There is something rotten in the state of Denmark! And, apparently in the state of Amazon!! I am talking about book reviews. Not the well thought out and lengthy contributions by genuine readers, but contrived sales aids written by the author himself (under another name), his friends or paid scribblers.
My shelves are filled with books of wonderful advice on self promotion as a newbie author. They all tell you that you need lots of reviews, preferably five star reviews, on Amazon and other sites to make your book a success. I am sure that they help a lot, but surely readers are beginning to question the value of them. If you type ‘fake 5 star book reviews’ into Google you will get a mountain of comment on this growing trend.
Ok, five star reviews look very impressive – but I think we are in danger of devaluing the currency. You only have to look at some of the brief reviews, short on substance but fanatical in their praise, that now adorn many books to realise that a growing percentage of book reviews may not be what they seem.
Tempting as it may be, and pleasing though it must be to see countless five star reviews praising our work, we must sit back and be honest with ourselves and with book buyers if reviews are to continue to be valued as part of the decision making process by serious readers.
Amazon are taking some action. They are trying to weed out anomalous reviews, but I cannot see how they can effectively tackle all aspects of the problem. In my research for this piece I read about one health book that, after a few really bad one and two star reviews, received more than one hundred five star reviews – in one day! And also about the sci-fi publisher who offered a $25 gift voucher to anyone leaving a five star review of their book (this offer was quickly withdrawn following negative publicity).
I have the same distaste for one star ‘spoiler’ reviews. I, personally, would not write a negative review – I just could not – I would prefer that the reader drew their own conclusion from the lack of reviews on a book. I have always believed that if you cannot say anything nice, do not say anything at all! I hear that Amazon are now addressing this also, and have caught authors writing such reviews just to spoil the sales of another author. I hope they were banned from the site.
It is early days yet for my book (yes, here’s the plug – amzn.to/T0Hthk) but so far it boasts two, four star reviews – and I am proud of having earned them, not paid for them or begged granny to write them!
Ok, that’s enough of the heavy stuff for this week. I hope the cute pics below will amuse you – I love the squirrel that thinks he’s a puppy – thank you Su Williams!
Happy writing until next week, Arthur
Meet the author
Arthur Crandon is a lawyer, the boring office kind, not the exciting (and much better paid) courtroom type. He worked as a solicitor for a while before embarking on an interesting life overseas. He has spent most of his time in recent years in South East Asia, more recently in Hong Kong. Before that, Arthur lived and worked in the Philippine Islands.
He loves to fish, and play the piano – but spends most of his time writing, eating, drinking and sleeping
– usually, but not always, in that order.
His first book, Deadly Election, draws on his strange imagination and his
experiences, together with those of others, in a land that, beneath a veneer of civilisation, operates like the Wild West and is very
dangerous to innocent and gullible foreigners.
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My thriller - Deadly Election - is now on sale at Amazon. Anyone who buys the book and leaves a review will get a signed paperback. Please subscribe to my blog and newsletter here