Please tell us a little about yourself, Scott.
By day I oversee the shipping of dog treats and toys for smallish company and by night and on the weekends I do the family thing. When I have spare time I read and have been running a book review blog for about 2 1/2 years now.
On average how many books do you read a month? What genres do you enjoy?
Lately I haven’t had as much time to read as I would like, but in general I’d say 8-10 books a month. My first love will always be fantasy though I have branched out a lot more in the past couple years and will give anything other than romance and erotica a look.
Where do you tend to review? (links etc.)
I post my reviews on my blog indiebookblogger.blogspot.com as well as Goodreads, Amazon, Amazon UK, Shelfari, and B&N. I also host a book club on Goodreads that features indie books for discussion at http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/53792-indie-book-club.
Why do you review – for other readers, for author feedback, for yourself?
I started reviewing when I got a kindle and learned about the indie book community. It began as a way to help out some struggling authors and became a past time that I really enjoy.
What are your opinions on authors commenting on a review – negative and positive?
I don’t have any issues with an author saying thank you for a review in a public forum. I don’t think an author should ever confront a reviewer in a public place. Venting on their own blog is fine, but I feel attacking the reviewer on the actual review or on the reviewer’s blog does everyone a disservice. Most reviewers do it for the love of reading and why would anyone who seeks to make a living off of people who love reading alienate them.
What are your opinions on “sockpuppetry” after the scandals of well-known authors leaving bad reviews for competitors?
I think everyone has a right to their own opinion and if an author truly does not enjoy a competitor’s book they have the right to leave a review. When people start creating extra accounts and getting their friends to bash a book with multiple accounts it strikes me as childish. I’ve seen it happen before where the negative reviews had no trace of relevance to the book, comparing it to Harry Potter because it had a bad guy in it. I also think that even a negative review can be presented in a constructive manner and there is never a reason to make personal remarks in a review.
What are your opinions on a well-written review? What should it contain and how do you feel about personal comments listed in reviews.
My personal review style opens with a short summary of the book and I follow it with some rambling thoughts on the book. I try to hit some major things I look for like flow, character development, plot development, scenery, etc. As I said earlier I feel that a negative comment should be phrased in a constructive manner. Since I am not a huge fan of romantic elements I will often be turned off by a book that contains a major romantic story arc. If this is going to affect my review I am sure to mention that it’s my opinion on romantic story arcs that took away from the story for me and not a flaw in the book.
I guess the issue of personal comments kind of depends. I think that if you are getting free books or are reviewing the book of a family member or neighbor you should mention something about it. There is however no need to throw insults into book reviews. They have nothing to do with the book and aren’t going to help a reader make up their mind for good or bad.
Do you find yourself being suspicious of a book with only 4 and 5 star reviews?
If a book has only 5 star reviews I’ll look into it a little bit more. If most of them are people who only have a single review I’ll chalk it up to a friends and family kind of thing and ignore them all. 4 stars aren’t as suspicious to me as I give a lot of 4 star reviews myself. I will say that if a book has more than 20 or 30 reviews and no one has had a negative thing to say I will get a bit suspicious of that. I’m also a big fan of reading the negative reviews of a book. Often they give more insight into a book (I also check to see the review history of people who leave 1 star reviews) because it’s not uncommon to find people who only give 1 and 2 star reviews to a certain genre.
Do the reviews of others influence your choices? What attracts you to read a book?
While I read other people’s reviews I’m not sure that they really have too much influence on me. If I’m looking at a book hard enough to be reading reviews I’ll probably check it out.
When I am looking at what books to review and which ones to skip on (I get a fair number of requests per month) I’ll be honest and say the cover reveals a lot. I also look at what format the books are available in. I give print books a little bit closer of a look. I do also read the blurb for every book that is submitted to me and if they have appeal I’ll often check out the author’s blog to see their writing style in that aspect.
Do you deal with reviewing Indie books differently to how you review a mainstream book?
I really don’t review mainstream books. In all honesty I have probably only read two or three non-indie books in the past couple of years.