Rating and Award System

5-Star Rating Scale

Literature, as an art form, cannot be quantified by something as linear as a five-star-rating system. And yet, in order to play nicely with Amazon, Goodreads and the consumer market, we understand the necessity of using numerical evaluation. That doesn’t mean we like it!

Our goal is to find and highlight the best of indie literature, so we ask our reviewers to choose books that excite them in the first place. We do not assign books to our reviewers; we believe that every book deserves to be read by the right audience. Our reviewers choose their books from submissions that are eligible for review, and begin reading with five-star expectations. We hold indie literature to a high standard. No, we don’t expect a comedy to have philosophical depth or a romance to have a riveting plotline, but we do expect every book to be engaging, and to deliver what it promises in a consistent, professional manner. We might be a little more lenient of minor typos than the Big 5, but when it comes to the overall package, we expect indie books to compete with, and even outshine, the work produced by large publishing houses. With that in mind, below are the guidelines we ask our reviewers to follow when undertaking the highly subjective and dangerously arbitrary task that is the five-star rating system.

Top Pick: freaking amazing!
Any agent or publishing house that passed this one up made a big mistake. These are five-star books that our reviewers select as personal favorites. Top Picks are also nominations for our Novel of the Year award.

5 Stars: highly recommended
This book did exactly what it set out to do, with originality, style, and maybe even a twist. It stands out next to popular, traditionally published novels in its genre.

4 Stars: recommended
For the right audience, this book is a great read. It can hold its own against any traditionally published novel in its genre.

3 Stars: pretty good
Sure, there were some issues, but it was still worth the read.

2 Stars: needs work/not ready for publication
This book might have promise, but it is in need of a rewrite and/or extensive editing. We try to weed these out before they even get to a reviewer, but sometimes they still get find a way through.

1 Star: unacceptable
We don’t like to hand out 1 star ratings, and rarely have to, but will if necessary. Like 2-star ratings, we try to weed these out before they even get to a reviewer. These novels are unprofessionally written and presented. They are systemically flawed on multiple levels, to include (but not limited to) plot, prose, characters, theme, and basic editing.

Reviewers are encouraged to use half-star ratings. All ratings are rounded up on Amazon and Goodreads.