Monday Musings: Oh, Amazon, Why You Be Like This?

You may have seen this article floating around the writer-verse lately:

Amazon and ARC Reviews

It seems Amazon has been cracking down on reviews of things, not only books, that are received free in exchange for a review. In one way, I understand the issue. Since Amazon has existed, the pay-for-reviews system has, as well. In its darkest form, there are those who, for a fee, will write a 5-star review of your product, often without ever really owning said product. Some will guarantee 10 or more reviews for one price. They use multiple bogus accounts and pad the products of those paying them with false reviews.

Let me be clear: I do not condone this practice. It is, of course, deceptive. It is unfair to those shopping because, of course, those reviewers aren’t speaking from their experience with that product, and those types of reviews lead customers to (perhaps) buy an inferior product as a result. I consider this review buying dishonest. Amazon should try to track down and stop it.

At the same time, limiting reviews on products sold on Amazon strictly to verified purchases is going too far, in my opinion. Narrowing the discussion to writers and books, what has been happening is that people who receive advance reading copies of new books (known as ARCs) are finding those reviews being taken down or refused by Amazon.

Here’s the thing: ARC reviews are an established practice in the publishing world, both in traditional and independent publishing. It is common for a publisher to send out copies of a book in advance of the publication date in an effort to get some buzz going before the actual drop date. No strings, no payment (well, sometimes you might get some minor swag- bookmark, t-shirt, etc.), and nothing required in return. The hope, of course, is that those readers will love the book, and write a nice review and tell all their friends. That can often drive sales once the book goes on sale.

Let’s be honest here. We all know that Amazon is the go-to online place for just about everything these days. And those reviews are read and taken into consideration by people looking to buy. We all want our books to have reviews- and they don’t necessarily have to all be 5-star. The more, the better. It can be hard enough to get people to sit down and write a review as it is, and if they think Amazon is just going to either refuse to publish it or take it down after, well, that’s not going to encourage people to review.

I know some independent authors who are pulling out of Amazon because of policies like this. I don’t know if that’s going to become a trend, given Amazon’s market share.

In the long run, I doubt this will hurt traditional publishing. Those folks have other outlets and professional ins for getting the word out in advance. We indies? Not so much. We rely on those first readers, and it’s a small price to send a free copy to someone who might enjoy your book, and ask them to leave a review. Those honestly do help. (Side note: if you’ve read one of my books and not written a review. please do!)

What can you do, as a reader? If you get an ARC, first, please do review it. Try Amazon. I understand some reviews are getting through and not being pulled. But don’t stop there. Copy it to other places: Goodreads, BookBub, and any other place that accepts reviews. Use your social media to tell people you just read a good book, and maybe link to your Goodreads (or wherever) review. If you have a blog where you talk about books and reading, put your review there.

Meanwhile, Amazon says it is not refusing ARC reviews, but there is plenty of buzz in the writerly world about ARC readers being refused or having their reviews removed. I understand Amazon wanting to deal with the paid-for bulk reviewers, but this sort of thing is not in anyone’s best interest. I don’t have a solution. It’s not an easy issue, nor is it, like just about every other issue, one-sided.

Just keep on reading, and talking about the stuff you like wherever you can. Those of us who put our stuff out there for you to read appreciate you- every one!

======================================================

Available now :

tn_Circle Unbroken Cover (eBook)

After five years away, Kaili is coming home for the ceremony to install her sister as head of the family business. When an old rivalry threatens the family, Kaili and her partner need to use all their skills to save the sisters’ lives. Learn more here

 

 

tn_Six of One

A collection of six short fantasy stories set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Learn more here.

 

 

 

tn_Survival of the Fittest (Front Cover)

A short novelette set in a dystopian Earth after the final environmental collapse. Sam is a genetically engineered chameleon who may hold the key to mankind’s survival. Learn more here.

 

 

 

Feedmypeople-thumb

In a world reeling under the effects of severe climate change, food shortages are common, and arable farmland is scarce. Unscupulous distributors like Beni Oligowma take advantage of the shortages for their own gain. When a promising new technology for growing food even under the harsh conditions is unveiled, grocery store owner Frank is determined to see that everyone is able to benefit from the results, not just the Benis of the world.
Feed My People is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free. Learn more here

 

 

Demon hunters Johnny and Cerise travel to the small town of Carroll Fork where they find a demon-possessed thrift store, a sweet old lady who is more than she seems, and an army of underworld inhabitants. Can Johnny and his trusty yo-yo save the town from a devil of a problem?

Five and Daemon, the Yo-Yo Files #1, is a short novelette in an urban fantasy setting, with elements of the supernatural and humor. Learn more here

YoYo#2Thumb

Things have been quiet. No demonic possessions, no otherworldly intrusions, nothing. And then Lucifer shows up in Johnny’s living room, claiming that two archangels are missing, and something is definitely not right in the heavenly- and other- realms. Saying he has nothing to do with it- this time- he asks Johnny and Cerise to help him find out what’s happening, and who is behind the disappearances. While they are trying to do just that, Lucifer is devilnapped by a larger-than-life serpent. He manages to get a clue to Johnny before he disappears. Johnny and Cerise are left to puzzle out the disappearances and try to find the missing angels. Oh, and stop what could mean the ultimate destruction of pretty much everything.

Snake’s Alive, the Yo-Yo Files #2 is an urban fantasy novelette with elements of the supernatural and humor. Learn more here.

2 thoughts on “Monday Musings: Oh, Amazon, Why You Be Like This?

  1. Some publishers I do business with have a constant struggle to show they’re not buying reviews.
    Meanwhile another company I work for that gets most of its traffic through FB has to contort and twist the rules for articles so that they comply with whatever FB’s latest change is.
    The problems of dealing with the 500 pound gorilla.

    Like

    1. Yes, it’s getting difficult to keep up. Something that should be as simple as tossing the link to this blog out for those who check social media in the morning and again for the evening folks is getting difficult.
      500 lb. gorilla, indeed.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.