The Road to Top Pick Novel: Get Certified!

See full issue for 2015 12-21

Welcome to Underground Book Reviews 2.0, our beta website currently running in tandem with our old website. In case you haven’t noticed, its radically different. What you’re seeing now is a test flight, or as my partner Amy Biddle might say, a shakedown cruise. There are lots of differences from the old website to the new one, but one thing hasn’t changed - our commitment to excellence. At UBR, we measure the pinnacle of excellence with our Top Pick novels.

Top Picks are those indie novels that stand above their traditionally or independently published peers. Even if a reviewer gives a novel a five star rating, only our staff can bestow Top Pick. Top Picks are few and far between, and some have gone on to win both commercial and critical acclaim. How does an indie author get chosen as Top Pick?

It starts with applying for Underground Certification.

We keep hearing that independently published books need a “filter”, a formal process to separate the serious novels from the not-so-serious. If this is true, who is qualified to provide such a filter? Not us, we’re just indie writers like you. Anyway, thousands and thousands of indie novels are published in the English speaking world every year. A formal process of sifting through all of them is daunting, to say the least.

Maybe a different tack is needed. Maybe indie novels don’t need a filter. Maybe indie authors need a standard. Welcome to the Underground Certified program.

Underground Certification is a multifaceted, comprehensive threshold an author must step over on the road to Top Pick. We’re not just looking at the novel, but the author’s attempt at creating a minimally functional market presentation. In other words, is the author putting in the minimal required effort and quality to begin the journey to Top Pick?

Certification is a two step process. First, the author must complete the application form correctly. If you don’t fill out the form correctly, your novel won’t be considered. If your application gets kicked back for corrections, no problem. Our submissions editor never throws out an application and always provides feedback as how to fix it. We give you as many chances as necessary. Why? Because we want you to succeed. We’re on your side.

Once your application is accepted, it moves on to part two: review by our moderator staff. We look at the whole application, but concentrate on the real meat - pitch and sample. We’re essentially picking up your novel, glancing at the cover, reading the inside flap, and the first few pages. How does this compare to other novels in its genre? Does it grab our attention? Is it any good? The voting is blind, judges can’t influence each other. The moderators assign each book a score based on both measurable criteria and their opinion, and leave comments for the submission editor.

Only those novels that achieve a minimum score are certified. Certified novels go on to compete for our Pitch Perfect Pick award. (but more about that in my next column!) Even better, you can submit multiple books, and it only takes one certified novel to make you an Underground Certified Author. Certified novels are also eligible to compete for our awards, to include Top Pick, and Novel of the Year, as well as our exclusive advertising packages.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “What if my novel isn’t Underground Certified?” If it isn’t certified, you are still welcome to our community of authors! Remember, we’re on your side. Your novel can still be selected for review. Hey, we’re human, and sometimes we overlook a good book. Send your fans to vote for your book and tell us we were wrong. Submissions with at least 5 votes will be displayed on the front page of our e-magazine and the most popular books are displayed at the top of our sidebar, whether they are certified or not.

UBR is about indie authors and the readers that love their books. We’re excited about the new direction Underground Book Reviews is taking, and we want you to join us. Begin your journey to Top Pick by submitting your novels here.

Novel Submissions Page!

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