Meggan Haller, here. I review independent short stories because I write independent short stories. There’s some worthwhile stuff buried deep in Amazon’s dungeons for people who enjoy short fiction.
I choose stories to review based on personal interest. I read mostly literary fiction, but I also read science fiction, crime, and historical fiction (and anything else that strikes me). I examine the synopsis, page length, cover art, the number and quality of the reviews, and the author’s bio and Amazon Author page. If a story is of interest, I read the beginning with Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature to determine whether the opening and the writer’s style make me want to read more.
I don’t look for anything specific in terms of subject matter, but I really like intriguing or unusual plots, characters, and settings. Because my goal is to find great short stories that don’t seem to be getting any attention, I am not put off if an author has no web presence, no other publishing credentials, or no audience. For these reasons, I don’t review work I read that doesn’t meet my standards. I’m not here to trash writers whose stories no one seems to be reading anyway.
I take my reviews seriously. I usually read a story closely two or more times. I try to analyze the work in the way I’d want my own stories to be examined. Of course, I give only my own opinions and cannot claim they are correct. I judge the stories based on the the quality of the writing, the quality of the plot, and the technical aspects of the e-book. I’m reviewing self-published writers for the most part, and like it or not, producing a clean, error-free, properly formatted e-book is important for anyone asking to be paid for their work. My own reviews will be copyedited to the best of my ability. Typographical, spelling, and grammar mistakes in quotes are the author’s own. It’s not my job to point out errors. I try to reproduce quotes faithfully.
All that said, there are two more criteria I use when selecting stories to review. I only review stories that cost $.99 or less. My own stories cost $.99, and it is a little hard to justify charging more than this for a very short work of fiction by an unknown writer. Also, I only review single stories, not collections.
If this helps either readers or writers, then it’s worth the effort.
Not satisfying enough? Learn more about me here, or better yet, let’s switch places. Read one of my stories, and you can become the reviewer: