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Authors' Forum => Writers' Cafe => Topic started by: thevoiceofone on November 12, 2015, 06:30:37 PM

Title: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: thevoiceofone on November 12, 2015, 06:30:37 PM
Its hilarious to see which authors purchase reviews. You can always tell because they are short, and when you click through the same reviewer has given EVERYONE 5 star reviews. Sorry but no one gives 5 stars to every single book they read.  ;D

Then you have the reviewer who has 5 starred every book the writer has done LOL clear giveaway ( It screams fiverr)

I'm sure Amazon will bring the hammer down soon and I imagine number of accounts will be nuked badly.

Before i purchase a book, i don't look at their reviews. I look at WHO their reviewers are ( and what they have reviewed ) it lets me know immediately if its a paid review or not.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on November 12, 2015, 06:35:19 PM
I have a rule that if I can't give 4-5 stars, I email the author my review instead of posting it.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: katherinef on November 12, 2015, 06:47:51 PM
I have a bunch of short 5-star reviews that people just copy paste to every single book they pick up. And yes, there are people who 5-star everything or don't want to leave any other kind of reviews. I assume paid ones would at least be a bit longer. Actually, last time I checked a book that had what looked like paid reviews, they were all very long, but they had similar phrasing and almost ridiculous compliments for the author.  ;D
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: T.K. on November 12, 2015, 07:04:45 PM
I've left my share of reviews and most of them (if not all) are 4 or 5 stars simply because if I don't like a book I don't finish reading it. If I finish a book it means I actually really like it and post a review stating such. (Unlike my daughter who finishes everything she starts because she feels she must. In fact, when I see her with a book in one hand and a red pen in the other I know she's editing the book at the same time! :D)
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Usedtoposthere on November 12, 2015, 08:16:49 PM
I have a bunch of short 5-star reviews that people just copy paste to every single book they pick up. And yes, there are people who 5-star everything or don't want to leave any other kind of reviews. I assume paid ones would at least be a bit longer. Actually, last time I checked a book that had what looked like paid reviews, they were all very long, but they had similar phrasing and almost ridiculous compliments for the author.  ;D
I've been accused of this twice. It was very upsetting in both cases. Once for hundreds of short reviews showing up fast (I'd sold a lot of books), once for too many long, super-enthusiastic reviews showing up fast (early readers loved that book). I know Amazon has filed suit against hundreds of people on Fiverr who sold fake reviews, and I am glad of it. But meanwhile, I wouldn't go accusing authors. If you have doubts, I'd go look on Goodreads. Typically, ratings are about .5 stars lower than on Amazon. If there are a lot of ratings (enough to be significant), and the average is WAY lower than on Amazon, like over 1 star's worth, I'd guess there could be something fishy.

Or, you know, you could shrug and not bother, because it's not really your problem and there's no real way to know.


Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: HSh on November 12, 2015, 08:21:49 PM
Well, I've never bought a review and some of mine are (authentically) really short.  And not always positive... 

Sometimes reviews are short because the Kindles now prompt you to leave a review after finishing.  (At least mine do?)  And it's hard to type much on a Kindle, IMO.   :(

It's also really hard to get reviews lately, I think...  Or is that just me?   :'(
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Moire on November 12, 2015, 08:42:36 PM
I review books that I love. If I don't love them, I don't review them. I'm sure I'm not the only person on earth who does this.

I have some reviews from people who tend to do only five- or four-star ratings, and I sure as heck didn't pay for them (or even ask for them).

ETA: I also have a couple of reviews written by people who had never reviewed a book on Amazon before. Things are not always as they seem when viewed by cynical eyes.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: suliabryon on November 12, 2015, 08:48:24 PM
I review books that I love. If I don't love them, I don't review them. I'm sure I'm not the only person on earth who does this.

I have some reviews from people who tend to do only five- or four-star ratings, and I sure as heck didn't pay for them (or even ask for them).

This. I have never left less than a 4 star review, usually I leave 5 star reviews. If it's an item, like a kitchen pan that didn't perform well, I'll leave a low rating and let people know. But as a writer, I know how personal our words are. I'm not interested in leaving a review that will hurt someone just because a book didn't work for me. I review books when I love them enough that I want to let the author (and others) know.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Silly Writer on November 12, 2015, 09:05:18 PM
I have A LOT of reviews that I've left, as I read about 2-3 books a week, and out of lots of pages of reviews, they're all 5 star, except for maybe four or five and most of those are 4-star.

So the reviews I leave are 99% 5 stars. Why? Well, I'm an author. I know how bad it hurts us to get a bad review. I refuse to do that to my tribe. If I don't like the book, I keep it to myself. Just like in real life if I have nothing nice to say, I try to say nothing at all.  That's just my personal feelings on it, and I completely understand readers need those low reviews (if they're warranted) so they can make a choice to buy or not. But as an author, I just can't leave them.

Regarding reviews on my own work. I have a crapload of REALLY long reviews. Usually from bloggers who received ARC's, and a crapload of short reviews. I assume those are the ones that Amazon prompts cuz some will say something like, "It was good." Or "Didn't like it." If I look at the other reviews that person left, they are much the same, because that is how that person reviews.

Nothing nefarious about that, however, if I can see how someone might think they're not real. But...they are  ;D 
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: DarkarNights on November 12, 2015, 09:11:20 PM
Amazon already brought the hammer down, which was discussed heavily here. Is the OP even an author? What is even the purpose of this post that doesn't even consider the variables of reality in that most normal people only review what they truly enjoy or truly hate. That's human nature. And begin the countdown till thread locked. Lol
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: she-la-ti-da on November 12, 2015, 11:51:33 PM
Amazon already brought the hammer down, which was discussed heavily here. Is the OP even an author? What is even the purpose of this post that doesn't even consider the variables of reality in that most normal people only review what they truly enjoy or truly hate. That's human nature. And begin the countdown till thread locked. Lol

IBTL!

I suspect most of the really short reviews are because of the reader being prompted to leave reviews. They probably don't really even think about it, just pop in to review with the least amount of effort.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on November 13, 2015, 01:36:08 AM
But as an author, I just can't leave them.

This is how I feel, too. And I'm an amazon top 500 reviewer, so I've posted a LOT of reviews. For me, I just don't think it's MY place to post to negative reviews. Yes, customers deserve to read them, but as a writer, I'm going to be more biased. I'm going to have thoughts on how I would have written it differently--which is not helpful to a reader. I'm going to notice more small mistakes that don't actually detract from the story--which is not helpful to a reader. Etc. And even if I could post a negative review that might be helpful to a reader, I risk people thinking I'm trying to "sabotage the competition" or whatever else. It's not worth it. On the other hand, posting 4 and 5 star reviews IS worth it, because there's nothing wrong with giving praise where it's due. I'll let other reviewers handle the negative reviews. For me, it's just on what I like :)
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on November 13, 2015, 04:42:11 AM
Amazon already brought the hammer down, which was discussed heavily here. Is the OP even an author? What is even the purpose of this post that doesn't even consider the variables of reality in that most normal people only review what they truly enjoy or truly hate. That's human nature. And begin the countdown till thread locked. Lol

Kalel has been a member here for quite a while and is, as far as I know, an author.  That being said, I'm not sure what it has to do with the OP or Kalel's right to post in the Writers' Cafe.  ANY KBoards member may post in the Writers' Cafe.

Let's continue to keep it civil so that the thread doesn't have to be locked.  And let's not predict threadlock; those kinds of comments tend to encourage bad behavior. 

For everyone,

If the topic interests you (generic you), and you can respond civilly (as has been the case so far), take part.  If not, move on.  Lots of other threads here.  Not every thread or post needs to be responded to (unless it's a request for help!)

ETA:  The above being said, let's also be careful about accusations of buying reviews.  A general discussion is OK--it's a known thing that Amazon is cracking down on.  But let's not get into specifics.

Thanks,

Betsy
KB Mod
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on November 13, 2015, 05:00:10 AM
To comment on the OP, my reviews are typically short, I do a bunch on one day, and they're rarely five stars. (I reserve five stars for the best books I've ever read.)  I suppose someone could think I'm trying to hurt authors.

But I also know that Amazon sends out reminder emails to people to review things--and once you've reviewed one item, you typically get a list of a whole bunch of other things to review.  And some people may be using the Amazon reviews the same way some people use Goodreads--indicating their interest in reading the book or putting a placeholder rating in it.  And Amazon apparently is still requiring the 20 word minimum on reviews--at least a review I left recently had to be 20 words.  So people will leave just enough.

I look at the aggregate of reviews as one thing to consider when making purchases....

Betsy
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: usedtocare on November 13, 2015, 05:27:22 AM
Its hilarious to see which authors purchase reviews. You can always tell because they are short, and when you click through the same reviewer has given EVERYONE 5 star reviews. Sorry but no one gives 5 stars to every single book they read.  ;D  Wrong. Plenty of people will only leave a review if they can give it five stars, for a MULTITUDE of reasons. I was one of those type of reviewers for a long time, simply because I would rather stay silent than say something negative. However, I have stopped writing reviews entirely, for a TON of reasons, all of which could be another discussion for another thread.

Then you have the reviewer who has 5 starred every book the writer has done LOL clear giveaway ( It screams fiverr)
No, you are making a sweeping assumption, and you can't possibly know that for sure. I can tell you I have many loyal readers who review every book I publish, and I consistently see the same reviewers leave positive reviews. They are my loyal readers, and I certainly did not find them on fiverr. So, no, that situation doesn't "scream" fiverr, especially to any author who had an established fan base. They are our super fans for a reason --  because they love our books and love to review.

I'm sure Amazon will bring the hammer down soon and I imagine number of accounts will be nuked badly.
Amazon does. Amazon has. Amazon is constantly on top of monitoring and removing reviews. That's nothing new.

Before i purchase a book, i don't look at their reviews. I look at WHO their reviewers are ( and what they have reviewed ) it lets me know immediately if its a paid review or not.
Wow. I wish I was that insightful. I don't have that sort of innate ability to know if a review is paid for by simply viewing a profile or reading a few words on a screen.

If reviews on books that are not yours bother you so much, simply report them to Amazon. Making sweeping generalizations and accusations, however, is likely to bring plenty of negative responses to your question. (If the OP was even a question, because it sounded more like a rant.)

Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: usedtocare on November 13, 2015, 05:29:15 AM
And Amazon apparently is still requiring the 20 word minimum on reviews--at least a review I left recently had to be 20 words.  So people will leave just enough.

I am definitely curious if that has changed. I have noticed quite a few 3-5 word reviews lately, not just on my books, but on others. <shrug?>
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Ann in Arlington on November 13, 2015, 05:37:43 AM
I'll sometimes get a reminder about reviewing things . . . but I don't have to actually write anything . . . just click a star rating. For books, I can also note whether the writing is poor, fair, good, great, the level of sexual content and violence, and whether what the POV is -- which last is usually a problem because it's not something I notice unless it's so badly done that it distracts me.  There's a field for a comment, but I don't usually make one . . . . or if I do it's very short.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on November 13, 2015, 05:42:47 AM
I am definitely curious if that has changed. I have noticed quite a few 3-5 word reviews lately, not just on my books, but on others. <shrug?>


Yeah, I thought they had changed it...but I definitely was prompted on a recent review that I had to write more words.  I'm pretty sure it was a book...now I'll have to check to see if it was a non-book product.

Betsy
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on November 13, 2015, 05:44:22 AM
I'll sometimes get a reminder about reviewing things . . . but I don't have to actually write anything . . . just click a star rating. For books, I can also note whether the writing is poor, fair, good, great, the level of sexual content and violence, and whether what the POV is -- which last is usually a problem because it's not something I notice unless it's so badly done that it distracts me.  There's a field for a comment, but I don't usually make one . . . . or if I do it's very short.

No, you don't have to write a review.  I generally do.

I haven't gotten one of those rating thingies lately...
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: countwordsmith on November 13, 2015, 05:52:39 AM
Under one of my pen names, a reader copies and pastes a one sentence review for each of my books she reads. It looks so fake, but I've never paid for it. I don't know why she bothers, but she's faithful to do it. To me, saying the exact same thing every time wouldn't have any weight at all.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: ShaneJeffery on November 13, 2015, 05:52:58 AM
Its hilarious to see which authors purchase reviews. You can always tell because they are short, and when you click through the same reviewer has given EVERYONE 5 star reviews. Sorry but no one gives 5 stars to every single book they read.  ;D

Then you have the reviewer who has 5 starred every book the writer has done LOL clear giveaway ( It screams fiverr)

I'm sure Amazon will bring the hammer down soon and I imagine number of accounts will be nuked badly.

Before i purchase a book, i don't look at their reviews. I look at WHO their reviewers are ( and what they have reviewed ) it lets me know immediately if its a paid review or not.

Kalel, your criteria for identifying authors who buy reviews is nothing short of terrible.

