Book review blogs are legion, and pop in and out of existence like fireflies. A few are run by voracious readers. Many, like UBR, are formed by writers trying to promote their own work. Some are started as businesses. Many concentrate on specific genres, like romance, YA, or fantasy. They often revolve around indie lit, but a few will only review traditionally published books.
In September of 2011, four authors came together and started UBR. At first, we wanted to leverage book reviews to promote our own novels. We operated like most review blogs, from a website design platform anyone can put together in about 30 minutes. Our website design is also “off the shelf”, with graphics generated from a common design menu. We were, and still are, as humble as you can get. But it’s what we create in our cozy internet nook which makes us unique.
UBR is different for several reasons. First, we’re reliable. If you ask our subscribers, they’ll tell they received a fresh book review every Monday for the past two and a half years, rain or shine. Most Tuesdays, they got an interview, too. We’re not a book review site, we’re a magazine. We publish on a hard schedule. Mondays are non-negotiable. We like Mondays. Mondays rock.
Second, we believe in quality reviews. Lots of sites provide quick blurbs, a paragraph and a star rating. Some use gimmicks and flashy graphics. We have a style guide, editorial standards, and a simple, but effective formula: one quality indie book review each week.
Third, we believe in promoting good books and talented authors. In the past three years we’ve learned bad indie fiction usually dies off without any help from review sites. The market itself is the filter, no assembly required. We’re not in the bad filter game, that’s a waste of time. The tragedy is that lots of good fiction also dies off unnoticed. Hence, we provide one worthy indie book a dedicated week in the burning spotlight.
Reliable publication of quality reviews about worthy fiction, that’s UBR. We’ve surround this cornerstone with special features and contests. Using this formula we’ve grown, now reaching thousands of subscribers and readers each month. We’re still small, but we’re proud, and growing. Oh, and we’re still here, which has to count for something, right? Not only did we survive, we’re actually a business. This year UBR went live as an LLC. As a small business, we find ourselves facing several challenges. The first challenge is, after almost three years, identifying our primary audience.
We came into this proposition assuming our readers would be, well readers. We were wildly incorrect. The vast majority of our subscribers and readers are indie authors, all screaming to get their books noticed. We hear you loud and clear.
The challenge faced by all indie review websites is the overwhelming supply of indie fiction. Various sites deal with this in different ways. Thousands of you have asked us to review your indie novels, but we only publish 52 quality reviews a year. Our queues are overflowing, and that’s a problem. Good fiction is going unnoticed. We’ve brainstormed many ways to capture and promote as many excellent indie novels as possible without sacrificing quality, to include our Pitch Perfect Picks. What we’ve found, however, is a lot of great books are still falling between the cracks. This is unacceptable, and we want to fix it.
After almost a year of brainstorming, phone conferences, and hard work, we’re in the processes of reinventing UBR with you, the indie author, at the heart of everything we do. What will UBR 2.0 look like? I’ll leave that up to our president, Amy Biddle, to explain in upcoming articles, but it will be an incremental process over the next year. Please excuse our mess, progress in progress. One thing you will see is more feature articles on Fridays (like this one). Don't worry, what our subscribers love most about UBR 1.0 won’t change. We’re evolving, but you’ll still find our cornerstone firmly in place.
Almost three years and we’re still here, and still growing. Stay tuned, keep posted, and don’t go anywhere.