Imagine this. You write a great book, it gets posted on Amazon, and you later find a scathing review written by someone who obviously didn’t read your book at all. The person promotes a competing book in their review and/or under their name (in their signature).
Imagine the review isn’t scathing but it’s still not great (maybe it’s even good)…but the person still promotes a different book in their so-called review or in their signature.
Imagine the review isn’t a review at all; that it’s actually a character assassination of you disguised as a book review, obviously written by someone who didn’t read your book but who disagrees with your political, moral or religious views.
Imagine the book review is obviously written by someone who did read your book but who’s only writing a review to promote their own book or company. This person boldly tells readers to buy their book instead.
Or, imagine the so-called book review is a maniacal diatribe written about you by your ex-neighbor or ex-spouse or someone else you had a disagreement with in the past.
Now, imagine a website that not only allows anyone and everyone to post reviews, even about products they didn’t buy from that website, but that also refuses to (or fails to) remove these reviews from your book page, no matter how promotional, libelous, or downright mean they are. One book review that I recently read on Amazon.xom says the author is a liar and a cheat, and implies he abuses his children. It isn’t about his book at all. It appeared to be written by a disgruntled ex-neighbor and it was not a book review by any stretch. I complained to Amazon about it and guess what they did? Nothing at all! I didn’t even get an email response. The so-called “book review” still remains on amazon.com today.
Many authors have reported false book reviews to Amazon…but the book reviews remained on their pages. If you can even get a response out of Amazon, it’s usually an automated one that doesn’t help at all.
Amazon recently announced they would be removing other book names and links from book reviews. Some so-called book reviewers are furious about it…because they were accustomed to using Amazon’s book reviews option to promote themselves. While I’m no fan of Amazon, for once, they’re doing something I agree with!
Allowing everybody, even people who didn’t buy a book (from Amazon or anywhere else), to post “book reviews” was a mistake from the very beginning. Amazon allowed its website to turn into a mass of spam and libel. Sure, some book reviews are genuine…but they’re easy to pinpoint and even easy to regulate. I own an online bookstore and I would never, ever let just anybody post a book review to it, not knowing if they’d even bought, or much less read, the book in question – all the while promoting their own book in the process. I would also never let somebody who obviously never read the book post libelous or potentially embarrassing and abusive comments about an author – comments that were designed only to hurt the author personally, not to encourage or dissuade potential book buyers.
If you read Amazon’s forums, you can find authors offering to review each other’s books. How many of those do you think will be honest? Uh huh. One well-known book promotion expert tells authors they should review other authors’ books…but should only post good reviews to Amazon.com (ahem…). One of Amazon’s top reviewers states, she “writes a few reviews each day.” She has thousands of reviews posted on Amazon. Do you really think she’s reading “a few” books each day? Yeah, me neither. Some people and companies charge authors a fee to write book reviews (that then get posted on Amazon). These examples further show how Amazon’s book reviews can be manipulated.
John Kremer came out kicking and screaming this week (he called Amazon stupid nine times in his post) because Amazon is removing book titles/links from reviews appearing on their website.
People can no longer use other authors’ Amazon pages to promote themselves. And I, for one, am happy that Amazon is finally clamping down on that practice.
If you really want to help readers, you should be willing to post an honest book review without promoting yourself. After all, the book review is supposed to be about THE BOOK itself, not about you, right? You can bet Amazon isn’t going to remove the signatures of professional book reviewers, like Publisher’s Weekly, nor those written by regular folks who are actually writing reviews while not selling something themselves.
So, kudos to Amazon for taking action to cut back on the garbage that has been posted to its website for years now.
UNFORTUNATE UPDATE: Amazon how bowed to pressure from at least one author. Her book title was reinstated to her signature in her book reviews but her links were not.