How Honest is your Review?

I don’t especially like writing reviews. They are tricky. I don’t like to be negative or critical, it makes me feel petty. But, a review needs honesty – otherwise it isn’t worth much at all.
Amazon’s lawyers are willing to go after anyone making money from writing reviews, no matter how small that “business” may be. In earlier lawsuits, Amazon targeted businesses that were selling packages of dozens or even hundreds of fake reviews. Fiverr is a site where people offer to do small jobs for $5 or more (hence the site’s name). Judging by the nature of the accused Fiverr ads, these mini-Internet scams are about as small-time as they come.
“Unfortunately, a very small minority of sellers and manufacturers tries to gain unfair competitive advantage for their products,” write Amazon lawyers. “One such method is creating false, misleading, and inauthentic customer reviews. While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers… place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon’s brand.”
“Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate,” the complaint concludes.

Write a fake, glowing review for something. Pick something in front of you right now: coffee mug, pen, batteries, skin cream, computer mouse, vitamins, etc.

How Honest is your Review?

I don’t especially like writing reviews. They are tricky. I don’t like to be negative or critical, it makes me feel petty. But, a review needs honesty – otherwise it isn’t worth much at all.

Amazon’s lawyers are willing to go after anyone making money from writing reviews, no matter how small that “business” may be. In earlier lawsuits, Amazon targeted businesses that were selling packages of dozens or even hundreds of fake reviews. Fiverr is a site where people offer to do small jobs for $5 or more (hence the site’s name). Judging by the nature of the accused Fiverr ads, these mini-Internet scams are about as small-time as they come.

“Unfortunately, a very small minority of sellers and manufacturers tries to gain unfair competitive advantage for their products,” write Amazon lawyers. “One such method is creating false, misleading, and inauthentic customer reviews. While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers… place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon’s brand.”

“Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate,” the complaint concludes.

Source: Amazon sues 1,114 reviewers, some selling their opinions for $5 | Ars Technica

Write a fake, glowing review for something. Pick something in front of you right now: coffee mug, pen, batteries, skin cream, computer mouse, vitamins, etc.

Start a Personal Book Buying Ban

I have more books than I can read. I may have more books than I can read in my lifetime. I’ve done the math: amount of pages I can read in a day divided by the approximate amount of pages I have on my bookshelves. At the time I assumed 100 pages a day. I was 20-something and my life was different then. Now, depending on the book I’m reading and how obligated I feel to finish it or how much I actually like reading it… I may read 20 pages a day.

I’ve been better at limiting the fiction books. I finish them and take them to the secondhand bookstore. There, I can trade several books for one new (unread by me) book. This works well as long as I keep taking books in and don’t buy too many new fiction books at the big, shiny bookstores. Of course, the fresh, unread by anyone, books from the bookstores are tempting. Not only are they newly published but I can give myself the excuse of reading with a latte at the bookstore.

Non-fiction books are another story. I buy more than I need. Always thinking I will read and study them and use what I have learned. Good intentions. But, I end up with a lot of books I’d like to read sitting on my bookshelves. I have to work at not buying more non-fiction.

One thing I have learned is to know what I already have. Including which edition. I really get annoyed with myself when I find I have bought the same book twice.

4. The TBR is your friend. Treat your TBR like a pop up bookstore. Don’t agonize, just pick one. But here’s the trick: if you don’t like it, move on quickly to the next book until you find one that scratches your new book itch. The problem with the TBR is that it can feel like a chore, whereas a new book is thrilling. So don’t force yourself to stick with something if it isn’t working. Keep plowing through until you hit on one that you can’t put down.

3. Review your shelves and donate books you no longer need. This sounds counterintuitive, but it reduces the TBR and provides a visceral reminder of how much privilege is implied by the idea of having to work hard not to buy something that many people consider a luxury, in comparison to medicine, food, or rent.

