Amazon Review backlash is gathering speed. Perhaps you heard of authors having their reviews pulled from Amazon. This is especially frustrating because many authors do review books for online sites. All authors read so why can’t they enjoy the same right to review books as Mama Kitty Cat or Anonymous? The reason traces back to a few venomous authors, or authors’ spouses, who felt the need to write critical reviews of their competition having never read the books.
Amazon, discovering this practice by an isolated few, believed all writers were guilty of it. If you were a known writer, your review was suspect and removed. Ironically, several good reviews penned by authors disappeared too. Why is that? Apparently, the few who wrote scathing reviews also wrote glowing reviews about their work, often making new Amazon accounts to do so.
The ban against authors writing reviews is only for the author’s genre. If a writer wrote science fiction, all his reviews about science fiction novels would vanish. Get a clue Amazon, a genre writer would be a huge fan of that genre. Joanne Harris, author of the popular Chocolat book and movie, remarked that an author of the genre is an expert reviewer of the material since they understand the genre.
In fact, they are much better than the amateur reviewer who condemns a book for being what the genre demands it to be. A good example of this was a bondage romance that an author offered free for a week. The book cover featured two naked people tied together. The blurb mentioned it was a bondage novel. Several reviews condemned the book for all the nasty sex. Obviously, these were not fans of the genre, and only picked it up because it was free. It could be they never read the book, but wanted to blast the genre or author.
What about mean spirited people who write scathing reviews about books they never read? The Michael Jackson biography, Untouchable by Randall Sullivan is a good example. As soon as the book went live, a Twitter campaign started to slam the book and demanded its’ removal from the site. It temporarily vanished to keep MJ’s fans from crashing the site with their bogus reviews. If reviewers actually bought the book, Sullivan would be a millionaire. Was the book so horrible and as bad as fans believe? I don’t know, but I find it highly suspicious that the book has equal number of five stars and one star reviews.
Amazon’s review system is flawed. I am often amused by how many alleged former English teachers attempt to criticize a book’s mechanics, but failed to string together two coherent sentences. Trust me; an English teacher should be able to cobble together a decent review. I’ve also read reviews where apparently the person saw the provocative book title and felt the need to comment, not having read the book.
Authors beware. There are folks out there with much more time on their hands than most who troll Amazon, looking for titles to post nasty reviews about. Words that tend to set them off include devil, witch, god and even sex. The average hateful review is about two or three sentences long. An author review is about 500-700 thoughtful words, due to having read the entire book.
If we disallow author reviews, maybe we should cut all the reviews where the person states they couldn’t finish the book or get past the first chapter. Since they did not finish the book, they will be unable to create an accurate review. Then there are the people who misspell every other word in their review and ramble on about something not included in the book. Should their reviews be included?
Mark Billingham, crime fiction author, finds the anonymous reviews the most appalling. A person hides behind the anonymous wall and throws mud at you. Why would a reviewer need to be anonymous? Everyone has a right to his or her opinion. Not all people like the same books. Which begs the question, why anonymous? Mr. Billingham believes if the anonymous label disappeared, then the review system would be better.
Good reviews are suspect too. I will admit to reading books that felt more like a punishment than a pleasure, then wondering why the author only had five star reviews on Amazon. One of the big name authors encouraged fellow authors not to be downhearted when they received a single star review on Amazon. A variety of stars meant the reviews were real as opposed to only glowing ratings from friends.
Amazon recently did away with likes on books when the practice of authors asking for likes became known. Asking for likes and getting them are two different things. Amazon must believe authors have endless hours to write bogus reviews and like books. Not so, the working author is one of the busiest people around, often working seven days a week. Who has time to write mean spirited reviews? Why would you?
An author understands more than anyone else how much work goes into a single book. With that in mind, an average author would be more considerate in their review looking for the good along with the occasional typo.
What’s your take on Amazon reviews?