Friday, March 07, 2014

Why I Don't Care for Amazon--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 what I had to say about 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!


A J said...

You've hit the nail on the head. The current state of affairs is woeful beyond belief, with the vast amount of dross flooding the marketplace, especially on Amazon. I feel sorry for the readers who part with their hard-earned cash, expecting a good read. What they get is poorly-written crap, which hasn't been anywhere near a copy-editor. With the artificial hyping of such 'works' how is any unsuspecting reader to know the thing's no good? True writers will labor for years perfecting their craft. They will agonize over each line. They will seek out and accept constructive criticism before the book goes to their publisher. Publishers ensure the work is suitable for release. They will work with the author to clear any errors from the manuscript and shape it into a format readers can buy with confidence. I blame much of the current climate on the need for instant gratification. Anyone can publish the equivalent of a manuscript written in crayon on wallpaper lining. Anyone can sell that online, backed by a clique of 'friends' and acquaintances bribed with freebies to insure the writer's instant success. I don't know if matters will ever improve. I suspect it might moderate somewhat as the latest craze dies down to be replaced by something else. I hope so. In the meantime I continue to write, and work to get quality reading material out there.

Celine said...

Bravo, AJ! It's hard-working writers like you who bring up the level of literary efforts for sale on Amazon. We might never get five hundred "five star" fake reviews, but at least we can rest assured our editors and publishers enjoyed our work enough to put their names on the cover/inner pages. ;)

Marvelle Petit said...

Thanks for the article! I agree with everything you said.

Celine said...

Thanks, Marvelle. It's good to know I'm not the only one out there who is getting tired of how things have gone downhill at Amazon and other places online.

Book-lovers need to unite and boycott Amazon and/or do whatever it takes to make things safer and fairer for all authors and readers.

commentmaker said...

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.