Reviewing Reviews by GIselle Marks

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Because of some of these fraudulent ploys, review sites are making it harder for people to post reviews about other writers. Genuine reviewers are finding it more difficult to post their reviews. Requirements like “You must actually buy the book from this site before we allow you to post a review,” may avoid some of the scammers, but make it much harder for new Indie writers to get any reviews posted at all.

Next I found an article offering a reviewing service that would produce excellent reviews from good authors, at a cost, to the writer on his or her latest epic.  In some ways this is a more disgusting prospect than the sock puppet reviews.  That was just an author or group of authors trying to big up their own books and drag down those of their competitors.  This is an openly advertised commercial venture with more vanity in it than Vanity publishing. While I might feel sorry for any impoverished authors prepared to write favourable reviews for cold hard cash. I personally could not justify taking money for a good review of a bad book.

Then I noticed an article telling you how to harass Amazon’s top reviewers and try to persuade them to review your book.  This very business orientated article explained how to get the best reviewers to write their eulogies of your prose. I could imagine that as a result of this advice, some generous reviewers might be besieged by writers wanting them to review their work. I hope they are not so swamped they no longer are prepared to consider writing reviews of new books.

Another article on how to get reviews suggested the traditional assumption that family and friends would add hundreds of glowing 5* reviews for your new literary masterpiece. Could it really be that easy?  But to write a good review on a book you need first to read and enjoy it.  Family members are often the last to appreciate their family writer’s talents. One article suggested other ways to locate reviewers, not this time pin-pointing Amazon’s top reviewers. It then made a suggestion I actually approved of. 

“Thank your reviewers for their efforts in posting a review for you.”

Now I am a novelist who has been writing for a number of years and my first novel “The Fencing Master’s Daughter” went out in late September and I was lucky enough to get a number of writers and bloggers to review my book and they were sweet enough to write nice things about it.

Now my second book, another Regency Romance “The Marquis’s Mistake” is supposed to be coming out in November, so I sought a few people to give me extra reviews, for what I honestly believe is a pretty good book.  It is at least a book that I would enjoy reading and if written by another, I’d review it fairly positively.

None of the articles I found on line mentioned the phenomenon of writing sites offering to match up writers to review each other’s books. I had a couple of offers to review my first book from other writers and I reviewed a few pieces for other writers.  But I was asked to review a piece by a writer from a non English speaking country and the prose was so bad that I apologized and backed off from reviewing the book.

Now I posted again on a number of sites and one lady came back to me and I agreed to read her book. She seemed a lovely lady and I was happy to become friends with her.  Then I read her book and realised that I could not post a review for her. In some ways it was relatively well written, the spelling, punctuation and grammar were correct although more suited to a YA book than the post apocalyptic fantasy with very explicit sex scenes that I was reading.

I was not offended by the sex scenes, merely bored by them, as I was by the very predictable plot and unappealing characters. The most stars I could give the book were 2 ½ and any review I wrote would not help promote the book’s sales.  I felt disappointed because I wanted to help the writer, but all I could think was to suggest she found a decent beta reader, before publishing any further of her epics. What is worse is I fear she’ll fail to understand my criticisms and feel I am being unduly harsh.  I am not so unkind as to actually post such a review.

But I’ve wasted a night of my time, reading a bad book with no prospect of getting a decent review in return, because I’m not prepared to lie and say it inspired or kept me riveted. So has anybody got any honest suggestions how to get reasonable reviews for a fairly well written book?