Red flags and analysis.
I’ve been blogging on my main website, Psychology Corner, for about 14 years, give or take a few months.
Over this time, publishing houses such as Cambridge University Press, St. Martin’s, and Hachette Book Group (HBG), and several independent authors invited me to review their books on my blog, which I gladly did most of the time.
I never pitched a review, I never participated in online groups focused on book reviews, and never worked as an independent reviewer on platforms such as the one that I am going to talk about in this post.
But I suppose there are beginner writers out there and new bloggers who would consider book reviews as a potential source of income, and websites such as OnlineBookClub pop-up on those atrocious lists compiling online platforms where one could potentially make a buck if they are willing to sell their time and soul for it.
The promise is simple. OnlineBookClub.Org — I refuse to give them a backlink — presents itself as a platform that matches book publishers and authors with reviewers. The publishers get honest feedback and some social proof for their books, reviewers are supposed to get paid for their work. “Payments usually range from $5-$60, but can occasionally be more”, says the website.
But is it all that straightforward and simple?
Let’s take a look.
It’s a long guideline thingie, so I’ll skip to the good part(s).
RED FLAG 1
One can only read the guidelines and specific terms of the collaboration once they create an account. It should all be in the Terms and Conditions segment but maybe I’m asking for too much.
They’re exploiting those who would be interested in becoming reviewers from the first moment they arrive on the platform.
OnlineBookClub gets users, page views, and many won’t even delete their account if they decide not to apply, so the website will be able to use that artificially inflated number of reviewers to sell their services to publishing houses and authors. Easy, eh?
RED FLAG 2
They treat reviewers as if they’re proofreaders as well.
One is supposed to announce if there is a single instance of profanity in the book, if there is any sexual or religious content, and — this is the worst — “ you must take notes with page or location numbers of any and all typos, spelling, or grammar errors you notice, up to ten errors”.
You don’t say now… the reviewer needs to make a list of typos and grammar errors and all that stuff… Plus read the book, and write the review…all for $5? Jerks…
RED FLAG 3
An idiotic, highly subjective, Reviewer Score system.
Among the stupid things that count toward someone’s score:
- Participation in Book of the Month. Which may be a crappy book or a book in a genre you’re simply not interested in.
- Editorial Analysis Score. They say the average score is 58%… Only recent reviews count toward this thing, and they’re not valued equally.
- Popularity of reviews. They count views, replies, shares on social media. They want you to promote their books as well.
RED FLAG 4
You may go through all that crap — trust me, it’s a hell of a long process, not worth it to talk about it here in full —, and the editors may reject your work.
Now, you may say that it’s fair, if your work is not good enough, they can reject it. Sure, but here, although their editors will provide feedback regarding the reason for rejection, the reviewer won’t be able to modify or rewrite that piece.
So, you may give them a review and they may reject it… then re-edit and publish it under another name. And the reviewer gets 0 pay, a bad score, and loses all that time on a — highly likely from what I saw — very, very crappy book.
RED FLAG 5
The worst one of all…
I’ll let OnlineBookClub explain it in their own amazing editors’ words:
“If payments sent to the PayPal email address do not go through because either (1) you give us the wrong PayPal email, (2) you fail to claim the funds through PayPal, (3) you somehow lose access to your PayPal account or are unable to create one, or (4) you otherwise have issues between you and PayPal, then the funds will not be re-sent.”
Say what now? You owe money to these people who worked for you and who made money for your platform — if it weren’t for them you wouldn’t be able to scam publishers and authors out of review fees, and have the audacity to say that a reviewer’s typo or temporary PayPal account issue will cause them to lose the right to their payment??? I’m not even sure that’s legal…
Why would anyone want to work with/for you?
BONUS RED FLAG
Reviewers are required to review the first book for free. I mean, they make people work with no pay from the very beginning. They say this is how they ensure the work is aligned to their “standards” or whatever but writers could provide samples of their work and not have to work for free for a sketchy website.
OnlineBookClub.Org is a multi-level scam in my opinion.
You can see the results of collaborations involving this amazing platform — that allegedly gathered 2 million users in 15 years— all over the internet, where people explain how they rarely get paid, if at all, and how long they have to wait for their money, if the miracle happens and they’re on a payment list.
It’s platforms like this one that contribute to the bad reputation of online collaborations and work.
You can check it out for yourself but I’d say one should rather stay away from traps like this one.
Thank for reading.
Have a safe, rewarding, free-from-scammers writing career!
This article was originally published on an external platform on January 16, 2022.