On March 31st, 2013, I posted an entry entitled “Reviews, Truths and Extortion” talking about a first time author getting a message from a reader claiming that the book in question with practically unreadable due to typos and grammatical errors. The reader said that if the author would pay her, the reader would edit the book and rate the book 5 stars. At the time, that was something that was completely new to me. I had never heard anyone attempt to do something like that before. Of course, that same reader picked up my book and after my post, gave it a bad review. Now, I’m not saying that Celine is completely flawless, because I know it’s not. However, the timing of that review put a pin in my stance. I am hearing more and more about this as I grow and talk to more people within our self publishing community, and it’s a real problem. So I decided to make this post for those of you that have had this issue and aren’t sure how to address it, or are on the look out for this type of scam.
1. Know your beta readers
The reader in question had been a beta reader for both Celine and the other book. She was very nice about asking to receive a copy, and we expected honest feed back. There is a problem in the self publishing community when it comes to authors publishing work that could use a couple more looks, and we’re all aware of it. However, neither of us knew the reader. She had been a friend of a friend and typically was very ethical with her reviews. We saw no problem letting her look at our work. Then… that happened.
So, if you’re in the market for beta readers, do some checking around. Heck, if they’ve been unethical at all, there will be a blog post somewhere about it. Keep in mind that I’m not talking about doing any kind of background searches or anything major. That would be crazy. Just a simple search and if you don’t find anything in the first two pages, I would say you’re good to go. I know that this may be too much work, so don’t take this as gospel. I just mean that if this is a real concern of yours, you have the power to educate yourself.
2. Respectfully decline
If you do receive any kind of message, be it from a beta reader, or just a reader that picked up your book from Amazon, B&N, etc. there is no reason to be rude. Getting into a fight with someone over the fact they want money from you for a good review makes you no better than they are. Just keep your chin up, keep that smile on your face, and say “no thank you.” It may be the only time you get a message like that, so why let it get you down? If they continue to message you, just report spam and move on. It really is that simple.
3. Don’t worry about it
Something that a lot of self published authors do is worry too much about the negative reviews. If the reader retaliates with a bad review, just keep in mind that there are people that like your book and didn’t have the problems that the reader claimed to have. And even if they did, they still liked it and that’s a good thing. Worrying about scammers taking that kind of action will drive you up a wall, and you don’t need that.
I know that this was pretty simple, but I had to share it because scammers are out there in forces and you have to be able to keep your head through it. Good luck, you beautiful blogophiles and graphophiles!