I thought this past editorial in Reader Views was instructive (RIP, beloved Irene Watson) – as part of the marketing deal, self-published (as well as traditionally-published) authors need to find some reputable reviewers who will, hopefully, give a book a good, thoughtful review. But like with so many things in cyberland, what looks legit to all appearance may be anything but.
Since Amazon is the main go-to place on the internet for books, we focus on that site, though others are similar in their treatment of peer reviews. One thing that’s pretty darn brazen: authors writing their own reviews, sometimes in the guise of adding information about the plot, etc! I’m surprised I didn’t think of that!
Also, look for, in a legitimate review: detailed descriptions of plot and character, and how the reader felt about them – a sure indication he or she read something. Be skeptical of 100% positive or 100% negative reviews, both categories being somewhat unlikely for most books out there, and possibly hiding reviewers with an agenda or an axe to grind. Also, beware of plot summaries disguised as fake book reviews, and check the reviewer’s other reviews, to see how many, their tone, etc.
Irene also has some concrete suggestions of what you can do if you’re an author who’s received a scam review.
Overall takeaway: “Fake reviews do not help anyone except for the con-reviewers (aka shysters and scoundrels) who write them.”
The New York Times did their own story on this issue awhile back, reporting on how Amazon was starting to try and crack down on fake reviews, and the inherent problems in deciding what was fake and what was legit. Still, if you didn’t read the book, that wouldn’t stop you from posting a review. As their spokesman said, “We do not require people to have experienced the product in order to review.”
Most enlightening of all, however, is the book review career of Harriet Klausner, an apparent speed reader with over 25,000 (28,611 when I checked right before posting today) Amazon reviews. I’m not quite sure how she does it, but it’s pretty awesome, depending on how you look at it. A lot of cojones, verdad? What do you think?
If I could read a novel a week, I’d be thrilled.