Fuse #8

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Selling Amazon Reviews

For a mere $600 this guy will review your books on Amazon.com. Though, to be fair, he doesn't take the money himself but has the authors donate the cash to Habitat For Humanity. He's number 3 in Amazon rankings, and some of that is due to children's reviews, apparently.
Writers regularly court Mitchell. He receives up to 40 books a day and hears directly from the author "80% of the time." He says that Jamie Lee Curtis sends him notes when he reviews her children's books..."
And, after all, what children's book writer has more cache than Jamie Lee Curtis? The internet, I've found, makes it hard to show when a person is being sarcastic so I'll just make something clear. My lips are fairly dripping with sarcasm here, people.

In any case, there was a whole article on him in Forbes. The last children's books he reviewed, as far as I can tell, were Jo's Boys and Little Men. The title of his review for the latter was, "Timeless Insights into Educating and Raising Children". Make of that what you will.

Geez, don't I sound all petty talking about a fellow Amazon reviewer? Somebody thwack me soundly upside the head with the modesty stick, please.


At 9:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how he collected money for reviewing books that are over 100 years old, and possibly no longer under copyright.

At 9:49 AM , Blogger Jeremiah McNichols said...

I scanned the reviews you link to looking for a negative one, and came upon this from a two-star review:

Unless you really wanted to know more about how to be a successful madam (including recruiting those suburban soccer moms), there's nothing for you in this book. The story is mostly uninteresting. What does happen moves way too slowly. I felt like I was reading a short story that had been stretched beyond recognition. The ending is unbelievably bad... and unbelievable.

What's interesting about it is that this author (can't say I'm up on mystery/suspense writers), if he is not fabulously well-known, is probably quite content with the review. Embedded in the review's final paragraph, which is clearly an expression of his total disgust over the book, he writes:

For the first time in my reviewing career of looking at Robert B. Parker's books, my advice is to skip this one.

How many readers immediately do a search for the author's other, "better" books? That's worth $600 right there.

At 9:55 AM , Blogger Liz B said...

I'm trying to get my brain around charging to review books; even if the sum goes to a charity. And I cannot imagine authors paying it. Here we are talking small stuff -- do you have to let readers know if you got a free copy of a book to review -- and this guy is saying send the book and a check.


I'd love to turn reviewing into making money; and am interested in how to do that; but not this way.

Does anyone know if he mentions in his reviews he's been paid for that review?

At 10:36 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Won't your friends and family review your book on Amazon for free?!

At 1:49 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

My thought exactly. Still, if your book gets a lot of mixed reviews, you want your rah-rah comments to be permanent. The thing about Amazon is that the more prominently ranked a reviewer is, the more likely that their comments will become "Starred Reviews". Starred Reviews very rarely are removed, and they're the very first thing a potential buyer sees when they look at a book. So if you can get a well-ranked reviewer on your side, you can get some permanent positive comments in your court.

Is it worth $600 to you? Probably not.

At 6:29 PM , Blogger Greg Pincus said...

Let's do some math here. Pretend said author gets a lovely 15% royalty on their book (a high figure, perhaps, but work with me). The book probably retails for 16.95, but for math's sake, I'm going with 20. That means the author gets $3 per book sold. Which means that from a business point of view, you'd need that good review on Amazon.com to sell 200 copies of your book all by its little lonesome. Clearly there's no way to quantify if the review can do that, but that's the math (yeah, there's a tax write-off for the charitible donation, etc., but still and all)

Now, I'd like to think the reviewer is frankly tired of reviewing books but rather than stopping sees a way to raise money for a very worthy charity. It's far, far different than paying the reviewer directly, after all.

At 9:24 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

No argument. And the choice of charity is more than respectable. The question is, instead, who the heck are the authors that are making "use" of this?


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