Sci-fi Fantasy Reader’s Certificate of Quality is an assurance that your independent or small press book is released with quality.
The goal of this certificate is to create a standard of quality for small press and indie novels.
This certificate came about when J. Abram Barneck went to self publish and couldn’t find any quality standards for book publishing. As a software developer with fifteen years in an IT background, J. Abram Barneck didn’t feel comfortable publishing without meeting a standard. In the Information Technology field, quality standards are common practice. He talked to authors, editors, read books, and came up with the first draft for a Certificate of Quality in publishing. This standard is in a “request for comments” RFC state. Barneck is well aware that publishing two books does not make him an expert on publishing standards, hence other authors and publishers are needed to comment and discuss this standard. In the technology field, standards take years to become ratified and accepted. They are usually altered and improved during these years, and often completely replaced by a more relevant standard. It is fully expected that this standard will take years to become accepted.
The following items of your novel must reach a level of quality to receive this certificate.
|Story||8 five star reviews. A star rating greater than 3.75 after the first 100 reviews. Must complete this on two separate sites.§ At least one Scifi & Fantasy Reader ⚔ must have read and provided a 4 or 5 star.*
A preliminary certification is provided when all steps are met other than reviews.
|Print Cover||Must be professional. Must fit in with the genre.* Be very high resolution.⚡ Show ISBN/Barcode.|
|Print formatting||Must be professional. Quality chapter headings. Professional front and back matter.*|
|eBook Cover||Must be professional. Must fit in with the genre.* Be very high resolution ⚡.|
|eBook formatting||Must be professional. Quality chapter headings. Professional front and back matter. Links from TOC to chapters. Look good on Kindle Fire and later devices. Look good on iPads. †|
|Error-free formatting||Your book must have fewer than 1 formatting error per 100 pages.‡|
|Editor ♠||Your book must have been edited by a professional editor.|
|Proofreaders ♠||Your book must have been proofread by at least 3 professional proofreaders. Alternately, 3 waves of 3 non-professional proofreaders will be accepted.♦ A software tool, beyond the standard spell checker in the word processor, may substitute for one professional proofreader or one wave of non-professional proofreaders.|
|Typo free||Our readers/reviewers must find fewer than 1 error per 100 pages.‡|
|Errata Page||You must have an errata page where you list typos found since release and allow readers to submit errors. The ebook and print-on-demand files should be updated periodically if errors are reported.|
* These are opinions. But in art, opinion matters.
§ Site can be any of these: Amazon, B&N, GoodReads, iBooks, Google Play Books, Kobo, Smashwords, or other popular book sites. Both sites must have 8 five star reviews. Both sites must have an average star rating above 3.75. This service will not provide you with any star ratings. Five-star reviews should not include immediate family or household members. While you should send enough Advanced Review Copies (ARCs) out to get these before publishing, you can take a chance and publish without these and get the certificate when they come in from readers.
† Only the most popular devices matter for this test. Poor formatting in outdated legacy devices will be ignored.
‡ If we find three errors in the first 100 pages, we will immediately stop processing your novel and inform you that you to resubmit after you perform more proofreading. A resubmit fee will apply.
♠ All editors/proofreaders must sign a form that they either edited and/or proofread your book. Official forms don’t exist, so for now, create your own.
♦ This means you have three professional proofreaders or nine non-professional proofreaders in three groups. You fix all the errors that the first group reports before delivering your novel to the second group. Then the second group of proofreaders gets the corrected copy. You fix all that the errors the second group reports before delivering your novel to the third group. If the third group still found a significant amount of errors, a fourth group may be necessary. (Note: J. Abram Barneck’s first Novel needed a fourth group.)
⚔ A Sci-fi Fantasy Reader is anyone who is: 1. A member/subscriber to this site. 2. Has documentation that they have read 10 or more Sci-fi or Fantasy novels. Sci-fi and fantasy novels are loose terms which include but are not limited to: Sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian, paranormal, or works that cross genres into these could be included.
⚡ Very high resolution means that the image looks crisp and clear. On a physical book, it should not be pixelated. On a larger tablet, the eBook cover should not look pixelated.
You can be automatically disqualified from ever getting this Certificate of Quality you breach ethical practices in any way. These practices include but are not limited to:
- Paying for guarantied 5 Star reviews – This means you pay someone to give you a 5-star review instead of an honest review. Paying for a book tour that comes with honest reviews is acceptable. Paying for honest reviews is a grey area and will be closely scrutinized.
- Exchanging guaranteed 5-star reviews with other authors – This means you and another author give each other 5 Star reviews even if the book is not a 5-star book.
- Creating fake profiles and giving yourself 5-star reviews – If you create a fake account, you have created a sockpuppet. A sockpuppet is an online identity used to deceive others. If you do this, you will be banned from receiving this quality certificate. This is different from a test account. If you have a test account to see how ads or posts look to your followers, that is fine. You can test comments, etc. The second you give yourself a fake review, you’ve crossed a line. Character accounts on social media are not sockpuppets, however, you still shouldn’t use them to give 5-star reviews to yourself.
- Plagiarism – If you are caught plagiarizing, you and your books will be banned.
- Trashing a book to promote your book – If you post a review on another author’s book saying, this book sucks read this one instead (often done using a sockpuppet account) then you will be banned.
For more information, read David Farland’s post on this here: David Farland’s Kick in the Pants—Setting Your Own Standards of Excellence
When in doubt, honest reviews that are not self-promoting are always OK.
The certification process is $49 if you do it yourself and document it. We are working on providing a form you may use but for now, use the table above. If you fail for whatever reason, you must resubmit and the fee is again $49 each time.
To have us do the documentation and verification for you, the costs could be $499 and up. This cost doesn’t include services such as editing or proofreader. It simply includes documenting that editing and proofreading were done, have one more person validating quality and check for errors. It depends on the book size. Contact us. If your book isn’t ready, the order will be canceled. All but $99 will be refunded.
1) Definitions: “Scifi & Fantasy Reader,” “Very High Resolution,” and “Quality chapters headings” are terms that need definition.
2) Grammar: Errors are countable, so there should be “fewer than 1 error per 100 pages” rather than “less than.” It’s a quibble, but since you are trying to set a standard it’s worth being precise.
Likewise, there are some matters you should address in the preface to your standard requirements: First, you wrote “As a software developer with fifteen years in an IT background, quality standards are common practice.” The subordinate clause does not match the rest of this sentence. A better approach would be: “In the Information Technology field, quality standards are common practice. As a software developer with 15 years experience, J. Abram Barneck didn’t feel comfortable publishing without meeting a standard . . . .”
Later in that paragraph you write: “In the technology field, standards take years to become ratified and excepted.” “Excepted” is spelled correctly, but the word you want is “accepted.”
3) Fees: I appreciate the time and effort needed to assess a work for this certification and the resulting need to filter out those who aren’t serious about it, but $499 is too much. I would suggest significantly reducing this fee, at least until the standard is more widely accepted. Small publishers might be willing to cough up $500 to certify, but Indie authors are going to have a hard time parting with that much cash and the Big Five are too large to care. Until this Certificate of Quality has more clout, the entrance fee is going to get in the way of the standard’s acceptance.
J. Abram barneck said:
I agree with everything you put there. I put in fixes from your suggestions.
I had a newer version on a different site where the pricing was different. Thank you for taking time to comment on this standard.
I updated the version.