If you’ve been reviewing books for anything length of time – say, 20 minutes or so – you know that not all “book review” sites are created equal. Some are professional. Others are a joke. Full of unresolved kinks, oopses, ouchies, and amateurs. So how do you tell the difference? What are the worst book review sites on the web?
Based on my experience and what I hear from other quality reviewers, two sites stand out (stand down?) as The Worst: the OnlineBookClub and Reedsy/Discovery.
The OnlineBookClub is hilarious. Cluttered, cramped, and crammed, this site is anything but straight forward or user friendly. (Where’s an eight year old when you need one?) Worse, it majors on the minors. They’re more concerned with arbitrary writing guidelines than coherent reviews. You know. Stuff that really matters ha! – like bolding ratings – instead of actual content. “See Spot. See Spot run. See Spot run fast.” As long as you get the coding right for bolding or italicizing, you’re good to go. (Kimber: Seriously? Who’s Spot? And why should I care? Exactly.)
The OnlineBookClub is allegedly a paying market for book reviewers. Just kidding. It’s more concerned with finding ways to not pay you. See Spot run. See Spot run fa… Well. You get it.
On the Other End
On the other end of the spectrum, Reedsy Discovery isn’t concerned with much of anything.
If the Online Book Club is a joke, then Reedsy Discovery is a punchline. Based in the U.K., Reedsy Discovery bills itself as “a paid platform for self-published and indie authors to connect with book reviewers for exposure.” I’ve been reviewing for Reedsy for some time. But that’s gonna change. It has so many unresolved problems and deficiencies. Here are a few:
No Quality Control
Apparently any “author” who can cough up the fee to list their self-pubbed book on Reedsy can do so. No filter. No screening. No quality control. Poor to illegible formatting? Typos, punctuation and basic usage errors galore? In dire need of a professional edit? A sixth grader could do better? No worries! Reedsy will feature anything as long as you pay.
Misleading Word Counts
This is a recurring problem. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a title, read the summary, the author’s profile and word count on Reedsy, and downloaded the book. Only to find that:
- The summary bears little to no resemblance to the actual story.
- The word count is grossly off. Often to the tune of tens of thousands of words.
Apparently no one at Reedsy ever checks. (Face palm here.)
The Myth of “First Dibs”
Every once in awhile I get a “First Dibs” notice from Reedsy. It typically goes something like:
Author Whoever just submitted their new book, XX XX. Since you seemed to really enjoy their previous work, I thought you wouldn’t want to miss the chance to review their latest release.
If you’re interested, you can pick it up for review here:
A link to the book is included.
To me, First Dibs means exactly that: Hands off until the First Dibs person either responds or passes.
Poopy Poaching Dude
It seems simple enough. Straight-forward. But another Reedsy reviewer didn’t get the memo. Doesn’t care. This guy completely ignores “first dibs.” He swoops in. Snaps up the title before anyone else can respond. Never mind that someone else has “FIRST dibs.” As in, hands off, dude. But Poopy Poaching Dude is looking to score. And does so by stealing from other reviewers. Lame. Unprofessional. A pretty shabby way to treat fellow reviewers. (Kimber: Can I bite him? Mom: Yes!!)
When this practice is brought to Reedsy’s attention repeatedly, they hem and haw. Do nothing.
The practice thus begs the question: If “First Dibs” doesn’t mean anything per the above, then what’s the point? Like:
Me: On Tue, 20 Dec 2022 17:49:52 GMT kikero wrote:
How can this book be “already in review” when I got the “First Dibs” notice barely half an hour ago?
Unfortunately, another reviewer has already picked up this book. We will let you know if the reviewer discards the book, as that’s something that happens sometimes.
Feel free to drop us a message should you have any questions.
Newsflash: Just because someone can do something doesn’t mean they should. With impunity.
Perhaps a 48 hold can be placed on a specific title, allowing the “First Dibs” reviewer time to grab it before someone else does.
Thank you so much for your suggestion! The good news is that we’re already working on this, so you will see this feature implemented soon!
Was there anything else you needed help with?
Really? That was in December. In the meantime, Poopy Poaching Dude has poached several more as of this writing. Despite additional protests. Seriously. Same dude. Same routine.
Was there anything else you needed help with?
Give me a break.
These are a few reasons why the two worst book review sites on the web are the OnlineBookClub and Reedsy Discovery. They almost succeeded in doing something no one else has ever even come close to doing: Get Us to Quit Reading. They’re Exhibit A in why we have our own blog. Our blog. Our rules. Yea, verily. Selah.
What book review sites do you recommend?
January 31, 2023 at 7:24 pm
I have never used Reedsy at all, and now I’m glad I didn’t. I use NetGalley almost exclusively. I get a few a year from Edelweiss too. And I get more than enough books from them to keep me busy.
February 1, 2023 at 12:11 pm
Hear! Hear! 👏👏👏 I came across another “book review” site the other day. “Sorry, we don’t provide ARCs” they said. “You have to BUY the books in order to read and review them.” Can you hear us laughing?