Before getting to the main point, a little aside about the devaluation of words. First, nowadays there should be a charge levied on using the work ‘like’. I’m not referring to the absurdity of the ‘like’ feature on Facebook, where you’re invited to ‘like’ the fact that someone’s just announced a tragic bereavement or relayed some depressing news about a scary medical diagnosis. No, it’s the superfluous ‘like’ that peppers the conversations of … well, it used to be the younger generation but now the celebs and others whom they revere seem to be using it in a similar way.
I say ‘using it’ but it’s not being used at all, because it means nothing in the contexts in which they put it. ‘And she’s like “So?” And I’m like “No Way”.’ They need to like insert it whenever they’re trying to sound like cool. Add to it the lifting inflections at the end of sentences (the horrible, whining sound of rising terminals) and you have excruciating, unbearable dialogue.
I’ll explain later why I started with that old fogey rant, but you may well not need me to when I tell you that my topic is the website Awesome Indies.
We all know that it’s easier to publish ebooks and paperbacks nowadays and that, as a result, readers have access to many excellent novels which traditional publishers wouldn’t have been able to fit into their commercially-driven categories. Equally, though, it’s failed to filter out lots of stuff which is either badly written or has been badly formatted and never been assessed by a decent editor. Unfortunately, thanks to all the proud grannies and others who willingly give 5 stars to anything with their grandchild’s name on it, the unsuspecting reader has no way of separating the gems from the garbage. The author’s blurb is always going to (like) big up the book and the only real indicators left as to a book’s quality are word of mouth recommendations and/or objective reviews which say more than ‘This is great’.
Which is where Awesome Indies comes in. It’s a site which, in the words of its administrator, ‘lists Indie books that have the tick of approval from other writers, a tick that tells me that no matter whether I like the subject matter or not, the book is well written, a tick that tells me that I won’t throw the book across the room shouting in frustration, “why didn’t the author hire an editor!”’ The aim is to draw up ‘a list of books that I and other authors and editors can unreservedly recommend. My idea is to honour the Indie authors who produce a high quality product and to direct readers towards the Indie Gold that lies hidden amongst the avalanche of available books.’ You’re then invited to ‘consider this [i.e. the list] your treasure map’.
And you’ll probably guess why I’m featuring it here. Yes, it’s the Sparrow again. It’s a recent addition to the list of Awesome Indies. And I assume that the reason for my opening rant is obvious. Yes, it’s that word ‘awesome’, another which is used so indiscriminately that it’s lost a lot of its power. We can’t do anything about that but, at least, when you see the status of the reviewers and the insistence on excluding any book which doesn’t meet their exacting professional standards, it does seem that in this instance (for a change), the adjective is legitimate. Have a look at the site, send them your own work and, most of all, as a reader, use it to help you choose books that treat you with respect..