Beware of Fake Book Reviews

A couple more reviews for The Beggar’s Opera are out now on Goodreads; so far they’ve been really great, except for the very first rating — a woman who gave it one star. Turns out she’s never read it. She is not one of the ten people who won a free copy on Goodreads, and the book isn’t out until February.  She doesn’t seem to have read or rated anything else on Goodreads for that matter– this rating is the only one she’s ever posted.

I had a similar (nasty) comment on this blog earlier this week from someone who said she’d read The Beggar’s Opera and that I’d never make a writer because I couldn’t get my message across. “Stomache” isn’t even a word, she sputtered. “It’s stomach. Learn to spell.”

Of course I went back to the galley manuscript to see if we’d missed a typo. Nope–“stomach” was spelled correctly throughout. Another fake. And not spam, either. This comment was very personal — addressed to me, named the book by title. But by another person who has never seen the book; her name isn’t on the advance list.

I can remember Sue Pike and the Ladies Killing Circle having the same experience. The very first review of their ebook on Amazon was a one star rating  followed by a long-winded complaint by the reviewer about formatting errors and how the book was impossible to read because of them. Turned out that was all bogus, too.

Now I have no idea why nasty people want to insert themselves into the review/rating process. Does it make them feel good to make someone else feel bad? All that fake ratings do is skew the results, and if that’s the agenda, it’s pretty silly. Eventually, it’s like  spoiled ballots — the majority votes will be the only ones that count.

So just a word of advice to all of you authors out there– take some of the negative reviews that pop up on Goodreads or Amazon with a grain of salt. There are cowards and bullies in cyberspace just as there are on playgrounds everywhere. These ones just happen to target books.


Watch the book trailer for The Beggar’s Opera here!

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16 Responses to Beware of Fake Book Reviews

  1. So true, Peggy. I got a one star that was very similar – it was obvious the person had never read my book. I assume a sociopath is at work; someone who gets a kick out of slinging arrows.


  2. Jim Napier says:

    Hi Peggy,

    Thanks for the heads-up. I’m one of the people who did get an advance copy, and I will be reviewing it soon — and very favourably! Keep heart.


    Jim Napier
    Mystery and Crime Fiction Reviewer, The Sherbrooke Record
    Creator of the prize-winning website,

    “She plunged into a sea of platitudes, and with the powerful breast stroke of a channel swimmer made her confident way toward the white cliffs of the obvious.”
    —W. Somerset Maugham


  3. Lou Allin says:

    You know you’ve made it as an author when someone says, “I threw the book across the room,” and this was because of some ideosyncrasy. If you go to the heavy hitters, the big guy and gal authors, even with 500 reviews, there will be someone who gives it a 1. Read a few, and you’ll start feeling sorry for these millionaire writers. Well, not THAT sorry. Now you know what I do in my spare time. ;-))


  4. Donna Carrick says:

    Thanks for a great article, Peggy!
    I gave it 5 Stars.
    Donna Carrick


  5. Vicki says:

    “There are cowards and bullies in cyberspace just as there are on playgrounds everywhere. These ones just happen to target books.”

    I’m so sorry this has happened to you, Peggy. It happens a lot, especially when you’re successful or high profile. In a few instances, these trolls have been outed. Sadly, they turned out to be other writers or friends/fans of other writers. Check out:–wife-says-SHE-did-it.html

    Wishing you and yours all the best for the festive season.



    • Peggy Blair says:

      Very interesting story, Vicki, and thanks.

      I’ve heard from a few authors who belong to the same small writing community as I do who have experienced similar attacks. Instead of deleting these comments (as I did with the one that showed up here), from now on I’ll post them up and see if we can find out if we have a serial slammer.

      All the best to you for the holiday season as well!

      Cheers, Peggy


  6. It’s a shame people behave like that. I think it’s the same mentality that makes some drivers so nasty–people feel frustrated and powerless, and they lash out when they think they can be anonymous. You’re also “living the dream” of many people, and that can attract jealousy.

    That said, the overall rating for your book is very high, and all the other reviews are very positive. I’d suggest focussing on that and ignoring the spammer (even if it’s hard). Your energy will be much better spent on the kindred spirits who love–and will love–your book.


    • Peggy Blair says:

      Thanks RP. I have a pretty thick skin after all the rejections I got enroute to publication, so I’m not concerned about bad reviews; it’s the bogus ones that offend me. I’m offended in the way I’m offended by the calls to Irwin Cotler’s constituents implying he was going to resign. Interesting how many PMs I got from other Canadian authors who’ve had the same thing happen — one star reviews on Goodreads and Amazon from someone who rates no other books. Very interesting link from my pal Vikki below on the UK author whose book got scathing reviews — which turned out to have been posted by a colleague. Anyway, as always, your kind words are appreciated. All the best for Christmas!


  7. Tony says:

    I was sent a review copy of the ladys killing circle by donna carrick who did the formatting and I quite rightly found zero errors. Theres some real a*holes out there who are just out to hurt people I guess.


  8. Melissa says:

    Dear Peggy,

    This is so true! I left Goodreads because I have found that the moderators do not enforce any kind of reviewer ethics. My experience on the site with bullies was so horrible, I documented on my blog. Sorry, I don’t usually put links to my blog on others’ blogs but I wanted to share this with you:

    If you’re a Goodreads author, beware. There are cowards and bullies like you say and all they want to do is hurt people. It’s crazy.



  9. I have had the same thing happen to me–I have been been called a schizophrenic with a low IQ on Goodreads on a so-called book review of an award winning book. Sales dropped off even though this book is recognized on Girls Voices in Literature Database, is fifth on the AU Pukeke reading list, etc. Now why a middle aged woman was even reading a book meant for teens is beyond me, I complained, but how anyone can consider name-calling a valid review is beyond me. The review is so scathing t not only hurts me, but my entire family as it reaches out to supposed opinions I personally have about an alleged fictional family which the reviewer supposes is my own–and then goes onto rampage about a discussion between two characters the reviewer attributes to me stating the book is a personal diary intended to hurt all the people I know–The book has been honored for the exact opposite reasons–for its positive outlook and portrayal of good qualities in a teen girl—No book is perfect, but what is said by this reviewer is libelous. Goodreads seems to think this is what a review is. Obviously, people who do this, have nothing else to do but try to destroy the lives and dreams of others– Hopefully, everyone will soon see through this and ignore these uncivil human beings.


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