Fake Reviews Be Gone…But at What Cost?

There are many out there who have challenged the number of reviews some books have received (see here). Since those allegations, many authors have come forward and admitted to getting “fake” reviews in order to sell books. Some “reviewers” built businesses based on publishing these reviews. The costs continued to rise but authors paid for them anyway – some of those very successful indie authors, too. But there’s paid for and then there’s paid for… Kirkus Review? Not cheap but should be objective and fair. That’s not what the fuss is all about.

On the other hand, I don’t see anything wrong with soliciting reviews if you, as the author, do not try to influence the reviewer with money, candy, gifts, etc. If someone has read your book and likes it, hopefully they will review it without being asked, but most of us live in the real world. We forget and so do your friends.

Are you an author who takes the gentle approach:

“Friend, thanks for reading my book and your nice comments. if you’re comfortable writing a review, that would be great.” Maybe send review copies to bloggers who regularly review books in your genre.

Or do you take the strong-arm approach:

Solicit all your friends on Facebook. Ask all your Twitter friends (even ones who are brand new to you). Send your friends and family e-mail reminders to review your book. Call them at home if they haven’t posted yet…OUCH!

Honestly, I like the first approach. I find nothing wrong with asking. I truly believe reviews are today’s form of “word of mouth”. I certainly read reviews on everything from hotels to appliances to books. And I assume most people are as honest in reviews as I am. I have no interest in making something up to mislead people. That is not to say I have written a review on every book I’ve read. Hardly. But I do try to write them if I’ve read an indie book I liked. I want that book to get read and I want to help that author. Writers are a community. Today – more than ever.

So after all the fuss, Amazon has taken down tons of reviews – some fake and some legitimate. Is it censorship? From a legal standpoint, probably only if they are taking down reviews that do meet their published standards. To be fair, I understand a company trying to protect their credibility but when good reviews are zapped, too? That seems arbitrary. If you wrote a positive review for a struggling writer who deserved it, you might be upset. Or if your reviews suddenly disappeared from your book page, upset might be an understatement. Amazon has given indie writers a wonderful platform to publish and distribute their work. I’m a believer that Amazon will get this one right, too. It just might take a bit.

7 comments

  1. An interesting spin on things, Kellie. As you displayed in my article you quoted, I’m very much of the opinion that it’s a shame that authors seeking honest reviewers should be punished. Reviews are a big part of finding success, so this does complicate things a little.

    I’m dead-against sock-puppet reviews, obviously. But yeah–they exist, and they’ll continue to exist, regardless of Amazon’s ‘nuclear’ actions.

    Great post, by the way, and thanks for the reference. I agree that Amazon will get this right in time.

    Ryan

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  2. An interesting spin on things, Kellie. As you displayed in my article you quoted, I’m very much of the opinion that it’s a shame that authors seeking honest reviewers should be punished. Reviews are a big part of finding success, so this does complicate things a little.

    I’m dead-against sock-puppet reviews, obviously. But yeah–they exist, and they’ll continue to exist, regardless of Amazon’s ‘nuclear’ actions.

    Great post, by the way, and thanks for the reference. I agree that Amazon will get this right in time.

    Ryan

    Like

  3. Hey Kellie,
    I’ve been reading a lot of posts recently with authors being very upset that random reviews have vanished from them. You’re the only one I’ve seen so far who has faith in Amazon to make things right.

    I love being a book reviewer, but it seems like when i publish my own work, that will make me automatically disqualified to write book reviews for amazon anymore. Which sucks because lately I’ve been getting emails from the site saying one of my reviews helped a customer purchase a product. It’ll suck if the stuff I’ve written so far will disappear for authors, because only a few have been through a free copy. The majority have been through the book concept sounded interesting, so I bought it. It’d suck for the author to get penalized.

    At least there is still goodreads.

    Keep smiling,
    Yawatta

    P.S. I enjoyed your novel. My book review will be up by the end of this week 🙂

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    1. I don’t understand authors not being able to post reviews. Authors read books. That’s how they got into writing in the first place. Perhaps it’s naive to think Amazon will ultimately do the right thing but they will always be in the business of making money and ultimately reviews sell product.

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      1. Hey Kellie,
        They say they don’t want authors reviewing because their in direct competition. I guess they feel authors will give a bad review to make their book look better or will give a positive review in exchange for a positive review on their own book.

        It sucks that Amazon doesn’t trust us. I’d never do that–reading is subjective. What someone else may love, someone else may hate. How is that lying? It’s just forming different opinions.

        Keep smiling,
        Yawatta

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      2. I agree. Even best sellers have ratings all over the place. Everyone can’t love every book. Impossible. I truly believe the number of authors slamming books for their own gain are few and far between. The odds are still against their own book being successful just because of a few negative reviews among the competition. Still keeping the faith it will straighten itself out in time.

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