I know, because I haven't bought any reviews, but frequently I have reviewers who post very short reviews such as 'Loved it' or a couple sentences to that effect. I even have reviewers who write three or four lines rate the book five stars, and then post the same exact review on 30 other books. Yes it is disappointing to see that they didn't take the time to properly review the book, but it's even worse when you have people starting to accuse you of buying reviews over something someone else has done which you have no control over.

So, with respect, 'hilarious' it is NOT
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Bards and Sages (Julie) on November 13, 2015, 05:54:15 AM
Its hilarious to see which authors purchase reviews. You can always tell because they are short, and when you click through the same reviewer has given EVERYONE 5 star reviews. Sorry but no one gives 5 stars to every single book they read.  ;D

Actually, on Amazon a lot of people do. A great many people act as if everything between 1 star and 5 star doesn't even exist. Short reviews are not a sign of "paid" reviews per se, and neither are all 5 stars. Because Amazon hounds you about leaving reviews, so a lot of people will post a one sentence review simply to get Amazon off their back. Heck, I'VE done it after Amazon sending me multiple "reminders" to review a product.

I swear they stalk me.  :o

That said, you CAN often spot paid reviews, but it isn't the length or even the review rating that gives them away. Paid reviews tend to talk more about how great the AUTHOR is instead of how great the BOOK is. Lots of them will read like ad copy (because they are...often the author's write the review and the reviewer just posts them). Look for patterns in reviews that are all posted around the same time. People who buy reviews don't buy one or two. They tend to buy in bulk. All the reviews will tend to use the same "buzz words" and phrases. So look for patterns in the reviews themselves.

Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: countwordsmith on November 13, 2015, 05:54:36 AM

Yeah, I thought they had changed it...but I definitely was prompted on a recent review that I had to write more words.  I'm pretty sure it was a book...now I'll have to check to see if it was a non-book product.

Betsy

I got a review this month that says "Loved it" and nothing else.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: scott.marmorstein on November 13, 2015, 05:55:44 AM
My first novel garnered a lot of reviews, and these were all people who knew me from my community that were just impressed I wrote a book. The second novel in the series didn't garner any reviews yet. As for Fivver I can see the appeal, I've looked at people saying they'll leave a review for $5, plus the cost or gift/credit amount towards your book. I wouldn't do it for a few reasons: 1, I think it's unethical--who knows if the person in question will *actually* read the book. 2. I'm essentially telling myself that I write just to get reviews, or that I can't handle bad ones. Pursuit has two 1 star reviews, one of those reviews is from someone I know personally. Never spoke to her about it and wouldn't bother--and I only ever commented on 1 review to let the reader know that the follow-up book *in an unrelated series* was available for pre-order, but that's a different story. 3. I feel sorry for the people who are scrounging around for loose change like $5 to write a review. I think there are more inventive and creative ways to make extra money--although it's got it's own charming imagination to it. Problem is I don't think it would ever pan out for anyone, least of all the reviewer who probably doesn't a.) care about you or your book, and b.) is only motivated by the prospect of your paying them for a review they'd probably never give you because they never would have heard of your book or you.

Trying to think if I have a last sentiment here. OH, yeah, THIS I agree with:

 
No, you are making a sweeping assumption, and you can't possibly know that for sure. I can tell you I have many loyal readers who review every book I publish, and I consistently see the same reviewers leave positive reviews. They are my loyal readers, and I certainly did not find them on fiverr. So, no, that situation doesn't "scream" fiverr, especially to any author who had an established fan base. They are our super fans for a reason --  because they love our books and love to review.
 Amazon does. Amazon has. Amazon is constantly on top of monitoring and removing reviews. That's nothing new.
 Wow. I wish I was that insightful. I don't have that sort of innate ability to know if a review is paid for by simply viewing a profile or reading a few words on a screen.

If reviews on books that are not yours bother you so much, simply report them to Amazon. Making sweeping generalizations and accusations, however, is likely to bring plenty of negative responses to your question. (If the OP was even a question, because it sounded more like a rant.)


Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Mark E. Cooper on November 13, 2015, 06:04:31 AM
I've never bought a review  in my life and never will. I think the John Locke debacle a few years back is a great reason not to, and it's just feels all kinds of wrong besides. I don't even like the trad pubs doing it with "reputable" paid reviews such as Kirkus.

Having said all this, I see tons of authors, me included, with short 4 and 5 star reviews, and I know where they come from. Mailing list launches. When I launch a new title via mailing list, the beta readers, the arc list, and my mailing list tend to review very quickly after launch because they have already read the book days/weeks before.

Anyway, that's what I think.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Robert Salisbury on November 13, 2015, 06:11:42 AM
I've been accused of this twice. It was very upsetting in both cases. Once for hundreds of short reviews showing up fast (I'd sold a lot of books), once for too many long, super-enthusiastic reviews showing up fast (early readers loved that book). I know Amazon has filed suit against hundreds of people on Fiverr who sold fake reviews, and I am glad of it. But meanwhile, I wouldn't go accusing authors. If you have doubts, I'd go look on Goodreads. Typically, ratings are about .5 stars lower than on Amazon. If there are a lot of ratings (enough to be significant), and the average is WAY lower than on Amazon, like over 1 star's worth, I'd guess there could be something fishy.

Or, you know, you could shrug and not bother, because it's not really your problem and there's no real way to know.

I'm sorry you've been accused and got upset, because I looked into your Amazon pages when you posted on my "are reviews meaningless" thread a few days ago, and thought everything looked absolutely plausible and 100% correct. The ratings averages on the books and the quantity of reviews matched your success. I looked into the sales on a few, and they were all in the top 1% of Kindles. It was a good example of the opposite of what had been puzzling me, which was books with ratings averages that were spectacular even by your standards, but without the matching success.

BTW, you must have been pleased with the All Blacks' efforts towards helping your sales at the world cup!
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Ann in Arlington on November 13, 2015, 06:12:47 AM
No, you don't have to write a review.  I generally do.

I haven't gotten one of those rating thingies lately...

I actually haven't in a while either, but I found that if I go to any book and click 'write a review' I get a page of the things I have bought -- and can put ratings/reviews there.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: ShaneJeffery on November 13, 2015, 06:30:05 AM


That said, you CAN often spot paid reviews, but it isn't the length or even the review rating that gives them away. Paid reviews tend to talk more about how great the AUTHOR is instead of how great the BOOK is. Lots of them will read like ad copy (because they are...often the author's write the review and the reviewer just posts them). Look for patterns in reviews that are all posted around the same time. People who buy reviews don't buy one or two. They tend to buy in bulk. All the reviews will tend to use the same "buzz words" and phrases. So look for patterns in the reviews themselves.



How can you spot a review as paid, if you can't confirm it? Are you actually pointing to examples where the review has been outed as paid? Or are you just guessing?

Seriously, authors should not be accountable what lands on their product page.

Aside from the spam like reviews I get, a couple of years ago one of my housemates reviewed my book on Amazon. I pleaded with them to take it down, but they refused, insisting that Amazon asked them to review the book. I talked about IP addresses and how it would look, they didn't care. About a year later amazon took down the review and nothing else happened, but seriously ... there's far too many innocent people caught up in blind accusations. Authors need to be aware.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Ann in Arlington on November 13, 2015, 06:44:36 AM
How can you spot a review as paid, if you can't confirm it? Are you actually pointing to examples where the review has been outed as paid? Or are you just guessing?

Seriously, authors should not be accountable what lands on their product page.

Aside from the spam like reviews I get, a couple of years ago one of my housemates reviewed my book on Amazon. I pleaded with them to take it down, but they refused, insisting that Amazon asked them to review the book. I talked about IP addresses and how it would look, they didn't care. About a year later amazon took down the review and nothing else happened, but seriously ... there's far too many innocent people caught up in blind accusations. Authors need to be aware.

I think what Julie is saying is that the evidence for paid reviews is in a number of reviews on a single book, from all different people, that all say, essentially the same thing.  That is much more likely to be due to a concerted effort than the history of a single reviewer who might just post very similar comments on everything s/he reads.

Either way, I do think it is unwise to draw conclusions based on so little evidence.  And, understand that readers are well able to accord exactly the amount of weight to a review that it deserves. if a reader sees a lot of reviews that all say the same thing, they're going to think they're perhaps not all from 'real readers'. If it doesn't say anything but "this is great" or "this is trash", it's pretty easy to ignore.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Annette_g on November 13, 2015, 06:48:44 AM
I rarely leave a review for anything that is less than 4 or 5 stars, lower than that I rarely bother leaving a review unless there is something I feel the need to rant about that happened to be in the book. I normally leave the ranty reviews on GR, not Amazon though.

I've never paid for a review, and some of the reviews on my stuff are very short too. So no, you can't always tell who's paid for a review.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: ShaneJeffery on November 13, 2015, 06:54:15 AM
I think what Julie is saying is that the evidence for paid reviews is in a number of reviews on a single book, from all different people, that all say, essentially the same thing.  That is much more likely to be due to a concerted effort than the history of a single reviewer who might just post very similar comments on everything s/he reads.

Either way, I do think it is unwise to draw conclusions based on so little evidence.  And, understand that readers are well able to accord exactly the amount of weight to a review that it deserves. if a reader sees a lot of reviews that all say the same thing, they're going to think they're perhaps not all from 'real readers'. If it doesn't say anything but "this is great" or "this is trash", it's pretty easy to ignore.

I'm not concerned about readers's interpretation of reviews. That's harmless unless an author is unduly targeted by certain people.

The situation you describe may well be a concerted effort, with or without the authors collaboration.

Regardless, it is very dangerous to take such accusations lightly, even amongst discussion of authors on a public board.

Authors can have their books taken down, accounts suspended, and who knows what else - Even the innocent are powerless to defend themselves if enough people make their minds up in advance.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: MaryMcDonald on November 13, 2015, 07:32:21 AM
Its hilarious to see which authors purchase reviews. You can always tell because they are short, and when you click through the same reviewer has given EVERYONE 5 star reviews. Sorry but no one gives 5 stars to every single book they read.  ;D

Then you have the reviewer who has 5 starred every book the writer has done LOL clear giveaway ( It screams fiverr)

I'm sure Amazon will bring the hammer down soon and I imagine number of accounts will be nuked badly.

Before i purchase a book, i don't look at their reviews. I look at WHO their reviewers are ( and what they have reviewed ) it lets me know immediately if its a paid review or not.


Whoa. Short reviews don't mean much. I have a book with a good number of reviews. It's been out for five years and has had a lot of free downloads, so that explains the number of reviews. I definitely don't need to buy any (and if I did, it would be for subsequent books in the series! lol Wish I could get readers who must like them, since sales tell me many go on to buy the other books, but they don't review them. Oh well. Not a major problem.) Anyway, just got a review today that simply says "Very intense." Got another that says "A real page turner." Went to that reviewer's history and they have only reviewed my book and a cell phone case. I have no idea who they are and no reason to buy reviews.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: scott.marmorstein on November 13, 2015, 07:35:52 AM
I'm highly considering paying someone on Fivver to write a response using my name on this thread and give it 4.5 stars to see if that shifts our thread ranking on Kboards at all.... :P
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on November 13, 2015, 07:47:49 AM
Seriously, authors should not be accountable what lands on their product page.

Well, mostly.  There's no doubt, is there, that in the past, some authors have paid for reviews?  And that there are still Fiverr gigs advertising to do that (though we don't know that they're getting any takers)?  And that Amazon is cracking down on things? 

That being said, I have seen a LOT of reviews commented on here by authors where I didn't have the same reaction as the author--troll, another author, etc.  So I think the possibility that anyone would positively KNOW for sure all the time which, if any, reviews have been paid for is unlikely.

I understand concern--the idea of paid reviews taints whichever industry the bad reviews are in--restaurants, books, canned unicorn meat.  But I think the best thing that anyone can do is to be honest in their approach to the industry.

Betsy
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Anarchist on November 13, 2015, 07:58:26 AM
Authors can have their books taken down, accounts suspended, and who knows what else...

Is there evidence that any of the above has happened as a result of paid reviews?
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Jessica R on November 13, 2015, 08:06:13 AM
Yeah, that would be messy. I have a lot of short reviews. Also, I usually don't bother to review a book unless I love it. Usually I just put it down and forget about it.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: ShaneJeffery on November 13, 2015, 08:14:08 AM
Is there evidence that any of the above has happened as a result of paid reviews?

Well there was an article in the Guardian last month about how amazon wants to sue those writing fake reviews, and wants the info of what authors hired them. So I'm wagering anyone caught in this line will be looking at a world of hurt.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Bards and Sages (Julie) on November 13, 2015, 08:28:41 AM
I think what Julie is saying is that the evidence for paid reviews is in a number of reviews on a single book, from all different people, that all say, essentially the same thing.  That is much more likely to be due to a concerted effort than the history of a single reviewer who might just post very similar comments on everything s/he reads.

It will generally be more than just saying the same thing, but using rather specific words and phrases to say the same thing. It isn't what is said, but how. Look at sentence structure. Grammar. Diction. The way a reviewer constructs a paragraph. The type of mistakes they make. If you've a mind for such a thing, you can see patterns emerge. Particularly those of us that spent time as English majors or Creative writing majors and spend huge portions of time studying how language is constructed.