2. Reorganize your book shelves. Maybe according to date, or color, or some other funky scheme. Or at least dust them. I guarantee you’ll have a new appreciation for what you already own. And it might pique your interest in a forgotten, unread purchase, or send you down several miles of memory lanes with old favorites.

Source: 10 Painless Ways to Stick to Your Book Buying Ban

The Canadian Book Challenge

9th Canadian Book Challenge Logo flag

The Canadian Book Challenge is an annual online reading challenge in which participants from Canada and around the world aim to read and review 13 or more Canadian books in a one year span: Canada Day to Canada Day. Reviews must be posted online and participants are asked to share links to their reviews with other participants. More on reviews below.(It’s also a lot of fun and collectively we’ve read and reviewed thousands of Canadian titles! Actually, the whole books, not just the titles.)

Source: The Book Mine Set: The 9th Canadian Book Challenge

For those who aren’t Canadian, do you read books by regional authors? When did you last try someone local?

Canada Press is looking for Foodies

Found on Craiglist (Toronto). No pay for the work, but if you ever wanted to be a restaurant reviewer this would be start or a chance to try it out.

Canada Press is looking for Foodies to review restaurants (Toronto)

The Canada Press “Best of Toronto” awards are being compiled for a spring review of all the top restaurants in each respective cuisine category in Toronto.
Eat at Over 100+ of Toronto’s finest restaurants free of charge, and meet some of Toronto’s executive chefs.

Canadapress.org Food & Drink section is seeking people who:

– Are passionate about food.
– Well articulated and friendly.
– Wine + Beer knowledge a big plus.
– Live downtown or can get downtown with ease.
– Skilled writing required.
– Ability to interview owners/chefs a must.
We will have to issue you a press pass and get you the necessary documentation to record scores on food, service, atmosphere, etc.
Location: Toronto

Create a Compelling Title for a Christmas Story

The contest deadline is today (as I’m writing this) so by the time I post it the deadline will be past. Still, good to try coming up with a great title. Exercise your writing brain.

To win any of the great prizes, simply review the Christmas story summary below and then create a compelling title that would make any potential reader sit up and take notice.

Linzie is 13 years old and lost her parents in a car accident  a few months previously. She was taken in by family members- the estranged sister of her mother but life feels empty. As Christmas approaches, it takes a very special event to make Linzie appreciate that Christmas can still be a very special time of year.

via Create a Compelling Title – The Writer.

Could you Sell Your Old Books?

I have a lot of books, too many books really. It’s so hard to resist an interesting book. I find them with the new books and I like the way they smell. I find vintage, retro and just plain old books at the thrift store and the second hand book stores (one of my favourite places).

I’ve begun trying to limit buying books. I really need to because I’ve got a hoard of books, more than I have storage space for really. So, I’m sorting my books and trying to part with some – even some that I would love to read but have to be practical and realize I will (in reality) never have enough time to myself to read all these books.

People who don’t love or hoard books don’t understand the love of books. My family are not book people. They read them and forget them. Some of them seldom read anything more than the occasional street sign or grocery flyer. But, I love the non-fiction books. I want to find out more about everything. As a kid I wanted to know about everything and I wondered how long it would take me to learn it all. I estimated I’d be in my thirties by the time I was done. As a kid, that seems old but, as a kid, the world seems much smaller too. In reality, as an adult, the more I learn the more I know I have yet to learn.

So then what…? I’m taking a look into selling my books. I bought them in the first place, who better than myself to know the advantages of owning such a great and interesting book?

My Friend (Deanna) Has Written about Selling Books Online and Kindly Gave me the Interview Below

An Interview with an Experienced Book Seller

Before we begin, please introduce yourself and give us a summary with your experience as a book reviewer and seller.

I’ve been reviewing books online for over a decade, and as a result, have review copies filling my mail box weekly. (Please note, there are precautions to selling review copies; not everyone knows or respects the rules!) I’ve been selling books as well as antiques and collectibles online since 1997, I believe it was… That includes buying, and then selling, entire estates full of books. And I’ve been reading and collecting books for decades, of course.

