There’s been lots of talk about fake reviews in the ebook world in the past few weeks. Here are the eight most common patterns found in scam reviews.
1. No Mention of the Contents
This should throw up an immediate red flag. A reviewer who praises a book without mentioning any specific details about the story has likely never read it.
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous pattern. Best book, fantastic, masterpiece, these are some strong words. They’re weakened when there’s no evidence to support these claims.
3. Intentionally Strange Writing
Joke reviews such as this are usually written by friends of the author who haven’t read the book (or paid for it), yet still want to support it. This one is tied to a five-star review, boosting the book’s rating but not contributing anything of value.
4. It Reads Like Writing
Why is this a bad thing? There are a few likely culprits for reviews which read like stories: the author himself, practicing his writing skills by praising his own work; writer friends of the author; struggling writers leaving reviews as a Fiverr job; and other authors who offer positive review swaps. There can certainly be well-written genuine reviews, but those tend to include details about the story.
5. Praise for Non-Noteworthy Things
This one mentions the embossed cover. We’ve also seen praise for correct formatting, quick delivery, ease of download, pretty covers, and the concept of ebooks in general (“I love being able to read on my phone!”). There are two typical subcategories in this type of fake review: people who have never read or downloaded the book, and people who downloaded the book, but didn’t read it and are searching for something positive to say.
6. Unnecessary Comparisons
We’re reminded of a quote from William Monahan’s Light House: A Trifle:
[I]n an attempt to chivvy the book into cybersales, Mr. Glowery would borrow other people’s e-mail accounts and write in with reviews comparing Mr. Glowery to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Montaigne, Lady Murasaki, Apuleius, Homer, and so forth, managing inevitably to make unfavorable mention of living writers whom Mr. Glowery considered rivals.”
Avoid real-life Mr. Glowerys.
7. Many Words Without Saying Much
This review says the book is great. And it’s reiterating the exact same point in multiple clichés. Over and over, we are told the book is great, but we are not told why.
8. Lack of Other Reviews of the Same Caliber
For some easy Amazon research, click on the reviewer’s name. You’ll be taken to a page with all of his reviews. A single review over a years-long period is a red flag. Another warning sign is inconsistency in reviews. Beware of a reviewer who leaves lengthy positive feedback for one book, yet critiques all other products in one-sentence reviews.