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Authors manipulating review sites

Discussion moved to this forum by Amazon on Nov 15, 2011 11:48:38 AM PST.

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Initial post: Sep 25, 2011 11:04:01 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 25, 2011 11:26:53 AM PDT
Ridley says:
Okay, people, enough is enough. Authors need to learn some goddamned restraint. I am sick and tired of them using forums and author loops to manipulate review sites to hide reviews that made them sad.

It's time for readers to push back.

I'd like this thread to be a place where readers can send a heads up when they come across a clicking campaign to send readers to counteract abusive voters with their own votes. Readers' reviews should not be hidden from other readers due to authors' hijinks.

Unfortunately, I can't think of a way to counteract the friends & family 5* review issue, but, baby steps.

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 11:11:05 AM PDT
Ridley says:
First item on the agenda: the book Working Arrangements.

The book completely and blatantly rips off a Susan Napier HP from the late 90s. A couple reviewers (and I) write reviews pointing out the obvious similarities and squicky feelings they caused. Then, somehow, so many "fans" of a newbie self-published author show up and downvote that our reviews are banished from the front page.


Posted on Sep 25, 2011 11:23:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 25, 2011 7:52:17 PM PDT
L. Burns says:
Why limit it to just self pub'd authors? Bestselling mystery author Diane Mott Davidson sent out a plea to her fangirls via FB to post 5 star reviews on Amazon for her latest novel, Crunch Time: A Novel of Suspense (Goldy Schulz), because the book's overwhelmingly negative reviews were too "cruel". Immediately after that a number of 5* reviews were posted, most of them from people who had never reviewed anything on Amazon before. Anyone who gave the book a critical review was downvoted.

I am unbelievably disappointed in this author.

Edit for spelling

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2011 11:29:49 AM PDT
Ridley says:
"Why limit it to just self pub'd authors?"

Touche. I edited my first post. Limiting it to self-pubbers would make kerfluffles like Dianne Sylvan's Shadowflame (A Novel of the Shadow World) "homophobia" sock puppet attacks off-limits, and that would be a damn shame.

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 11:48:12 AM PDT
I don't remember the books but 2 of my reviews magically overnight got like 3-5 negative votes. I guess some authors can't stand the truth or else doing want to read reviews that aren't glowing or might let them know what the readers really want. Oh well.

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 12:00:29 PM PDT
Damn, now that's pretty pathetic when an author has to use facebook to get rid of reviews they don't like. Plus it proves how people are easily manipulated--like the sheep they are.

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 12:01:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 26, 2011 12:37:34 AM PDT
MaryE says:
This is a good place to start - listing authors who have manipulated the reviews or have reviewed their own books. Another option is "Report Abuse." It's not just for objectionable postings on the forums, the option is available for reviews as well.

I used it on a review yesterday. The book is City of the Legions, the author is Anthony A. Roberts and their user name for both reviews and the forum is Castradeva. The author wrote their own 5* review in addition to posting a few self-promos.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2011 12:15:14 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 25, 2011 12:15:32 PM PDT]

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 1:13:39 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Sep 27, 2011 8:48:07 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2011 1:28:23 PM PDT
The average rating on GR seems to reflect your thoughts, it averages 1.57. I guess friends and family haven't found their way there yet.

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 1:30:33 PM PDT
Ridley says:
This one just amuses me: Cowboy's Bride

All those 5* reviews are *totally* legit. I'm completely convinced.

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 1:35:34 PM PDT
Do you think they are catching on to the fact that we automatically discredit any reviewer who only has that ONE big review? Cause all those reviewers only seem to review cheap/free books. Maybe they get people to grab and review some cheapos just to make themselves look more legit?

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 1:36:27 PM PDT
Ok y'all, help me out here. I'm fairly new to this community and I really don't understand what y'all are talking about. So far I've gathered by reading this discussion (and a few others) that there is an ongoing issue with authors. And, from what I can gather it involves two basic types of behavior. (1) self-promoting on various reader discussion forums and (2) somehow manipulating the reviews. It's the manipulating of the reviews that I don't understand. Ridley talked about downvoting critical reviews - ?????? Also, a "clicking campaign?????? Thanks, Janet

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 1:38:16 PM PDT
NewDiane says:
I can just picture them corralling people - say, in a doctor's waiting room:
"Excuse me, miss? Are you reading a Kindle?"
"Would you please download my book? It's free today and if you review it on Amazon, I'll let you go ahead of me for the mammogram."
"Okay, but I don't have time to read it."
"I don't mind, just give it 5 stars."
"Okay, thanks for letting me cut the line. My parking meter still has some time on it."

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2011 1:41:41 PM PDT
Ridley says:
A clicking campaign is when you get your supporters to go and click "no" under "Was this review helpful to you?" for reviews you don't like.

A review gets more or less visibility based on how many helpful "yes" votes it gets. Voting "no" ensures a review doesn't show up on the book's main page with the top three reviews, doesn't show as "the most helpful critical review" and is just hard to find quickly if you're a customer.

