Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Top 70,000 Amazon Reviewer

I've lamented before that since becoming a bookseller I go through long stretches of not reading books. From what I hear this is a common problem among booksellers. It's sort of ironic, is it not? To be surrounded by books and not read them?

I think I have found a solution to this problem. I've started writing Amazon reviews (you can take a look at them here). Writing a review helps me remember what I've read and helps me pay better attention as I'm reading. Reviewers are ranked by the number of helpful votes they receive. I have 70 helpful votes so far and a rank of 69,103. Receiving helpful votes is motivating. Somebody is actually reading my review! I hope to add freelance copywriting to the mix someday, in addition to the bookselling, and the Amazon reviews help transform my portfauxlio into a portfolio, which is another motivator.


At first I did not realize that there could be any other perks involved in writing reviews. Then today I read this Forbes article about Top Ten Reviewer Donald Mitchell:

Reviewing has its perks. "People are always inviting me to go on trips with them," he says. "If I have reviewed a travel book, they'll invite me to go to that place with them." He gets frequent dinner offers (which he accepts "occasionally"), and after mentioning in a review that he had never played on the Yale golf course, a reader invited him to play there. He accepted.

Writers regularly court Mitchell. He receives up to 40 books a day and hears directly from the author "80% of the time." He says that Jamie Lee Curtis sends him notes when he reviews her children's books, and Jack Canfield--of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame--contacts him before releasing a new book. After he reviewed Spencer Johnson's book Who Moved My Cheese?, Mitchell says, Johnson called him to discuss his criticism and incorporated his suggestions in later editions.

Mitchell has earned $20,000 writing Amazon reviews and has donated it all to Habitat for Humanity. Whoa, one can make money writing reviews? He used to charge $25 for a review of a book he wouldn't normally read; now he charges $600. Apparently the Top Ten Reviewer designation carries some weight. The #1 Reviewer is speed reader Harriet Klausner who seems to attract a lot of criticism on the Amazon review forum. Not surprising, I suppose.

I don't suppose I'll get any offers to play golf for free at Yale but, if nothing else, writing reviews will serve as another distraction from the chore of listing books.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Mimi said...

What a brilliant idea! I also didn't know you could be paid to review books.

What a luxurious job.

7:47 PM  
Blogger Steve Weber said...

Anita,

I'd bet once you have a few dozen reviews posted you could get free review copies of any book you wanted. Just e-mail the PR person at the publisher of your choice and include a link to your Amazon profile. After you get a "Top Reviewer" badge I'm sure you'd be inundated with free books.

And thanks for your generous review of my book!

1:00 PM  

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