The Ultimate Indie Book Reading Challenge

I’ve talked to many people who want to read more indie books (books published independently of the Big Five publishing companies) this year, and that’s excellent. There are a lot of indie authors writing high-quality works but remain relatively invisible in the book world. In fact, one-fifth of indie authors never get any income from their writing at all. 

If you want to read more indie books but you’re not sure where to start, then this challenge is for you.

This challenge will help you discover some new reads and maybe even some new favorite authors.  Remember to leave reviews for the books you read. It takes two minutes and helps authors get more visibility.

1) Read an indie book by a bestselling author

Yes, bestselling authors self-publish too.  Reading a book by a bestselling author is a pretty low-risk way to find some high-quality indie books One such author is Maggie Shayne, a New York Times bestselling author with a pretty good selection of indie books on Smashwords. Find her book Witch Moon here. 

2) Find a book with the “covers off” option (and read it)

A lot of the time self-published authors can’t afford professional-looking covers, but that doesn’t mean their writing isn’t poor quality. Besides, all of us have picked up a book with a pretty cover only to be disappointed. Use the “covers off” feature on Smashwords to browse without judging books by their cover. You’ll be able to find intriguing books like Golden Paradise by Susan Johnson that you might not have considered otherwise.

3) Read a book in a genre you generally don’t touch

You’re already expanding your reading tastes by reading indie. Why not expand a little bit more? You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find. When I checked out the sports fiction section, I found Flash by Malorie Verdant which sounds amazing. 

4) Read a book published today

Smashwords makes it really easy to find books published the very day you’re browsing. It sorts by publishing date by default so you can find works that are truly hot off the press. As I’m writing this on May 6, 2018, there are several works in the romance genre published today, including the dark billionaire romance Hard Money by Gwen Allen. 

5) Read a book that doesn’t have any reviews

Reviews are how indie authors survive. Without them, their books are practically invisible. If you read an indie book without any reviews then not only do you read a book that probably nobody else has ever read, but you will also be a huge help to the author when you leave your own review for the book. Reviews are few and far between on Smashwords, so it won’t be difficult to find hidden gems like A Charmed Life by Jea Hawkins.

6) Read a book with an irresistible title

It’s easy to find indie books with runaway titles. But sometimes crazy titles make the books impossible to pick up. My personal favorite so far is Holy Crap! The World Is Ending!: How a Trip to the Bookstore Led to Sex with an Alien and the Destruction of the Earth by Anna-Marie Abell.

7)Take a risk: read a book with a one-star review average

We all know reviews aren’t always reliable. Plenty of classics get one-star reviews but that doesn’t mean they’re bad books. If an indie book falls into the hands of the wrong reader, it will get a bad reputation because of pure chance. A one-star average often only means one bad review. So look at books with one-star averages and see if any catch your eye. If you’re not willing to spend money on this one then search for free books only. You’ll find books like A Whispered Wish by Cindy Louallen, which was condemned to a one-star average because it was written in present tense.

8) For the incredibly brave: browse with all the adult filters off!

Do not do this one if you are squeamish or under 18. The titles alone can be graphic and disturbing. However, for the very brave, turn the adult filter all the way off on Smashwords. There are two filters, one to filter out all adult content and another that filters out erotica content. When they’re both turned off, there will be a  “+” symbol next to the words “Adult Content” in the upper right-hand corner.

If you are not faint of heart, you can find some sexy reads like Threesome by Mary Suzanne.

9) Read a complete work  in one day or less

For several months I was reading and reviewing one book a day. It’s easy to do when you can sort out all works over 20,000 words. Then you can read and review an entire story before finishing your morning coffee. This is ideal if you’re short on time or reluctant to commit to a long story written by an unknown author. One of my personal favorites is Beautiful Mess by Lucy V. Morgan, a free short story. 

10) Read an entire series, trilogy, or duology

When you find an author or series you enjoy, keep reading. You’ll have to sift through quite a lot of rubbish to find the hidden gems, so when you do find a series you enjoy, commit to it and favorite the author. That way you’ll always have some good indie books to read. The By Magic series by Maggie Shayne is my personal favorite. The first two books are available in a boxed set. 

What are your favorite indie novels? Leave in the comments below.

All of these links, unless the book is free, is an affiliate link, meaning I get a small commission if you purchase the book through my link, at no additional cost to you. Half of my Smashwords affiliate earnings are donated to the Malala Fund.