Do you consider yourself a book collector? What do you think makes one person a book collector versus someone who reads books or someone who hoards books – where do you draw the line?

I actually believe there are several categories of bibliophiles. There are readers, those who just love to read but do not need to keep or save books or periodicals. There are the book lovers, magazine lovers, etc., who need the objects themselves. Then there are the collectors, who consider the pursuit of works as important as the keeping of them. As for hoarding, there’s the seriously negatively impacting disorder which is pathologically compulsive (which I’m not capable of addressing) and the state hoarding which many of us joke about doing. As someone who professionally writes about collecting, I’d say the true distinctions between “collecting” and “hoarding” are about the focus in the accumulation of and care of that is given to the objects themselves.

For the record, I am a book-reading, book-loving, book-collecting bibliophile!

Are there different methods of selling books online, beyond using sites like eBay?

Oh there are likely hundreds of options! It depends upon what kind of books you have, as well as your personal goals and preferences. Each site or marketplace varies as much in audience (types of buyers) as they do in their terms or conditions and fees. It’s not just a matter of what sites you like or trust, but where the buyers are for specific types of books and how much they are willing to pay. This not only affects how much money you are likely to get for your book, but how quickly you are likely to get it too. Depending on how much you sell, these sites work perfectly for keeping track of your sales. This can come in handy for when you file taxes at the beginning of the year. Depending on how much you sell, these sites work perfectly for keeping track of your sales. This can come in handy for when you file taxes at the beginning of the year.

Along with online marketplaces, there’s also just tossing up your own site, using PayPal buttons for purchasing. Blogging software, like WordPress, now offers ecommerce plugins so that you can sell online easily. Of course, those options require you driving your own traffic to get sales, but the rewards can be greater too.

Where have you found your most success as a book seller?

Matching the book for sale to the appropriate sales platform in order to get it in front of the largest group of most likely buyers is really important.That’s how you get the best prices for your items.

Do you sell books offline, in flea markets for example?

I sell a lot of books at flea markets and at good old fashioned rummage sales in my backyard too. These books tend to be more common books; think “used books” rather than “valuable books”.

I also sell a number of books at the antique stores we have booth and case space in. These tend to be antiquarian books, rare titles, and other collectible works which are perhaps not as commonly sought after but fetch higher prices.

What are the extra costs for selling books online, like shipping?

Shipping is a cost — and that includes boxes and mailers, packing tape, shipping labels (the ink and paper you print them on), and other items for packaging. There’s also fees for shipping insurance and tracking options. If you don’t consider those costs, or are charging less than you should, those amounts can really eat at any profits you may have.

And then there’s your time. There’s the time it takes to ship items, but even before you get to that, there’s a lot of time invested in properly listing books to sell. You’ll need to research each book to have an idea of its value in order to set your price or start the bidding at. You’ll need to accurately describe the book and its condition; you may need to photograph or scan the book itself. You may need to respond to questions from potential buyers. And then there’s the time spent organizing your books for sale. (You have to be able to find a title quickly to answer questions and to ship it.) This time can add up surprisingly fast.

As the saying goes, time is money. If, after you take out the fees for listing and selling at a site, you find you are only getting a dollar or something for your book, it may not be worth your time to sell books online.

Is there a danger of being ripped off by a book purchaser?

Most sites have protections for both seller and buyer. Sites like PayPal favor the buyer a lot, which means you are best off using the insurance and delivery tracking options to protect yourself. But still, even when you’ve accurately described the item and taken the shipping precautions, issues may still arise. There are fewer scammers than one fears; but there is always the element of just bad luck with a sale or shipping. Sometimes things just end up going sideways and aggravating you, if not costing you money outright.

What advice would you give to someone starting to sell their own books online?

Whether you are simply down-sizing your book collection or planning on generating income by selling books, it’s really important to know what you have. Not just in terms of the books themselves and their values, but your time constraints, skill sets (or willingness to learn), and desire to want to do the work it takes.

