The Awesome Indies Mission

We aim to

  • identify and honor independently published books that meet the same standard as books published by major mainstream publishers and their imprints.
  • promote and support AIA authors and their books,
  • raise the standard of independent publishing,
  • assist authors to achieve quality through our author’s services,
  • raise the image of independent publishing among readers.

Our Team

  • Coordinator: Tahlia Newland
  • Publication of daily posts: Brian Sfinas
  • Submission administration: Intisar Khanini
  • Seal of Excellence administration: Harriet Steel
  • Reviewer/author liaison: Tahlia Newland
  • Reader/author liaison: Marsha Cornelius
  • Artwork: Ruthanne Reid
  • A dedicated team of reviewers, readers, editors and cover artists.

Our Definition of Indie

Our authors are independent in that they do not depend on someone else to decide whether, or not, they can express their voice in the world. They create the new trends, offer the new adventures, and make you think, feel and wonder anew. Awesome Indies Approved authors and publishers have exacting standards, and the creation of a quality product is central to their goal. They choose this path, not because they have no other choice, but because they choose independence.

No matter what method of publication they use, they maintain a high degree of control over the product, so if they work with a small publishing company it is in some form of cooperative relationship.

What is the Awesome Indies?

The Awesome Indies is a website that lists independently published works of fiction that meet the same standards as books published by mainstream publishers – as evaluated by publishing industry professionals. We aim to showcase books that meet a specific, and clearly laid out, set of standards for fiction writing so readers can browse for indie books knowing they will be buying well-crafted works.

The blog publishes articles written by our contributors and reviews written by our reviewers. Not every book listed has a review published on the site because the reviews used for submission are sometimes published on other sites instead.

Readers can browse the site and click on the book covers to read information about the books. (Cover links lead to Amazon where readers reviews can be seen and the books can be purchased. Text links lead to the UK Kindle store )  Other retail outlets for the books can be found by locating the authors on the Authors page .

Who does the evaluations?

Publishing  industry professionals is a term we use for those whose employment in a mainstream publishing house, past or present, as editors, publishers and writers indicate that they know what standard of writing is considered a publishable product for a traditional publishing house. Other people deemed to have this knowledge are those with degrees in writing, editing or literature, or reviewers with a background of writing study whose quality of reviews indicate such a knowledge.

Reviewers approved as  contributors to the blog have had their reviews evaluated for quality and knowledge of writing. They have also read the book that our evaluations are based on ie ‘Self Editing for Fiction Writers’, by  Renni Brown and David King, and have received instructions on specific aspects of reviewing, including how to keep personal likes and dislikes out of the evaluation for the site. We also have a team of back up readers who give second opinions where required.

In summary, books are added to this site on the basis of 3 x 4 or 5 star reviews by

  • an Awesome Indies  recommended reviewer –  see the Reviewers page for the list of names.
  • or someone with a degree in Creative Writing, English Literature or journalism.
  • or  an author or editor who is or has been employed in that capacity by a major mainstream publishing house.

What is evaluated?

The criteria are  explained in detail on the ‘Explanation of the Criteria’ page which includes links to further  information on each point.

In summary:

An Awesome Indies book will be properly formatted (this applies to ebooks only. We don’t evaluate the printed version), have no, or few, copy errors  and the prose will meet the following criteria.

  • the plot is well structured, well paced, conceptually sound  and engaging.
  • the characters are well developed and their dialogue and interactions with others are believable.
  • the book is not excessively wordy, particularly, no rambling descriptions, dumps of information, unnecessary repetition or irrelevant scenes.
  • changes in the point of view of the writing are clear. Specifically, in third person close POV; no confusing quick jumps from the thoughts of one character to another and back again, (head-hopping).
  • the writing is immediate and engaging. This means that, where applicable, the story is generally shown rather than told, and the writing is active rather than passive, eg doesn’t overuse forms of the verb, ‘to be’.
  • the grammar, spelling and punctuation are correct for the author’s country of origin. (We aim for no more than 7 proof errors in a full length novel)

How is the evaluation made?

Books are reviewed by Awesome Indies reviewers, and where necessary, by other reviewers who meet our criteria for qualified reviewers. Please visit the submissions page for details.

How many books sold, how many positive reader reviews and how many years or books a writer has been writing are irrelevant to our evaluation process.

What does the site do for authors?

  • It gives authors whose books are accepted the confidence that their work is of the same standard as those published by a mainstream publisher
  • It gives those whose work is not accepted guidelines as to how they can improve. In some cases this can be very specific help, especially where a book just misses out for one reason, but is otherwise fine. These authors are encouraged to re-edit then resubmit. A second reviewer will then check a resubmitted book. Many authors have accepted this challenge, have greatly improved the quality of their product and been added to the Awesome Indies list on re-submission.
  • We offer quality services as very reasonable prices.


Does any money change hands?

Not for inclusion on the list; that is made purely on quality. When readers buy via the link to Amazon, whoever set the link,  receives a small percentage of the payment. AIA authors  can also pay for  greater visibility on the site, plus access to special promotions and various other extras. Authors who wish their books reviewed within a certain time frame or be certain that their book will be reviewed may also make a donation to facilitate it. Donations do not affect the outcome of a review.


The Awesome Indies site does not claim to be anything other than a site listing books that meet a certain criteria. Books not listed on the site are not necessarily inferior, as the author may not have submitted their books to the site for whatever reason. We recognize that though we try to be objective in our evaluations we are by no means perfect.

To support this site, please make a donation by clicking this link and/or purchase our books.