Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why I Don't Care for Amazon--the Home of Death Threats and Fake Reviews

It seems morality and fair play are dead and gone in the publishing world. Here are some articles and blog postings that have come to my attention lately to show you why I'm feeling blue. I've included my comments as well.

Anne Rice signs petition to protest bullying of authors on Amazon

I'm glad that no one pays attention to my books on Amazon now! Death threats aren't funny, and Amazon has a lot to answer for allowing posters anonymity which only protects the bullies and the fake book reviewers.

I haz a sad... Writers are gaming Amazon 
Here's a comment I made after reading The Lover of Books blog posting called "I haz a sad..." (link since taken down/blocked) about how an unnamed but well-known author sends out emails saying that (s)he'll give out free books to readers in exchange for 5 star reviews on Amazon. If you want to give her/his book anything less than 5 stars, please don't post it there but email the review to the author directly instead so (s)he can "discuss it" (and not post it) with you the reader. Here's my comment on this blog:

This is why you can't trust Amazon's "5 star" book reviews. A lot of them are fakes. Some authors buy them from so-called "beta readers" with free books/giveaways and others just outright pay cash for the reviews. (There's a web site link I won't post since I don't want other buying 5 star reviews). If you see a book on Amazon with lots of 5 stars alongside poorly written reviews, just assume these are paid reviews and not the real deal. The "reviewer" may not have even read the book. It's cheating and it makes all authors look bad. (At least I can honestly say that I have never paid for reviews--and I currently have zero at Amazon. Go figure!)

In reply to the latest way to "pay your way to reviews on Amazon":

I can’t say I agree with this method at all. This is coming from the viewpoint of a book reviewer, editor, and author. To give away free books or to pay cash for reviews up
front is basically the same thing. How can you be sure you’re receiving an “objective” review when you’re essentially encouraging the reader to give you a good review or none at all? Are they going to say anything “bad” about their “new friend’s book” and especially to your face via Skype, etc. as you write up "their" review for them? I think not. The review is worthless and is essentially a “fake”.

That’s why I tell people to not depend on their friends and family members to give their writing an honest critique. Those who care about you don’t want to hurt your feelings. And just like those poor tone-deaf people who get on American Idol and then get laughed at and ridiculed by millions because they carry a tune in a bucket (and they don’t know they can’t sing), you’ll have millions of “authors” who need to take a decent writing course and join a critique group before trying to publish their books and they won’t do so because their “new reviewer friends” tell them their work is perfect as is. There’s no room to improve on perfection, is there? More “not-ready-for-primetime” stuff to clutter up the ‘net! (And why would Amazon care as long as they’re making money off it?)

If you want to gain some useful writing tips I formulated after working over a decade and a half in the publishing industry, try my funny how-to guide Defeating the Slushpile Monster now at Amazon:

After my public commentary, I expect a load of hate email and bullying on Amazon any day now! Please leave a comment below on how you see this present crisis of confidence playing out at the online book-selling monopoly's web site and share this blog link with others who may be feeling similarly down about Amazon. Perhaps they'll clean up their act one day? We can only hope!


Miss Mae said...

I don't care for Amazon either. My books are only there as prints, not on Kindle. And they're there as prints solely because of the reason that I'm able to purchase them for when I have book signings.

Yes, I've seen 5 star reviews on books that I KNOW are awful. It's sad that "authors" have resorted to some of these kind of tactics, and yes, there is bullying there. Bullying doesn't only apply to school hallways!

Cindy said...

So very true, Miss Mae. Bullies exist everywhere and the Internet seems to attract more than its fair share. It's time for all decent people and companies with an online presence to take a stand against bullies, trolls, and fake reviewers. I dare you Amazon--restore our faith in fairness and honesty!

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