Illegitimate Book Reviewers And How to Spot Them

Authors need book reviews to sell their a course in miracles and of course they want great ones. Authors who learn their craft, do their research, and produce quality, well-written books deserve good endorsements, and by putting in the proper time and effort, such authors usually receive glowing praise from reviewers. But even good books can receive bad reviews-and I don’t mean reviews that say negative things about the book. I’m talking about ones written by people not qualified, no matter how highly esteemed, to write them. Why are they not qualified? Because they do not read the books.

Let’s face it. Books are a business, and reviewers know authors need them. Free reviews are becoming harder and harder to find. Reviewers are now being paid for their services, and they should be; their time is valuable, and reading a book and writing a decent review can take many hours. Authors need to be prepared to pay for the service and to realize it’s a business investment, just like advertising and marketing, where money is invested in hopes it will result in book sales.

But unscrupulous people-let’s call them illegitimate book reviewers-are willing to prey upon authors’ needs. They realize they can make money off an author without providing a legitimate service. Let’s say you make $100 for every book you review, and it takes you eight hours to read a book. That’s $100 a day. But wouldn’t it be nice to make $200 or $400 or $1,200 a day? What if, instead of reading the books, you just skimmed them, or you just regurgitated what the back cover said? Think how many fake ones you could pump out, and how much money you could make, while giving authors what they want. So what if the review is only four sentences? As long as you give it five stars at Amazon, the author will be happy, right? Cha-ching!

Sadly, yes, in many cases, authors have been happy. But mostly they are first-time or self-published authors new to the business who got lucky getting accurate descriptions of their books. I’ve known many such authors rave about how their book was rated by one of these “esteemed” or “top” reviewers, often one close to the top in Amazon’s rankings.

Early on when I started offering book reviews, I realized it was unlikely I would ever be ranked in Amazon’s Top 10, not because my reviews lacked quality or I didn’t cover enough books, but simply because I was not a robot, and I actually read the books. If you look at Amazon’s list of top Amazon reviewers, many of them have reviewed over 5,000 books. If you are a service with several reviewers on staff, that number is understandable, but most of the top ranked are individuals. How can this be? Even if it’s your full time job and you could read a book a day, or even two books a day, that’s only ten a week or about five hundred a year. You’d have to have been reviewing at Amazon for ten years to break 5,000. Okay, I guess that’s possible, but take a look at some of the top ones on Amazon. Some of them have posted on up to fifteen books a day. Yes, some of them are legitimate and write quality write-ups, so I don’t mean to disparage those individuals.

Granted, a few of these people might be speed readers, but the jury is still out on the legitimacy of speed reading. I had a friend who claimed to be a speed reader. I gave her three mystery novels to read that she returned to me the next day. When I asked her whether she had figured out who the murderer was in one book, she couldn’t remember “whodunit.” If you’re reading so fast you can’t retain the basic plot, you’re not really reading the book.

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