I'm certainly not saying it is simple and straightforward. You do need to naturally be someone who reads things critically. You won't tend to notice if you are simply skimming or reading casually. I'm critical by nature (I know, HUGE SURPRISE! lol) and I have a fascination with language and how people communicate. So I quite often pick up things others don't notice immediately.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Anarchist on November 13, 2015, 08:38:27 AM
Well there was an article in the Guardian last month about how amazon wants to sue those writing fake reviews, and wants the info of what authors hired them. So I'm wagering anyone caught in this line will be looking at a world of hurt.

Here's the reason I ask...

If Amazon is taking books down and suspending accounts as a consequence of having paid reviews, it would be easy for me to visit Fiverr, buy hundreds of reviews for my competitors and subsequently report them to Amazon. If many authors used that tactic, it would obviously cause chaos.

One of my passions is search marketing. A couple of years ago, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over something called "negative SEO." To wit, you could build bad backlinks (e.g. links from porn sites, med sites, low-quality sites from various country TLDs, networks of "flogs," etc.) for your competitors and watch Google penalize their rankings.*

Google plugged that hole quickly. But many sites were crushed in the organic rankings as a result of nefarious, sociopathic search marketers.

I'd hate to see that happen to self-published authors at Amazon. I assume Amazon is smart enough to refrain from taking books down and suspending accounts for paid reviews. To date, they've focused on blowing away dubious reviews and going after the folks who post them.




* Some search marketing experts claimed negative SEO was impossible. Whether due to lack of testing, lack of data, faith in Google or pure stubbornness, they were wrong.

Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: ShaneJeffery on November 13, 2015, 08:50:44 AM
Here's the reason I ask...

If Amazon is taking books down and suspending accounts as a consequence of having paid reviews, it would be easy for me to visit Fiverr, buy hundreds of reviews for my competitors and subsequently report them to Amazon. If many authors used that tactic, it would obviously cause chaos.

One of my passions is search marketing. A couple of years ago, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over something called "negative SEO." To wit, you could build bad backlinks (e.g. links from porn sites, med sites, low-quality sites from various country TLDs, networks of "flogs," etc.) for your competitors and watch Google penalize their rankings.*

Google plugged that hole quickly. But many sites were crushed in the organic rankings as a result of nefarious, sociopathic search marketers.

I'd hate to see that happen to self-published authors at Amazon. I assume Amazon is smart enough to refrain from taking books down and suspending accounts for paid reviews. To date, they've focused on blowing away dubious reviews and going after the folks who post them.




* Some search marketing experts claimed negative SEO was impossible. Whether due to lack of testing, lack of data, faith in Google or pure stubbornness, they were wrong.



This was my first concern when I heard about it. Punishing people based on suspicion rather than fact. Seems super nasty. If you read one of the nearby threads HM Ward has been dealing with Amazon removing her books based on fake DMCA, and she's not the only one. Guilty until proven innocent is a terrible policy.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: robert eggleton on November 13, 2015, 09:02:10 AM
I've never bought a review either. I traded reviews once and it made me feel awkward, so I've declined subsequent offers. My review and the one of Rarity from the Hollow were both honest, and that helped me feel a little better. Neither were five star, about which I'm now grateful.

I was expressing my objection to paid for reviews to Temple Williams. He's a retired Reader's Digest Editor that I've gotten to know after he posted a review of my novel. His take on the issue of paying for book reviews was a little surprising to me. He said that every major publisher uses paid for book reviews as part of their promotions and that Indie titles and small presses face unfair scrutiny when they do it. I hope that I'm not misstating his view on the matter, and he is a 100% advocate of honest reviews. I'd never looked at it from this perspective -- fairness in advertising.

I'm still not going to pay for book reviews, regardless. I don't have the money to do so even if there were no ethical issues and current scandal. I thought that Mr. Williams historical perspective would be interesting.

Thanks and good luck everybody. 
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Debbie Bennett on November 13, 2015, 09:23:25 AM
I have lots of very short 4/5* reviews from (I assume) readers who like my books, but have no idea how amazon works and couldn't care less about review "etiquette". Some are just 2 or 3 words.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: lilywhite on November 13, 2015, 03:50:29 PM
I was expressing my objection to paid for reviews to Temple Williams. He's a retired Reader's Digest Editor that I've gotten to know after he posted a review of my novel. His take on the issue of paying for book reviews was a little surprising to me. He said that every major publisher uses paid for book reviews as part of their promotions and that Indie titles and small presses face unfair scrutiny when they do it.

I'd wager he's talking about something like paying Kirkus for an editorial review (the content of which you don't control), not hiring a guy from Fiver to post 20 5-star reviews on your Amazon page.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Evenstar on November 13, 2015, 04:27:47 PM
I think this discussion is very valid in general but probably not very valid on this board. The fact that the authors come here means they are more knowledgeable than a lot of authors who don't know about this place. So my feeling is that most people here are never going to consider buying reviews because they know better. Hence the slight outrage already displayed. But in the wider world I'm sure there are loads of less informed writers who don't realise it's not okay
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: bendanarama on November 13, 2015, 04:31:01 PM
I have a word for people who buy reviews.

But it would get me banned from Kboards.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Usedtoposthere on November 13, 2015, 04:54:57 PM
I think this discussion is very valid in general but probably not very valid on this board. The fact that the authors come here means they are more knowledgeable than a lot of authors who don't know about this place. So my feeling is that most people here are never going to consider buying reviews because they know better. Hence the slight outrage already displayed. But in the wider world I'm sure there are loads of less informed writers who don't realise it's not okay
Everybody knows it's not OK. To think it was OK, you'd have to believe that dishonesty in general is OK. Sure, there are people who think it's OK to be dishonest because "they have to" or whatever, but they're not really so clueless as to believe it's generally considered OK to be dishonest in business.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: A.A on November 13, 2015, 07:02:58 PM
It will generally be more than just saying the same thing, but using rather specific words and phrases to say the same thing. It isn't what is said, but how. Look at sentence structure. Grammar. Diction. The way a reviewer constructs a paragraph. The type of mistakes they make. If you've a mind for such a thing, you can see patterns emerge. Particularly those of us that spent time as English majors or Creative writing majors and spend huge portions of time studying how language is constructed.

I agree with this. I have figured out fake reviews like this before. I spent years  as an admin on an extremely busy forum and I'm very good at picking those who were posting under sock puppet accounts etc or trying to sneakily advertise a business.

Julie, I have to comment on what you said before though about a review talking more about the author than the book - this can happen when readers snap up every book you write and also often interact with you on your facebook page etc. These readers are likely to mention you by name in a review and might even centre their review around how much they like your books.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: NanSweet on November 13, 2015, 07:39:24 PM
I have to admit that I am a reviewer that only gives five stars, but when I do, it is a book I absolutely love.  I read a few books a week and typically review 10% of what I read.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: MajesticMonkey on November 13, 2015, 08:07:07 PM

Having said all this, I see tons of authors, me included, with short 4 and 5 star reviews, and I know where they come from. Mailing list launches. When I launch a new title via mailing list, the beta readers, the arc list, and my mailing list tend to review very quickly after launch because they have already read the book days/weeks before.


How did you get your ARC team to work? I read a post from you (don't remember when you made it), where you stated you gave away 100 copies and only 5 people followed through. Very interested in this.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Dhayaa Anbajagane on November 13, 2015, 08:16:44 PM
Here's the reason I ask...

If Amazon is taking books down and suspending accounts as a consequence of having paid reviews, it would be easy for me to visit Fiverr, buy hundreds of reviews for my competitors and subsequently report them to Amazon. If many authors used that tactic, it would obviously cause chaos.

One of my passions is search marketing. A couple of years ago, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over something called "negative SEO." To wit, you could build bad backlinks (e.g. links from porn sites, med sites, low-quality sites from various country TLDs, networks of "flogs," etc.) for your competitors and watch Google penalize their rankings.*

Google plugged that hole quickly. But many sites were crushed in the organic rankings as a result of nefarious, sociopathic search marketers.

I'd hate to see that happen to self-published authors at Amazon. I assume Amazon is smart enough to refrain from taking books down and suspending accounts for paid reviews. To date, they've focused on blowing away dubious reviews and going after the folks who post them.




* Some search marketing experts claimed negative SEO was impossible. Whether due to lack of testing, lack of data, faith in Google or pure stubbornness, they were wrong.



This is exactly what I say to people who think that Amazon is going to aggressively go after every single author who's books have Fiverr reviews.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Amanda M. Lee on November 13, 2015, 08:50:07 PM
I also think because we're authors everyone is assuming Amazon is going after book reviews. A lot of people act as if that's the big goal here. Amazon never said that. I'm going to wager they're much more interested in drug and pharmaceutical reviews. Book reviews are subjective and vary wildly. If someone doesn't like something it really doesn't change anyone's lives. Drug reviews and those of other items are probably a lot more important to Amazon. They also have to force a foreign business to turn over information when most of these Fiverr reviewers are also foreign and could very well be signing up with fake names. Nothing is going to stop them from closing one account and starting another or scurrying off to do some other scam. I don't get the point of buying reviews since I'm a firm believer everything evens out over the long haul. I would guess fewer people buy reviews than exchange reviews in the grand scheme of things.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Usedtoposthere on November 13, 2015, 09:00:49 PM
I also think because we're authors everyone is assuming Amazon is going after book reviews. A lot of people act as if that's the big goal here. Amazon never said that. I'm going to wager they're much more interested in drug and pharmaceutical reviews. Book reviews are subjective and vary wildly. If someone doesn't like something it really doesn't change anyone's lives. Drug reviews and those of other items are probably a lot more important to Amazon. They also have to force a foreign business to turn over information when most of these Fiverr reviewers are also foreign and could very well be signing up with fake names. Nothing is going to stop them from closing one account and starting another or scurrying off to do some other scam. I don't get the point of buying reviews since I'm a firm believer everything evens out over the long haul. I would guess fewer people buy reviews than exchange reviews in the grand scheme of things.
Yeah, it's one of those things you hear about a lot, but it'd be a pretty hard thing to game over any length of time. The only thing that REALLY sells books is word of mouth, and I don't care how many reviews you buy/exchange, you can't game that.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on November 14, 2015, 06:44:13 AM
Its hilarious to see which authors purchase reviews. You can always tell because they are short, and when you click through the same reviewer has given EVERYONE 5 star reviews. Sorry but no one gives 5 stars to every single book they read.  ;D

Then you have the reviewer who has 5 starred every book the writer has done LOL clear giveaway ( It screams fiverr)

I'm sure Amazon will bring the hammer down soon and I imagine number of accounts will be nuked badly.

Before i purchase a book, i don't look at their reviews. I look at WHO their reviewers are ( and what they have reviewed ) it lets me know immediately if its a paid review or not.

With nine books and a box set, I imagine a good many of my readers have reviewed more than one. Were they paid?

You seem to put an awful lot of time and research into a $3 purchase. I'd hate to think how long it would take you to buy a car, man.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on November 14, 2015, 07:08:23 AM
With nine books and a box set, I imagine a good many of my readers have reviewed more than one. Were they paid?

You seem to put an awful lot of time and research into a $3 purchase. I'd hate to think how long it would take you to buy a car, man.

While I kind of agree with you on the one hand, Wayne.  But on the other hand, some of us make a LOT of $3 purchases.  ;D

That being said, I generally buy from authors here on KBoards.  Reading the posts here (also very time consuming) is sufficient vetting for me in most cases.

 ;)

Betsy
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Melody Simmons on November 14, 2015, 07:36:41 AM
These comments are insulting. I generally only write a review when I really liked a book, so usually it will be a 5-star review. It is time consuming to write lengthy reviews so most of my reviews are just one or two lines. I would not bother to waste my precious time to write reviews for books I did not like. So you are saying I look like a review scammer? So perhaps I should not bother reviewing any books then...
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: sela on November 14, 2015, 08:47:47 AM
I have 1500 reviews on my books. Most are 4 and 5 stars - the largest share are 5 stars, actually. Some are only a couple of words. Many say the same thing -- "This book is great!" "I loved this book!" "I couldn't put this book down!". It's because this is genuinely what readers felt about my books. How do I know this? Not a single one was purchased.

Most people do not leave reviews -- ever. Those who do are motivated. They either really loved your book and will give it 5 stars or 4 if they are trying to be objective, or they hated it so much that they had to leave a 1 star. For some readers, reviewing is a thing -- it is part of who they are as readers. They enjoy reviewing books so they review every single one they read.

Yes, of course there are authors who have purchased reviews. We know this is the case and Amazon is doing something about it -- and it should. But the OP is simply wrong to suggest that lots of 4 and 5 star reviews is a dead giveway of buying reviews. Short reviews, similar review wording is not evidence of scamming the review system.

