Pink Fire Pointer December 2013

The Illegitimate Book Reviewers And How to Spot Them
Authors need book reviews to sell their books, 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. Worse, some of these write-ups have nothing to say that an author can even use. I've seen some that are only three or four sentences of plot summary without anything that states the book is "good, excellent, engaging, or not to be missed." An author can't get a blurb for a back cover if a review only summarizes but does not rate the book's quality. Still worse, many of what authors hope will be useful endorsements for their books end up, because the books weren't read but text was quickly reworded from the back cover, with characters' names misspelled, factual errors about the plot, and sometimes even mistakes about the theme, content, and whole point of the book-all dead giveaways a book was never read. Sometimes the plot summaries then only result in confusion, and if a reader is confused, he's not going to buy a book or waste his time reading it. Some authors might not care about such details. If the review is good, it's good enough to sell books, right? But if it's misleading, readers are not going to be happy when the books they buy do not reflect what is said about them. Hopefully, when readers have those experiences, they'll know better than to trust those reviewers again. Sadly, as long as money is involved, illegitimate reviewers won't be going away any time soon. But as an author who is payin

Steps on Becoming a Book Reviewer
So you want to be a book reviewer. You love to read books and you think you can make some extra money by writing book reviews, or maybe you're an author who is a bit frustrated that you can't get reviews so you decide to start reviewing books yourself, or you think by writing reviews, you might get people interested in reading your books. Those are all great reasons to become a book reviewer, but how do you go about it, and what standards or guidelines do you need to follow? Book Reviewer Qualifications In this Internet age, anyone can be a book reviewer, but some basic qualifications are needed to become established as a reputable and reliable one. You don't need a Ph.D. in English, you don't have to be an expert in anything, and you don't have to be an author. But you do need to have a good command of the English language and be able to express yourself well. You also want to have a professional attitude, be fair, and be thoughtful about how you express your opinion, not only reacting based upon your own preferences but also considering the book's intended audience and what you think the majority opinion may be toward the book. In short, being balanced yet honest are key qualities for a successful book reviewer. Getting Started People get started reviewing books in numerous ways. Many authors begin by swapping books and writing reviews for each other as a way of mutually supporting their fellow authors. You might want to begin by writing reviews and posting them at Amazon or Barnes & Noble's websites, or any of the reader/book lover sites such as LibraryThing. You might even decide to set up your own blog or website where you can post your book reviews. Today, many bloggers are their own independent book reviewers. If you don't want to run your own blog, you might connect with bloggers to be their guest book reviewer. Don't overlook the possibilities of reviewing online or in print-potential homes for your book reviews are endless. If you really want to learn the ropes of book reviewing, you may want to start out by writing reviews for an established book review service or publication. While print publications are phasing out book reviews, many magazines and newspapers still carry reviews. Some of these publications have an established book reviewer or book review team while others solicit reviews. Send a query to the publication and ask whether it would be interested in a review of a specific book, or whether you can write reviews for them-many of them receive books in the mail that they might be willing to send you. Online review services, including Reader Views, Review the Book, and Feathered Quill Reviews also have book review teams. Many of these services are set up so readers can choose the books they want to review. Some of these services offer monetary compensation for reviewing books while others offer only a copy of the book to be reviewed as compensation. In either case, it's a great way to get started earning your book reviewer credentials. Finding Your Niche as a Reviewer At first, you might want to review any book you can to earn your credentials and become known as a book reviewer, but over time, you might decide you want to become an expert reviewer for certain types of books, such as romance novels or self-help. Several reviewers/bloggers exist who focus solely on one type of book. If you are already an author, you may want to review books similar to yours, whether they are mysteries, thrillers, or cookbooks. If you have certain credentials, such as being an archeologist, a history professor, or a licensed psychologist, you may want to focus on reviewing books in those fields. If you're a stay-at-home mom, you may want to review children's books or parenting books. And by all means, don't forget the self-published authors. Yes, you might like to read John Grisham's novels, but he probably doesn't need your book reviews to boost sales, so consider writing a review for a self-published author who just wrote his first thriller and is trying to get exposure. That way, you will both be doing each other a favor, promoting the book together through your review. Self-published authors can be extremely grateful for your help and then refer their friends to you so you can quickly build your credentials and clientele. Reviewing for Money When you start out being a reviewer, you probably want to review some books for free just to get your name out there and build up your credentials. You might offer your services to the members of an authors association and give a special low price for a review. Many authors are not going to pay $50, much less $600 for a book review (yes, there are reviewers who charge $600), but they might be willing to give you a copy of their book and $25. As you become known and increase your credentials, you can always charge more. Don't be embarrassed about charging to write reviews. You

Book Marketing - 3 Tips For an Online Book Review
Book marketing used to require live book tours, where authors visited bookstores all over the country, making speeches and reading from their books. These tours were supplemented by book reviews in newspapers and magazines. Reviewers in those print media would receive complimentary review copies, often in pre-publication form as Advance Reading Copies (ARCs). Today fewer publishers are willing to pay for live book tours and few authors enjoy the hassles of 21st century air travel followed by impersonal hotel rooms. These days more and more authors and publishers are turning to online reviews, especially reviews published in the Amazon online community. Amazon has become so critical to book sales that publishers now send ARCs to ordinary people who are the most prolific and effective online reviewers. Authors allocate a hefty portion of their publishing budget to getting online book reviews. Yet many authors hold inaccurate beliefs about what they need to get an online book review. The steps are actually quite simple and easy to follow. First, there is no need to pay anyone to write a review for your book. You will be wasting money and you will most likely not get a quality review. A better idea: Use your book review budget to buy extra review copies and send them to the reviewers who seem most suited to review books in your field. If your book is a how-to manual for training an adopted dog, look for reviewers who seem to like books about dogs. Some will even mention the breed of their dog in their reviews and/or online bios. Second, offer reviewers a complete hard copy of your book. A hard copy doesn't mean a hard back book; most reviewers will work with paperbacks. However, reviewers often resist reading pdf copies online and they most likely will balk at the idea of printing their own copy of a 250-page book at their expense. With the increasing popularity of readers, these preferences may change. Always ask before sending a pdf file and be prepared to offer a print copy. Third, after someone agrees to review your book, simply send the book. You do not need to send promotional material. Editors of print book review sections and managers of book stores will be concerned with the book's publicity plans. Most online reviewers are ordinary people who just want a good book. Do not write to the reviewer asking, "Where is my review?" Reviewers tend to have stacks of books on their coffee tables, all awaiting review. They may choose not to review a book if they realize they would have to write a negative review, especially if the book appears self-published or from a very small press. While it's nice to get a thank you note after a review, this step is not at all necessary. Even more important, do not complain about your review. A few negative or neutral reviews might actually help your book. Readers realize you didn't get all your friends to write puff pieces.