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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

2017 Foreword Indies Finalists Or a List You Can use to Add Independently Published Titles to Any Collection

Since 2005, Foreword Reviews has been handing out awards for the best independently published books. From this year’s press release announcing the finalists:

Traverse City, MI, March 20, 2018—As part of its mission to discover, review, and share the best books from university and independent publishers, Foreword Reviews is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2017 INDIES Book of the Year Awards. 
More than 2,000 entries spread across 68 genres were submitted for consideration. The list of finalists was determined by Foreword’s editorial team. Winners are now being decided by a panel of judges across the country, reflecting Foreword’s readership of booksellers and librarians. 
The complete list of finalists can be found at:
“Choosing finalists for the INDIES is always the highlight of our year, but the job is very difficult due to the high quality of submissions,” said Victoria Sutherland, founder/publisher of Foreword Reviews. “Each new book award season proves again how independent publishers are the real innovators in the industry.”
Winners in each genre—along with Editor’s Choice Prize winners and Foreword’s INDIE Publisher of the Year—will be announced June 15, 2018. 
As is mentioned above, you can use this link to see all of the finalists.

I would like to first talk about why this list is a great resource and then I will get to a few of my concerns about Foreword Reviews as a publication.

The positive. Foreword Reviews is one of the only places where we can find reviews of indie and self published titles in a wide variety of genres, fiction and nonfiction, and for all ages levels. Many of you need a published review from a trusted source in order to be allowed to add a title to your collections. Now throughout the year there are many reviews coming out, too many for the average library to keep up with, but this list of the finalists is a great way to weed out the cream of the crop.

With this link, they have made it super easy to see every single nominated title in one list with links to their review. You can also look these titles up on Goodreads to see what readers thought to help you make a decision if they are right for your collection. These are independent titles worth your time, with an official review, all put in one place. You have no more excuses to NOT add some independent titles to even the smallest library.

Looking through the list I saw a few books that I knew were good so I thought I would highlight those to prove my point. City of Ghosts by J.H. Moncrieff is up in 2 categories-- Horror and Thriller. This is an intense, Chinese set ghost story. Also the Michael Bailey and Darren Speegle edited Adam’s Ladder up in the anthology category features a blockbuster list of authors, many of whose books you have in your collections already [click through to see]. I have read some of the stories and know they are good, plus I have read a few Bailey edited anthologies and he is talented. I always give anything he has edited a chance and I haven’t been disappointed yet.

The point is, off the top of my head, I knew something about 2 of these titles upon first glance. I went through again and notice a handful of others I had heard about. This list is solid and can be used both for collection development and booktalking [read the reviews to patrons-- it’s an instant book talk].

Now for the few problematic issues. First, the use of “Multiculutral” as a category is not ideal but I like that they are trying to give these books a boost. And LGBTQ is not a genre; within the frame of LGBTQ there are genres, but just being “gay” does not make a genre. I had more to say about this yesterday here.

But the biggest problem with Foreword Reviews is that they have a “pay to play” model where authors pay to get their book properly reviewed. Now to be fair, they are quite open and honest about this as you can see here, but this fact always keeps me a arm’s length from working with this publication.

I do however, highly advocate using it to help find books that readers will enjoy. We have nothing official to work with and many of you need something to help you sort through everything that is available, plus you need a justification for ordering a harder to procure title, so here you go. And again, if you cross reference these finalists with their Goodreads entries you will see that these titles have a lot of fans. That’s what we care about most, matching readers with books they would love. So get out there and order some independently published titles now that I have given you a curated resource of a manageable amount of titles.

And I highly advocate for ordering a bunch at the same time because then you can make a display out of it-- “Try one of these critically acclaimed independent reads.” They will fly off the shelf. And isn’t that our goal in the end.

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