An Author's Guide to Sockpuppetry

Another week, another case of an author posing as someone else to write glowing reviews of his own book on Amazon and Goodreads. Are you an author, just starting out, wondering how to create your own sockpuppet? Fear not. I’ve created this handy list of suggested phrases and techniques to use in any review of your own work.


10. The confident assertion of time-transcending value: “Masterpiece”, “timeless”, “epic.”

9. The greatness that is not just literary. It’s super-literary: “This book is so much more than a _______ (romance, mystery, thriller, YA, book).” See also: “spiritual revelation”, “life changing.”

8. The wistful anticipation of future royalties: “This book should be made into a movie.”

7. The casual attempt to boost sales:  “This book would make a great gift for family and friends.” “I also recommend X, Y, and X, from the same author.”

6. An!! excess!! of!! exclamations marks!!!

5. The condescending but cool delegitimization of negative reviews: “Perhaps you yourself are a frustrated writer…”, “I’m not sure you understand what a book review is…” etc.

4. The everyman reviewer handle: “Ima Reader”, “Reed Daily”, “Just a Reader” (Caution: be sure this does not appear alongside your Real Name.).

3. Stylistic consistency: make same CapitalizatioN, spellling, and grammatical mistaked the negative reviews highlight.

2. The miracle conversion of the skeptic: “I am not usually a fan of this kind of book, but…”

1. The leading rhetorical question: “What have you got to lose?” (esp. for low priced self-pubbed ebooks)

0. The Formula of Wonder: Describe your book as a combination of Bestseller A + Bestseller B + Popular Classic. Example: “This book is like a mix of The Hunger Games, Twilight, and Alice in Wonderland.”

Combine any four of these. Add copious, mindnumbing detail about the book. A dash of deep concern for the author’s well-being never hurts, but don’t overdo it. And voila! A sockpuppet is born.


22 responses

  1. If you’re really desperate, you can hire people to do this for you. I had a run-in with an author whose reviews all came from people who work at the same agency. An agency that listed him proudly on the client page. And used their real names for reviews. Savvy, these people.


  2. I’m sure The Hunger Games and Philosophy is a life-changing masterpiece! Full!! Of spiritual (or at least philosophical) revelations. You’re on that, right PhilProf/TeamPeeta/KatnissFan/A+ Student??

    I actually find the complete lack of any specific details is also a good marker of sock-puppetry.


  3. I think you also need a recognition of author effort. “I could tell my author worked very hard over the details and it really made me think WOW when I read it. “


  4. @Laura Vivanco: oh they get their own whole post!

    @AnimeJune: ;)


    If you’re really desperate, you can hire people to do this for you.

    I know! I just saw those $5 a review ads that went around Twitter. Gah. Well, as long as everyone underestimates the average reader’s intelligence as much as the sockpuppet author, we’ll be ok.

    @Liz Mc2:

    I actually find the complete lack of any specific details is also a good marker of sock-puppetry.


    I think you also need a recognition of author effort. “I could tell my author worked very hard over the details and it really made me think WOW when I read it. “

    LOLOL! More more!!


  5. The sock pupett who wrote this article has an typo. Its isn’t “What have you got to lose?” Its “What have you got to loose?” Get it rigth! And when reccomending you are suppose to put the names of JK Rowling and Stephanie Mayer in additon to the author.


  6. This was the gr8test blog post ever written! It was sooooo gooood! I never use to like reading lists because of Late Nite TV, but this like totally changed how I think about my own reviews, even how I think about my relationships! Other bloggers should pay for lessons to right this good! It’s like a mix of The March of Folly, Chicken Soup for the Soul and And Then There Were None! I cant weight till the next one! She’s an auto-read 4 sure!!!


  7. Not to forget the importance of downvoting 3 star reviews because:
    a) Clearly we didn’t read the same book!!
    b) You shouldn’t review anything at all unless you give it 5 stars because you know you are solely responsbile for the author’s income and food in the dogs bowl and making all the kittehs happy
    c) You shouldn’t be mean – you know how hard the author worked
    d) You don’t know what you are talking about


  8. It could be the kind of book I’m looking at, but there always has to be a hugely dramatic expression of emotion: “I cried through the whole thing,” or “I was laughing so hard at parts of this, my boyfriend came running!!”

    With the low-priced books, if there are reviews up complaining about typos, editing, etc., there has to be a puppet to say that there were only one or two spelling errors they found and they never interfered with the story at all!! Maybe that person got a bad version or something or maybe they just have it in for the author.


  9. @Merrian: All of those are perfect, but this one:

    a) Clearly we didn’t read the same book!!

    I could kick myself for forgetting!

    @Barbara W: Yes to the emotion, and OMG, yes:

    there were only one or two spelling errors they found and they never interfered with the story at all!!

    I should add that one to #3.

    @willaful: BWAAHHHHH!


    She’s an auto-read 4 sure!!!

    Oh, another gem.

    @Julia Broadbooks: Back at ya! lol.


  10. @Jessica: To ‘you don’t know what you are talking about’ – I should have added I understand that giving the book 3 stars means you are over 50 and don’t understand these things


  11. I was recently offered a service by a friend of a friend, cringe: $10 a copy to buy the book (thus driving up Amazon rankings) and post five star reviews. The service was aimed at the self-published. I didn’t ask what they’d charge me with my evil agency-priced books.

    True confession: my sister reviewed my first book. She offered and I didn’t know enough to stop her. She only gave me 4 stars.


  12. Wait! I don’t see “It’s fiction! Don’t you know it’s fiction?!? Who cares if they didn’t have tomatoes, potatoes, flush toilets, electricity and polyester blends in ancient Sumeria. Stop nitpicking! It’s just a story! Don’t you like stories?”

    No guide to sockpuppetry is complete without that evergreen objection.


  13. Pingback: Stumbling Over Chaos :: Linkity ladles less

  14. @Merrian: lol, yes, of course!

    @Miranda Neville:

    The service was aimed at the self-published.

    Originally, this list was “top ten, signs you are reading a sock puppet’s review”, and one of the items was “the book was self-published.” But I felt that would be too controversial, which really tells me the attitude towards self-pub has changed.

    @Marie-Thérèse: oh god, yes! The it’s just fiction objection. Or better, “THIS IS A FICTION NOVEL.” *headdesk*


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