Monday, 13 January 2014

Do You Agree, Or Disagree? (#02) [TOPIC: Fake Amazon Reviews]

If you missed my post last Monday, I should repeat that this is going to become a regular thing on my blog this year: Do You Agree, Or Disagree? Due to our ever increasing poor concentration spans (What?! This post is more than 140 characters? How ever will I cope?) I've decided to post, on occasion, a short and sweet statement designed to get you thinking and responding with your thoughts. See that's kind of a trick, isn't it? Because you will probably end up using your brain a lot more on these posts than if you were simply reading an article. But that's cool. I'm all in for tricks.

If you're a lazy reader, just skip to this part of the post. Hopefully this large bold red text will attract your attention:
Buying book reviews isn't new. Publishers have been paying professionals to review their books for decades. So what's all the fuss about THIS new site which offers indie authors an opportunity to boost their sales with quick Amazon reviews? And how is it any different than having family and friends review your books, when clearly they are going to be biased? It's dog eat dog out there. And if a dog has money to pay for hundreds of fake reviews, and as a result, sell a shit load of books, why not let him spend it?
Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this statement are not my own. The statement is worded in a particular way to spark debate.

CLICK HERE to subscribe to my newsletter. Every subscriber will receive The Hum of Sin Against Skin for free, and be the first to know about new releases and special subscriber giveaways.


  1. I'm sure reviews help to a certain degree but I've seen books with over 100 hundred reviews sell less than books with under 20, so I think the book still has to stand on its own. Maybe its coicidence when an author buys reviews and their book does well.

  2. I used to be active on a site called Zoetrope. I’m still a member but you know what it’s like with no time. Anyway one of the benefits of the site was you could get your stuff reviewed. The catch? To qualify to post one thing you have to review five. And it worked pretty much on the honour system. Some people did the minimum number of words to count as a review; others put a bit of effort into the reviews. And that’s what will happen here. My reason for not taking part is pure snobbery: I don’t know who’d be allocated my book to read and I can only imagine the tripe I’d be sent to review (Sparkly ZombieWolves take Manhattan). I think people like me—and I do admit I’m in the minority—simply have to accept this is wrong time in history to be a serious writer and expect to be taken seriously if you decide to self-publish. The old saying goes “Everyone’s a critic.” Well, yes, they are. And most of us can be quite funny from time to time but that doesn’t mean we’re going to quit our day jobs and take to the stage. The same goes for reviewing stuff. Amazon’s reviews are becoming meaningless and all that’s going to happen is people are going to take a look at a book and if they reckon it’s been self-published they’ll simply disregard all the five-star reviews straight off the bat, if not all the reviews. Now if Amazon links the books to reviews on Goodreads I might pay a little more attention since my experience there is that at least some thought goes into the reviews there but then I’ve also heard negative things about the site. Everything’s going to get spoiled eventually. It’ll all even out and it’ll all be mud.

  3. Everybody's got a gig . . . I think the reader/buyer knows the score and works around it. I also think Amazon's lost its magical touch. Sites in Germany and China are fanning out.

  4. +JMJ+

    Since I'm not an author, I'm trying to see it from a reviewer's perspective. For the site also tries to recruit reviewers by saying: "If you are a person who likes to review books, and get them for free, then this is the program for you."

    Now, this strikes me as very similar to why a lot of people get into book blogging, and we tend to think of that as benign. How is becoming an unpaid reviewer for this company any different? Now, I don't think it's very classy, but inasmuch as reviews have become a promotional tool, this new development is hardly something we can get worked up about. (If anything, it's a way to level the field a bit so that indie authors don't get completely drowned out by those who are backed by huge publishing companies.) In fact, I think the main reason a reviewer would find this offensive is that it makes us admit how much of our motivation comes from incentives, which are also a form of payment.

  5. Oh, gosh. I did see you post something about this on FB, and I read most of the discussion. It would be so much easier if people could be trusted. What's happened to pure honesty? *sighs* I can't lie. Some reviews influence me. But I also have to be responsible for what I choose to read. As a respectable author, I wouldn't be comfortable knowing I'm literally asking someone for a biased review in my favor.

  6. I certainly wouldn't pay for a review.
    More reviews will get your book noticed more, but as someone already pointed out, it still has to be good to do well.

  7. Like Alex, I would not pay for a review - it just feels dishonest to me. I wouldn't ask family or friends to review either, because as you said, it would be biased. I find this dilemma when blogging friends ask for reviews because I know them and want to be honest, but don't want to hurt anyone's feelings if I don't like it so much and don't want to hurt the chances of their book selling by saying so.

  8. It's great to see that you are adjusting to an A.D.D. culture!

    It's already tough to know which Amazon reviews to trust. My brother says he reads the negative reviews first, and if there aren't any, it makes him suspicious.

    Maybe I'll start a business where writers pay me to negatively review OTHER writers' books.

  9. When looking to buy a book an amazon, I look to see how many reviews it's accumulated first of all, because when it's up there over 100, I figure most of those must be authentic and honest and it's a hat tilt toward the overal popularity of the book. I'd hate to be bamboozled into reading something I'll be dissapointed with because the reviews were paid for and completely biased, skimming over important things like the editing, plot holes, or terrible writing. I have trouble believing the reviews would still be as honest or authentic if there were money involved. It kind of distroys the original point of reviews in the first place.

  10. The genie got let out of the bottle a long time ago. Writing/publishing is a business plain and simple. Treat it like one. If you're an artist, I sympathize with you.

  11. As far back as John Steinbeck's time, reviews accounted for only 2% of those who bought. John Steinbeck wouldn't lie! :-)

    Human nature being what it is, people want is popular. Lots of 4 stars reviews indicate the book is popular.

    Sock Puppets sound just like what they are, and I believe those reviews are discounted. And if enough of them are on a book's page, I believe that book is also discounted.

    I weary of all the short fabulous reviews on Twitter and occasionallky post:
    Stephen King - I couldn't put down Roland's new book. My son Joe put super-glue on the covers!

  12. Reviews do influence me, and so I understand why it's done. I was recently looking for a biography, and I bought the one with the most reviews.

    But if I think a book is poor, it runs the risk of a bad review, so it's swings and roundabouts.

  13. I don't really pat much attention to reviews, you can always find people who like/hate any book. I also ignore those quotes on movie posters that tell me the movie is the funniest of the year. I need something more substantial than someone expressing their personal taste to convince me I'll like it too. Experience has taught me other people's taste generally sucks.

    Moody Writing

  14. With some products, overwhelming positive reviews will sell me on it. With taste in books so subjective, however, I tend to ignore most of the favorable/unfavorable reviews and look at the middling ones -- those that look at the book objectively to point out both the book's draws and its shortcomings.

    I guess what I'm saying is it doesn't bother me if people buy book reviews. But to those who do, I'd suggest it's more worthwhile purchasing honest reviews, rather than ones that are wholly positive (or engineered to appear mostly positive).

  15. I'd never pay for a review. It just seems dishonest to me. But I do understand why people do. I agree with Nate - if you're going to pay for reviews, at least make sure they're honest.


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland

“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris