Forward Reviews magazine, "The Indie Books We Love," showed up in my mailbox the other day causing me to wonder whose list the publisher has bought. This Fall 2014 issue is Volume 17, suggesting the publication has been around for over 15 years but I'd never heard of it.
Although I didn't count the number of reviews, the magazine is what it says it is: 150 reviews of fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, poetry, romance, body/mind/spirit, memoirs, and more. The audience seems to be libraries, bookstores, book clubs, and book lovers. The advertisers are virtually all publishers; the largest by far is Author House and its various brands with 16 full pages. Which makes me think the reviews are trustworthy (or at least not pandering to the advertisers) because I did not spot a review of an Author House book. (Nor, for that matter, did I spot a review for a Createspace book.)
The publishers for the most part are firms I'd never heard of: Annick Press, Kregel Publications, She Writes Press, Publishamerica, Cypress Creek Publishing, Shadown Mountain, Greenleaf Book Group, Thoughtful Publishing Company, Rane Coat Press, Forest Avenue Press, Cavankerry Press, Word Horde, and more and more and much more.
I looked up five or six of the names, trolled through their websites, and felt as if I were exploring a whole new world of publishing about which I had known nothing. These firms are between the big publishing companies and the self-publishing independents. They do not, it seems, offer advances, but they do perform a publishing company's traditional function: editing, copy editing, proof reading, cover design, book design, and some promotion (after all, that's how Forward Reviews learned about their books).
A year's subscription—four issues—is $19.95. If you are a committed bibliophile looking for largely unsung books or an author looking for an independent publisher, Forward Reviews may well be worth the price.
P.S. I was interested enough in one of the books mentioned that I have ordered it and will, in time, be posting about it.