The OP and others who expend time examining other author's reviews and inspecting them, suspicious of cheating and scamming, should spend more time writing actual books and focus on their craft and business.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: robert eggleton on November 14, 2015, 11:01:08 AM
And, of course, there is that other population of reviewers -- the Vine wannbes. With only one novel under my belt I'm a novice, but I'm experienced enough to spot these folks. I try to avoid them because Rarity from the Hollow is not a mainstream, formula fiction, quick read. It takes time to digest in order to properly review my novel (literary element), and that slows down, possibly annoys, a wannabe Vine. Other authors may want to submit to them if identified. I'm not sure about their motivations. Free stuff? But, it feels stronger, like a competition among them to be placed by Amazon in the top 100, 500, 1000.... They all seem to be honest, and some are very kind based on my limited experience with them. But, I recommend, for what's it's worth, to make sure that one's novel is a good fit in not only genre, but also in how much time would be required by such a reviewer to perform a review of your work. One of the best reviews that I got from a Vine reviewer was unsolicited:

"Rarity from the Hollow written by Robert Eggleton, to be fully honest, was much more than expected and a great read – semi-autobiographical literary work full of beautiful and ugly things, adventure, romance, pain and humor…."

As a consumer, a reader, I won't buy a book that has more than a couple of one line reviews, like "I loved it." Such reviews cause me not to trust any of the reviews of that book. I realize that this seems silly because it might be a great book that I might love too. Nevertheless, that's how I personally feel about it. I move on and pick, quickly, my next or next after that book to read.

I trust reviews by bloggers the most because I know that almost none of them are paid for reviews, but I will read a Kirkus review because I don't think anybody has enough money to pay that organization for a positive book review -- a practice that would be the demise of the company. Still, a well written review by a book blogger carries more weight with me than Kirkus.

I read all genres, including romance, even though I only write adult literary science fiction. I least read YA because I, personally, have a very difficult time respecting it as a genre despite its popularity, and the romance has to be something that resonates before I buy it -- not formula. I don't read erotic, but that's probably because I'm so old that I've lost interest in it. I buy a lot of books, a lot, and I write some reviews, only positive (5 star is very rare) ones because I don't want to waste any more time on a bad book.

I don't think most readers bother to write reviews, which makes all reader reviews feel suspicious to me. What motivates a person to type a review in that little box on Amazon? As a reader and a consumer, I want to contribute, but I'm not a pro bono gatekeeper of quality literature by any stretch. I get ripped off, everybody does, and I feel that I need to just suck it up when that happens. It's not the money, but the time that I regret losing when I buy a bad book. I keep reading a bad book, hoping that it will click, and then look back with regret about the lost time if it doesn't. The regret is never of such intensity that I feel like seeking revenge on the author by writing a negative review. "F" it. Life's too short.

Thanks for the opportunity to rant. I'm off, back to self-promotion of Rarity from the Hollow, but I'd rather be reading. I should go to the woods for fun because it's such a pretty day here, probably one of the last for the season. Take care everybody and good luck.

 


 
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: CoryODoole on November 14, 2015, 11:13:48 AM
About reviews: I don't give them much credence. For one thing, I've never bought a book on the basis of one or more so-called "reviews." The Amazon reviews are simply opinion, so why does it matter? You might say well, collectively a writer might be influenced by reviews. I'm not. As a writer I never review another writer's book, even if I loved or hated it. I don't wish to open self up to revenge reviews that way.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Melody Simmons on November 14, 2015, 11:46:57 AM
About reviews: I don't give them much credence. For one thing, I've never bought a book on the basis of one or more so-called "reviews." The Amazon reviews are simply opinion, so why does it matter? You might say well, collectively a writer might be influenced by reviews. I'm not. As a writer I never review another writer's book, even if I loved or hated it. I don't wish to open self up to revenge reviews that way.

I disagree.  I have found reviews to be very accurate actually and on one or two occasions I regretted not paying attention to certain warnings in reviews and buying the book regardless. I learnt my lesson and now pay more attention to reviews.  And no, I am not naive, I can spot a spiteful fake bad review...
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: WasAnn on November 14, 2015, 11:51:27 AM
And, of course, there is that other population of reviewers -- the Vine wannbes. With only one novel under my belt I'm a novice, but I'm experienced enough to spot these folks. I try to avoid them because Rarity from the Hollow is not a mainstream, formula fiction, quick read. It takes time to digest in order to properly review my novel (literary element), and that slows down, possibly annoys, a wannabe Vine. Other authors may want to submit to them if identified. I'm not sure about their motivations. Free stuff? But, it feels stronger, like a competition among them to be placed by Amazon in the top 100, 500, 1000.... They all seem to be honest, and some are very kind based on my limited experience with them. But, I recommend, for what's it's worth, to make sure that one's novel is a good fit in not only genre, but also in how much time would be required by such a reviewer to perform a review of your work. One of the best reviews that I got from a Vine reviewer was unsolicited:

"Rarity from the Hollow written by Robert Eggleton, to be fully honest, was much more than expected and a great read -- semi-autobiographical literary work full of beautiful and ugly things, adventure, romance, pain and humor...."

As a consumer, a reader, I won't buy a book that has more than a couple of one line reviews, like "I loved it." Such reviews cause me not to trust any of the reviews of that book. I realize that this seems silly because it might be a great book that I might love too. Nevertheless, that's how I personally feel about it. I move on and pick, quickly, my next or next after that book to read.

I trust reviews by bloggers the most because I know that almost none of them are paid for reviews, but I will read a Kirkus review because I don't think anybody has enough money to pay that organization for a positive book review -- a practice that would be the demise of the company. Still, a well written review by a book blogger carries more weight with me than Kirkus.

I read all genres, including romance, even though I only write adult literary science fiction. I least read YA because I, personally, have a very difficult time respecting it as a genre despite its popularity, and the romance has to be something that resonates before I buy it -- not formula. I don't read erotic, but that's probably because I'm so old that I've lost interest in it. I buy a lot of books, a lot, and I write some reviews, only positive (5 star is very rare) ones because I don't want to waste any more time on a bad book.

I don't think most readers bother to write reviews, which makes all reader reviews feel suspicious to me. What motivates a person to type a review in that little box on Amazon? As a reader and a consumer, I want to contribute, but I'm not a pro bono gatekeeper of quality literature by any stretch. I get ripped off, everybody does, and I feel that I need to just suck it up when that happens. It's not the money, but the time that I regret losing when I buy a bad book. I keep reading a bad book, hoping that it will click, and then look back with regret about the lost time if it doesn't. The regret is never of such intensity that I feel like seeking revenge on the author by writing a negative review. "F" it. Life's too short.

Thanks for the opportunity to rant. I'm off, back to self-promotion of Rarity from the Hollow, but I'd rather be reading. I should go to the woods for fun because it's such a pretty day here, probably one of the last for the season. Take care everybody and good luck.

Maybe I just missed my nap or something, but this is just...wow...really?
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: geronl on November 14, 2015, 12:55:30 PM
I try to post positive reviews, although I might mention some things in the story I did not like.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: dianapersaud on November 14, 2015, 06:57:19 PM
Question: If someone borrows a book and leaves a review, does it show up as "verified purchased" or is it blank?

Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Atunah on November 14, 2015, 07:06:42 PM
Question: If someone borrows a book and leaves a review, does it show up as "verified purchased" or is it blank?


No, borrow reviews do not show as verified, only purchased. KU, KOLL, lending library, none of those show verified.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: TonyWrites on November 14, 2015, 07:18:55 PM
I write book reviews on Amazon on occasion, but I mostly concentrate on Goodreads now.
I will not ever attempt to game the system by purchasing a review for a book I published.  That is just plain cheating.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Bards and Sages (Julie) on November 16, 2015, 06:20:50 AM
Julie, I have to comment on what you said before though about a review talking more about the author than the book - this can happen when readers snap up every book you write and also often interact with you on your facebook page etc. These readers are likely to mention you by name in a review and might even centre their review around how much they like your books.

And if it is a popular author with a known fan base, you are 100% correct. But when you see those sort of reviews on a book from a brand new author with zero web presence, you should consider it a red flag.

As I always say, everything is about context. Context matters. Context always matters. If someone posts a fangirl review on a book from a well-known author, chances are it is a fangirl review. If someone posts a fangirl review on a book just published yesterday by an author who nobody has every heard of...well...
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: GhostGirlWriter on November 16, 2015, 07:03:52 AM
IBTL!

I suspect most of the really short reviews are because of the reader being prompted to leave reviews. They probably don't really even think about it, just pop in to review with the least amount of effort.

THIS. I'm seeing a lot of short reviews now and I suspect it's because of the prompts.

I review a fair amount and my reviews are usually 4 or 5 stars and pretty short. I'm just not very creative when it comes to reviewing and I like most of the books I read.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Mark E. Cooper on November 16, 2015, 07:15:12 AM
How did you get your ARC team to work? I read a post from you (don't remember when you made it), where you stated you gave away 100 copies and only 5 people followed through. Very interested in this.

I remember that one. My list is 10 times bigger now, and so 5% is a bigger number. It's a bit like the way mailing list opens are 50% and 25% click. It's a numbers game. Give enough arcs away and reviews add up. Also, a new series gets almost no reviews, but say book 6 of a much loved series gets tons, and quickly too.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Alastair McDermott on November 16, 2015, 11:01:33 AM
I think genuine, unsolicited "average reader" reviews are far more likely to be shorter rather than longer.

Because:

a) Average readers just don't leave reviews in most circumstances. The stats here are suggesting that in a best case scenario 1 in 100 (1%) of book buyers leaves a review, going down to 1 in 10,000 or less (0.01%).

b) Reviews are crucial to sales for human and algorithmic reasons.

Three ways authors can deal with this are:


In order for Amazon to get more genuine, unsolicited "average reader" reviews for (b), they'll need to more aggressively push for readers to review books, particularly on the device post-reading.

It follows that these will be shorter due to the device, and less helpful as these reviewers aren't reviewing from the same point of view as the pro and semi-pro book reviewers.

Add to this that people usually prefer to review - or even finish - only those books that they like, and we should be seeing a trend toward short, positive reviews.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Atunah on November 16, 2015, 11:44:46 AM
You do NOT want me to write reviews from my device, trust me, you do not. My device is the Voyage. If you ever seen my futile attempts at typing anything readable from my phone, you'd never ask me to do that.  :P

Seriously, if more readers like me did that and there'd be oh shocker some spell errors in there and we happened to not give a glowing 5, we'd be accused of being: *insert any name such reviewers have been called here in the past.

Also, the more I get pushed, the less likely I am going to do something. Just look at some of the reviews from folks that get the reminder emails from amazon. Some folks do not respond well to what they perceive as some pressure.

I am one reader that actively looks for what I call regular reviews on a book. Now a known author, its not as important. But for new reads, the more blog, arc, street team, fellow authors, etc type reviews there are on a book, the less likely I am to pick it up. Its amazing how many new authors, never heard from before come out the gate with 100's of glowing reviews. And most of them are ARC's, as they are required to specify. Many don't specify anymore, but I can still spot them from a mile away. Again, new unknown author with no history.
I sometimes wonder if some of these authors confuse the term arc with paid reviews. Who knows.

I fully expect to see a lot of these arc reviews with established authors, especially in the romance genres. Many want to read everything an author they like wrote, makes sense. But even then for me as a reader, I scroll by those. They have no meaning to me. They will be biased of course to the author they love. If they start not giving higher starred reviews, they might not get any more arcs in the future.
Nothing wrong with that, just not useful to me.

At this point I don't even look much at any of those reviews anymore. I go straight to goodreads and there I can see the reviews and ratings of those people I follow/friend. I don't even have to scroll further down. If the book hasn't been at least looked at by some of the folks I follow, I tend to not bother anymore. I think I just got tired after a while trying to sift through the walls of rah rah with new reads. To many disappointments so trust is hard to come by.

I don't bother reviewing much anymore myself. I used to, but again and again I have to read some of the comments all over about reviewers and we don't do this or that, not long enough, not short enough, not technical enough, what else did we buy on amazon and we must be some lonely cat lady and how dare we not love love this book. Not target audience, not intelligent enough to grasp this book, fangirly, not "getting" it, etc.

I just lost the heart to review. I just did. I rather just read.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: 555aaa on November 16, 2015, 12:07:24 PM

At this point I don't even look much at any of those reviews anymore. I go straight to goodreads and there I can see the reviews and ratings of those people I follow/friend. I don't even have to scroll further down. If the book hasn't been at least looked at by some of the folks I follow, I tend to not bother anymore. I think I just got tired after a while trying to sift through the walls of rah rah with new reads. To many disappointments so trust is hard to come by.

I just lost the heart to review. I just did. I rather just read.

I agree completely. The Amazon ones are worthless for books.  They're trying to shoehorn something that works well for toasters into something that works for art. I think most people can agree on what they want in a toaster, and no one's going to distribute 10,000 free toasters looking for Amazon reviews. I can hire a sweatshop to write fake toaster reviews (which is probably where most of the reviewer crackdown is happening) but at least there's some objective standard that we can all agree that we want our toasters to do. 

So now I have to go off and find out what is the average star rating for toasters. Dang! I'll report back if I can figure it out.


Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: ADDavies on November 16, 2015, 12:14:26 PM
My longer reviews tend to come from people who have received a free review copy. I get a few shorter ones from readers who have purchased copies and, probably, read the plea at the back. Hopefully I don't have enough reviews as yet to be accused of "buying" them. Like others, I think short reviews are fairly common due to the awkwardness of typing on a Kindle. My latest just said "An OK book" and gave it four stars. I was happy with that.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Atunah on November 16, 2015, 12:34:15 PM
My longer reviews tend to come from people who have received a free review copy. I get a few shorter ones from readers who have purchased copies and, probably, read the plea at the back. Hopefully I don't have enough reviews as yet to be accused of "buying" them. Like others, I think short reviews are fairly common due to the awkwardness of typing on a Kindle. My latest just said "An OK book" and gave it four stars. I was happy with that.
I guess my question here would be, if the review had said, "I didn't like it much" and it was a 2 star, would you have been happy with it then either. I mean happy in the sense to just get a review. I just often get the sense that higher rated reviews do not get the scrutiny by authors as the lower starred ones do. If you know what I mean.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: 555aaa on November 16, 2015, 01:06:45 PM
OK so here is the deal on toasters.

I pulled the top 70 selling toasters on the US site.

The average review is 4.01, the max is 5 stars, min is 2.5, std deviation is 0.21. Then I plotted avg star ranking vs number of reviews and lo and behold there's also a small negative correlation. So in toasters, you're average review is better when there are fewer reviewers. There doesn't seem to be a relationship between average star rating and sales rank in toasters or in the search relevancy score (which is not in order of sales rank).

But I did find this...

http://www.amazon.com/Pangea-Brands-TSTE-SRW-VAD-Darth-Toaster/dp/B00JFFH1NA
and this
http://www.amazon.com/Vandor-54017-Stormtrooper-Pepper-Shakers/dp/B00I87161E
and this
http://www.amazon.com/R2-D2-Measuring-Exclusive-Officially-Licensed/dp/B00JS3GG6M
and ... this
http://www.amazon.com/Exclusive-Star-Death-Waffle-Maker/dp/B017DQCHRM

Guess who has his xmas list filled out.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: ADDavies on November 16, 2015, 03:10:48 PM
I guess my question here would be, if the review had said, "I didn't like it much" and it was a 2 star, would you have been happy with it then either. I mean happy in the sense to just get a review. I just often get the sense that higher rated reviews do not get the scrutiny by authors as the lower starred ones do. If you know what I mean.

Ha ha, yes, I know what you mean. If it was two stars and the comment was "not very good" i'd have been annoyed at the lack of specifics. Contrary, right?
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Sam Kates on November 16, 2015, 03:18:03 PM
OK so here is the deal on toasters.

I pulled the top 70 selling toasters on the US site.

The average review is 4.01, the max is 5 stars, min is 2.5, std deviation is 0.21. Then I plotted avg star ranking vs number of reviews and lo and behold there's also a small negative correlation. So in toasters, you're average review is better when there are fewer reviewers. There doesn't seem to be a relationship between average star rating and sales rank in toasters or in the search relevancy score (which is not in order of sales rank).

But I did find this...

http://www.amazon.com/Pangea-Brands-TSTE-SRW-VAD-Darth-Toaster/dp/B00JFFH1NA
and this
http://www.amazon.com/Vandor-54017-Stormtrooper-Pepper-Shakers/dp/B00I87161E
and this
http://www.amazon.com/R2-D2-Measuring-Exclusive-Officially-Licensed/dp/B00JS3GG6M
and ... this
http://www.amazon.com/Exclusive-Star-Death-Waffle-Maker/dp/B017DQCHRM

Guess who has his xmas list filled out.

I so want the Darth toaster.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Atunah on November 16, 2015, 03:19:27 PM
Ha ha, yes, I know what you mean. If it was two stars and the comment was "not very good" i'd have been annoyed at the lack of specifics. Contrary, right?
Refreshingly honest, I like it  8)
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Evenstar on November 16, 2015, 03:36:17 PM
And, of course, there is that other population of reviewers -- the Vine wannbes. With only one novel under my belt I'm a novice, but I'm experienced enough to spot these folks. I try to avoid them because Rarity from the Hollow is not a mainstream, formula fiction, quick read. It takes time to digest in order to properly review my novel (literary element), and that slows down, possibly annoys, a wannabe Vine. Other authors may want to submit to them if identified. I'm not sure about their motivations. Free stuff? But, it feels stronger, like a competition among them to be placed by Amazon in the top 100, 500, 1000.... They all seem to be honest, and some are very kind based on my limited experience with them. But, I recommend, for what's it's worth, to make sure that one's novel is a good fit in not only genre, but also in how much time would be required by such a reviewer to perform a review of your work. One of the best reviews that I got from a Vine reviewer was unsolicited:

"Rarity from the Hollow written by Robert Eggleton, to be fully honest, was much more than expected and a great read -- semi-autobiographical literary work full of beautiful and ugly things, adventure, romance, pain and humor...."

As a consumer, a reader, I won't buy a book that has more than a couple of one line reviews, like "I loved it." Such reviews cause me not to trust any of the reviews of that book. I realize that this seems silly because it might be a great book that I might love too. Nevertheless, that's how I personally feel about it. I move on and pick, quickly, my next or next after that book to read.

I trust reviews by bloggers the most because I know that almost none of them are paid for reviews, but I will read a Kirkus review because I don't think anybody has enough money to pay that organization for a positive book review -- a practice that would be the demise of the company. Still, a well written review by a book blogger carries more weight with me than Kirkus.

I read all genres, including romance, even though I only write adult literary science fiction. I least read YA because I, personally, have a very difficult time respecting it as a genre despite its popularity, and the romance has to be something that resonates before I buy it -- not formula. I don't read erotic, but that's probably because I'm so old that I've lost interest in it. I buy a lot of books, a lot, and I write some reviews, only positive (5 star is very rare) ones because I don't want to waste any more time on a bad book.

I don't think most readers bother to write reviews, which makes all reader reviews feel suspicious to me. What motivates a person to type a review in that little box on Amazon? As a reader and a consumer, I want to contribute, but I'm not a pro bono gatekeeper of quality literature by any stretch. I get ripped off, everybody does, and I feel that I need to just suck it up when that happens. It's not the money, but the time that I regret losing when I buy a bad book. I keep reading a bad book, hoping that it will click, and then look back with regret about the lost time if it doesn't. The regret is never of such intensity that I feel like seeking revenge on the author by writing a negative review. "F" it. Life's too short.

Thanks for the opportunity to rant. I'm off, back to self-promotion of Rarity from the Hollow, but I'd rather be reading. I should go to the woods for fun because it's such a pretty day here, probably one of the last for the season. Take care everybody and good luck.

I can't even begin to calculate how many people were subtly insulted here. Is this real?
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: 555aaa on November 16, 2015, 03:38:01 PM
I so want the Darth toaster.
Yeah, but it got a bad review!
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: James R Wells on November 16, 2015, 03:39:46 PM
Yeah, but it got a bad review!

I find your lack of faith in the Darth toaster ... disturbing.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Becca Mills on November 16, 2015, 03:40:51 PM
I find your lack of faith in the Darth toaster ... disturbing.

For the win.  ;D
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Sam Kates on November 16, 2015, 03:45:38 PM
Yeah, but it got a bad review!

Ah, that was probably a review paid for by the makers of the Gandalf French Fry Maker ('Fry, you fools!').
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Evenstar on November 16, 2015, 03:54:48 PM
Ah, that was probably a review paid for by the makers of the Gandalf French Fry Maker ('Fry, you fools!').

I wish I was this witty, you made me laugh Sam
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: DarkScribe on November 16, 2015, 04:01:42 PM
Its hilarious to see which authors purchase reviews. You can always tell because they are short, and when you click through the same reviewer has given EVERYONE 5 star reviews. Sorry but no one gives 5 stars to every single book they read.  ;D

Then you have the reviewer who has 5 starred every book the writer has done LOL clear giveaway ( It screams fiverr)

I'm sure Amazon will bring the hammer down soon and I imagine number of accounts will be nuked badly.

Before i purchase a book, i don't look at their reviews. I look at WHO their reviewers are ( and what they have reviewed ) it lets me know immediately if its a paid review or not.

Not quite true. I only give one star or five star reviews. They are the only book that interest me enough to comment on. I agree that many writers still buy reviews - immediately apparent when a mediocre novel gets nothing but praise. Often the reviewers have new accounts and have made few reviews relating to other authors. What is even more amusing is when a stack of reviews come out on the day the book is released. Duh! Little you can do other than make your opinion felt in comments.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Alan Petersen on November 16, 2015, 04:15:29 PM
Ah, that was probably a review paid for by the makers of the Gandalf French Fry Maker ('Fry, you fools!').

Hmmm, you might be on to something.... "Heather Crockett".... that sounds way too close to Betty Crocker. It was General Mills!
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: AngelaQuarles on November 16, 2015, 04:18:17 PM
Its hilarious to see which authors purchase reviews. You can always tell because they are short, and when you click through the same reviewer has given EVERYONE 5 star reviews. Sorry but no one gives 5 stars to every single book they read.  ;D

Then you have the reviewer who has 5 starred every book the writer has done LOL clear giveaway ( It screams fiverr)

I'm sure Amazon will bring the hammer down soon and I imagine number of accounts will be nuked badly.

Before i purchase a book, i don't look at their reviews. I look at WHO their reviewers are ( and what they have reviewed ) it lets me know immediately if its a paid review or not.

As others have said, this isn't a good barometer. I'm actually noticing more and more short reviews than before pop up on mine. Kindle app must be pushing it? Who knows. But I get the generic loved-it ones from time to time, and I do wish it'd be more specific, but what can you do?

I'd also like to add that even when a review focuses on the author and not the book, that's not a flag either. I had a recent BookBub promo, so I'm getting a lot of new readers who are discovering my books, and just had this 5-star pop up: "Angela Quarles is a wonderful storyteller!! Awesome read!!" I have no idea who s/he is, and I saw s/he went on to read the next book and say I'm now one of their fave new authors. I see this as a good thing, because it means I'm accomplishing a side goal: branding myself. Sometimes readers get excited about a new-to-them author....
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: chalice on November 17, 2015, 08:48:53 AM
I have 1500 reviews on my books. Most are 4 and 5 stars - the largest share are 5 stars, actually. Some are only a couple of words. Many say the same thing -- "This book is great!" "I loved this book!" "I couldn't put this book down!". It's because this is genuinely what readers felt about my books. How do I know this? Not a single one was purchased.

Most people do not leave reviews -- ever. Those who do are motivated. They either really loved your book and will give it 5 stars or 4 if they are trying to be objective, or they hated it so much that they had to leave a 1 star. For some readers, reviewing is a thing -- it is part of who they are as readers. They enjoy reviewing books so they review every single one they read.

Yes, of course there are authors who have purchased reviews. We know this is the case and Amazon is doing something about it -- and it should. But the OP is simply wrong to suggest that lots of 4 and 5 star reviews is a dead giveway of buying reviews. Short reviews, similar review wording is not evidence of scamming the review system.

The OP and others who expend time examining other author's reviews and inspecting them, suspicious of cheating and scamming, should spend more time writing actual books and focus on their craft and business.

I agree.
Spend more time writing and marketing your books.
Then you won't have time to be concerned about those who are trying to scam the system.

Best Regards,
Shana Jahsinta Walters.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Sam Kates on November 17, 2015, 11:31:50 AM
... you made me laugh Sam

I did? I'm glad. Goodness knows, we all could do with a chuckle or two in today's world.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Usedtoposthere on November 17, 2015, 04:31:54 PM
Not quite true. I only give one star or five star reviews. They are the only book that interest me enough to comment on. I agree that many writers still buy reviews - immediately apparent when a mediocre novel gets nothing but praise. Often the reviewers have new accounts and have made few reviews relating to other authors. What is even more amusing is when a stack of reviews come out on the day the book is released. Duh! Little you can do other than make your opinion felt in comments.
That (many reviews coming out on release day) is most likely advance readers. It does not mean the reviews were purchased. It can also just be lots of readers who were waiting eagerly, preordered, read fast, and posted immediately. My fastest reviewer was ALWAYS this one lady. (Who is now an ARC reader, now that I send out ARCs.) She'd have her review up within a few hours of the book going live. Every time. Pre-ARC, I'd have 10-20 reviews on release day. Now, I probably have 60. Same people who've always reviewed my books.

Generally, I find that the ARC reviews are only slightly more positive than the others. (More positive because, obviously, these are your most loyal fans; the people who like your books the best.) My books typically start out with a 4.6 or 4.7 average from the ARC folks. (Not everybody likes every book, if you write stand-alones. Serials or true series seem to maintain a higher rating, as it's the same characters.) After lots more reviews have come in, the book will settle to somewhere between 4.4 and 4.6.