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 1:46:23 PM PDT
NewDiane says:
Great. So honest reviews, carefully thought out and worded by earnest readers who want to guide others (and want to be guided by them) are knocked out of the ball park by a bunch of jerks with a mouse and an agenda?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2011 1:48:23 PM PDT
Ridley says:
Yep - unless we fight them, by clicking back en masse.

There's more of us than there are of them.

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 1:50:15 PM PDT
NewDiane says:
I haven't been in the habit of clicking, one way or the other, when I read a review, but after reading the posts in this thread, I'm going to make a point of clicking when I read a review that appears to be informed and sincere - or not.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2011 2:14:34 PM PDT
I have seen tons of people giving away their books for "Free" in exchange for a review. If you get something for free, you are less likely to give it a negative review, at least that's the theory behind these authors.

Others get all their friends and family to review their books and only give 5 star reviews, and then downvote any negative reviews, while upvoting the good ones. Still others go on facebook and twitter and talking about all the "meanies" giving them negative reviews, and ask people to counteract the "meanies" by giving positive ones- whether you've read the book or not. And people do this, because they buy into the author's claims of "they are just a bunch of hating haters who hate all things vampire/werewolf/porn/badly written/whatever I wrote", and think it's their job to counteract the hating haters.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2011 2:22:21 PM PDT
Thanks for the info, Ridley. I was wondering the same things that Janet asked about. I don't take time all that often to write a review, but I have started noticing the number of people who agreed with a review, and now I'll be more diligent about at least voting for/against. I find that the samples are real lifelines. I also almost always read the negative reviews first, which often helps counter the glowing reviews of family/friends.

I don't understand the fragile egos of some of these authors. I know some of the reviews can be harsh, but jeesh! If the book has any redeeming qualities, not ALL the reviews will be bad. And if they are, then take it as an early sign not to quit your day job and be thankful for small favors. Or maybe, and here's a real stretch, seek out some honest advice and use it to improve.

Thanks for starting this thread!

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 2:24:37 PM PDT
Karlyn says:
The games authors play to manipulate buyers into buying their books can vary from sheer ignorance to blatant disregard of all things ethical. Keep in mind many authors are above playing such games, but the ones who don't sadly hurt all authors. I am completely wary of fake and biased reviews, including any unknown poster coming to these boards touting some book is "OMG, the best EVER!! You must buy it for everyone you know!!" (I kid you not, those are some of the common phrases used.) I don't have the word "stupid" stamped on my forehead, and can usually spot those fakers.

I've seen some lesser known scams too. We have one popular author (who I will leave unnamed) that posts about her book every few weeks or so. It took me a while to figure it out, but when I searched on her books she has a two year history of only recommending her stuff. I can't prove its her, but I firmly believe it is.

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 4:26:28 PM PDT
NewDiane says:
One sure clue is if you click on the poster's name. If the only book(s) she has reviewed are by one author...WTH? She only reads books by Jane Doe? Not one other author on her list? Also, all her reviews are 5-star...she has never read anything bad or mediocre in her life? I've written close to 100 reviews, and they run the gamut. I'm sorry if an author doesn't like it, but if something is not worth reading, I'm hardly going to recommend it to the world.

That being said, I did once write a glowing review of a book written by my sister. It was an honest review and I identified myself as the author's sister, but she immediately informed me that it could be interpreted as sock puppetry and I never did such a thing again. That was back in 2006. I've been very sensitive to sock puppets ever since.

Posted on Sep 25, 2011 5:37:43 PM PDT
Wow! I must be very naive. It never occurred to me that the reviews were being manipulated. So from now on I will certainly never buy a book that has "OMG buy this book" in a review! I will say that I've only reviewed 3 books and they were ones that I loved. So I gave all 3 of them 5 stars. And, truthfully I don't know if I have the self-confidence to write a negative review. So if you check my reviews, will I look suspicious? What if I say something negative and I'm wrong?

When I read reviews I always look for the negative ones to balance with the positive. While I sometimes clicked, it wasn't something I did on a consistent basis. I will now always make it a point to click on the ones that give me the most honest, insightful, thoughtful reviews.

Man, the things you learn when you start reading the discussions. I want to thank all of you for the informative and enjoyable conversations. And, be warned - I will probably have more stupid questions in the future. Happy reading!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2011 5:45:40 PM PDT
Ok, I must be stupid. I looked at the review for Cowboy's Bride. I checked the other reviews the reviewers did - there were books by other authors. I just couldn't see what you are seeing. HELP! I'm going to be buying books based on bogus reviews if I don't figure this out. What am I missing.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2011 5:59:09 PM PDT
Ridley says:
The red flag for me is how each of those "reviews" reads like professional marketing copy.

Genuine reader reviews don't sound like that.
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Initial post:  Sep 25, 2011
Latest post:  Apr 13, 2012

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