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If you’re at all like us, you take a quick peek at book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads before buying a book. Now, of course, reviews aren’t the only factor to consider when choosing a read. There are also covers, blurbs, and sample chapters to consider. But we’d be lying (and you probably would be, too) if you said you weren’t ever influenced by online book reviews. The sad thing is, fake book reviews have become a real thing these days. And we’re not even really talking about the fact that authors can pay for fake reviews and often get their friends and family members to write reviews for them. (Amazon is working on that issue, so we’re not really going to address it here) We’re talking about reviews that were written by trolls who probably haven’t even read the book and are only reviewing it out of some kind of malicious intent. Who are these people who have nothing better to do than savage authors online in the hopes of making themselves feel more important? Well, we’re glad you asked.
The anatomy of the book review troll
There are a few different types of book review troll. The most common are:
You can find book review trolls anywhere, but their favored habitat seems to be Goodreads. Don’t believe me? Look up just about any book you adored on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. For the same book, 9 times out of 10, you’ll find a higher average rating on Amazon and Barnes and Noble than you will on Goodreads. Sometimes the disparity between the different sites is shocking.
How to spot a troll on Goodreads
Now, it’s important to remember that not every reviewer who leaves a negative book review is a troll. Heck, we do it all the time. So, how do you know which reviews are from good, honest folks who have read the book and which are from bridge-dwelling, miserable trolls? Here’s a few tips we’ve unearthed for spotting trolls on Goodreads:
Spotting trolls on Amazon
This one’s a little tougher. But as with Goodreads, check out a reviewer’s average rating. If they hate everything they read and leave ranty-but-totally-vague reviews, they’re probably a troll. And I generally avoid any review that isn’t marked as a verified purchase or labeled as an ARC read, because if they didn’t buy the book, and they weren’t given an advanced reader copy by the author, how the heck were they able to get their hands on it? (Answer: they didn’t, so they didn’t even read it before reviewing. The only time this isn’t true is with books that are in Kindle Unlimited. It’s our understanding that books that are loaned through the KU program don’t come up as verified purchases.)
What do I do?
In closing, trolls can not be reasoned with. Don’t engage with the trolls. (That goes double for authors. In fact, just don’t read your reviews at all, authors. It’s better for your self-esteem that way.) The only sane thing to do when you encounter a troll is to ignore them. Don’t read their reviews, accept their friend requests, or strike up conversations with them.
If you’ve made the mistake of engaging with a troll and unwittingly started a war you’d like to escape, you might want to consider blocking them. (Yes, you can do that! Simply scroll down to the bottom of the troll’s Goodreads profile and click on the “block user” link.)
Good luck, y’all! And happy reading.
(PS: We also think you should consider avoiding reviews from folks who love absolutely everything they read. That’s just unnatural and kind of freaky!! What kind of rainbows are those freaks smokin’? But we digress…)