Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Scott. Could you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to become a book reviewer?
Thanks for having me here, Terry. There isn’t a whole lot of interesting stuff about me. I’ve been married for 3 years and have a 2 year old daughter. I live in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio and work as the shipping supervisor for a small company that makes and distributes pet treats and toys. I read a ton as a kid and at some point in middle school just kind of lost interest. When my grandfather passed away my grandma told me to take any of his books that looked interesting.
The first book of his I read was The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy. That drew me in to reading his entire series when I was in eighth grade. In high school a buddy of mine introduced me to DragonLance and I have been a huge fantasy geek ever since.
My interest in doing book reviews started when my wife got me a Kindle for Christmas two years ago. I started a thread on Amazon inviting authors to pitch their books to me and I would pick the ones that got my attention and review them. A couple months into doing that I decided to start a blog and do author featured guest posts and interviews along with reviews in order to help spotlight some of the truly fantastic authors that I discovered.
Sounds interesting enough to me, Scott.
What would you list as the best or most enjoyable thing that comes with being a reviewer and what would you list as the worst or least enjoyable thing that comes with being a reviewer of books?
The most enjoyable thing by far is meeting all the people and reading all the books. I’ve met people all over the world who are brought together by their love of books and found some amazing works. I’d have to say the least enjoyable part is the selfish people. There are a lot of people who ignore review policies and do what they can to circumvent the rules in order to try to get a little publicity. I’ve been very fortunate to not run into any of the truly horrible stories that some reviewers have experienced with unscrupulous authors.
What type of book and/or pitch is most likely to result in a review on Indie Book Blog? Are there certain types of books that you just don’t enjoy and won’t read, based on genre, point of view or something else?
I don’t review erotica, poetry, chick-lit, or romance. If you want the best chance of getting reviewed on my blog just fill out the form properly. I created the form to make things easy on the authors and very easy on me, but there are still a lot of people who don’t fill out the boxes properly.
Also, don’t expect to get a review if you demand the review be done in a certain timeframe. It’s not that uncommon to see people saying they need the review done in two weeks’ time for some event they are doing, but honestly that’s just not realistic. I have a family, full time job, and a huge list of books to read so I’m not going to drop everything to hit an unreasonable deadline.
I started the blog focusing on fantasy/scifi and I still enjoy those genres the most. I have learned that I really enjoy a good mystery, action, and thriller as well. Having a well-written blurb and an eye catching cover also increases the chance for a review from me. Even an entertaining blog will help out. If the link is provided in my form I will check out the authors blog/website to get a feel for writing style and personality to determine how much it fits with what I like to read.
Do you have an audience in mind when you write a review? What three people would you say, “Now that’s AWESOME!” if they stopped by, read, and commented on one of your reviews?
I don’t really keep anyone in mind when I write reviews. Hopefully the people who check my blog out regularly are people who enjoy reading and do it for the entertainment value. Three people that I would make my day to see a comment from…that is a pretty tough question to narrow down. Seeing a comment from Brandon Sanderson would be pretty amazing. Any of the DragonLance authors would be pretty cool as well. Kevin Hearne would be another author I would love to get a comment from. I’m listening to his Iron Druid Chronicles now and I am really enjoying them.
Yes, Scott, the Iron Druid Chronicles are great books to both listen to and read.
About how many requests a month do you get from authors and/or publishers to review a novel or series? How long has that left your ‘to be read’ list?
It’s been a little less than two years since I started using my contact form for review requests and I’m over 900 submissions on that. That doesn’t include the direct contacts that I get from authors/publishers that I have already worked with, so I’d say on average I get about two requests a day.
My TBR list is pretty intense, my Goodreads list has 423 books on it. Those aren’t all books from my blog though. I’ve started a system of getting a mobi file from people whose books sound interesting, but there is no guarantee that it will get reviewed (I try my best though). I like to have a variety available to me so I don’t have to read the same kind of book all the time. If I request a print book it’s almost a guarantee of a review, though I still won’t leave under a 3 star rating.
Considering fantasy and science fiction novels, is there one you’ve enjoyed where the world created is one you think would be neat to live in (compared to others)? And is there a novel that sticks out where you’d say, “No way would I ever want to live there!” (compared to other novels)?
I think one of the coolest worlds to live in would be Lentari from the Bakkian Chronicles by Jeffrey Poole. Everyone who lives there has an innate magical talent and some of them are pretty awesome. The King is also a good ruler who genuinely cares about his subjects and the people have an alliance with dragons and griffins.
I recently listened to the audiobook for Steelheart by Branden Sanderson and that is a world where it seems like it would be terribly unpleasant to live.
For purposes of reviewing, as a reader, do you prefer ebooks or print books, or doesn’t it make a difference to you?
Even though getting a Kindle is what got me interested in the indie book scene and got me started doing reviews, I still really enjoy print books. I tend to go through phases where I will read primarily one or the other when I’m doing my reviews and when traveling a lot or reading at small stretches nothing beats my Kindle for convenience.
What do you hope visitors to your blog come away with?
Ideally people who visit my blog will find a new and interesting book that they wouldn’t have found through the normal channels. Depending on what’s going on they may be able to leave with a free book or some other kind of swag as well.
Sounds good, Scott.
As we’re closing in on the end of this interview, is there anything else you’d like to add or say to the readers?
Thanks for having me on your blog, Terry. Hopefully this interview can provide some solid info for your readers.
You’re welcome, Scott. I definitely think it will provide solid info for readers.
For those interested, here’s the link where you can find The Indie Book Blog:
Link: The Indie Book Blog`