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Authors' Forum => Writers' Cafe => Topic started by: StephenBrennan on December 20, 2017, 12:50:11 PM

Title: Red Headed Book Lover (MERGED)
Post by: StephenBrennan on December 20, 2017, 12:50:11 PM
I invested in a book-related service recently, and the result is somewhat dubious to me. Don't want to publicly deride it yet, but I do want some savvy second opinions. PM me if you're curious, and have discretion.



Edited to alter thread title. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)
Title: Re: Need Someone To Look At A Suspicious Website And Privately Tell Me Their Opinion
Post by: she-la-ti-da on December 22, 2017, 03:11:04 AM
Did you research it to see if there's already a thread on the forums (easier to do a web search with name and add kboards to the terms)? If not, you probably should have. Folks here are pretty savvy about companies providing "services" to authors, and a little time looking around might save you money and wasted effort in the future.

Hopefully someone will PM you and advise on the question. If you've gotten into something not so great, it would be nice to share your experience -- according to Forum Decorum -- so others may avoid issues.
Title: Re: Need Someone To Look At A Suspicious Website And Privately Tell Me Their Opinion
Post by: StephenBrennan on December 22, 2017, 07:57:33 AM
Did you research it to see if there's already a thread on the forums (easier to do a web search with name and add kboards to the terms)? If not, you probably should have. Folks here are pretty savvy about companies providing "services" to authors, and a little time looking around might save you money and wasted effort in the future.

Hopefully someone will PM you and advise on the question. If you've gotten into something not so great, it would be nice to share your experience -- according to Forum Decorum -- so others may avoid issues.

I did search the forum, though not with Google. I did a broader internet search looking for any bad mention of this service, but I didn't find one. Someone pm'd to help me out the other day, my suspicions were confirmed.

As for discussing it publicly, I noted at least one other forum member who used the same service, so I don't feel it's my place to tear them down. My advice to anyone reading this is to ignore any and all email solicitations, even if their site looks legitimate, even if you can't find any dirt on them. Whatever they're offering you, you can get it somewhere else.
Title: Re: Need Someone To Look At A Suspicious Website And Privately Tell Me Their Opinion
Post by: ImaWriter on December 22, 2017, 08:14:17 AM
I did search the forum, though not with Google. I did a broader internet search looking for any bad mention of this service, but I didn't find one. Someone pm'd to help me out the other day, my suspicions were confirmed.

As for discussing it publicly, I noted at least one other forum member who used the same service, so I don't feel it's my place to tear them down. My advice to anyone reading this is to ignore any and all email solicitations, even if their site looks legitimate, even if you can't find any dirt on them. Whatever they're offering you, you can get it somewhere else.

How would you be tearing someone down by saying YOU had a bad experience with X? The experiences are independent of each other, and what you would be doing is providing others with another data point that could help in their decision making process. 

Telling people to ignore all emails is not the answer, because we often do get legit solicitations. What everyone really needs to do is some due diligence. You adding your experience aids them in doing that.
Title: Re: Need Someone To Look At A Suspicious Website And Privately Tell Me Their Opinion
Post by: StephenBrennan on December 22, 2017, 08:47:18 AM
How would you be tearing someone down by saying YOU had a bad experience with X? The experiences are independent of each other, and what you would be doing is providing others with another data point that could help in their decision making process. 

Telling people to ignore all emails is not the answer, because we often do get legit solicitations. What everyone really needs to do is some due diligence. You adding your experience aids them in doing that.

*Sigh* Fine. If only because somebody else will wind up doing it eventually. The culprit is "Red Headed Book Lover Blog". On the surface it really did look legitimate, so when she offered to review my book for a fee, and I couldn't find any negative comments anywhere online, I decided to chance it.

To be clear, the expectation was not "pay a fee, get a positive review". She claimed to have already read the Amazon preview and liked what she saw, and I have confidence in the quality of my work, so I anticipated that whatever she came up with would be reasonably positive.

The person was highly communicative and enthusiastic, so I didn't have much cause for suspicion. Unfortunately, when she finally posted the review, it was painfully obvious that she never read the damned book  >:( It was a few paragraphs of gushing compliments and shallow tidbits of information easily obtained from the Amazon page. Also, my dashboard didn't register any sales during the period when she would have downloaded it.

In all honesty, somebody who didn't know my book might be fooled. I could probably dangle that review in front of some people and get a few sales out of it. But it would be a scam, and I'd know it. So I consider the whole thing unusable.

Anyway, the Kboard member who pm'd me thought to Google search the whole blog, and found that the blogger re-uses the same lines over and over in different reviews. So basically anybody who paid for one probably got taken, and hence the reason I wasn't eager to be the bearer of bad news. Sorry for any hurt feelings this may cause.
Title: Re: Need Someone To Look At A Suspicious Website And Privately Tell Me Their Opinion
Post by: ImaWriter on December 22, 2017, 09:08:11 AM
*Sigh* Fine. If only because somebody else will wind up doing it eventually.

