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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Author Targeting Review Scammer

My general worldview is I'd rather be cheated a few times for small amounts than treat everyone with suspicion, but if I KNOW for a fact someone is trying to scam me, I'm going to let the world know about it so they don't do it to others. However, this week I had a red flag interaction.
I'm posting about it because the indie writing community is pretty small and we depend a lot on the kindness of reviewers. That said, some people like to take advantage of authors, and it's best to be informed about potential scams.

This started about a month ago ... I received an email asking me if I'd be willing to give a copy of a book in return for a review. I do this all the time, but this person insisted on a hard copy (not my preference, but I do budget for a certain amount of them in my promotion budget) rather than an ebook. I'd just released a new book and had a few to spare, so I did send the book. I then kind of filed it in the back of my head ...

Today the reviewer sends me an email saying that she's unable to keep up with review demands (then maybe she shouldn't be emailing people requesting copies?) and is starting to charge for reviews ... she's not charging a lot, she says, not as much as Kirkus, only 60 (I don't know how to make the English Pound's sign on this keyboard).

So if Jodie Cook of https://forthenovellovers.wordpress.com/ contacts you asking you for a copy of your book, be warned, she will follow it up with a request for money, but too late for you to cancel the shipping of the book. Please spread the word among the writing community.

It only ended up costing me a paperback ($8 including shipping, roughly), but in their interactions, the person did suggest that I could send them multiple books, which could've ended up costing quite if I'd gone for it.
I chose not to confront this individual because of the potential of a trolling backlash, but at the same time, if she tried to get money out of me (and did get a paperback with potential resell value), she's probably doing this to others. If others are sending her multiple books and she's able to sell them online, she could easily be making a profit and then being able to back out of review commitments because they "didn't pay her" (As I've discussed elsewhere NEVER pay for reviews. That will bite you in the butt).

ETA: Someone asked me how I'm sure this is a scam because while inappropriate to request funds from an author for a review, it's not necessarily criminal.
My reason for believing this to be premeditated is the timeline.
The original contact email was July 25th and we went back and forth for a day or two about whether she'd accept an ebook copy rather than a paperback.
The request for money was tonight (August 11th), so a little over two weeks (in my original post I said "about a month" but I went and checked dates and these are the exact dates). In the request she claimed, that she's been dealing with a backlog of books for over four months and her reasons for switching to paid reviews were (quoting now), "I would like you all to note that this is a final resort for me and I have been trying to power through the backlog of books for months but it has got to the point where it is impacting on my health and this is the only avenue I can take where I can still review."
If she had been dealing with a backlog for "months" to the point where it was becoming a physical burden, then why would she solicit a review copy from an author less than three weeks prior? 

Even if she hadn't premeditated it, it's just deceptive to request an item (that cost money to ship) based on one condition then add a price for the service after the fact. Either way, I'm not asking people to troll or punish this individual. I'm just saying, "Do not do business with her." 


  1. OH my gosh. Yeah, no, what a ripoff. Was it shipped internationally, too?

    1. I used Book Depository. They have free international shipping, so the total expense ended up being around ...$8? I think.

  2. Did her website always have her "I charge to maintain my website, not for reviews" spiel on it? Because that's bunk - it's a free wordpress account.

    1. She also doesn't link to her supposed Goodreads or Amazon accounts, 95% of her blog seems to be reblogs rather than original content...

      I found her reviews on amazon.co.uk & goodreads - apparently reviews don't crosspost so they are not on the main amazon website. If her goodreads account is true, she's only 19 and just joined in January. And she's being extremely careless: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18205489-book-reviewer

    2. When she first contacted me there was nothing about charging at all. I think she's added that in like in the last 24 hours.

  3. She's posted all over goodreads - in every genre group - and started huge discussions about her fees. On her website she says the fee is to maintain the blog, on goodreads she says she's disabled and trying to make a living, in your email she has a different excuse. In one post she says author can donate after the fact if they like the review, in another she says paying the fee will bump a review up the list. I know you're trying to stay uninvolved but as an affected author, you should probably comment or email Amazon and Goodreads.

    Also, I found the thread from only 18 hours ago where she asked a group if it would be a good idea for her to start charging. So perhaps you should confront her - explain 1) if she offered to review for free, she needs to do it for free and 2) even if getting paid for reviews was ok to do, she'd need to do that up front, not after the fact.

    1. Honestly, I'm not getting a very "stable" feel from this person, the more I learn about her, and I wasn't myself taken very very much. At this point, I personally don't want her reviewing my book anyway. The amount of inconsistencies in her story alone is a huge red flag for me.

  4. Heidi, thank you for posting this.

    I am a self-published author and the same thing happened to me. I was contacted about a month ago by this same person and they said they would love a free book or books in exchange for a honest review. I have done this before so I didn't see the harm in sending two of my books. I sent them internationally so it costs me $22.50. After the books were received I got the same e-mail you did asking for money in exchange for a review. I wasn't sure if this was a scam or just a confused young person who went about things the wrong way. Either way I didn't contact them back and decided to just leave the situation alone.

    She contacted me through my authors website and through my Goodreads account. Today I went through my Goodreads messages and I no longer see the messages where she contacted me.

    I'm not sure but maybe she is no longer on Goodreads after they heard what she was doing.

    Once again, thank you for posting this. I appreciate it.

    1. Sorry she got your books too. I've heard from several authors now about this person. I'm really not surprised she ended up banned from GR. The whole thing was an explosion of crazy.

  5. Heidi, I'm sorry she got your book too. You're right the whole thing was crazy.

    Sparks of Ember, thanks for letting us know she was deleted.

  6. Thanks for this post. I Googled her name after a strange interaction with this reviewer, and this confirms my suspicions. Writers BEWARE--Jodie Cook is back on Goodreads as NovelBlogLover https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/58592146-novelbloglover

    She left a one line "message" on Goodreads: "novelbloglover@gmail.com - professional book reviewer" in reply to a review seeker post I'd made. I thought it was kind of an odd way to express interest in reviewing my book, but I sent a PDF anyway.

    Right away, I received the following email back:
    "Hi please fully read review policy using this link below if you haven't already done so. Also would you be open to offering a gratuity as a thank you for the review? This gratuity can be either a cash donation via PayPal or an Amazon giftcard.

    My Site - https://forthenovellovers.wordpress.com/

    Many thanks,

    Jodie Cook"

    Asking for money for a review? A very unprofessional "professional book reviewer" indeed! I will not be replying to her.

    1. You'd think she'd have learned after the first attempt.