It can all seem overwhelming, I know! But once you have realistic ideas and expectations, the right options for you are much easier to see.

Thanks for taking the time to be interviewed. Is there anything you would like to add?

Just that most of this information applies to used or past issues of magazines and periodicals as well — and anything vintage or antique, for that matter. While a lot of the collecting shows make it sound like there’s treasure in your attic or basement, it’s not as easy as many people think it is. Learning to identify and separate the “gems” from the “junk” takes time and experience, as does the act of selling it. There is money to be made, for sure; but, as the saying goes, there’s no easy money.

And thank you so much for including me in your discussion about selling books!

How to Start a Fresh Blog Post When You’re Stuck

Everyone hits a blank now and then. Don’t get impatient with yourself. Take a quick break, make yourself another coffee, start a load of laundry or walk around the block once or twice. Then come back and use one of these to give your post a fresh start:

  • Use a statistic you find somewhere. Look for a surprising statistic, something unexpected or controversial.
  • Share something from your personal experience. Work on your storytelling.
  • Ask a question. The best questions are those which are sincere, something you really do want to know.
  • Write a description. Don’t forget all the 6 senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Share your vision.
  • Write a critique or review of something. Be honest and fair.
  • Rant about something. Throw your passion into it.
  • Use a metaphor, an analogy or a simile – remember your high school English classes and get clever.

 

Do you Want to be a Movie Reviewer?

At this time of year people talk about movies and everyone has some kind of opinion. Could you write movie reviews, as an official, paid movie critic? It’s not for everyone. I’m happy on the sidelines, just offering my free advice and reviews to the general discussion.

Resources:

Fab Job: Become a Movie Reviewer
Make Use of: How to Write a Movie Review Online and Earn Money Doing It
eHow: Money: How to Become a Film Critic
eHow: Money: Career as a Movie Critic
Freelance Writing: So You Want to be a Movie Critic
HubPages: How to be a Film and Movie Critic
Salary: Dream Job: Movie Critic
2BlowHards: Movie Reviewing: Job? Career? Calling?
Moviefone: Rough Cuts: How to Become a Movie Critic
The Guardian: Film Blog: What every film critic must know

Here is a movie review job. Not one I’d send anyone to apply for, they don’t sound very ethical or concerned about an honest review.

Movie Review Writers Needed: This job is always open so feel free to apply ignoring the job posting date.

We are looking for movie review writers to write reviews on various movies on regular basis. All the reviews should be positive review with critics in favour of positive points and no negative critics.

We will provide you the title and you have to write a positive review on them. The movies will be from all Genres such as Drama, Animation, Thriller, Comedy, Horror, Animation, Sci-fi etc.

Movies will include old, new and upcoming releases.

This is ongoing work. You will have to write movie reviews on regular basis.

Following are some of the terms for writing reviews

Reviews shall be in about 500 words
All reviews shall be unique and shall not be copied from any sources
All reviews shall be grammatically correct
Reviews would be our copyright so you can’t publish them in any media including Online
You have to write review with keywords stuffed in them. We will provide guidelines on which keywords to stuff in.
Ideally you should have watched the movie, if not then you will have to rewrite review based on official review release and other online reviews.

30 Days to a Better Blog from SITS Girls

I’m posting all the steps here cause the Challenge is done but I’m not. This way I can keep working through all the steps even if I only get one each week. See The SITS Girls site for more and future events.

  • Day 01 – Write an Elevator Speech
  • Day 02 – Write a List Post -You could use this as a brainstorming session for ideas to write about related to your niche.
  • Day 03 – Promote a Blog Post -Use Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon… or ask another blogger to link to one of your individual posts.
  • Day 04 – Analyze a Top Blog in your Niche -Don’t copy another blogger. Be unique, but let them inspire you.
  • Day 05 – Email a Blog Reader –Have you ever interacted with blog commenters outside of blog comments?
  • Day 06 – 27 Must Read Tips and Tutorials for Bloggers -Pick your own tutorials rather than those on the list. You know which areas you want to know more about.
  • Day 07 – Write a Link Post -Think of it as creating a mini web directory of links for your niche.
  • Day 08 – Interlink your Old Posts -If you’ve written about a topic before (or one similar) bring your old post back as a reference.
  • Day 09 – Join a Forum and Start Participating -Keep involved with others in your niche. See what resources they use and what they write about.
  • Day 10 – Set Up Alerts to Monitor What is Happening in your Niche -It may be a good plan but I’ve never found time to use alerts, or found them very reliable.
  • Day 11 – Come Up with Ten Post Ideas -Be creative but consider gaps you may be leaving in building a resource for your niche. Look at it from the angle of someone just starting to research the topic.
  • Day 12 – Develop an Editorial Calendar for your Blog -A good idea to try. I haven’t used anything like this but will try running one of the WordPress plugins and see how it goes.
  • Day 13 – Take a Trip to the Mall -Don’t get stuck in the online world. Study how businesses/ associations do things off the Internet and how they merge online and offline.
  • Day 14 – Update a Key Page on your Blog -Your About page is the obvious one to keep updated. Consider others you have and give them a dusting off too.
  • Day 15 – Find a Blog Buddy -I have a few blog buddies. People I have known online for years both socially and as writers working on a site.
  • Day 16 – Solve a Problem: 7 Ways to Identify a Reader’s Problems -Use statistics to see how people find your site. Also, look up other sites and read their categories and tags. Is your niche missing anything? Consider your niche as a resource for your readers. Fill it up.
  • Day 17 –  Watch a First Time Reader Use your Blog -Take an objective look at your blog. Test it, check navigation, loading time, readability. Ask for reviews of your site and listen to the feedback, don’t spoil honest feedback by getting defensive.
  • Day 18 – Create a Sneeze Page -A chance to show off your archived posts and highlight some of our best information.
  • Day 19 – Write an Opinion Post for your Blog – By giving an opinion you invite people to agree or debate with you in comments.
  • Day 20 – Leave Comments on Other Blogs – Spend some time writing relevant comments in other blogs. Give the kind of comments you would like to see yourself.
  • Day 21 – Breathe Life into an Old Post – Rewrite it as a new post and link back to the original. Don’t lose old comments and give yourself a chance to see what you’ve learned, how you have improved.
  • Day 22 – Pay Special Attention to a Reader – You want special attention from your readers so start by giving some first.
  • Day 23 – Call your Readers to Action – Interact with readers and ask for what you want. Read about calls to action and how that works.
  • Day 24 – How to Use a Magazine to Improve your Blog – Take ideas from magazine layouts, how they present their pages, their content and market themselves. Do the same with any other publication such as books, ebooks and newsletters too.
  • Day 25 – Ask a Question – Asking a question gears readers into giving an answer.
  • Day 26 – Improve Another Blog – You don’t have to be a web guru to do a good deed for another blogger. Give them an honest opinion in a constructive way.
  • Day 27 – Hunt for Dead Links – When a link can’t be fixed/ updated remove the HTML and leave a note to let readers know the site is gone or missing.
  • Day 28 – Write a Review Post – A review doesn’t have to sell anything. You can review something you love or do as a hobby. Keep the review balanced with objectivity.
  • Day 29 –  Develop a Plan to Boost your Blog’s Profile and Readership Online – Basically decide who you want to be reading your blog and then go out and find them.
  • Day 30 – 17 Statistics to Monitor your Blog – Don’t become a stats whore. Rank, statistics, popularity should be something you check to mark progress. Don’t cater your writing/ blogging to raising your numbers in this way. For one thing, none of them are that reliable.
  • Day 31 – Plan the Next Steps for your Blog – Be aware of other blogs and anything you like about them. Make plans for your own site, where do you want it to be as it grows. What do you want to improve. What could be changed. Do you want to take part in ad exchanges… more social media… split your blog into subsections or sub-blogs…