What I'm trying to say is that NOTHING here--short reviews, long reviews, reviews that talk a lot about the author, reviews on release day--is necessarily a sign of purchased reviews. I'd say people need to stop worrying about this and worry about writing books people will want to buy and review. Sure, if you do, there will be folks who say your reviews must be fake, because they're too positive. So what. People say lots of things. The best review is readers buying your next book.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Kevin Lee Swaim on November 17, 2015, 04:43:31 PM
I would purchase a review, but only if it said, "Kevin is a powerful man, and handsome as well."
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Usedtoposthere on November 17, 2015, 04:45:28 PM
I would purchase a review, but only if it said, "Kevin is a powerful man, and handsome as well."
LOL!
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: PJ_Cherubino on November 17, 2015, 04:51:02 PM
I have a rule that if I can't give 4-5 stars, I email the author my review instead of posting it.

In that case, I can point you to a book you might like to read . . .
 ;D

Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Anarchist on November 17, 2015, 04:51:23 PM
I would purchase a review, but only if it said, "Kevin is a powerful man, and handsome as well."

Deal. I will make you seem a modern-day Adonis blessed with the courage of Braveheart, the authority of Putin and stamina of Ron Jeremy.

Let's talk price.

Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: PJ_Cherubino on November 17, 2015, 05:00:19 PM
This is why amazon sued fake review vendors. The spirited debate here is proof that the value of customer reviews is compromised by people gaming the system.

We should not have to put this much thought and effort to determine whether reviews are honest and/or reflect somethi g other than a legitimate impressjon of a product.





No, you are making a sweeping assumption, and you can't possibly know that for sure. I can tell you I have many loyal readers who review every book I publish, and I consistently see the same reviewers leave positive reviews. They are my loyal readers, and I certainly did not find them on fiverr. So, no, that situation doesn't "scream" fiverr, especially to any author who had an established fan base. They are our super fans for a reason --  because they love our books and love to review.
 Amazon does. Amazon has. Amazon is constantly on top of monitoring and removing reviews. That's nothing new.
 Wow. I wish I was that insightful. I don't have that sort of innate ability to know if a review is paid for by simply viewing a profile or reading a few words on a screen.

If reviews on books that are not yours bother you so much, simply report them to Amazon. Making sweeping generalizations and accusations, however, is likely to bring plenty of negative responses to your question. (If the OP was even a question, because it sounded more like a rant.)
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Ann in Arlington on November 18, 2015, 04:43:09 AM
Note re: lots of reviews on the day a book is released.

With the Kindle First program, Amazon offers, each month, one or two of a selection of 4 or 6 books FREE to Prime members (or at a discount for non prime members). The titles are ones that are being published via one of Amazon's imprints. These are books that are available this month through this program, but not officially released until the first of NEXT month.

Lots of us take advantage of this -- the result is that you will see lots of reviews for these books already on the official release day. They're not 'purchased', more like ARCs, but they're also not 'pre-release' versions. Most people who review do say if they got them early via Kindle First, though there's no requirement that they do so. In fact, there's no requirement or even expectation of a review in the program details . . . it's not even mentioned . . . though I'm sure it's exactly what the Zon wants to see.

Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: BWFoster78 on November 18, 2015, 06:46:02 AM
Quote
What I'm trying to say is that NOTHING here--short reviews, long reviews, reviews that talk a lot about the author, reviews on release day--is necessarily a sign of purchased reviews.

I'm not sure that the OP did a great job defining exactly what made him suspect that the reviews he found were fake, but I do understand where he's coming from.  Have you ever been browsing books, perused the reviews, and went, "Hey, wait a second ..."?

I don't look for fake reviews; I much prefer to concentrate on what I'm doing than what someone else is doing.

At the same time, I have run across some a couple of times that I am absolutely positive were fake.  What drew my initial suspicion was a repetition of specific language in each of the reviews.  Sorry I can't be more specific as a while has passed since this encounter, but it was something on the order of, "Author is the next Specific Bestselling Fantasy Author."

Literally, 2 or 3 out of the 5 or 6 reviews said that.  It just seemed ... off ... to me, as well as the language used in general.  Just out of curiosity, I looked a the reviewer profiles.  Each had submitted exactly 1 review: the 5-star one for the book that I was looking at.

Maybe someone can say, "That doesn't prove that the reviews were fake."  Okay.  If we're in a court of law, maybe we haven't proved our case beyond any possible doubt, but I think it's a pretty reasonable conclusion to draw.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Kay Bratt on November 18, 2015, 07:25:49 AM
What is even more amusing is when a stack of reviews come out on the day the book is released. Duh! Little you can do other than make your opinion felt in comments.

As an author who worked hard to build a street team (mine is called Kay's Review Krew), this comment is off-putting. I spent a lot of time mailing out (at my own shipping expense!) over 100 print copies of my latest book, The Palest Ink. I also sent out between 30-40 NetGalley ebook copies. This took a lot of time to organize, package, email, post office runs, and then individual follow-up messages to the team. Before getting a spot on the Krew, the reader had to agree to 1) Not give away or sell the book before launch day and 2) post an honest review 'the week of' the launch.

The actual day of the launch I posted a reminder to the Krew and I had many who upheld their part and by the end of the first day of publication, I think I had close to 40 reviews. It's now about 3 weeks in, and I have 89 reviews and yes, most of those are from advanced readers. Not a single review on any of my books was purchased, unless you count the time, blood, sweat, and tears it takes to build that team of dedicated readers. 
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: PJ_Cherubino on November 18, 2015, 08:08:02 AM
Your behavior is smart, ethical and within the boundaries of Amazon's TOS for their review system. But because so many have sucessfully gamed and abused the review system, the value of your efforts is greatly diminished. Customers have a difficult time distinguishing between the legitimate reviews of your work and the numerous bogus reviews.

The OP's sentiment seems to come from a very common low confidence in the review system overall. So much damage has been done to the review system that the customer has to actively review the review to figure out whether or not she is being manipulated.

So the gamers, schemers and scammers who go after instant review gratification have made all vendors seem guilty by association. I think this is why Amazon is unleashing the lawyers. Amazon's business model and the marketplace is damaged by fake reviews.



As an author who worked hard to build a street team (mine is called Kay's Review Krew), this comment is off-putting. I spent a lot of time mailing out (at my own shipping expense!) over 100 print copies of my latest book, The Palest Ink. I also sent out between 30-40 NetGalley ebook copies. This took a lot of time to organize, package, email, post office runs, and then individual follow-up messages to the team. Before getting a spot on the Krew, the reader had to agree to 1) Not give away or sell the book before launch day and 2) post an honest review 'the week of' the launch.

The actual day of the launch I posted a reminder to the I and I had many who upheld their part and by the end of the first day of publication, I think I had close to 40 reviews. It's now about 3 weeks in, and I have 89 reviews and yes, most of those are from advanced readers. Not a single review on any of my books was purchased, unless you count the time, blood, sweat, and tears it takes to build that team of dedicated readers.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Bards and Sages (Julie) on November 18, 2015, 11:10:25 AM
So the gamers, schemers and scammers who go after instant review gratification have made all vendors seem guilty by association. I think this is why Amazon is unleashing the lawyers. Amazon's business model and the marketplace is damaged by fake reviews.

This has been my argument for years regarding paid review schemes. Over the last decade, I really can't even count the number of times I've been "shouted down" for slamming paid reviews. "It isn't your business." "Everyone does it." "It doesn't impact you so why do you care?" But the truth is, these schemes DO harm the marketplace in which I function. Particularly when coupled with places like Bookbub, which have become the kingmakers of indies and require a certain number of reviews before they will even consider you. It creates an arms race that can't be won.

I started self-publishing in 2004. Back then, you really only "needed" a handful of reviews for a book to get some traction. It was more important to get reviews with blogs and book sites. You didn't have to engage in insane tactics to get reviews on Amazon because the quantity was not important. Two or three thoughtful reviews on a book was really all it took. Nobody refused to take your ad money because you only had three reviews.

Review selling broke the organic nature of reviews and inflated the number needed to make a dent. The kingmakers that require a specific number of reviews essentially rewarded review buying. For honest authors, the only way to compete was to give away hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of free copies in the hopes of generating enough reviews to make a dent.

And now, finally, others are starting to see the end result of the arms race. Consumers are getting wise, but not wise enough to differentiate between the actual scammers and everyone else. WE ARE ALL GUILTY by association. It isn't fair. But frankly, it is the logical result of too many people simply ignoring this behavior for far too long, thinking "it doesn't impact me" so they don't speak up or call it out.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Doglover on November 18, 2015, 11:17:23 AM
Its hilarious to see which authors purchase reviews. You can always tell because they are short, and when you click through the same reviewer has given EVERYONE 5 star reviews. Sorry but no one gives 5 stars to every single book they read.  ;D

Then you have the reviewer who has 5 starred every book the writer has done LOL clear giveaway ( It screams fiverr)

I'm sure Amazon will bring the hammer down soon and I imagine number of accounts will be nuked badly.

Before i purchase a book, i don't look at their reviews. I look at WHO their reviewers are ( and what they have reviewed ) it lets me know immediately if its a paid review or not.
I have a five star review on every one of my books from the same reader; she likes my books, so should I tell her to stop leaving reviews in case someone suspects fraud? This is a ridiculous assumption. It is more likely to be fake if it says nothing about the books, the story, the writing or anything else, only how great it is, but even so. On the UK site I have a five star review on each of the six books in my series from the same reader, also the same reader has left 5 stars on three of my other books. Some people will only leave 5 star reviews or they won't leave anything, so naturally all their reviews will be the same rating.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Brad Carl on December 26, 2015, 05:08:16 PM
I need to read this thread in its entirety before saying too much....but I will say, I have been accused of "purchasing reviews" by one reviewer on Amazon. I can honestly say I have never done such a thing, and wouldn't even know how to do it. But as an author, you appreciate the high rating and marks. In the long run, the best way to decipher whether a book is good or not (this is just my opinion) is to read a few BAD reviews to see what they say. Some people are just angry and HAVE to find bad things to say. As a reader, it's your job to be able to distinguish the FAIR "bad reviews" and the people with major issues.





Edited. PM me if you have any questions.  --Betsy/KB Mod.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: ccruz on December 26, 2015, 07:11:52 PM
I'm one of those who doesn't leave less than a 5-star review on Amazon. If I didn't love it, I'm not going to bother reviewing it. I'm talking about books, though. I have no problem leaving a bad review on an item I've purchased and, for example, turned out to be of very bad quality, or didn't do what it claimed to do.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: C. Gockel on December 26, 2015, 07:19:52 PM
Quote
I'm one of those who doesn't leave less than a 5-star review on Amazon. If I didn't love it, I'm not going to bother reviewing it.

Me too.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Decon on December 27, 2015, 06:21:25 AM
Its hilarious to see which authors purchase reviews. You can always tell because they are short, and when you click through the same reviewer has given EVERYONE 5 star reviews. Sorry but no one gives 5 stars to every single book they read.  ;D

Then you have the reviewer who has 5 starred every book the writer has done LOL clear giveaway ( It screams fiverr)

I'm sure Amazon will bring the hammer down soon and I imagine number of accounts will be nuked badly.

Before i purchase a book, i don't look at their reviews. I look at WHO their reviewers are ( and what they have reviewed ) it lets me know immediately if its a paid review or not.

It's hilarious to think that you make that deduction. That's a big, big assumption. There are real readers out their that give nothing but 5 star reviews, just as there are readers out there who only give one star reviews. There are also fans who will buy and review every book you publish and give them 5 stars, none of them paid for to review.

I have no axe to grind. My last two books that I have published have no reviews at all in the US. ( One three months old, In Search of Jessica. One around 9 months, Medium's Apprentice a novelette) People still borrow them and occasionally buy them.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Thetis on December 27, 2015, 10:18:11 AM
I am definitely curious if that has changed. I have noticed quite a few 3-5 word reviews lately, not just on my books, but on others. <shrug?>

I've noticed that, too. The entire written review is "Good" with a four-star rating…? Maybe this is something Amazon is "rolling out" in phases or depends on the kind of device on which a person is leaving a review?
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Thetis on December 27, 2015, 10:32:20 AM
I disagree.  I have found reviews to be very accurate actually and on one or two occasions I regretted not paying attention to certain warnings in reviews and buying the book regardless. I learnt my lesson and now pay more attention to reviews.  And no, I am not naive, I can spot a spiteful fake bad review...

There's quite a bit of truth to this. I was recently looking at a book that had like 10 five star reviews, and one three star review. The one three star review complained the book was filled with grammatical errors and misusing common parts of speech. Maybe it's the author in me that made me wonder how that didn't bother those ten other people… regardless, it didn't matter how much the storyline intrigued me. I didn't buy the book based on that criticism.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: TJBlain on December 27, 2015, 12:14:35 PM
For me, when I am shopping for ebooks on Amazon I don't even look at the reviews.

I'm the opposite. I like reviews and read them unless I'm buying a book in a series that I'm already invested in.

