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May 14, 2021
By Savannah Cordova
Exposure is often a challenge for indie authors—Reedsy Discovery helps them manage it

In 2014, Reedsy was founded as a marketplace and resource hub for authors, helping them write and publish professional-grade books. Over the next five years, however, our founders realized that something was missing. For many indie authors, no matter how they marketed, readers just weren’t finding their books: they were being drowned in a sea of titles with powerhouse publishers behind them or passed over by Amazon’s algorithms in favor of authors who’d gamed the system.

To address this problem head-on, we launched Reedsy Discovery, a platform that connects indie authors with real readers and reviewers—who, as authors can attest, are usually the key to more exposure. Just over two years later, we’ve published more than 3,000 editorial reviews on Discovery and built a user base of nearly 200,000 readers. And, as part of the team that’s made this possible, I’ve been thrilled to watch Discovery grow, and am constantly amazed by our commitment to human curation and experience.

For a flat fee of $50, you can submit an advance reader’s copy of your book to our general pool of reviewers or to a specific reviewer whose work you admire. Your book will then be “picked up” for review in time for your release, so you can launch with a thoughtful assessment—giving you a major advantage over most new releases. Then, when your launch date arrives, your book will appear on our Discovery feed to be upvoted and commented on by readers. You’ll even get a chance to be featured in our weekly newsletter sent to hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

"Your cover and your description are particularly vital; they immediately convey whether your book is worth reading in the first place."
The best part about Discovery is how much of it is driven by people rather than machines. Reviewers can sift through their options to find exactly the sort of books that they want to read. Readers follow specific genres and other users to cultivate their feeds. Every book that gets featured on the main Discovery page and in our newsletter is handpicked. Critically, if a book is ever in danger of not being reviewed on time, it’s pitched by our Discovery team to reviewers—rather than being crushed by a deluge of new books and dismissed by Amazon’s algorithms.

This is the nuance and care that most mainstream book promotion platforms simply don’t offer. Yet it’s precisely what indie books require to succeed: an actual person taking notice of your book and saying to an audience, “This one is worth your time.” And that’s what sets Discovery apart from Amazon and even Goodreads—our reviewers make indie titles a priority, and their endorsements can make a real difference, even in our algorithm-driven world. (Just ask the authors whose reviewers have cross-posted their praise to other platforms.)

Of course, not every book will receive praise. It’s the nature of any review platform—at least any legitimate one—and can also be exacerbated by human error. If you feel you’ve received an unfair review on Discovery, you can report it under your submissions and our team will look into it. Alternatively, if your book hasn’t been picked up yet and you change your mind, you can cancel your review from that same page (within 60 days of your submission).

With all that in mind, there are a few other actions I’d strongly recommend to any author submitting their book to Discovery—or aiming for good reviews on any platform, for that matter. The first and most important thing you can do is refine your book’s presentation. Your cover and your description are particularly vital; they immediately convey whether your book is worth reading in the first place. Think seriously about investing in a professional cover design, and spend a few hours tweaking your book description until it’s snappy, distinctive, and intriguing.

That said, another key point here is not to misrepresent your book. Having a flashy cover that barely relates to your subject, a blurb that promises more than you have to offer, or several tangential genres attached to your book might seem like great ways to attract more readers, but the resulting reviews can ruin your book’s reputation. This is a big issue we see on Discovery, and understandably so! Indie authors are often told to go all-out to get readers’ attention—and, for the most part, this is fine advice. I’d only temper it with caution: don’t take your marketing tactics so far that your book starts to sound like a stranger’s.

Finally, if you like the review you receive, make sure to comment on it and tip the reviewer (a feature available on Discovery). This is the most concrete way to let them know you appreciate their work, to encourage them to cross-post their review if they haven’t already, and to potentially lay the groundwork for them to review another one of your books. Let them know if they can look forward to a sequel, or if you have any similar titles they can read right now.

It’s certainly true that, as an indie author, publishing success can itself feel almost fictitious—and I’ll be the first to admit that it takes a great deal of work. But Reedsy Discovery makes it that much easier, leveling the playing field so that every author has a shot at a quality review, and helping readers find hidden gems they might otherwise never unearth. It’s the platform that indie authors need and intrepid readers deserve, and that I look forward to evolving in the years to come.

Savannah Cordova is a content marketer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects self-publishing authors with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers.