Monday, December 28, 2009

Vanishing Book Reviews

Just so we're totally clear on this, I ask permission to reprint the email below, so here goes...

Last week, ReaderViews sent out an email to authors whose books they had reviewed. ReaderViews is a book review service in Texas. They sell review packages (and other stuff) or they have a list where you can sign up for free reviews. Basically, they have volunteer (vetted) readers around the country who read books and take the time to write a review. Then RV posts the reviews on several website where reviews are typically posted, including their own website.

The thing I think that adds credibility to their reviews is, if they can't honestly write a good review (they have a second reader take a look too) then they go back to the writer. I don't really know what happens next since it has never happened to me. I don't speak for ReaderViews, so go to their website for more (and better) information. All I know is I've gotten a square deal from them.

Here is the email:
For the past year, Reader Views has been posting reviews on as another source of getting publicity for author's books. However, a disgruntled person has reported Reader Views as being in violation of GoodReads' rules. Following its investigation, GoodReads told Reader Views:

Goodreads is all about reader reviews, not professional reviews.
You are using our site commercially.

We are addressing your breach of Goodreads Terms of Service (, which clearly state: "Subject to the terms and conditions of this agreement, Goodreads grants you permission to use the Service for your personal, non-commercial purposes only."

We feel strongly that the Reader Views profile on Goodreads falls firmly on the "professional reviews" side of the line, which we reserve the right to delete.

In light of this, and upon checking GoodReads site, I noted within a few minutes 10+ other "commercial sites" are posting reviews there. When I informed GoodReads' that Reader Views wasn't the only "commercial" site posting there, it requested I send them the links of the other reviewers that were in violation so it could investigate. It is not my intention to be the gatekeeper for GoodReads, and as reviewers we support each other and are not out to destroy each other. We are here to support the authors so they can in turn increase the sales of their books.

Unfortunately, Reader Views has been targeted and removed from GoodReads. This also means that if we posted a review of your book on its site, the review was removed. I tried to maintain Reader Views' account, and even explained that removing the reviews would be punishing the authors, but that did not seem to concern GoodReads.

I'm sorry I had to write this email to you. I did try my hardest to maintain the reviews on the GoodReads site.

If you are not happy with GoodReads' decision, you have the option to let them know at
Irene [Irene Watson from ReaderViews]

My take on this is:
It is no big deal to me what goes on at Goodreads. I can't spend time everywhere and Goodreads is one of the places I don't go very often. Let's face it, I'm more of a writer than a reader. It does seem odd to me that they would remove some of my reviews. It does seem strange that they wouldn't want all reviews, ya know, that is if they are the "go-to" place for reviews -- that was my understanding of what Goodreads was. More books, more reviews, more traffic? Maybe not???

I guess I just don't get it. We read 'commercial' book and movie reviews in newspapers all the time. Then we make up our own mind anyway. I don't think anyone would be off put when they see reviews and link back to the reviewer to find they were done by a review service. If I'm missing something here, enlighten me.

Goodreads, Amazon, NothingBinding, all of them use OUR books and the reviews of them for 'commercial' purposes. Let's face it, we can always self publish, but where would the industry be without writers? We are being used commercially by just about everyone and we are more than willing because we want readers to notice us and read our stories.

I just don't understand the need to remove the reviews, it isn't like I have lots of resources on the internet for my reviews. Sure I get that it is a rule, I just don't get the need to have the rule -- especially with the new FTC rules.

If you do go to Goodreads often and have an opinion on this, do voice it to them. The link is in the email above.

Just so we're clear here. I paid ReaderViews for reviews of Kathryn's Beach and High Tide. I did NOT pay for the review of Storm Surge, but ask that the same reviewer who did the first two do the third, if possible. I do get the newsletters from Goodreads and ReaderViews -- and about a million other newsletters. Oh and Irene donated several copies of her book to the blog party - as did about 20 other writers (no strings attached either direction, but I did want them autographed). I don't know what any of this means in the big picture of things, but I'm trying to meet the FTC guidelines and be totally clear on all of this.


  1. Great to read your post. hope you continue to reflect on the past year as you go forward with.Do come and visit wellspring when you can.
    Thank you for this final post. It sums up nicely what you've learned, and I pray that God would continue to unfold His heart and plans for your life,So blessed to have been a small part of this journey of faith!I will be meeting you on your other blog.

    dsi r4

  2. Thank you, Holy. Best wishes to you and your family as the new year approaches.

    I'll still be at this blog. Posting five days a week, I can't imagine having two blogs.

    Keep in touch.

  3. Hey, if you want to read the reviews of my books, go to my website, my page, or amazon.

    Links to my website and filedby page are on the blog sidebar, links to me on amazon are on my website. If you find reviews of my books elsewhere, then good for you - you know more than I do about it.

  4. I think I need to read this again...the review business is a bit confusing!!

  5. Peggy, this whole industry is confusing. Things don't work like one would expect, but they have worked this way for a 100 years, or more.

    Books need reviews and chatter, or how else are you going to interest readers in them. However, newspapers wouldn't review indie books (they can only do so many in a day) and the trade off is that it helps sell papers. So review companies sprang up. I've had odd reviews where they say Kathryn is a lawyer (???) and good ones where they get it correct.

    I don't get what the big deal was at Goodreads. Review companies are part of the landscape now days.

    If you get picked up by a big publisher, their marketing dept will take care of this stuff for you, but you will want reviews, like Ivy does, out on the net too.