Indie and self published writers flock to Amazon to publish their books like out of work actors answering an open call audition. It is our chance for fame, wealth, move deals, or at least-and more important-good reviews.
But what is wrong with Amazon’s policy on book reviews?
It is good in the sense that they aim for honest reviews by screening out paid reviews. I would never pay for a review, nor should anyone. They also screen out friends and relatives-and yes their Big Brother algorithms will find out. But they also screen out reviews for reasons that make no sense. I had one disappear, a four start review for “Loonies in Hollywood.” I have no idea who wrote, it but I did find the review two years later on Goodreads. So I did what someone suggested in a blog. I copied it and also copied my other good reviews and saved them in Word and posted some on my website.
No system is not without flaws, but Amazon ignores something that they should monitor, for writers and for themselves. There are trolls who buy an eBook, download it, maybe even read it, and trash it in a review, then get a refund. This is their idea of fun. There are also those who seek revenge on a ‘friend’ by trashing their books.
I am not saying Amazon should weed out bad reviews. I have only one 1 star review. I don’t like that, but having read the review it is clear he or she misread the ending. It happens. But the reviews must be legitimate, and that includes trolls whose hobby is trashing authors for fun. If Amazon can weed out paid reviews, weed out reviews by friends-not always accurate by the way-then they should be working both sides of reviews. If fairness is what Amazon claims to strive for then they must weed out trolls as well as paid reviews.
My Amazon page with I hope no more disappearing reviews
As a writer I would love to do two things. One is to thank the people who took time out of their very, very, very, busy lives to give good reviews of my books on Amazon. The second is to castigate those who wasted their time on a bad review. But I can do neither.
A number of years ago I wrote an article summarizing the draft picks of an NFL team on a sports website. One person commented that I was full of s… among other choice remarks. So I commented on his comment that he can disagree all he wants, but that his language did not help his point of view. Naturally many took his side, not mine. As someone wrote, “You can’t win.” Lesson learned. It was my first encounter with an Internet troll.
I decided to write this article after going on to my Amazon page and reading a four star review (my second) for the first book I wrote, one that is close to me for many reasons. The review was well written, well thought out, and it made me feel great. And I did not know this person in case you are wondering.
But I have also had a bad review on another book, a one star review. I did not mind that so much except he gave away the ending. Clearly he has no conscious. That being said, he took the ending literally. He may be right-if you believe the story of the person in question. The person could have been lying. Or could have been telling the truth. But the story is more than who did what and why. Some people get it and some don’t.
The point is one can not thank those who give you a good review, as much as you want to, nor can you rip those who hate your story, as much as you want to. You just have to go on writing and publishing and hope for the best. Nor can you ask Amazon why a four star review of a book disappeared. They will just blame those tricky, sneaky algorithms. I think that lost review bothers me more than the one star review.