Indie and self-published books often get a bad rap for being inferior to traditionally published books. I’ve been reading them for over a decade and have certainly run into my fair share of poorly written and edited indie and self-published books. But there have also been some absolute gems, some of which have fooled me into thinking they had been traditionally published (which sometimes are not better than some indie and self-published books) by one of the Big 5 publishers. As an avid reader of indie and self-published books, I’m very happy with having had to do double takes at the name of the publisher.
So what are these amazing indie and self-published books? I’m glad you asked!
The Memory Keeper by Jenny Hale
Reading this book was like reading perfection. The writing is beautiful and tight. The world building is gorgeous and took me straight to Tennessee even though I’ve never been. The characters are real and flawed and have just the most perfect and real interactions ever. The romance was perfect and mature and I just fell in love with the couple. This book very much felt like perfection on a plate that I had to quadruple check to make sure it hadn’t been published by one of the Big 5!
And while we’re at it…Butterfly Sisters by Jenny Hale
This was just published a couple of months ago, and it does not disappoint. It’s just as gorgeous as The Memory Keeper in every way. Not only is there the most beautiful romance, but it’s also an incredible women’s fiction novel that perfectly captures two sisters and their thorny relationship. There’s so much goodness layered into this one, and a dog I just want to throw my arms around and never let go of (I am not a dog person). To say I could gush on about how amazing Hale’s novels are would be quite an understatement! I’m constantly surprised they’re not published by one of the big publishers.
Quaking Soul by Jennifer M. Zeiger
In full disclosure, I’ve been following Jennifer’s blog for several years, so I might be biased, but I don’t think so. Quaking Soul is her first full-length novel and it absolutely does not disappoint. It perfectly appeals to a wide audience and balances so much so well. The prose is absolutely gorgeous and so incredibly rich, and the world building is so meticulous without being overwhelming that I actually thought I was living in a forest several times. The character development unfolds so naturally and the relationships between all of them felt so real. While I fully knew Jennifer self-published Quaking Soul, I still had to check a couple of times to make sure.
For the Love of Alison by Sahlan Diver
This was an incredible, twisty ride I couldn’t believe was self-published. When I checked for the publisher, I could hardly believe my eyes. The story is so clear and logical and so perfectly twisty and turny. I loved how it kept me guessing, and the details of how the main character traveled around was so detailed without getting bogged down. This was a huge pleasure to read with fantastic characters and an atmosphere that’s just so hard to come by.
Terra Haven Chronicles by Rebecca Chastain
This trilogy is fast-paced and action packed, but the magic, mystery, and romance are so perfectly balanced. The writing is tight and flawless, and I just couldn’t believe it hadn’t been published by one of the Big 5. The main character is so flawed, but I loved her growth over the trilogy and the ending was just sheer perfection. This trilogy is so well-written and truly came to life around me. I really loved how the overarching story bloomed over the three books, making it feel both episodic and continuous, and I’m really sad the series is over.
The Dragon’s Banker by Scott Warren
This is a really fun and funny slice of life style fantasy novel. It features things like business, economy, and commerce, which often went over my head, but it was exceptionally well-done. The story was clear and logical, the characters were amusing, and the world was fascinating. I did feel bad for the main character quite a bit as nothing seemed to go according to plan, but the writing really felt nearly flawless to me and I couldn’t believe it had been self-published.
The Worst Lie by Shauna Bickley
This is the second book in the series, but the first one is just as good. I’m mentioning this one in particular, though, because it was my favorite of the two and just a bit better than the first, which isn’t saying a lot since both were practically flawless. This is a cozy mystery series set in a small town in the UK, and it absolutely delivers on everything it promises, and then some. It was an exceptional read and, for a while, I refused to believe I was seeing it was self-published. I fruitlessly went searching for the name of the publisher, but this is pure self-published gold
The Angel of Bishopsgate by Eloise Reuben
How is this self-published?! I don’t read much historical fiction as it’s just not my thing, but I was utterly fascinated and enchanted by this novel. Everything about it was incredible, and I still think of it a couple of years later. I checked several times while reading and writing the review for a publisher name, but, no, it’s definitely self-published, but good enough to be in the ranks of traditionally published books.
Someone Else’s Life by Kevin J. Simington
Oh, this one was so much fun and so well-written. The mystery was incredible and the main character just an absolute joy to read. His humor was definitely a lot of fun. I’ve read another book by this author, but have to say I prefer this one more even though the other is a science fiction one that still rattles around in my head. This one was just really well-written and yet another one I spent too much time trying to find the publisher of.
Esperanza by Tommy Tutalo
This book is just so good. It follows the lives of a mother and daughter, Gabriela and Sarita, with an incredibly realistic lens. At times, it was hard to read, but, at other times, just really struck a chord in my heart. This very much felt like a powerful story to me, especially since I probably call people like Gabriela and Sarita neighbors. It’s hard hitting, but also soft and emotional, and truly a beautiful thing to read. To me, this is an absolute self-published gem that shouldn’t be missed.
Kiss of Salt by Smita Bhattacharya
This is the first in a cozy mystery series set in exotic locations. It follows the adventures and misadventures of a young Indian woman, Darya Nandkarni, who stumbles into mysteries and, no matter how hard she tries, ends up having to solve a case. This one takes her to Goa, India, which sounds like an incredible and fun place to visit. I’ve only read the first two books so far, but I adore how atmospheric the books are and how reminiscent they are of Agatha Christie’s novels. These books are so incredible and impeccably written I still can’t believe they weren’t published by one of the Big 5.
What indie books have fooled you?