Back in the twentieth century, a course in miracles were generally reviewed for free in print publications. Today, the majority of reviews are online and many authors find they need to pay at least a small fee for them. Because the Internet makes it possible for anyone to set up a website or blog and offer book reviews, authors should be a bit wary about to whom they submit their books, whether or not they are paying. Below are a few guidelines for determining whether such services are really qualified or legitimate. Remember that these are only guidelines and while one service may be a good fit for one book, it may not work so well for another.
1. Find out who are the service’s team members. In some cases, the service may just be one person. In other cases, you might be contracting with a company that has a team of associates. Check the service’s “About Us” web page to see whether there actually is a team and whether the names are disclosed. If names are not disclosed, be leery. You’re better off having John Smith from Good Books Service read your book than just Good Books Service, and chances are that if names are not revealed, no one is actually reading the books.
2. Check to see where the reviews are posted.Look on the service’s website to see whether they post there. Also check other websites where the company says it will post. If the sites aren’t disclosed, chances are they are not posting anywhere else. If the company promises to post to 100 sites, ask for a list of the sites so you can double check for old postings to those sites. Sending an article to another site and actually having it posted are two different things. In addition, the company’s own website should include links to examples it has posted to other sites.
3. Check the service’s past reviews.Be sure to look at multiple examples, and preferably ones for books you may have read, to determine whether it looks like the book has been read or whether the service is merely regurgitating the back cover’s text-you can look at the book’s back cover yourself at online book stores to compare the back covers against the reviews. Even if there is an additional line saying how wonderful the book is, that doesn’t mean the book was read. Details about character plots or other items not obvious from the book cover are needed to verify the book was actually read. Also check to see whether there is an actual name attached and not just the company name; if there isn’t, it’s probably a regurgitation.
4. Check whether books are receiving only 5-star ratings.All 5-star ratings are a good sign the books are not read, or the writers are simply being paid to please the authors. If some books do have lower ratings, what are the reasons? Do they mention that the books have grammatical or typographical errors, or plot issues? Or are they nitpicking and unfairly slamming the books? You want to make sure your book is read and also judged fairly. To find out if a review is legitimate, compare it against others for the same book. A 5-star rating on one site might mean the book was not read if another service gives 2-stars due to editing issues, but a 5-star rating by one person who really liked the book compared to a 2-star by another who simply did not care for the book’s topic may reflect just a difference in readers’ opinions, making both legitimate.
5. Double-check additional services offered to determine their legitimacy or value. Many sites will offer additional services, such as written, radio, and TV interviews. If these services are offered and you are interested, ask for links to the interviews. Listen to the interviews and decide whether the interviewer sounds knowledgeable or interested in the books and authors to determine whether an interview is worth the price of the service for you.