Childish Antics At Amazon

Discussion in 'Indie Writing, Publishing & Marketing Discussion' started by wgjones3, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. wgjones3

    wgjones3 New Member

    Jan 3, 2012
    Likes Received:
    So let me open this with a gripe. One day last week, someone went through my book's reviews and marked all six as unhelpful. I don't know whether they read the book and didn't have the guts to write their own review or if they were just a troll. Regardless, five of the six reviews Driving to BelAir has were from people who read free review copies from Smashwords (several people have helped me by clicking the helpful button on reviews since I mentioned this in another group I belong to).

    Anyway, this got me thinking a lot... I remember when the Steve Jobs biography was up for pre-order, there were something like sixty reviews for a book that had never been released. A few were from ARCs, I'm sure, but most were from people who had never read the book--and most of them even said so in their review. Several were one-star reviews from people who wanted to use Amazon as a forum to spew venom about Jobs, and many more were exactly the opposite--fanboys who wanted to lavish praise upon Jobs. The fact remains, they hadn't even read the book!

    So today, I see a Tweet about a Randy Siglar book that's free on Kindle, so I go download it and glance through the reviews and check ou the tags. Here were the tags:

    How many of those tags actually have something to do with the book itself? Granted, Randy Siglar probably could care less how one of his backlist titles was tagged on Amazon, and the Steve Jobs bio was destined for bestseller status from day one, but what about the indie writers who depend on tags and reviews in Amazon's algorithms for visibility?

    I don't have solutions, I'm just venting. It seems that Amazon is trying to bill itself as the alternative to brick-and-mortar and even as the alternative to traditional publishing, but it just seems like it's too easy for their system to get gamed. We as indies pretty much have our eggs in one basket right now, and I guess what bothers me that it's so easy for such childish antics to go rewarded--to the detriment of authors whose books may get shuffled around into obscurity because of it.
  2. RebeccaPMinor

    RebeccaPMinor New Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    Likes Received:
    I completely understand your gripe, and I wish I were genius enough to come up with a solution. I do wonder why Amazon allows anybody who wants to tag an item to do so. I can understand keeping the reviews open, but tagging by anyone and everyone seems absurd to me. The example you cited underscores that.

    I find it interesting that sites like Smashwords (I think) won't let you post a review if you haven't purchased the product. I suppose that creates a small level of oversight as to who reviews, but of course, people could always purchase and review without reading. The only way to get "non purchasers" the freedom to review would be to give them a coupon code for a free copy so they could enter a "purchase" into the system and then have access to the product review area.

    I honestly have a burr in my bustle over the whole review/tag/algorithm system. The way it works now encourages insincere reviews and stacks the cards against the little guy. But nothing worth conquering comes easy, does it?
  3. ShawnLamb

    ShawnLamb New Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    Likes Received:
    In someways this is a self-generated problem - meaning the way authors promote using freebies and constantly asking for reviewers to post their rating/reviews on multiple sites. You get what you pay for in a way. By giving away tons of free copies, it's risky as to the return. At least with blog tours or control promotions where the author deliberately picks who will receive a copy, the chances of problematic reviews is lessened. Now, that's not answer to those 'trolls' or people who take their own inititive and post reveiws, but it is an area where authors can exert some control.

    I have never - and will not in the furture - offer my e-books for free downloads, nor do I solicit reviews except from those few reader/reviewers I have a relationship with. As a result, I don't have hundreds of reviews on my books, but I don't have the problem of trolls, etc. The one thing authors nelegect to consider when pushing to get their name out, is building a reputation and relationship to readers takes TIME! There is no short-cut, no get rich (known) quick scheme. Taking the time to cultivate and work with readers is slow compared to 'free' where the illusion of thousands of downloads gives a false impression of success. But it is also a road frot with pitful and potholes, dead ends in the way of review and rating problems.