In April, 2002, we published Tax Planning Strategies for the Self Employed by A.J. Cataldo. The process went quite quickly and A.J. was very pleased with the final product. We put the book up for sale and A.J. subsequently wrote articles during the tax season for our WritersWeekly.com readers.
So, we were stunned on Saturday when a reader notified us that, on the book’s Amazon.com page, there was a scathing review about the quality of the book, written by the author himself…but dated six months prior to the publication date. Huh?!
The complaint stated: “As the author, I cannot recommend my own book. Several illustrations and table were not reproduced as submitted or are simply missing, making these sections impossible to understand. The publisher failed to make corrections to the proofs…”
Since I knew there was nothing wrong with the book, and since the review was dated six months prior to the actual publication date, I immediately thought someone had sabotogued his book’s page on Amazon. I wrote to A.J., asking if he knew what was going on. And, he wrote back right away, explaining what must have happened.
Before being published by Booklocker.com, A.J.’s book was published by PublishAmerica. He stated they’re the company that “screwed up” his book and then refused to correct the defects. He added, “PublishAmerica offered to sell me the inventory, after they saw the Amazon.com statement I made, but why would I buy inventory that is not usable?” After his bad experience at PublishAmerica, A.J. went hunting for another POD publisher and ended up as part of the Booklocker.com family.
Unbeknownst to A.J., when Amazon removed the old version of his book from their site, they transferred the reviews on that page to the new edition’s page. We have no idea how long that review has been posted on the current version of his book’s Amazon page, but we have no doubt at all that it’s hurt his sales while it’s been there.
Amazon.com and the other big online bookstores don’t alert authors or publishers when unauthorized changes are made to their book pages. Not only can they make mistakes like this, but they also don’t notice reviews with profanity until someone complains about them, nor do they try to regulate anything if someone is sabotoging your page on their site. Basically, if you or your publisher doesn’t complain, the bad information will remain.
Be diligent about catching bad or incorrect public posts about your book by checking your book’s reviews on a regular basis.