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Amazon Book Reviews

Amazon Book Reviews
Amazon Book Reviews

Amazon Book Reviews

If you are a writer, you will doubtless have heard of the problem authors are having with Amazon book reviews of their work. If you are not aware of the problem, then please read on, and you will get my thoughts on the matter from my, an unknown indie writer’s perspective.

The problems began a few years ago, when Amazon decided to try to clean up the corruption, in the form of fake book reviews, on its website. The fact is that it was pretty horrific.

A writer could easily create dozens of reviews of his or her work and post them as ‘unverified’; that is, without proof of the reviewer ever having bought the book in question. In other cases, unscrupulous writers would give a hundred copies away to a hundred people who they knew would write a (very) short, favourable review. A variation on this is to drop the price of the book to a lower-than-usual price for a sort time (one to three days) and reimburse the hundred reviewers for their purchase.

This had the effect of making the book rise quickly in the Top 100 List and give it a hundred good, authenticated’ reviews, both of which would further boost sales, by which time the book would have been returned to its normal (higher) sales price.

This works because many people choose their next book from the Top 100 Lists.

Therefore, Amazon had to do something about this, and I applaud them for that. However, what they ended up doing was crass, ineffectual and unfair.

They now study an author’s friends list, and if a reviewer’s name appears on it, they delete the review on the basis that it is biased.

Now, this is not fair, because many people who have liked my books have written reviews, gotten in touch with me, and we have become friends. If this happens, then the review is deleted. A consequence of this, is that only the bad reviews remain, because those people don’t want to get to know you! It also means that the two line put-downs by Trolls who have probably never even read the book also remain, albeit as ‘unverified’.

This highlights another problem: Amazon only counts the number of reviews and the Star Rating applied to the book. A review is a review, is a review according to Amazon; and I can see that a lot of people would not write a review, if they thought that it had to be of literary merit. That one is difficult, I agree.

So, is blocking a hundred Four- and Five-Star reviews from members of a company that sells block reviews. Again, I agree that it is difficult, but that should be Amazon’s task, and it should not allow unverified reviews on Amazon – they could go on it’s other site, Goodreads, because it has already been ruined by thousands of Troll put-downs.

Amazon has gone about cleaning up its business in completely the wrong way. This policy damages small independent (indie) authors, and favours more affluent, or more crooked, authors who buy book reviews in large numbers, or trickle them in at, say, twenty-five a month.

Yes, the book industry is crooked, but the Amazon book reviews policy is only making it worse!

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Kindle vs Book

Amazon Book Reviews

Amazon Book Reviews
Amazon Book Reviews

Amazon Book Reviews

My take on the recent controversy regarding Amazon book reviews is that Amazon seems to be disregarding the modern trend in the book reader-writer relationship.

In the ‘old days’, readers were not encouraged to form any type of relationship with their favourite writers, who mostly liked to maintain an image of cool aloofness. Any reader seeking a closer intimacy with a writer had first to write to the relevant literary agent, who passed the letters on. This is probably still true of the internationally famous, but the rest of us indie, self-published authors find it better to be be more accessible to our readership.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Amazon is in the process of scything out millions of reviews where they think the author knows the reviewer (and thereby suggesting corruption, which does exist for sure).

I am an unknown author in the scheme of things, but it is not unusual for me to receive two dozen emails and posts a week regarding my books from readers who are total strangers. I reply to each of these no matter what they are about and I am normally thanked for doing so.

The relationship stops there about half the time, but I regularly write to others, share jokes and photos etc. I have even met a few when they have visited Thailand, which involves not inconsiderable expense on my behalf as I live out in the wilds, but I do it to meet people who like my work.

However, the point is, long before this relationship has been formed, the reader has usually written an Amazon review or two of my books (they tend to be in series), so I (and they) are now to be penalised because I am accessible.

That doesn’t sound right to me.

Is Amazon trying to tell me, with the subtlety of a sledgehammer that I may not talk with readers who like my books, if I value their Amazon book reviews?

Basically, there are two types of reviewer. The one that posts a review and then emails me to say that he or she enjoyed the book and has posted a review, and the one who doesn’t contact me and posts an average to bad review.

By Amazon’s new rule, I will lose all those good reviews yet get left with all the crappy ones. That isn’t fair at all, and certainly doesn’t leave Amazon with a balanced public appreciation of my books.

I can only infer that Amazon would prefer me not to talk to my readers, as the well-known authors don’t talk to theirs, but that is not fair – we are different horses running different courses.

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All the best,


PS: Don’t take any notice of Amazon’s draconian rules on Amazon book reviews, please leave comments and reviews, I love to read them, and get in touch if you like.

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