Monday, October 31, 2022

Must Authors Play Book Review Games?


Do authors need book reviews? Yes. Should they play the game of faking, paying for, and manipulating reviews? Well…

Consumer product or service reviews are often fake and just seem like bullshit. The industry practices need to be exposed and cracked down on. Yelp, Amazon, and other review platforms do not do enough about this.

However, authors need to navigate a book review cesspool. It can’t be ignored.

Consumers and bookstores currently use book reviews as an indicator of whether to buy a book and news media outlets may use them as a metric to determine if they will interview or feature an author. As a result, you need to play the game.

We all know the book review landscape includes:

* Fake positive reviews
* Opposition negative reviews
* Family-Friends-Intern reviews
* People paid and incentivized to post positive reviews

I have seen studies estimate that 40 percent of amazon reviews are fake. How is that possible? Because so many people do it. And because so many do it, others do it to keep up. They feel they have no choice.

We all may wonder:

* How many people actually bother to read these reviews?
* Do many people weigh them and judge a book by its overall rating and total number of reviews, *rather than read specific reviews?
* Do people, assuming positive ones could be fake, only look to see what the negative ones say, presuming them to be genuine?
* How many people are influenced by what they read?

Regardless of what authors think, everyone seems to emphasize the need for having tons of raving consumer reviews. Literary agents, consumers, book publishers, bookstore buyers, librarians, the news media, book awards, and of course, authors, all judge a book by them, perhaps unfairly.

So what should authors do?

Ask, beg, trade with, pay for, and threaten others to generate dozens of book reviews. Writing a great book is not enough. Having a great campaign to solicit reviews is what matters most.

Sadly, the vast majority of people, even if they genuinely love a book, will not post a review online. Why?

1. No time
2. Too lazy
3. Don’t know how t0
4. They only post elsewhere, such as on social media
5. They verbalize to friends and family, but not online
6. They did not acquire the book from Amazon, thus they lack a verified purchase to be eligible to do so

Those are not just the lame excuses of strangers; friends and family are culprits, too.

So, what is an author to do?

First, open up your checkbook or Venmo account and pay people to review your book. People advertise online that they will get their team of readers to post reviews. Sure, it is unethical. Welcome to the competitive book world.

Second, create visibility for your book with advertising campaigns. The more books you sell, the more chances for reviews.

Third, work your social media. The more connections, and the more posts about your book, the better your chances for purchases and reviews.

Fourth, take on speaking engagements. Encourage people to buy on amazon and to leave reviews.

Fifth, do more news media appearances. More exposure means more sales, which means more reviews.

Sixth, pay for professional book reviews. This increases awareness of your book, which could lead to more sales and customer reviews.

Seven, trade book reviews with other authors. Join writer groups and solicit their help.

Eight, ask your family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and anyone you associate with
to buy your book. Offer to reimburse them. After they buy it, instruct them on how to post a review. Write it for them.

Ninth, find local book clubs. Ask your bookstore if they know of any. Offer to reimburse their purchase and then ask them to write reviews.

Lastly, solicit people who are readers. Go to libraries and bookstores and introduce yourself to people as an author and offer to have them give a review in exchange for you reimbursing their purchase.

By the way, when offering to buy books for people, make sure your price is listed as low, like 99 cents for the e-book or $2.99 for the print. This way, you are not out too much money when reimbursing people.

There you have it. Read this playbook and act on it. I feel bad to have to support such a plan, but the book industry has corrupted itself and if you are to be judged by fake standards, be prepared to play the game.

Please Contact Me For Book PR Help

Brian Feinblum, the founder of this award-winning blog, can be reached at He is available to help authors promote their story, sell their book, and grow their brand. He has over 30 years of experience in successfully helping thousands of authors in all genres.


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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2022. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.2 million pageviews. With 4,400+ posts over the past decade, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Susan RoAne, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, IBPA, Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, NewsdayThe Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:

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