committee made decisions on what books were deemed quality. After three months of searching, we finally compiled six bibliophiles willing to review new releases in their chosen genres.
Their objective is to review each new release. Formulate their opinion NOT on their personal tastes, but on the quality of the writing, the presentation. Their jobs are to highlight books that will appeal to each book’s core audience, not to one person’s tastes.
Each book that goes through our curation staff must be unanimously voted to be a quality new release. Some of the things curators look for are: quality of the prose, the production, the layout, the cover. Is the text clean, the prose smooth, or is the book riddled with typos and the prose uneasy to consume? Is the book properly formatted for eReaders and paperbacks? Is the entire package above the standards being released independently today? If not, then the title deserves to be trunked and never get a mention at IndieMuse.
It can’t be a perfect system (as none will ever exist), but it’s meant to be a valuable filtration process for readers when investing their time and money into reading the next independently written and published work in the crime, mystery, horror or humor fiction genres.
Expanding the Committee Into Hubs
Today is a landmark day for IndieMuse as we’ve just taken on our fifth curator in the horror genre. This means that the horror sub-site (known as a hub) can go live. Our minimum requirement is to have at least five curators and five reviewers covering each genre. While the crime, mystery, and humor genres still are lacking those qualifications, our horror hub has officially been established. Our hopes are to have many more reviewers and curators join staff, but, in order to make this process work, each curator reports only to the head curator. Each must keep their job on the downlow—no connected social media accounts stating their position here, no identities being revealed publicly.
Why? We want to keep things as fair as possible. We don’t want our curators being persuaded by their connections, or vice-versa. We also want each curator to be free to express honest opinions and not feel obligated to recommend a book due to association. We also don’t want curators to form group biases, so they work independently through the head curator.
We’d love to say that all of our curators will be 100% fair, have no special connections to the genre, but everyone has some degree of partiality to certain authors or publishers which we hope, as time goes on, will diminish. And that the bigger mission we have here to be fair will ultimately exceed any partiality or bias. But I also realize that the bigger committee that we can form in each genre, the less subjective our recommendations will be.
Examples (By the Numbers)
It’s worked out well for our horror curation process. Out of the three curators that have been with us since the beginning, two of them are not personally fond of the more extreme fiction in the genre. But we’ve seen an influx of extreme titles (see PANDEMONIUM by Ryan Harding & Lucas Magnum or White Trash Gothic 3 by Edward Lee as the latest examples) get recommended based on overall quality. The experiment seems to be off to a promising start.
As the head curator, my vote doesn’t count. I just collect the thumbs-ups and the thumbs-downs and present the results. I can say that less than 20% of all new horror releases have been recommended by our curation staff. So about 1 in every 5 new releases gets our nod.
What A Curator Reviews
If you’re an author or publisher and want to leverage this system, here’s a quick look at what a curator does during a review of a new release.
- Review of book cover (rate graphic design/cover photography/art/illustration)
- Review Book Marketing (read synopsis, gauge interest)
- Review of interior (text formatting/typos/design)
- Read random minimum 20-page excerpt from book (in-depth look into prose/dialogue/character check)
Based on those 4 checkpoints, an overall recommendation or no-recommendation status is submitted by each curator.
In order for a title to be recommended, the majority of curators must submit recommendations.
Tips For Authors & Publishers
Publishers and authors need to make sure their book is submitted for review. Another note is that all of our curators review through Kindle Unlimited, so if your book is NOT a part of KU, please make sure your book is submitted to us directly to expedite the curation process.
To become a part of our Watch List (for extra exposure), you must release your book as a preorder to Amazon. The Watch List heavily relies on cover reveal, marketing synopsis and whether the author has been recommended in the past by IndieMuse curators.
Listing your book as fiction and tagging your preorder with the tags of horror, humor, crime, or mystery will get your title on the list we pull from Amazon for new releases every two weeks. This is the list we comb through to add titles to our Watch List.
Reviewers are not directly part of the curation staff. However, if they review a title and rate their review 3 stars or above, it will be added as a recommendation to the curation totals.
Since we currently have 5 horror curators, if Title A is voted as recommended 3-2 in favor of recommendation, then a reviewer posts a 2-star review for the same book, that title will disappear from our recommended reading list (as the majority vote is then nullified).
To so summarize, the section below contains some things an author should make sure happens as soon as your title is listed for sale.
Summary: Leveraging Book Promotions at IndieMuse
- List your title early in preorder at Amazon (if you’re using KDP, currently you cannot list paperbacks, but you can list the eBook edition).
- Tag your new title with humor, horror, crime or mystery, as relevant to its content. This will increase your visibility with IndieMuse’s curation system.
- Make sure your book is released as the highest quality production possible (meaning: make sure you contract a good cover, have the book lay out professionally done, well-edited, and converted properly for each edition you release).
- Make sure you have submitted your author profile. It’s free and recommended authors will get their own author page and be highlighted to our readers more often. Recommended authors will get access to our Author Hub for special promotions.
- Once you are set up as a recommended author, you will receive credentials to our Author Hub (which will go live soon) which gives you access to 5 FREE ways to promote your book, including: 1) Submitting your book for early review; 2) Highlighting your new release or preorder; 3) Highlighting your Kindle Countdown Deals; 4) Submitting for an interview request, and 5) submitting non-fiction content relating to the promotion of your new releases. We will also be including deep discounts on professional publishing services for authors who want to save money outsourcing your book’s formatting, copyediting and book and cover design.
There are currently many sites that take money from authors. IndieMuse’s mission is different: we want to connect readers with their new favorite authors without charging either author or reader. There is one saying about building an internet business: content is king. We believe an author’s currency is their content (the higher quality, the higher value), and promoting the best independent publishing has to offer is the pathway for us to become one of the best indie resource sites on the internet.