Immerse, or Die: One simple test to see if your book is worth reviewing.

ImmerseOrDieReportCardFor some time now, I’ve been struggling with how to review indie books. I read tons of them—or rather, I try to—but frankly, the lion’s share of indie books are utter dreck, and a full review would just be a colossal waste of my time. A reviewer may reasonably be expected to point out minor issues of polish, but they should not be expected to give basic writing lessons. By my measure, if you’re charging money for your work, that’s a declaration that you consider yourself a professional, and so I hold you to a professional standard. But how to handle the reviews?

On a completely separate line of thought, I spend most of my days at my desk, and whether I stand or sit, I don’t get as much exercise as I would like. So I spend the obligatory 40 minutes each morning on my treadmill. But can I let you in on a secret? I hate treadmills. I even spent a good part of last year trying to write while walking, but I’ve never been able to escape the vague sense that I’m a gerbil running on a wheel. What I need is a distraction. Something to take me out of the here and now, and plant me firmly into there and then. Ideally, a there and then that has no gerbil wheels. So I tried reading on the treadmill, which I quite enjoy, when the book is good, but as per the paragraph above, too many of them are not.

And then it hit me. Why not combine the two?

So that’s what I’m going to do. This week, I will be trying out a new preliminary stage to my review process. It’s simple. All you have to do is pull me into your world, firmly enough to distract me from my gerbildom for 40 minutes. But if you don’t, you hit the reject pile. And either way, I tell people how long your book held my attention.

Every book that enters the ring will be posted here with their time. So know in advance that if you only make it to the 03:14 mark, that number will appear next to your book cover on my review stream. There won’t be any blather about why. No criticism, but there won’t be any attempt to save face for you either, by pointing out two or three things that I liked anyway. Just your cover, your genre, and that damned clock time. It’s cold, it’s harsh, and it’s brutal. Just like nature.

But please note: I only feel qualified to judge science fiction and fantasy, so feel free to submit your existential Nazi torture thriller, but don’t come crying to me when you get stung with a 00:06 score. Part of being a professional is knowing where your market is—and where it isn’t.

ImmerseOrDieBadgeFor the books that do make it to the 40:00 mark, you’ll get exactly the same treatment: cover, genre, and time, posted here. But in addition, you’ll also graduate to the full review pile, and a more detailed review may appear later. Plus, you’ll also get this spiffy little magic badge, called the ImmerseOrDie Survivor Award. Feel free to display it on your web site to impress your friends, and link it back to your review posting here, to prove that it’s legit. You’ll also be listed on a special, survivors-only page, here on Creativity Hacker, so people who click on the badge can see what other awesome survivors you’re sharing company with.

In addition to posting here, the results of every book tested will also be posted to my Twitter feed (@Jefficus), my Google+ feed, and my Facebook page, all tagged with the #ImmerseOrDie hashtag.

And to play, all you have to do is submit a book. Send an EPUB to jeff at smithicus bot com, and be sure to put [ImmerseOrDie] in the subject. My robotic minions will take it from there. Then all you have left to do is watch my feeds for your book to show up in the rotation.

Good luck. And thanks for playing.

[Find the complete list of #ImmerseOrDie reports here.]
Famine, With Fries coming Oct 1
Milestone: Bestseller list

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is underqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.