OnlineBookClub – genuine or scam?

Can you really get paid for writing reviews?

I think that depends on your perspective. If you are looking for a quick way to make money, forget it. Equally, if you are looking to make a fortune, I would say you are out of luck here as well. If you are used to writing reviews for free, then you may be able to make a little extra, eventually.

I joined the book club in April 2018 and to date, I have not qualified for any paid reviews. On the website, they say you only need to read one book and providing you adhere to the guidelines you are ready to start receiving paid reviews. This is not strictly true, you need 35 points before you qualify for any paid reviews. I’ve read 12 books and I still only have 10 points. Why? I’m not very good with rules!

Rule 1: You must stick to the guidelines, or you’re toast. My first review got 13 points, my second left me with -16 points, because they can not only give, they can take away. You must summarise the plot, but this can’t be more than half the review, so use your word count and for a 400-word review, the summary must not be more than 200 words. Don’t include spoilers. Make sure you mention who would like the book – men/women, young adults, lovers of romance, crime fiction, fantasy etc. Watch your spacing, bold type and italics, remember all book titles should be in italics. The formatting guidelines are worth 30 marks out of 100 and are all or nothing, so it is very important you adhere to them.

Rule 2: Grammar and spelling. You are only allowed 4 mistakes then you get no credit at all. If you are like me you hardly ever get any credit for this, so you need to try and make up for it with a good review. The free version of Grammarly helps weed out some mistakes.

Rule 3: Only choose books from the select button on the review score page. If it is not listed there you won’t get any credit for reading it.

Rule 4: Book of the month. You get extra points if you join in the discussion around the book of the month by posting to the forums. I have been able to get the book of the month under the select button, but I’m not sure how I did it. I think it was by claiming the free copy and then going to the review score page. Be aware I once called one book of the month 50 shades of tripe. I was a little miffed as I had bought it at full price and it wasn’t as good as the indie book I had just finished.

Rule 5: Twitter/Facebook. If you are willing to post on social media, then you get a little more credit to add to your score. I only usually post my reviews on Twitter. They have daily books which you can tweet about, but I don’t like talking about things I haven’t read, so I don’t get any credit.

What you get out of it depends on what you are willing to do. Most of the books are free and if you see something that isn’t, it probably will be included in the daily deals at some point in the near future, so keep looking.

They have an author service, but I could not find the price when writing this. I think it used to be about $79 for 10 reviews, but you need to register before you are told the price now. I note that in the author questions it states that the cost of reviews are minimal compared to other things a publishing company pays for and if you can’t afford it perhaps you shouldn’t be publishing a book. You can draw your own conclusions from that.

Will I continue to strive to meet their targets? I don’t know, it is an awful lot of work and you can’t post the same review on Amazon. You’re constantly on a treadmill trying to get through as many books as possible and so you don’t have the time to offer reviews to any other indie authors. For me, it will never be a replacement income and I think my enthusiasm for it will wane over time.

21 thoughts on “OnlineBookClub – genuine or scam?

  1. Just curious: if you had purchased the review service for a novel of your own, would you be satisfied with the kinds of reviews you’ve seen from this service?

    I actually prefer reviews that are very skimpy with the plot summaries – and write about the emotional experience, the quality of the writing, whether they will read the next book from this author. Anyone can provide a plot summary, but how can that be different from reviewer to reviewer?

    I don’t review books very often because it takes energy I don’t have, so I am always grateful when readers review my debut novel, and tell me they’re waiting for the next one (I’m working on it!). Plus, if you review someone else’s book, they should not review any of yours, to avoid the appearance of a quid pro quo. As Amazon and Goodreads are connected, Amazon could use the information to delete their review – after all that work.

    1. Thank you for your honesty I am looking for more marketing and this may not be worth my time

    2. I had a very similar experience. Their resolution was to try to sell me other services.

  2. Online book club is indeed a scam. Once I qualified to write paid reviews they never paid me. I waited for months and never received a dime.

    The editors were instrumental in improving my writing, but I wasn’t so rusty to begin with. I scored 80% on my first review and kept on getting better. The day I submitted a sponsored review my scores started plummeting until I eventually scored 12% on a sponsored review.

    I went on the discussion forum and discovered that they make up rules as they go just to keep new reviewers from rising to the upper echelons. It makes sense because they make more money when you don’t. No author receives a free review even if you write it for free.

    I raised my concerns and got quite a few rude responses from editors. One of them said that it couldn’t be a scam because in her two year stint working for online bookclub she had earned $800! You already know how much work it takes just to be allowed to make $5 on their platform. It must have been the reason she thought making so little in two years was okay.

    Online book club operates like an evil corporation that’s out to destroy your self worth. Everyday you’re willing to do more for less.

    What’s even more disheartening is the poor quality of reviews written by level 6 reviewers. I clicked on my editors’ reviews and was horrified by what I found. It appeared like they hadn’t even read the books.

    1. Sorry to hear about your bad experience, I guess we live and learn.

      1. These people are now desperate. I guess they’re being found out. Over a year ago I signed up as a reviewer. The supervisor pointed at an error that wasn’t there. I complained and was told that the supervisor’s decision was final.
        I quit, disgusted with the scam.
        A couple of days ago the company was advertised with AARP. I clicked on it and it wanted me as a writer (that I am). Now they’re writing me daily emails asking to send my novels. STAY AWAY FROM THIS COMPANY THEIR PROMISES ARE FAKE NEWS!

