This post could also be titled, Why It’s Important to Check a Reviewer’s Profile Before Clicking the Buy Now Button.
So, it’s that time of year again…the time for all the aspiring authors to go out and purchase their appropriate Writer’s Market title which has all the goods on the people who might one day publish their work. That means it’s time to head over to Amazon.com (or your favorite online seller) to see what the guinea pigs who pre-ordered the books have to say about it before you shell out the cash.
And that’s exactly what I was doing when I came across an interesting trend: A flurry of 5-star reviews. One in particular made me lift an eyebrow and wonder, did she even read the book? A little bit of digging later, I’ve come to realize she was a shill.
(Update: After being called out in one of her reviews about her shill-iness, looks like Ms. Donahoe deleted all her reviews. Thank goodness I took a screen shot.)
It’s possible that Ms. Donahoe spent over a hundred dollars purchasing each copy of the Writer’s Market books she reviewed, but something tells me she hasn’t. Maybe it’s the fact that she’s reviewed the Writer’s Market basic and deluxe editions–the exact same books, except one comes with an online subscription–plus every review was posted on the same day (today) with the exact same title and pretty much the exact same review (weighing in at less than a hundred words) with only slight variations.
And hers aren’t the only ones I’ve found, either. A few of the individual books have reviews published from people who’d never reviewed a single item prior…plus they weren’t listed as Amazon Verified Purchases and the reviews read like adverts. I know that people don’t always purchase directly from Amazon the items they review and I know that people have to start somewhere and that people like to gush when they love something, but coupled with the Donahoe flood above, I have to take those particular reviews with a giant grain of salt.
If this was, indeed, a ploy by Writer’s Digest (publisher of the Writer’s Market books) to game the system, then shame on them. I mean, really? It’s not like the books won’t sell (granted, for the past couple of years, the quality has been declining and the reviews have shown it, but still…).
I’ll just finish up with a public service announcement for anyone else thinking about purchasing a Writer’s Market book: before you assume that review is legit, check out the reviewer’s profile and review history…it also doesn’t hurt if the reviewer has the verified purchase tag.