The following comment from Bill Williams was posted in the back-blog discussion a blog entry of mine regarding an iUniverse author who feels that I’ve "pissed on her parade" by slamming vanity presses. Her book was positively reviewed by bookreview.com, which is notorious as a place to go to buy positive customer reviews and have them posted on Amazon (I wrote about them back in 2004).
Your friend is probably telling you the truth. I just looked myself up on Bookreview.com and, lo and behold, found many of my books reviewed there…all by Harriet Klausner.
It seems that Klausner’s reviews are cross-posted there as well as on a dozen other sites and blogs. I suspect your friend was reviewed by her as well.
However, her reviews on Amazon are credited to her, NOT bookreview.com. When the bookreview.com reviews are posted on Amazon, "bookreview.com" is usually noted as the reviewer. Bookreview.com reviews are not taken seriously by anyone because of their reputation of being bought-and-paid-for…and thus worthless.
I quote from the bookreview.com site:
"Get your book listed on BookReview.com!
Our Express Review Service guarantees that your book is placed at the top of the reviewers’ pile. At a cost of $125 per book, this service guarantees that one of our professional reviewers will read and review your book within 15 business days of receiving it. The review will be posted on BookReview.com as well as Amazon.com and will be eligible to become a BookReview.com Book of the Month. Please send bound books only. No .pdf files or unbound manuscripts.
Once the review is completed, you are free to use any part of it in your promotional materials as long as BookReview.com is credited.
Publishers, Publicists and Literary Agents can click here to check out our Bulk Discount Program.
Do I have to purchase an Express Review in order to appear in your database?
No. You can submit your book through our regular review channels. We receive hundreds of books each day and can give attention to only a small fraction of them. Simply submitting your book does not guarantee that it will be read and having your book read by one of our reviewers does not guarantee a review. Only purchasing an Express Review guarantees a review.
They also suggest:
Some hints for new authors:
1. Our reviewers love collecting autographed books. Sign your book before sending it and you’ll have a much better chance of getting read.
2. Please don’t send us a loose manuscript. Convert it to Palm Reader format and send it via email if you haven’t got a bound version. Or take it to a Kinko’s and have them bind it for you.
3. If you’ve submitted your book correctly and you haven’t seen a review posted after a month, feel free to email us. If you still don’t see a review, it is likely that your book didn’t inspire the reviewer who chose it. If you’d like us to pass it on to another reviewer, you can email us the request. Remember, we prefer not to post negative reviews, so if we don’t like it, we probably won’t review it.
4. If you passionately believe in your book, and you are having trouble getting it reviewed, please check out our New Author Listing and Express Review Service. "
What’s interesting is that even though you can buy a review…and in BULK… and get preferential treatment if your book is signed…they still pretend to be objective and unbiased. This is how, in part, they describe themselves collectively in their Amazon reviewer profile:
"[..]We pledge to offer unbiased reviews of books from a variety of publishers on a multitude of subjects and genres. Established in 1996, we also offer Express Review Service and New Author Listings"
Funny, they don’t mention when touting their lack of bias that you can buy a review for $125…but that’s because they don’t see an ethical problem with paying for a review, as they explain in their FAQ:
"Does purchase of an Express Review guarantee a good review?
No. Our reputation was built on honest, straightforward reviews and we will not compromise our integrity by posting false reviews. Please use our Express Review service only if you believe deeply in your work.
Will anyone know I’ve purchased a review?
No. You are paying for the right to go to the top of the review pile. Your review will be as unbiased as any other review on our site, so there is no reason to flag it as a "paid" review."
The writer who emailed me, and criticized my stance on iUniverse, was not reviewed by Klausner…but by Bookreview.com, which would indicate that the review was probably purchased. That said, I suppose there is a slim possibility that the review was not purchased…in which case, I owe her a sincere apology.