Saturday, September 10, 2011

Evaluating Independently Published Books: a Rubric

Some fellow writers and I discussed the idea of promoting on our blogs great books to read by independently published authors.

I am all for that idea: a way of sorting out the excellent reads from those books that are unfinished-yet-still-published books--books still needing revision or editing to truly shine.

If I am going to evaluate and promote independently produced books (indie books) on my webpage, it seems only reasonable to explain my process of evaluation.

Before I get into specifics, I should mention that a book needing proofreading will not receive a higher rating than three stars. Many errors in following the conventions of writing intrudes on the reader's appreciation of the book and should not receive higher than an "OK" rating. It may even receive a lower rating.

This is important for me as a teacher: if I am encouraging students to "learn the ropes," how can I rate a book as "quality" if it ignores the conventions of writing for no good reason? It would be inconsistent with my teaching goals of training my students to be competent, skilled writers.

*****  (5 Stars): Mastery of vision, style, and execution. (To Kill a Mockingbird)
  **** (4 Stars): Quality, professional excellence. A memorable book.

    ***  (3 Stars): Readable, perhaps enjoyable, but ultimately just "OK."

         **  (2 Stars): Significant weaknesses mar the book and interfere with reading.
            *   (1 star): If you finished it, you deserve the royalties.

I don't usually employ stars when writing reviews for this blog. I prefer to just write a meaningful reaction to the book--to "use my words." However, Smashwords, Amazon, Goodreads, and other book sites employ this method, so I've included a scale.

All books listed as "Great Indie Reads" will have received either four or five stars. I know that all books aren't as powerful and compelling as To Kill a Mockingbird or Of Mice and Men, but the books I identify as "Great Indie Books" will be ones that, in my opinion, express the highest standards of our language and encourage us to think and evolve.

(Note: I receive no payment for books reviewed, although I may receive a free book or ebook.)

Copyright 2011 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

1 comment:

  1. Tom, I feel privileged to be one of the first books rated on your list. Thank you for feeling I fulfill the criteria you set out. My view is that the writing should be invisible, and not draw attention to itself, so that the reader is fully absorbed into the story, which becomes more feeling or experience than words.