Interview with EJ RobertsBy Janet
March 23, 2018
Meet EJ Roberts
EJ Roberts is an all-around indie author reviewer! Back in July of 2016 I did something different and handed over the reins to her.
She’s from A Drop of Ink Reviews. So take it away, EJ Roberts!
I am EJ Roberts, the reviewer for A Drop of Ink Reviews. So let’s sit and talk about what all of this entails and how it affects the indie author.
First off, I’ve been reading since I was four. I made my family teach me how to read when I couldn’t get anyone to read to me often enough to keep me happy. And I have been devouring books left and right ever since. I honestly can’t get enough of the written word. Though it wasn’t until about 2009 that I began to have an inkling that such a thing as an “indie author” even existed and could be viewed in a good light.
I used to think I wanted to be a writer.
And I have some skill at putting words together, but the idea of exposing yourself as an author and facing the rejection and judgement of others – that scared me to death. I eventually came to the realization that I could use my skills in writing for something else entirely.
I frequented a writing group on Facebook that featured mainly indie authors. There were a few traditionally published writers in the group, but not many. However, their lament was all the same. They couldn’t get reviews for their books. So, in 2015, A Drop of Ink Reviews was born.
Why Reviews Matter
Reviews are incredibly important to an author, and more so for an indie author than one traditionally published. The reviews tell other potential readers that someone took a chance on this unknown author. The more reviews there are, the more the book gains recognition. Indie authors don’t have advertising and marketing budgets. They have to do all of the work themselves, so each and every review is precious. It’s free marketing and helps propel their book further.
How She Got Started
Until that moment, I’ll admit I’d never written a review. I looked at a lot of review websites out there to see how others were doing them. I then created my own idea and ran with it. Before authors would trust me with their books, I had to essentially audition for the right to read and review them for free. I started with a few books I had on my shelf and off I went. It wasn’t long before I was swamped with requests for reviews.
How to Get a Review
Most indie book reviewers will do this free of charge. The only thing being they are given a free e-book. Each reviewer will have their preferred genre, so it’s always important to pay attention to their submission guidelines. Think of it as trying to get an agent. You have to pay attention to their guidelines or your book will be tossed aside. Personally, I’m quite open about what I’ll review. I do avoid horror, LGBT, non-fiction, poetry, and erotica. I joke that I’m a prude and don’t even want excessive scenes in a book. If they’re important to the storyline, that’s one thing. If they’re thrown in for shock value? Please don’t bother. I’m also fond of Young Adult and Middle Grade books. A lot of reviewers won’t touch those, so it’s important to pay attention.
The Indie View
But how does one go about finding these elusive reviewers? There is an excellent list out there called The Indie View. They sponsor a list of active book reviewers. They also list what genres the author will and will not read so you can eliminate a lot of guesswork. This is not a comprehensive list as indie reviewers must submit themselves. I was on there at one point, but have since been removed. That’s okay though as I have a steady stream of people still interested.
It’s Just an Opinion!
One super important thing to remember about a book review. They are all the opinion of a single person. Once, I posted a 2 star review on my site. I rarely post those, but I was one of the few of hundreds of people who’d read it and gave it a low star rating. I figured the readers of my blog would still be interested and it could bring more readers to the author.
About four people told me they were going to buy the book and read it themselves. That was until the author approached me about removing the review from my site and I made the mistake of doing so. From that moment on, an entire wave of people vowed to never read anything that author ever wrote. While your feelings might be hurt by a review, let it stand. Don’t say a word. You never know when that negative review will actually bring readers to you.
The Joys and Occasional Downsides of Being a Reviewer
Being a book reviewer I’m put in a unique position. I’m handed someone’s pride and joy and they wait anxiously to hear my opinion. I take this position seriously. My greatest joy is when I can put a 4 or 5 star rating on the book and recommend it to everyone I can think of. I have actually come across a few authors that I will buy their books as soon as they’re released because of my review site.
Unfortunately, along with the fun of discovering a great new author comes the pain of having to tell an author their book wasn’t ready for publication. I do not review those. I quietly give the author a review in an email and point out the flaws. Then there are the books I cannot read for whatever reason. That hurts the most. Though I believe there is an audience for everyone, sometimes I’m just not it. I am not in a position to review the book if it wasn’t written for me.
As I continue to review, I am finding I’m growing a small list of pet peeves. I’m fairly lenient because I still dabble in writing on the side and I know I have my own flaws. However, the longer I dwell in the indie book world, the more I’m finding less excuses for what are obvious errors. One being not taking the time to proofread your book. A ton of typos drives me nuts. The author cannot see them. He or she has been looking at the book too long. It requires another person to do it. Have a friend who’s picky as all get out help you. Your other option is to pay someone.
When faced with this decision, keep in mind you are investing in the future of your book. I have had the privilege of watching a book blossom from a new cover and editing services. It went from being dead in the water to netting the author a decent little income. Never underestimate the power of editing and cover art.
One Book, Though ….
In the past year and a half I’ve been reviewing, I have come across a single book where I could get past the fact it wasn’t edited. A single book. I have 77 reviews on my site. I have read over a 100 books. Only one book. Think about that. The storyline was so incredible and amazing I could overlook the typos, and there were a lot. Do not think your book can do that. Do not make that mistake. It takes an incredible author to pull that off and they’re a rare breed.
I love what I do. I love reading new books and sharing my opinion with others. And I love that I can shine a light on unknown indie authors and convince people who’d never think to look at an indie author to give one a try. Indie authors break the rules. Sure, there are a lot out there who will still follow the same worn paths as traditionally published books, but the rule breakers are here. The ones that are carving out the new genres are alive and well in the indie world. I’m glad to be a part of it.