Buying Praise

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, 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).


I checked with a friend of mine who had a positive review of a book
of his posted on the website. He said that he had not
paid for the review and it was one that had been cross-posted at by the reviewer. Was my friend lying or can you get a review
at that site without making payment?


I replied:

Your friend is probably telling you the truth. I just looked myself up on 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 When the reviews are posted on Amazon, "" is usually noted as the reviewer. reviews are not taken seriously by anyone because of their reputation of being bought-and-paid-for…and thus worthless.

I quote from the site:

"Get your book listed on!

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 as well as and will be eligible to become a 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 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, 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.

20 thoughts on “Buying Praise”

  1. Scammer of the Month Reponds

    A while back, I criticized as a scam for offering to review books for a fee. Heather Froeschl, associate editor of the service, has responded and thinks I was way out-of-line (I wonder if she’s also a member of

  2. On the subject of Harriet Klausner, exactly who is this person. From what I’ve read around the internet, no one takes her reviews seriously. I mean, she will post thirty or forty reviews on Amazon on the same day. She’s got nearly seventeen thousand reviews listed on Amazon.

  3. I checked out It seemed to me like a very nice site with a lot of reviews, a searchable database and attractive formatting. I would think readers would find it to be a good resource.
    Two of my books happened to be reviewed there. Neither review was bought.

  4. So obviously, a review at is not to be taken seriously as a review…but how about as marketing? Any idea of whether it has any effect on sales? I tend to be dubious about that, but you never know…

  5. I’m not sure a review by Harriet Klausner is much to shout about either. I’m embarrased for a writer when I see a blurb from her on a book. I wonder if she gets paid by

  6. Authors don’t have any control over which reviews show up on their Amazon listings…but, obviously, they have a say in which blurbs are used on their their books. I would never use a Klausner blurb. I cringed when I saw one on the cover of a Kensington title once…

  7. Reader reviews carry no weight at all. The 1’s are slams and the 5’s are friends. Pure vanity country. The authors hate 3 stars too if recent experience is any evidence.

  8. “On the subject of Harriet Klausner, exactly who is this person.”
    Out of curiosity, I Googled her name and found an article posted on
    Apparently, just a speed reader who thinks she has some sort of freakish ability. I started when I was 2, am a speed reader as well, and even I give more thought to what I read than she apparently does.

  9. When I finally get one of my books published, all I can do is hope Harriet steers clear.
    I also think it’s petty to buy good reviews.

  10. I just finished “Oscar Season” by L.A. Times reporter Mary McNamara and went on, curious about what others said about the book. I wasn’t taken much by the mystery of the book, just the details of the Pinnacle hotel and that McNamara is possibly the first writer to pen a Hollywood-based novel that doesn’t feature fictional actors with fake-sounding names, such as Stick Von Oppenheimer, or something to that effect. Names in her book like Michael O’Connor and David Fulbright, placed alongside real Hollywood names, make it seem like they could actually exist in Hollywood.
    Anyway, I scrolled through the reviews and what do I find? One by Harriet Klausner. What she writes aren’t reviews. It’s just a description of the plot for two paragraphs and then a brief opinion at the end. To me, a review interlaces details of a book or a movie with an opinion. Seems to me that she’s only writing these to keep up being “#1” somewhere, as she obviously can’t make it anywhere else.

  11. And I doubt that she ever savors a writer’s work. I speed read too, as mentioned above, but the right writer, such as Elwood Reid, causes me to marvel at how a line is written and spend a few extra seconds mulling it over.

  12. I really don’t understand all the Harriet bashing. She’s simply a person who enjoys reading and then writes reviews on what she’s read. Since when did it becoe a crime to read? Or to write?

  13. That would be fine, JMH, if she actually read the book. She has reviewed books by several friends of mine where she talks about aspects of the book that only existed in the intial catalogue description of the book, most notably in a case where she reviewed an anthology of novellas by a romance author friend of mine and talked glowingly of a novella that was never written. As in, ever.

  14. I don’t believe anyone can read four to six books a day, as Klausner claims she’s doing, and really understand/enjoy them, let alone remember them all.

  15. “That would be fine, JMH, if she actually read the book.”
    She’s reviewed 4 or 5 of my books. Reading her reviews, there was no question in my mind that she actually read the book. The reviews had too many details that weren’t available from anywhere but in the book itself.

  16. Brendan,
    Thank you for pointing that out to me. I had no idea it was there. I’ll ask my web person to delete it and replace it with some of the other positive reviews the book received.


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