About Us: The Review System

5-Star Rating Scale

Our goal was to find and highlight the best of indie literature, so we asked our reviewers to choose books that excited them in the first place. We did not assign books to our reviewers; we believed that every book deserved to be read by the right audience. Our reviewers chose their books from submissions that were eligible for review, and began reading with five-star expectations. We held indie literature to a high standard. No, we didn’t expect a comedy to have philosophical depth or a romance to have a riveting plotline, but we did expect every book to be engaging, and to deliver what it promised in a consistent, professional manner. We might have been a little more lenient of minor typos than “The Big 5” and other major publishing houses, but when it came to the overall package, we expected indie books to compete with, and even outshine, the work produced by large publishing houses. With that in mind, below are the guidelines we asked our reviewers to follow when undertaking the highly subjective and dangerously arbitrary task of using a five-star rating system.

Top Pick: freaking amazing!
Any agent or publishing house that passed this one up made a big mistake. These wee five-star books that our reviewers selected as personal favorites. Top Picks were 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 stood out next to popular, traditionally published novels in its genre.

4 Stars: recommended
For the right audience, this book would be a great read. It held 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 had promise, but it was in need of a rewrite and/or extensive editing. We tried to weed these out before they even got to a reviewer, but sometimes they still found a way through.

1 Star: unacceptable
No one liked giving a 1 star rating, and rarely did we have to. Like 2-star ratings, we tried to weed these out before they even get to a reviewer. These novels were unprofessionally written and presented. They were systemically flawed on multiple levels, to include (but not limited to) plot, prose, characters, theme, and basic editing.

How Reviews Were Selected

After an author submitted their book for review, it would be looked at by at least one moderator before being displayed publicly on our website and introduced to reviewers. Here’s a rundown of the system:

1) Submissions Editor error check: We would notify authors if there were any major errors that need fixing before we continued (ex: cover image loaded sideways). This had no bearing on the author’s chances of getting a review.

2) Moderators vote on quality: At the end of the week, at least one Moderator would decide which books were eligible for review and/or . The Submissions Editor would then select up to 5 Pitch Perfect finalists.

3) Book added to bookshelf: If a book was eligible for review, it was be automatically entered into our system, and Reviewers could choose to review it at any time. It stayed on our bookshelf indefinitely, waiting for a reviewer to notice it. Reviewers had a special dashboard, where the Submissions editor could make recommendations, and where certain qualified authors could submit books to them directly.
4) The Review: It would take about one month for a reviewer to read a book and submit a review. Every Monday, at least one review was published.

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Quality reviews of independent literature from 2011 - 2018