If a book only has five-star reviews, I don't automatically think they're fake, especially if the book is by a well-established author. Personally, I tend to find the three-star reviews the most helpful, as the reviewers usually describe their likes and dislikes in a balanced manner. I used to skim through books in bookstores before deciding whether to purchase them or not. Reviews have replaced skimming for me. I do still read the preview, however.





Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Usedtoposthere on December 27, 2015, 01:07:25 PM
I agree with all of this - great points.

For me, when I am shopping for ebooks on Amazon I don't even look at the reviews. I tend to follow the flock by looking at what's selling - to me, knowing a book is on the best sellers list for a given genre or subgenre tells me more about readers' opinions than written reviews might. Though I do admit, once on the best sellers lists, I tend to buy based on what's on the cover, the title, the price, and the blurb (not necessarily in that order).

Of course, always gravitating toward the best sellers lists means I don't discover a lot of great work from fellow indies. But the sea of ebooks is so vast, I'm not sure of a better way to look for something fun to read, and knowing that a book is on that list gets me excited to see what all the excitement is about.

Discoverability is an issue - and I realize BookBub currently requires 'x' amount of reviews - so, maybe Amazon should turn the whole thing on its head and ditch reviews for books entirely and instead post the actual sales numbers for each book and have it all searchable and sortable by genre and subgenre. I know, I know - I'm really dreaming in technicolor now...  :P
I think most readers do read reviews. They read the lower-star ones as well. They want to know whether the things that bug other readers will bug them. (Poor mechanics; simplistic writing; cardboard characters; upsetting story line or non-happy ending; too much violence; too much sex; not enough sex).

The first 4 of those would make me a non-buyer; the last 3 might or might not depending what the reviews said.

They also look at the most helpful reviews, I think. If the most helpful reviews are 'OMG this was the best book I ever read. Can't wait till the next one,' -- not that helpful. Certainly could be legit--lots of readers will write that review--but doesn't help a reader figure out exactly what would be appealing about the book.

If nobody could leave reviews, however would new indie writers be discovered? How EVER would that happen? Scratching my head over that! That's definitely how I got discovered and got visibility. People were posting reviews, and readers were taking a chance on the books based on the reviews. I can tell you a bazillion times when I've bought books for the same reasons. I'm searching around, I read the reviews, the author's selling well (yes, that matters to me too--partly because if they're not selling well, I'm not going to see them), and I buy the book.

Sometimes I don't like it at all despite the fact that other readers seem to love this author. I have plenty of reviews like that on my own books--people who can't understand why ANYONE would want to read this boring, slow, stupid story that barely has any sex or action! Or people who were loving it and the wonderful characters up until I ruined it with the pornography. Those are the reviews that I think most readers can glean their own "truth" from. (It has some sex scenes, but it's not erotic. It's more character-driven. Etc., fill in the blanks for whatever book.)

Reviews are here to stay. Reviews are the way that consumers have power in this marketplace. Reviews changed everything and made Amazon what it is. They're frustrating, and it's sure discouraging to think that some people are buying them. But they're also how a book and an author can get discovered and shared and can break out.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: 555aaa on December 27, 2015, 03:40:12 PM
Hey- who brought this thread back from the dead anyway?

I did get an R2-D2 salt and pepper shaker set for xmas. :)

To recap what I think I posted upthread, a better system than the star system for reviews is ranking within a user's library. There's some interesting ways that could work - the Amazon tool could pull your prior purchases/reads in that genre, and then either ask you to rank them either in order or to pull pairs and then have the reader pick the winner of book pairs.  I'm not really down on the text review per se but the star rating thing is crap, and if people didn't read my earlier posts the way you know is that as books pick up sales, their average star rating drops. And that's not exclusive to books. The average book star rating is (last time I checked) about 4.5.

I think the pairing system/ reader ranking approach would be much better for new author discovery. Another idea would be to borrow the structured review system from Audible - it helps to draw out from the reviewer a more nuanced response, and the Audible star system also has three categories, not one.  Yet another way to aid in discoverability is to pull reading engagement data from readers' devices. How many of the readers stayed up all night to read it? How many re-reads by the same person? That sort of thing, much like we get engagement metrics for video ads. It would be valuable author feedback too.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Atunah on December 27, 2015, 04:20:04 PM
You want me to waffle myself into insanity by having to rank the books I read and have in my account?  :o :o :o :o

It would take me week, months to do such a thing. Way way to much work. I don't compare books with each other like that. Ever. I read each book as a individual entity and rate as such. Then I move on to the next entity. Ranking and pairing and such things are not my job as a reader.

My brain is taxed enough just trying to figure out what to read next.  :-X

As to reviews. I must have them. For various reasons. Rosalind had some good ones. I go to a site where there are reader reviews. I will not consider a book by a new author or unknown to me if I don't have some way to vet. Reviews are part of that vetting process. There are themes I don't want to read, there are books that pretend to be something (romance) and then kill of the character at the end, etc. I have to know these things. Which is why I appreciate anyone putting down honest ratings or reviews. That means 1 stars, 2 stars 3 stars and 4 stars also. Not just 5 stars. A 4 star is still a fantastic rating for any book. Sad that some now consider that not a good enough rating to put down after reading a book. Baffling really.

But that is why I mostly stay with goodreads reviews and ratings from other readers. Especially readers that like and read what I read. So many times I was saved from getting and reading a book I would have not liked, based on something that was mentioned in a review.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: C. Rysalis on December 27, 2015, 04:35:00 PM
I'm the opposite. I like reviews and read them unless I'm buying a book in a series that I'm already invested in.

If a book only has five-star reviews, I don't automatically think they're fake, especially if the book is by a well-established author. Personally, I tend to find the three-star reviews the most helpful, as the reviewers usually describe their likes and dislikes in a balanced manner. I used to skim through books in bookstores before deciding whether to purchase them or not. Reviews have replaced skimming for me. I do still read the preview, however.

Same here. I always read the three star reviews first, sometimes they give a good enough impression that I don't look at other reviews.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Usedtoposthere on December 27, 2015, 05:09:13 PM
You want me to waffle myself into insanity by having to rank the books I read and have in my account?  :o :o :o :o

It would take me week, months to do such a thing. Way way to much work. I don't compare books with each other like that. Ever. I read each book as a individual entity and rate as such. Then I move on to the next entity. Ranking and pairing and such things are not my job as a reader.

My brain is taxed enough just trying to figure out what to read next.  :-X

As to reviews. I must have them. For various reasons. Rosalind had some good ones. I go to a site where there are reader reviews. I will not consider a book by a new author or unknown to me if I don't have some way to vet. Reviews are part of that vetting process. There are themes I don't want to read, there are books that pretend to be something (romance) and then kill of the character at the end, etc. I have to know these things. Which is why I appreciate anyone putting down honest ratings or reviews. That means 1 stars, 2 stars 3 stars and 4 stars also. Not just 5 stars. A 4 star is still a fantastic rating for any book. Sad that some now consider that not a good enough rating to put down after reading a book. Baffling really.

But that is why I mostly stay with goodreads reviews and ratings from other readers. Especially readers that like and read what I read. So many times I was saved from getting and reading a book I would have not liked, based on something that was mentioned in a review.
Never happen, so no worries! Amazon's all about the reader experience.

Thing about Audible (and Goodreads) is that they also allow star-only ratings. That will drop the book's average considerably, because people who felt "meh" will rate (for their own information as much as anything), when they wouldn't have bothered to write a review. The ratio of written reviews to star ratings? Very low. I just went & checked my most-reviewed book on Goodreads. 4,185 star ratings. 348 reviews. Same sort of deal on Audible.

But--the written reviews tell the reader WHY. I personally think it'd be useful on Amazon to have the same thing--star ratings & written reviews. So you could see a truer (lower) average, and then read people's reasons. But Amazon will do what they like! More accurately, what they think readers want.

That's one reason, though, that many readers trust Goodreads more. That and the "friends" thing, where, as you say, you can find out what people think who actually have the same taste as you. Not that helpful to know that somebody found this book with tons of rapey sex OMG so fantastic, if you hate books with rapey sex. As an example. :) Plus, if the review is written, you'll KNOW it has rapey sex (or sex at all, if that isn't your thing). Or whatever.

Lee Child is one of my favorite authors. But his latest was waaaaay too dark for me. Unfortunately I didn't read the reviews until afterwards. "Most helpful" one? Right there: waaaay dark, disturbing. Wish I'd have read it first! Because that matters to me.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Decon on December 27, 2015, 05:40:10 PM
Quote
As to reviews. I must have them. For various reasons. Rosalind had some good ones. I go to a site where there are reader reviews. I will not consider a book by a new author or unknown to me if I don't have some way to vet. Reviews are part of that vetting process. There are themes I don't want to read, there are books that pretend to be something (romance) and then kill of the character at the end, etc. I have to know these things. Which is why I appreciate anyone putting down honest ratings or reviews. That means 1 stars, 2 stars 3 stars and 4 stars also. Not just 5 stars. A 4 star is still a fantastic rating for any book. Sad that some now consider that not a good enough rating to put down after reading a book. Baffling really.

But that is why I mostly stay with goodreads reviews and ratings from other readers. Especially readers that like and read what I read. So many times I was saved from getting and reading a book I would have not liked, based on something that was mentioned in a review.

I put a thread on here recently to say I was baffled that my latest release which is 3 months old was still being bought now and again and so far this last month has had over 4,000 page reads in the US, so it's being read in full. The readers have no reviews to go by apart from in the UK which just picked up one 5 star review, but I doubt it would help a reader make a decision as it doesn't say much. I've just sold a copy of Medium's Apprentice, which has no reviews after 9 months and has a rank of 2 million. I'm still baffled, because like you say, and as I thought, readers need them to make decision. Seems they all don't?

I think there is a trend away from readers giving reviews.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: ccruz on December 27, 2015, 05:54:46 PM
No, I don't think all readers will buy based on reviews. I have never bothered reading the reviews until I'm done with the book and loved it. Then I will go through the reviews and mark the good ones as helpful to help the author out, as well as leave my own five-star review. I guess I got used to purchasing paperbacks from books stores, where there were no reviews to be had.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Thallewell on August 10, 2016, 09:35:38 AM
I have a rule that if I can't give 4-5 stars, I email the author my review instead of posting it.

I love this. I have a similar policy. I don't want to be the sort of person that tears down anyone's art (unless it's abundantly clear that the author is simply trying to scam people).
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: BlouBryant on August 10, 2016, 09:58:18 AM
I've stopped reading indie reviews, at least ones that are not 'verified purchase' or whatever the Amazon term is.  There are way too many people buying reviews or getting people to post good reviews for them.  Every couple days on here there's a posting from one company or other.. "give us X dollars and we'll get you Y reviews'. If the book is only on Amazon, and the person didn't buy it, that's a big flag for me that it's another indie trying to game the system. I checked a couple authors the other day because I was considering buying their book... 50+ reviews at 5 stars, 40+ didn't buy the book. Neither did I. 

BB
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Usedtoposthere on August 10, 2016, 10:07:37 AM
I've stopped reading indie reviews, at least ones that are not 'verified purchase' or whatever the Amazon term is.  There are way too many people buying reviews or getting people to post good reviews for them.  Every couple days on here there's a posting from one company or other.. "give us X dollars and we'll get you Y reviews'. If the book is only on Amazon, and the person didn't buy it, that's a big flag for me that it's another indie trying to game the system. I checked a couple authors the other day because I was considering buying their book... 50+ reviews at 5 stars, 40+ didn't buy the book. Neither did I. 

BB
Borrows under KU aren't verified purchases. Neither are free copies given away during a promo or on a permafree.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: SallyRose on August 10, 2016, 10:30:38 AM
Reviews are kind of a conundrum to me...

I anxiously wait for their arrival (mostly to rack up the social proof I hope will carry weight with the big promo sites) and then yesterday, realized I was feeling a little deflated because I got four new Amazon reviews (I think they must have sent out one of those "How would you rate this" emails since the reviews came in a flurry, probably people that downloaded it on the same day of a promo).

Why deflated? Were they bad reviews? Nope, as a matter of fact, they were all 5 stars - but I've read so many posts about reviews being "obviously fake" if they are short 1-2 sentence, "5 stars, loved this book, looking forward to reading the rest of the series," -- and that's mostly the kind of thing I got. Then I thought, how messed up is that! To feel bad about having too many good reviews!

So, I've decided, let people think what they will. I have no control over it, I've never bought a review, never will. If a reader takes the time to stop what they're doing and write a sentence or two, I'm grateful for the support. And, I think that Amazon's review request might encourage shorter reviews. After all, readers are responding to an email request and jotting something down - not necessarily pulling up a chair to write a lengthy review.

Whatever the case - and whatever anyone's interpretation of them - I'm done driving myself crazy on the issue.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Crystal_ on August 10, 2016, 10:41:32 AM
Borrows under KU aren't verified purchases. Neither are free copies given away during a promo or on a permafree.

Free copies "bought" on Amazon count as verified purchase.

