I was a performing artist for many years – dance, mime, mask and clowning – and when I’d had enough of being on the road, I returned to my first job, teaching. It wasn’t long, however, before I remembered why I took the leap and left teaching in the first place, and I looked for something else I could do to earn money. I thought I’d quite like to work in a bookshop; after all, reading was one of the great loves of my life, but the local shops had enough assistants, and it was doubtful that they’d be interested in a fifty-five year old ex-clown and school teacher, anyway.
To cut a long story very short, I ended up becoming an author. I soon found out, however, that I felt more comfortable selling other people’s books than I did my own. Enter the Awesome Indies, and now I realise that I’m running an online bookstore, because that’s what the Awesome Indies site really is. It’s a very special kind of bookstore, though, not because it’s all independent fiction, but because the books have to pass a test before they can sit in the shelves. In addition, the authors and their works are actively promoted. (We have some very exciting promotions planned.) There’s some other differences too, but I’m not sure if they’re obvious to the casual observer.
The Awesome Indies is primarily about promotion, not in order for me to earn money, that’s more of a side-effect, but hopefully one that will eventually pay my bills. The Awesome Indies promotes the books that deserve to be read because they are well-crafted. In today’s climate of ‘everyone can publish so a lot of people who shouldn’t publish do,’ and where those with the biggest publicity budget tend to get the sales, it’s easy for quality to be overlooked and for the standard of acceptable written English to decline to the detriment of the whole society. The Awesome Indies is here to help prevent such a decline by honouring those works that uphold the standards traditionally required for publication. This kind of bookshop wasn’t needed before the digital revolution, but it is now, and our selection criteria make us different to the others.
There’s a community behind the Awesome Indies as well, a team of volunteers and of people who contribute financially because they believe that what we’re doing for authors and readers is vitally important, and no one else is doing it, at least not using industry professionals to do the evaluation. Our sense of mission and our commitment to it makes us different.
This team has a highly developed sense of ethics. Friendship does not guarantee you a good review. It’s hard to say no to people you consider friends, but we do it when it’s required, because we will not compromise standards for anything. Our ethics make us stand out in a climate where unethical behaviour is far too common.
We genuinely want to help readers find the books they would enjoy and design our store to make it as easy and pleasant as possible for them to do that. If I could offer my visitors free coffee, I would do it! You finding what you want is more important than me selling you something. It’s a subtle but important difference. It means that the reader matters more than the sale. I hope that our blog has a friendly, personal and welcoming tone so that readers can feel part of a community of people with similar values.
I see the AIA Reader’s Club, not as people to sell books too ( though they will get all the information they need to choose something suitable should they wish to purchase), I see them as our reader support base and I hope that we can find ways for them to be part of our mission to promote quality independent fiction.
So, if you care about the quality of the written word, truly appreciate those who can produce quality on a shoestring and would like to support them, then join the AIA Reader’s Club.The Awesome Indies is a bookstore for everyone, but it’s especially for those who care and appreciate.
Do you care about quality in fiction? Do you think that written English is in serious risk of adulteration and decline?
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