I could actually hear that begrudging sigh.   :D

Thanks for sharing. I'm sure it will be helpful to others. One thing, though. I strongly recommend  you remove the link. Just strip out the http://. No point in giving them some Google juice by linking to them.
Title: Re: Need Someone To Look At A Suspicious Website And Privately Tell Me Their Opinion
Post by: StephenBrennan on December 22, 2017, 09:17:06 AM
I could actually hear that begrudging sigh.   :D

Thanks for sharing. I'm sure it will be helpful to others. One thing, though. I strongly recommend  you remove the link. Just strip out the http://. No point in giving them some Google juice by linking to them.

Good point. Done.
Title: Ever been contacted by the Redheaded Book Lover? Writer Beware posted about it
Post by: Moe D on December 30, 2017, 11:43:26 AM
Writer Beware posted something on Facebook and I wonder who else has been contacted by her? She contacted me months ago but I already had heard about her from my writer friends. Her M.O. Is always the same. She loves your unnamed book and would love to review it. If you bite, she suddenly remember she charges you $75 (or whatever she feels like that day).

She's also a prolific reviewer! Sometimes dozens of books a day!

The story is always the same. Just my opinion, but stay away.

Title: Re: Ever been contacted by the Redheaded Book Lover?
Post by: Moe D on December 30, 2017, 12:00:49 PM
[Glad] I named her blog.

My PSA for the day.



Edited. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)
Title: Re: Need Someone To Look At A Suspicious Website And Privately Tell Me Their Opinion
Post by: Talia Vines on December 30, 2017, 12:43:31 PM
Hey, thanks for the deets, StephenBrennan.  As a newbie, I really appreciate heads up on specific scams as well as getting a general sense of what kind of things to be wary about.  Thank you!
Title: Re: Need Someone To Look At A Suspicious Website And Privately Tell Me Their Opinion
Post by: she-la-ti-da on December 30, 2017, 12:45:30 PM
Quote
My advice to anyone reading this is to ignore any and all email solicitations, even if their site looks legitimate, even if you can't find any dirt on them.

Yeah, I never have anything to do with sites that contact me. I don't think I've seen a single one that was legit, or if legit, was of any use.

The thing is, if someone is having a bad experience with a site, it helps no one to keep it secret. If they don't answer emails, or don't provide the service, or don't meet their promises, or in some other way are not a good service provider, it's okay to ask about it. You don't blast them as a scam, or whatever, but you can explain what's happening and ask for opinions publicly.
Title: Re: Redheaded Book Lover (MERGED)
Post by: Becca Mills on December 30, 2017, 01:05:32 PM
I've combined two threads here. Sorry for any confusion.



ETA: I did a site-specific Google search for the blog in question and didn't find any older threads. The way you do that sort of thing, BTW, is to go to Google and type in site:www.kboards.com Red Headed Book Lover, or whatever it is you want to search for. The forum software's native search function isn't the greatest, unfortunately.
Title: Re: Need Someone To Look At A Suspicious Website And Privately Tell Me Their Opinion
Post by: ImaWriter on December 30, 2017, 02:03:31 PM
Yeah, I never have anything to do with sites that contact me. I don't think I've seen a single one that was legit, or if legit, was of any use.

When I wrote the above, I was thinking specifically about those who have had emails from Podium. I would imagine they'd have been pretty upset with themselves if they had just rejected the offer out of hand, without doing any due diligence. So yes, for the most part, solicitation emails can be ignored, but...   :)
Title: Re: Red Headed Book Lover (MERGED)
Post by: Gareth K Pengelly on December 30, 2017, 02:57:59 PM
I also had an email from her not too long ago. I remember the email was something along the lines of 'I read the preview and the cover intrigued me and I'd love to review your book.'

Then when I replied, she came out with 'oh, I've been so busy being a housewife/mum/general day-to-day stuff that I forgot to mention I charge $75 per review.'

Needless to say, alarm bells started ringing.
Title: Re: Red Headed Book Lover (MERGED)
Post by: RTW on January 01, 2018, 10:04:16 AM
I got this just yesterday, wrote back to her, and she replied with something along the lines of "you didn't mention the fee, so I guess you don't realize I charge $75."  I felt pretty had, since I'd been so pleased that someone was soliciting me for a review for a change and that alone had brightened up my morning. Nevertheless, I wrote back and said no thanks.

