Thursday, June 28, 2012

Guest Blog with Indie Book Reviewer Amanda Speer

Let’s face it: being an indie author has its perks and its pitfalls even in the golden age of digital reading devices.  We have complete creative control over our books and we decide when our deadlines are.  However, the pitfalls can be brutal.  One of the hardest things I’ve discovered during my short career as a writer so far has been finding willing reviewers for my books.  I don’t know if I was in the right place at the right time, or maybe if it has just taken me this long to find them, but several weeks ago I stumbled upon a forum on Goodreads that gave indie authors the opportunity to offer up free ecopies of their books in exchange for honest reviews.  Immediately, I signed up and the response has been very promising.  One of the readers who asked to read and review my newest novel, Faelorehn, is Amanda Speer, a blogger who is new to the world of indie books as well.  Amanda and I have been trading emails for the past week and I invited her to write up a guest post on my blog.  I wanted to know why she decided to read and review indie books, what genres she liked and how indie authors could contact her for a book review of their own.  Well, Amanda has kindly answered some of my questions below.  Enjoy!

-J.E. Johnson

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Interview with Indie Book Reviewer and Blogger Amanda Speer

To start off I’d like to say thank you to Jenna for allowing me to write this blurb as a guest for her blog.
A little about me, I’ve been reading and reviewing books for a while now, I’d say a couple years now, and I just started about a year ago to get my own blog up and running. Initially, I started just reposting my reviews into blogger and left it at that. But I decided that even though I wanted to connect with other readers and share in a conversation about books, I really was not accomplishing that; I also was getting little if any traffic to my blog, which meant no one was reading my reviews there anyways. I branched out a bit and discovered an acquaintance on that had a blog she wrote reviews for in addition to her account. I checked out her blog and was blown away by how amazing her site looked. On a whim I emailed her and asked her how she got started. I had noticed that she was reading and reviewing both mainstream and indie authors. I also asked how she went about contacting the authors in the first place because that seemed pretty intimidating to me. She got back with me quickly giving me the info I needed to get started myself.

First things first she told me to start reading other people’s blogs, leaving comments and before you know it they will be following you as well. I did just that and within a matter of a couple days I had gained a couple followers myself. She also told me to just start contacting authors letting them know I would like to read their novels and review them. So I got brave and started scouring the internet looking for indie authors who were looking for reviewers. I was having little luck until I stumbled upon a couple groups on that connected authors and reviewers. I contacted a few authors within a day of getting my email from my acquaintance and the next thing I knew I had received a few books to read/review AND even gotten a couple more followers on my blog! I was incredibly excited because I was realizing THIS was something I wanted very much to do and I thought I can do it well! I’ve always been a reader so to be able to connect with other readers and actual authors looking for honest reviews was a great thing to discover. I’m finding I can not only feed my addiction for books, but I can help get the reviews out there and help push these indie authors with their sales.

So why did I decide to start reading indie authors in particular? Well I was skeptical and didn’t see having much luck with published authors. I thought this would surely be a difficult process and I thought I may not get much response either with this route. Instead I decided to start reading more along the line of indie authors because I read so many books that are basically the same story but with different characters and some not as well written as others and I thought I was bound to stumble upon something better than what is currently being mass published. I am looking for something different than what the mainstream is saturated with. I’m looking for originality, odd twists and quirky stories! I’m looking for books that can stand alone and don’t always have to be a series. Although some stories can only work really well as a series, sometimes there is just too much story, I do at times like to see an ending and know I’ve read all there is to the story. Sometimes you just need some closure.

To kick off my attempt at becoming a reviewer of indie authors and a blogger, I’ve read and reviewed Jenna Johnson’s novel Faelorehn. I’m very thankful for the opportunity, and honored to be asked to be a guest blogger. I have to shamelessly plug her novel Faelorehn a bit and say I’m so glad I contacted Jenna about her novel after having read her post on I really enjoyed the story and am looking forward to reading more of the series. The thing with this series that really caught my attention is it is not like everything out there that is in the mainstream! Sure there are fairies and the main character Meghan learns she is part of this whole new world she is just discovering. Sure she falls for the boy that is different (and gorgeous) and is going to help her understand her place in this new world. But guess what, this girl is strong and not wishy-washy like some other characters I’ve been reading out there in mainstream.

To keep things rolling in terms of reading and reviewing indie authors I’ve already been in touch with a couple other indie authors. For example LM Stull, author of A Thirty-Something Girl, and Darcy Town, author of Wastes of Space, and I will be reading a novel by each within the next few weeks. After I’ve read and reviewed their novels I hope to interview them as well and add the interviews to my blog.

As to what types of books I read, I read a variety of genres and don’t stick to any one thing. I do tend to read more Young Adult novels than anything else. That I admit freely. I’m not ashamed to read Young Adult novels although some people don’t understand the appeal. I guess because there always seems to be a lot of hope and chances to take risks that you don’t see as often in adult novels. There are also times when chances have been taken and even if there is failure there is still a chance to pick yourself up and start over without completely turning your life upside down. In addition to Young Adult novels, I enjoy Science Fiction, Dystopian novels, Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romances. I really like novels that are in the Young Adult area that contain Science Fiction, are dystopian and have elements of fantasy and romance in them. A conglomeration of all of those elements has me on board no questions asked! Historical fiction is also a favorite for me is because I like to have that little window in one time period and see just what things were like in another era. I love to see the customs, the dress codes, the manners and the speech of a time completely different than the one I live in now.

If any indie authors were looking to contact me about reading a book they think may be in an area of interest to me I welcome them. I can be reached at my blog or via email at

Once again I thank Jenna for being so kind in being the first author I’ve reviewed and interviewed. The experience has been wonderful and I hope to continue helping her get her books out there and to help other authors as well!

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You’re very welcome Amanda!  And thank you for taking the time to answer some of these questions.   Here I was all this time, thinking it was the book review bloggers that were hard to find!  I wish you well in the future and I as always, happy reading ;).

-J.E. Johnson

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