How do you spot a fake review?

Mouse trap

Don’t get caught by a fake review

Have you ever been ‘persuaded’ to buy a book on the back of its good reviews? If so, you may have fallen prey to the effects of one or more fake reviews which had been placed at the bequest of the author, their publisher or their fans.

But, how can you spot a fake review? There are four main indicators that you may (repeat ‘MAY’) be looking at a phoney review.

1. Date

This is the biggest clue. For most authors, reviews come in dribs and drabs. If someone’s bought a batch of reviews, they’ll appear within a few days of each other – usually around the time of the book’s launch (for added implausibility). Not only that, they’ll all be glowing and uncritical.

2. Similarity

Fake reviews are often ‘spun’. This means that a review is rewritten a number of times with the main words replaced (thesaurus-style). This allows a reviewer with multiple user names to upload as many reviews.

3. Vagueness

If you’re writing a review, even if you’ve no experience of doing one, you’re going to praise or carp about at least one specific aspect of the book. Someone who’s writing a fake review won’t have had time to read it so their review will be woolly and ‘general’ – 3 to 4 sentences which could easily have been written about any title.

4. Plot summary

Does the review sound more like the back cover? If so, it may well be that it’s the author behind it. This type of review is the exact opposite of the last one but put the two together and you still won’t have a genuine review!

Like I said, just because a review seems to fall into one of the above categories, it doesn’t make it a fake but it should set off alarm bells in your head. There’s no law against being sceptical or suspicious – those words are just euphemisms for commonsense.