It's often difficult to find reviews of specific services. For example, is Happy Book Reviews legit? I've found it impossible to figure out if it's (a) okay by Amazon and (b) worth it to use their services. I've got a list of several other places as well, including SPR (Self-Publishing Review)  that I can't find out anything about other than their own website. And I'm a pretty good Internet researcher. These sites remain in my Questionable Services tab.

Stephen--I'm sorry you took the bait, but I can understand why you did. And thank you so much for posting, because I think that people are kind of hesitant to post experiences like these on kboards since the responses can be a bit tough. Tough enough to be writing, launching a hoped-for career, spending money on covers, etc., getting crappy reviews, few sales, etc., without also being pounced on by fellow authors. I'm not referring to anyone in this thread or anyone in particular.
Title: Re: Red Headed Book Lover (MERGED)
Post by: Becca Mills on January 01, 2018, 11:49:49 AM
I got this just yesterday, wrote back to her, and she replied with something along the lines of "you didn't mention the fee, so I guess you don't realize I charge $75."  I felt pretty had, since I'd been so pleased that someone was soliciting me for a review for a change and that alone had brightened up my morning. Nevertheless, I wrote back and said no thanks.

It's often difficult to find reviews of specific services. For example, is Happy Book Reviews legit? I've found it impossible to figure out if it's (a) okay by Amazon and (b) worth it to use their services. I've got a list of several other places as well, including SPR (Self-Publishing Review)  that I can't find out anything about other than their own website. And I'm a pretty good Internet researcher. These sites remain in my Questionable Services tab.

Stephen--I'm sorry you took the bait, but I can understand why you did. And thank you so much for posting, because I think that people are kind of hesitant to post experiences like these on kboards since the responses can be a bit tough. Tough enough to be writing, launching a hoped-for career, spending money on covers, etc., getting crappy reviews, few sales, etc., without also being pounced on by fellow authors. I'm not referring to anyone in this thread or anyone in particular.

You can always begin threads asking for people's experiences with particular services, RTW. Yes, you might get folks telling you they think paying for editorial reviews is a waste of money -- that's their view, and they want to warn other authors away from what they see as a mistake. But if constructive disagreement edges over into anything resembling be "pounced on" or badgered, or if the thread seems to be turning into an argument over the larger issue, please use the report to moderator link at the bottom of the relevant post to let us know. That should not happen.

I've never heard of Happy Book Reviews, but SPR is a member here and has a listing in our Yellow Pages (https://www.kboards.com/yp/index.php/?p_search=self-publishing+review&action=search&p_page=). Looks like they haven't dropped by in more than a year, though. I don't have experience with either of these reviewers, but some other members might.
Title: Re: Red Headed Book Lover (MERGED)
Post by: RTW on January 01, 2018, 01:28:53 PM
Thanks, Becca.

I'm pretty hesitant to ask about anything like this here on kboards. Only the very bravest author would admit to using a paid-for service of this kind since apparently one is just supposed to have the reviews appear "organically" and have created a mailing list of hundreds of subscribers by some unknown-to-me method!
Title: Re: Red Headed Book Lover (MERGED)
Post by: Becca Mills on January 01, 2018, 02:08:13 PM
Thanks, Becca.

I'm pretty hesitant to ask about anything like this here on kboards. Only the very bravest author would admit to using a paid-for service of this kind since apparently one is just supposed to have the reviews appear "organically" and have created a mailing list of hundreds of subscribers by some unknown-to-me method!

Well, some people do feel strongly that paying for editorial reviews is a waste of money that would be better spent elsewhere. But it's not against the rules. Organic reviews are going to be customer reviews, and any paid reviews would be editorial reviews, so they're different beasts, and both are allowed. You can see the debates about this stuff if you look for threads on Kirkus, which is the most recognized of the paid review services. Here's a recent one: https://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=234056.0 Most posters in that thread think it's not worth it, but a couple are more positive.
Title: Re: Need Someone To Look At A Suspicious Website And Privately Tell Me Their Opinion
Post by: Pacman on January 01, 2018, 06:25:14 PM
*Sigh* Fine. If only because somebody else will wind up doing it eventually. The culprit is "Red Headed Book Lover Blog". On the surface it really did look legitimate, so when she offered to review my book for a fee, and I couldn't find any negative comments anywhere online, I decided to chance it.

To be clear, the expectation was not "pay a fee, get a positive review". She claimed to have already read the Amazon preview and liked what she saw, and I have confidence in the quality of my work, so I anticipated that whatever she came up with would be reasonably positive.

The person was highly communicative and enthusiastic, so I didn't have much cause for suspicion. Unfortunately, when she finally posted the review, it was painfully obvious that she never read the damned book  >:( It was a few paragraphs of gushing compliments and shallow tidbits of information easily obtained from the Amazon page. Also, my dashboard didn't register any sales during the period when she would have downloaded it.

