I have been naive' about the way reviews work on all of the distributor/book fan sites, and not just reviews on Amazon. I was silly to think that all reviews were absolutely the truth. I was a doughy-eyed idiot. I believed in the beginning that if I got a one star review it meant that someone hated my work or was judging the work unfairly. (some points made in reviews make me question whether or not the reviewer actually read MY book. They were so far off from what I had written) I knew early on, by reading some of the reviews, that something was wrong with the system, so I just started discounting my own reviews and hit the web looking at other author reviews. I looked at reviews for Tolkien, Rowling, and a host of fellow indie authors. They ALL had bad reviews. Then I googled bad reviews on Amazon and found a ton of articles on the subject. So, I am writing today's blog to point out my findings. I found that many times, and I am a victim of this, one star reviews are from fake sources, designed to lower a books success rate or lower the book in the best seller rankings. The following excerpt was written by Suw Charman-Anderson for Forbes Magazine August 2012. Article URL: http://www.forbes.com/sites/suwcharmananderson/2012/08/28/fake-reviews-amazons-rotten-core/
"Indeed, many authors will recognise the phenomenon of the malicious one-star review designed to sabotage their book. Although Amazon prohibits “spiteful remarks” it is difficult to get such reviews removed. There’s absolutely no doubt that some of these reviews are coming from other authors who see self-publishing as a zero sum game in which if they lose out if another author does well. Others may come from an author’s fans who see anyone else’s success as a threat to their idol, or from griefers and trolls who just get off on attacking strangers in public.
(Note: This is still part of the article not from me) --->When I spoke to Smashwords’ Mark Coker about this last month, he said:
It’s a flaw in the system that negativity can become so amplified. You can have a string of four and five star reviews, and then you get a string of one star reviews and it will torpedo your sales, because people will see those most recent reviews and it’s a warning sign to the potential readers. […] If there’s a reviewer that only leaves one star reviews, or if they’ve left nothing but a single negative review, they’re a carpet-bomber.
Carpet-bombers do not leave negative reviews in order to help readers avoid a bad book, they do it to undermine the reader’s confidence in positive reviews, damage the book’s ranking in Amazon and thus that author’s sales. They are, like fake positive reviews, designed to game the system.
Explains author Robert Kroese:
The effect of a bad review goes far beyond the impact that it has on the author’s ego, however. The prominence of a book on Amazon.com is determined primarily by two factors: how well the book has sold and how positive its reviews are. More highly rated books are displayed more prominently, which leads to more sales. Increased sales leads to even more prominent display, which leads to still more sales. Through the miracle of the positive review snowball effect, a few hundred rave reviews can transform an otherwise unremarkable book into a worldwide bestseller."
The moral of today's blog- before you purchase a book based on reviews good or bad, from any purchase site, click on the reviewer and look at what they reviewed. If they have only reviewed one book and gave it one star it is most likely fake. If the reviewer has many reviews and only gives all 5 star reviews or all one star reviews it is probably fake. If the reviewer reviewed 57 books all in one day they are probably fake. The safest reviews are the 3 star and 4 star reviews, they are most likely the most honest according to all the articles I have read.
About my own reviews: They now pretty much mean nothing to me unless the reviewer has a "pedigree" of multifaceted reviews. Many authors suggest not even looking at your own reviews, but I do out of a sense that I can improve my craft. I no longer give any credence to any reviews of my books that fit into the possible fake review parameters listed above. Ultimately, readers and people who buy your books don't care about the reviews anyway and most are smart enough to spot the fake or silly reviews. Give readers some credit!
For those who are curious about my own story here it is in brief:
When "Defenders of the Sacred Land" was in the top 15 on the Kindle paid best-seller lists I got a one star review with comments that didn't seem to fit with my book. The supposed reviewer even said he did not finish reading half the book. If you click on that reviewer he reviewed only my book for the one star and had no profile, picture, and so on, a most likely fake attack designed to lower the book's rankings according to the articles I have read. Something similar happened on the UK Amazon site as well. I also got a 2 star review that I believe to be very legitimate, so I am not saying that some people will not like my work, I expect some will not and that's okay, which brings me to my final thought:
Fellow Indie Authors: Reviews are not as important to your writing as your fans are. We cannot please everyone so let's please the ones we can. bad reviews suck, but as I have shown above, they can have very little bearing or reflection on your actual work. ALL authors have bad reviews. ALL great authors have bed reviews, ALL books have lovers and haters. Our job is to write and create, so damn the torpedoes! Full steam ahead!