I have a number of reviewers leave the same review on all the books in my series. It will be something short like "I love this series" or "I love my bad boy books."
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: CarlaBaku on August 10, 2016, 11:14:46 AM
Borrows under KU aren't verified purchases. Neither are free copies given away during a promo or on a permafree.

^^^ This, this, this, freaking THIS. My first book has racked up page reads to equal ~500 full novel reads. That means 500 readers could post a perfectly legitimate review (along with scores of readers who've purchased the paperback via my two local bookstores), yet their reviews are summarily brushed off as suspect because Amazon hasn't given them the Golden Seal of Review Approval. Newsflash, y'all: the scammers have figured out how to scam the review system WITH a 'verified purchase' label attached. Because the system is vulnerable to cheaters, the whole suspect review thing gets a bit witch-hunty sometimes.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: blubarry on August 10, 2016, 11:25:13 AM
Reviews for established authors with huge lists are often hard to decipher anyway. So many have ARC teams of dedicated fans who will always leave 4-5 star reviews. It's playing the game, but it's not always the same as organic reviews, especially those with 50+ 5 star reviews on launch day.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: P.A. Woodburn on August 10, 2016, 11:30:41 AM
I'm an avid review reader. I know some are faked. I know some may be paid for but I still read them. I read them more carefully if I'm purchasing an expensive item such as a large piece of kitchenware with attached machine. I think this does help me to avoid some faux pas. Some review writers give very useful information.
If its a book I may disregard after reading reviews because maybe I know too much already.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: lyndabelle on August 10, 2016, 11:30:51 AM
This is such a hot button on writing boards since reviews are still needed to qualify for sites like BookBub and ENT. I've had the ups and downs of reviews over the last couple of weeks. I got a scathing 1 star on my recent Omnibus edition with my vampire series. But then have been getting awesome reviews with the same story #1 in the series since it's in a Vampire bundle that just released last week. Most all of the reviews are through ARC copies. It's like a roulette wheel. Especially if you do a listing on Net Galley. All of the reviews are not purchase verified. But the fact they are there at least shows that other people have read it. Any reviews can be construed as helpful since they show that people are reading the book.

I think on another thread the only time it might not be helpful is when all there are for reviews are 1 or 2 stars. It puts a negative image in the mind of future reviewers. I have one of my stories with no 5 stars on Goodreads and Amazon due to the huge amount of one stars to start out. I think it was because it was listed in Romance and Erotica categories on Net Galley, and the romance folks kept saying it was porn. Erotica folks were saying it was fine. So, I switched it out into Erotica only, and it did better. But the low stars had done their damage. I mean, it is possible it is only a 4 star story, but after 25 reviews( some in other countries like Germany), it still has no 5 stars. Which is weird. A lot of my other stories have the range of 1-5 stars.

So, yeah, I would not read my reviews and let it go, but the fact they offer a huge area of the marketing for your book, they are hard to ignore. They are a large part of being a writer these days. I can see why people would get sucked into buying them, but it's good to get the word out how to get legitimate reviews so newbie authors don't fall into the trap. After the Zon review witch hunt this summer, it's a good message to spread around so people don't loose their living and get their account shut down.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: BlouBryant on August 10, 2016, 11:37:30 AM
^^^ ..... a bit witch-hunty sometimes.

It's a witch hunt if I'm saying Bob or John or You are doing it. I'm not. My comment was about how I buy books now and the fact that after lurking on these boards for the last 6 months, I approach reviews of indie  books with a fair bit of caution. I do what one of the earlier posters suggested, I take a look at the 1-3 star reviews. They're usually honest, and I've bought books based on bad or middling reviews.

To Sally... I doubt the average reader looks at your mass of five star reviews and doesn't trust them, I suspect most readers have no clue this is even an issue.... oh, and goodness, if you have too many five star reviewers, can you toss me one?   :D   
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: SerenityEditing on August 10, 2016, 12:40:07 PM
I do what one of the earlier posters suggested, I take a look at the 1-3 star reviews. They're usually honest, and I've bought books based on bad or middling reviews.

This. I've bought more books based on 1-star reviews than I have based on 4- or 5-star reviews combined. The negative reviews are much more likely to be specific and very detailed about their complaints, giving examples to support their position. I do look at the overall star rating, and look favorably on a higher rating, but I almost never bother looking at the individual positive reviews. After a while they all start to blend together anyway - perhaps some mutation of "All happy families are alike."

I avoid giving 5-star reviews unless the book was really life-changing for me or is one that I keep coming back to re-read. If everything is always "amazing! fabulous! the best!" then, after a while, that's just average. You know?
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: SallyRose on August 10, 2016, 01:22:29 PM
To Sally... ... oh, and goodness, if you have too many five star reviewers, can you toss me one?   :D   

Haha! Believe me, my post was not meant to imply that I am swimming in 5 star reviews - there is no "mass"  :( - I'm very thin on reviews of all varieties. It was just that having the little batch come in together made me realize the depth of my insanity when I read them and found myself thinking that fewer stars might have been better because of everything I've read on this topic.  :-\

Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Nick Marsden on August 10, 2016, 01:42:52 PM
From a reader's standpoint, one that knows nothing about publishing or how Amazon works or anything like that, reviews matter, right? Yes, all of us here know that those crappy 5 star reviews are "suspect", but the average reader is probably going to skim through them at least. Then they'll probably look at the 1 stars to see what people are complaining about. That's how I do it when I buy non-book items from Amazon. I don't wonder if the reviews for the HP Color printer were bought from some website. I don't care. I want to know if it's a reliable machine and if there are a bunch of people who have the same problem with it (like 10 people who all had bad paper jams). If I see comments for the first point, and not so much the 2nd point, I'll buy it. It still might break in 2 months, but I won't blame the problem on a crappy product. I'll blame it on a fluke mechanical failure and exchange it for a new one.

Book buying for those who are not in the business probably goes the same way. They look to see what people who like the book said about it, then they look to see what people who didn't like the book said about it. They probably ignore the vague reviews as unhelpful, but they don't consider if the review is a scam unless it looks scammy, and then the reviewer gets blamed for being a stupid troll, not the author for buying a scam review. Also, they can probably tell a bad 1 star review from a good 1 star review. If a book ONLY has vague or scammy reviews, then they probably make a decision on other factors (cover and blurb) because there isn't enough info in the review section to matter.

I wouldn't refuse to buy a book cause it had 100 reviews that all were a variation of the one-liner "I liked/hated this book". Now, if the cover were only so-so and the blurb didn't catch me, I would consider the book cheap dreck and not bother spending my .99 on it.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Sharlow on August 10, 2016, 01:51:30 PM
I'd go look on Goodreads. Typically, ratings are about .5 stars lower than on Amazon. If there are a lot of ratings (enough to be significant), and the average is WAY lower than on Amazon, like over 1 star's worth, I'd guess there could be something fishy.

Or, you know, you could shrug and not bother, because it's not really your problem and there's no real way to know.




Really? I find my experience on Goodreads to be the opposite. I have a lot of reviews there and my books are all higher rated. On Amazon I have only a few and most are bad.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: BWFoster78 on August 11, 2016, 05:36:50 AM
Quote
From a reader's standpoint, one that knows nothing about publishing or how Amazon works or anything like that, reviews matter, right? Yes, all of us here know that those crappy 5 star reviews are "suspect", but the average reader is probably going to skim through them at least.

I would absolutely love to have some definitive data on how much reviews actually matter. Not sure how one would go about getting that information, though.

Do a significant number of readers care about the reviews?

When I'm buying a book from an author I haven't previously read, it all comes down to the sample. If the author hooks me, then I buy the book regardless of other factors.

If the author is one of my favorites, I just buy the book without even glancing at any part of the books page.

The only time reviews come into play for me, really, is when I'm on the fence about an author I've read before.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Athena Grayson on August 11, 2016, 06:13:22 AM
When I'm shopping, I tend to put heaviest weight on the 3 and 4 star reviews, and read the 2 star reviews for caveats. I've seen too many 1-stars that are either complaints about something that is not the book or author ("Grr, Amazon Y U No Work Mah Kindle?") or incoherent. I see many more 2 star reviews that are "Didn't care for the book and here's why," and 3 or 4 star reviews that are "liked/loved/enjoyed the book and here's why." Some of the 5 star reviews will go into detail, but a lot of them on really popular books, especially in series, end up being, "OMG I squee'd when SPOILERY THING HAPPENED!!" And now it's ruined for me because I know The Thing and it will affect how I read the book.

My strongest buy-urge comes from cover and/or description. If I've been hooked by an image or a premise, and the Look Inside is not obviously spam or terribad, all the haterade in the world isn't going to turn me away, whether it's legit haterade or not. As a reader, my burning fiery hate is reserved for people who spoil mysteries or thrillers with their reviews, but everyone else's opinion is taken as an aggregate.

As an author, I don't get a lot of reviews on my books, even though I ask for them, but at this point, I'm less inclined to believe reviews are going to make or break me. I feel like I've done my due diligence and asked politely at the end of the book for reviews, and people either will or will not. I am better off putting out more stuff for people not to review. :D
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Atunah on August 11, 2016, 08:29:56 AM
I would absolutely love to have some definitive data on how much reviews actually matter. Not sure how one would go about getting that information, though.

Do a significant number of readers care about the reviews?

When I'm buying a book from an author I haven't previously read, it all comes down to the sample. If the author hooks me, then I buy the book regardless of other factors.

If the author is one of my favorites, I just buy the book without even glancing at any part of the books page.

The only time reviews come into play for me, really, is when I'm on the fence about an author I've read before.
Most readers I know do pay attention to the reviews in varying degrees. For a new unknown author, its about all we have to go on. But another reader recommendation can overwrite any reviews. If I know that reader, online or real life. If I know what they like I mean.

I never ever read samples. Never. For one, I cannot stand having all the partial stories floating in my head, can't stand that. Samples would not be a good indicator for me anyway. A sample only tells me how a book starts, it doesn't tell me anything about how the author can tell a story, unfold a story and especially end a story. Those things I have to find out from other readers, through reviews or forums. Of course goodreads reviews can be both, review and a friend recommendation, if the review is from someone you follow.

I think reviews in general, for all products matter to a great many people. Otherwise there wouldn't be so much scamming going on with all products on Amazon. Books aren't that much different in that regard. Everything gets reviewed  nowadays. And people read them and make decisions based on them. Just what it is. We live a more busy fractured life often, so less local folks to get recommendations from. So we turn to the interwebs.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Anarchist on August 11, 2016, 10:11:40 AM
I would absolutely love to have some definitive data on how much reviews actually matter. Not sure how one would go about getting that information, though.

The Effects of User Reviews on Online Purchasing Behavior across Multiple Product Categories (http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.335.627&rep=rep1&type=pdf)

A decade old, but still interesting reading - particularly starting on page 14.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: BWFoster78 on August 11, 2016, 11:28:42 AM
The Effects of User Reviews on Online Purchasing Behavior across Multiple Product Categories (http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.335.627&rep=rep1&type=pdf)

A decade old, but still interesting reading - particularly starting on page 14.

Fantastic!

That was some very useful information.

Thanks!

Brian
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: CarlaBaku on August 11, 2016, 11:46:59 AM
It's a witch hunt if I'm saying Bob or John or You are doing it. I'm not. My comment was about how I buy books now and the fact that after lurking on these boards for the last 6 months, I approach reviews of indie  books with a fair bit of caution. I do what one of the earlier posters suggested, I take a look at the 1-3 star reviews. They're usually honest, and I've bought books based on bad or middling reviews.

To Sally... I doubt the average reader looks at your mass of five star reviews and doesn't trust them, I suspect most readers have no clue this is even an issue.... oh, and goodness, if you have too many five star reviewers, can you toss me one?   :D

Re: "witch-hunty": I wasn't referring to your post, specifically (and apologies if it seemed like I was), but to a trend on Kboards in the past few months to jump immediately to the conclusion that if a book has a preponderance of high ratings and/or the reviews aren't verified purchases that something fishy is afoot. I think we're all sick and tired of working really hard only to see the system-despoilers making a profit; that frustration, though, has the potential to create knee-jerk assumptions without a basis in fact. There was a recent thread in which the OP wondered why another author's book was outselling his; sure enough, a suggestion popped up that the author who was selling more had probably cheated with their reviews. I just think we need to tread carefully with this stuff.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: JeanetteRaleigh on August 11, 2016, 12:32:27 PM
I won't give a review for a book unless I can give it four or five stars.  I read a lot, so if I love a book so much that I don't want to forget the author, I review it so that I can find it again by going through my Amazon review lists.
Title: Re: authors who purchase reviews
Post by: Ellie8 on August 11, 2016, 01:27:10 PM
The Effects of User Reviews on Online Purchasing Behavior across Multiple Product Categories (http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.335.627&rep=rep1&type=pdf)

A decade old, but still interesting reading - particularly starting on page 14.

Here's a link to the study (referenced in the paper posted by Anarchist) conducted by Berger, Sorensen, and Rasmussen regarding instances where negative reviews can actually positively affect book sales. While it's from 2010, it's very, very interesting data! http://jonahberger.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Negative_Publicity.pdf