In all honesty, somebody who didn't know my book might be fooled. I could probably dangle that review in front of some people and get a few sales out of it. But it would be a scam, and I'd know it. So I consider the whole thing unusable.

Anyway, the Kboard member who pm'd me thought to Google search the whole blog, and found that the blogger re-uses the same lines over and over in different reviews. So basically anybody who paid for one probably got taken, and hence the reason I wasn't eager to be the bearer of bad news. Sorry for any hurt feelings this may cause.

that's a "ditto" from my experience.
Title: Re: Red Headed Book Lover (MERGED)
Post by: StephenBrennan on January 02, 2018, 11:29:38 AM
I got this just yesterday, wrote back to her, and she replied with something along the lines of "you didn't mention the fee, so I guess you don't realize I charge $75."  I felt pretty had, since I'd been so pleased that someone was soliciting me for a review for a change and that alone had brightened up my morning. Nevertheless, I wrote back and said no thanks.

It's often difficult to find reviews of specific services. For example, is Happy Book Reviews legit? I've found it impossible to figure out if it's (a) okay by Amazon and (b) worth it to use their services. I've got a list of several other places as well, including SPR (Self-Publishing Review)  that I can't find out anything about other than their own website. And I'm a pretty good Internet researcher. These sites remain in my Questionable Services tab.

Stephen--I'm sorry you took the bait, but I can understand why you did. And thank you so much for posting, because I think that people are kind of hesitant to post experiences like these on kboards since the responses can be a bit tough. Tough enough to be writing, launching a hoped-for career, spending money on covers, etc., getting crappy reviews, few sales, etc., without also being pounced on by fellow authors. I'm not referring to anyone in this thread or anyone in particular.

Thanks. Yeah, getting exposure by traditional methods isn't easy. The internet is saturated with people looking for the very same thing, and many are more than willing to use black hat methods to get it. If redheadedblookloverblog had been real then I would have considered it a bargain when compared with Kirkus reviews, and something worthy of trying.

Alas, when something looks too good to be true, there's usually a hand in your back pocket.
Title: Re: Red Headed Book Lover (MERGED)
Post by: StephenBrennan on January 02, 2018, 11:33:11 AM
that's a "ditto" from my experience.

Sorry to hear that. Hopefully it spurs some ideas for your next strategy.
Title: Re: Red Headed Book Lover (MERGED)
Post by: Escapee on January 22, 2018, 02:23:22 PM
Just received an email from this person as well. She didn't want to 'bombard me with information about her service' in the email (by telling me she charges $75 or whatever her fees are) and directed me to check out her website ::) After having a good laugh that she thinks I'm going to click on any links to an unknown website, I deleted the message.
Title: Re: Red Headed Book Lover (MERGED)
Post by: Kay7979 on March 14, 2018, 06:01:14 AM
She’s been busy. I just got the email too!
Title: Re: Red Headed Book Lover (MERGED)
Post by: LilyBLily on March 14, 2018, 06:25:43 AM
I got the email yesterday. Since doing a KU free run and using a Fiverr person (recommended here) to post free news about the freebie to 40 websites/groups, etc., I have received several dubious solicitations. I was already on several sucker lists, and now I'm on more. Another questionable benefit of doing a free run.
Title: Re: Red Headed Book Lover (MERGED)
Post by: kathrynoh on March 14, 2018, 10:47:18 AM
Thanks. Yeah, getting exposure by traditional methods isn't easy. The internet is saturated with people looking for the very same thing, and many are more than willing to use black hat methods to get it. If redheadedblookloverblog had been real then I would have considered it a bargain when compared with Kirkus reviews, and something worthy of trying.

Alas, when something looks too good to be true, there's usually a hand in your back pocket.

For around that price, you could use a blog tour company to set up a review tour which would not just get you more than one review but would build relationships with honest bloggers. You could also use a review service like Hidden Gems. I think she's counting on new writers not knowing about these alternatives.
Title: Re: Red Headed Book Lover (MERGED)
Post by: Blerg et al. on March 15, 2018, 07:46:34 AM
I've gotten a number of emails from this person through my contact form. Getting kind of annoying.
Title: Re: Red Headed Book Lover (MERGED)
Post by: Doctor Barbara on March 26, 2018, 10:22:57 AM
This is very helpful that you all posted this and that I just found this thread.

So.....sure enough, said individual emailed me yesterday through my website. She promises great things, although the results she promises I already have without her!

As they say....buyer beware. She's got a nice little work-at-home scam going on there and I'm not going to be one of her fall guys.

Thanks again!
Title: Re: Red Headed Book Lover (MERGED)
Post by: Christa_Tomlinson on March 26, 2018, 07:56:38 PM
She's also making her way through the m/m romance crowd. I received the form email from her this weekend and I know several other m/m authors who have as well. I reported it as spam.