Being a science-fiction author, or rather being an author, I am no stranger to random requests of people on my Instagram inbox. What do they want? A paid review of my book. Sometimes, a bunch of reviews. All in good faith! Like most authors, I was amazed at what they projected and I also learnt what receivables would be delivered at the end of the day. There are pros and cons. However, the cons outweigh the pros by a significant margin.
Let us start with the positive aspects. Once you are an author, you expect the book to reach out to more readers. The higher the number of reviews, the more chances someone might pick up your book. Secondly, reviewers are an initial stepping stone to an author’s success. This is it. Turns out, the pros exhaust here itself. To know how and why, we must also look at the cons of having a reviewer. Now I know what an average author or reviewer would be thinking. One added review above three stars should definitely be a pro. It does not work that way, especially in social media sites like Instagram and Amazon, especially in a day and age where posts and reviews get needlessly eliminated. I have myself lost around fifteen reviews because they were unoriginal.
The first blunder committed by the reviewer is having an echo-chamber. Using the same hashtags, liking and saving the same fellow reviewer’s photos (or reviews), the algorithm delivers them the same kind of news again and again. Hence, instead of your book being viewed by prospective readers, your book is now being viewed by prospective reviewers. As a result, you see your inbox exploding with reviewer requests, all baying for the book. To solve this, a reviewer must use a mixture of hashtags which cater to both the reviewers, authors and the non-reading audience. It might look odd but it works. If possible, you may provide them the accurate hashtags as well.
Another error is copy and pasting the blurb of the novel. The person who is about to buy the book would eventually come to know about your book hence, this is a needless exercise. There would be more chances Amazon deletes a reviewer’s review. If possible, they must convey about the blurb in their own words and then use some basic self-questionnaire. For example, describing their favourite characters and the reason, why did they like the story, their choicest moments in the story without giving away too many spoilers and so on. It does not matter if the review is short. When the review is original, it raises the least suspicions and is more likely to not get deleted.
Having zero imagery would be the third mistake. In hardly any reviews, you would find an input from the reviewer i.e. the reviewer has probably skimmed through your novel instead of reading it. Although the onus is on the author to create an interesting plot, reviewers are sometimes burdened with heaps of books. A reviewer may strive to read a point which interests him or her, and their opinion on the point. For example, the author may have written about silent cities and flights but no roads or certain population. This may describe the will of the narrator in the book to fly away or escape from somewhere.
In conclusion, reviewers need to be invested while reading and reviewing a book. A dispassionate skim through the pages while understanding the basics will only get them so far. There are certain points, especially these four, which they need to look at since a humane touch to the review always helps, rather than a mechanized read in a shorter time.