  3. Tracey, Thanks so much for this article as I paid to have my book reviewed and was very disappointed with the onlinebookclub.org review. Now that I see what a reviewer has to go through and how strict the guidelines are I understand better. I paid $300 for the quick turnaround and hopefully to use it for sales before Christmas. In the end the reviewer said they’d give me a 2.5 rating if they could so I got a 2 rating.

    I had over a year ago, five Reviewers from Readers Favorites give me 5 Star reviews for this same book and I have a 4.5 Star rating on Amazon (maybe that doesn’t count). Anyway, I thought the person was prejudice to my character who is a very flamboyant guy. Their comments, said he was gay, when I never said he was. I realized it wasn’t worth the money in the end and I did not have them post the review. The company tried to get me to take a 2nd review but at the prices I don’t think its worth the gamble. It seems their guidelines are detrimental to bringing good, enjoyable, and entertaining books to the Book Club people in the world.
    If you come across better avenues to use for authors to get reviews at a better price I’m all ears. And I can highly recommend Readers’ Favorites to everyone. Take Care,
    Cheers, Rose

    1. Thanks for this, Rose. I joined about 4-6 weeks ago, because they offered services at 50% off. I paid $147 and still haven’t received any reviews, but I did notice that they have advertising packages for as much as $15,000 (yes!) or I could get 1,000 reviews for $9,000. I kid you not.
      I’ll chalk it up to an expensive lesson learned.

    2. Are you seriously complaining that you got honest reviews? If you want to buy positive reviews, yeah, OBC isn’t the place. That’s actually a good thing. Lol

  4. Onlinebookclub.org is definitely a scam. I worked for them for 3 years and never got past level two. The editors approving the reviews are not sincere. I once got a high paying book to review, but then after submitting it they kept it pending for a long time without paying me. I sent emails about the matter, their reply was rude and unacceptable. They later rejected the review (which they had already accepted and given a score) just to avoid paying me.

  5. I can confirm they are terrible! I paid nearly $300 for an unprofessional review that was more or less a personal attack against me. They accused me of saying in my bio that I’m an LGBT advocate to push an agenda. If they’d bothered to find anything out about me at all they would have known I’m queer and trans. They also accused me of trying to imitate the author whose work inspired my own. I never said I wanted to upsurp that author. I just saw a story within a story and went with it.

  6. I was excited to do this and I reviewed 4-5 books. Then I reviewed on that they wouldn’t allow an automatic extension on and you had to contact them. I contacted them in every way I could find and they kept sending me e-mails that a non-reply asking for an update. I think they website is awful and needs an update. They deleted my account because they don’t check their contact forms if they even work. I’m very disappointed in the whole process. I was really enjoying the process but was feeling like this might not be legit. Now I know. At the very least very badly managed. Don’t waste your time.

  7. Hi I am writing a review because I have had some difficulty in the time frame of which my campaign ad has been promoted. I can imagine that the obc has had some hardship due to COVID. Although there was an ad placed today, that ad did not mention the information that I asked for initially. Please help and in return I can update my rating. Thanks

  8. This company does not read your manuscript. They skim it and then tell you they liked it to get you to agree they read it. Then they trash your book. If you post a negative review of their company they harass you until you delete it. Scott at OnlineBookClub is, IMO, a very unstable neurotic. He told me just now he would post a negative review of my book I’d I did not remove my negative review of their company. Is this a threat to get me to pull a negative review. I think so!

  9. What a waste of money. I had the book reviewed twice- and received the same rating (a 2). The first time was before the book went to the editor and the second time was after significant changes. They used two different people and I was arguing that this is a subjective review and want to see their rating criteria. I complained and all they did was try to sell me more stuff. Don’t waste your money for a review from this company.

  10. Well I tried to be a reviewer for this company, Onlinebookclub.org, however they posted a fake book. It Strikes Again. By Tristen O Treal. Hilariously, I had no idea that they would conduct fraud, I just found the cover of the fake book appealing. So I put the book onto my bookshelf, and after I gave them personal information, they decided to block me. The message I received stated:

    Blocked
    You have been blocked from using Bookshelves because you added a fake book to your shelves.

    I find this hilarious because I do not make the fake book available to select, they do. I find them to be, arguably, borderline retarded.

    1. Hello. I am sorry about your experience. I am a reviewer there, myself, but I do think there was a misunderstanding of why Scott added that book. Authors have been complaining about reviewers who skim or do not read the books. Scott has been trying to eliminate those kinds of reviewers from the website by adding fake books and stating clearly in the description that anyone who will choose to review/add them will be banned. He does this because anyone who does not read the description clearly (a must as a reviewer to review a book) will add it because it pays a lot. Scott will, then, know this person is choosing the highest-paying books without bothering to read descriptions or research it first. I, for one, support his methods.

  11. I used them recently for a review that cost me $197. They get my book 3/4 stars which was fine by me, but the review itself was horribly written. It honestly seemed like it was written by someone who didn’t speak English well and therefore was not a usable review for me. The person also downloaded the copy I sent and reviewed it within less than 24 hours, got details wrong in the blurb they had to write for me to show they had in fact read it. I got better reviews from Booksprout totally for free. I complained to this company and did get a second review done for free. It was moderately better, but was definitely not worth the money it cost. Lesson learned, these are NOT the professional reviewers that you’d expect when you pay money for a review AND it’s just basically all about what additional stuff you can pay for. Google Nick Stephenson and check out his webinars for better resources to get marketing and reviews and sales. Would highly discourage anyone from using this service – as a writer or a reader.

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