Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Getting Reviews

I was mildly appalled at Charissa Newark's advice on how to get Amazon reviews, recently posted by the Independent Publishing Magazine.

"The easiest way to get reviews for your book is to create fake profiles and then review it yourself. (You'll be sure to get a 5 star rating!) However, many authors don't feel right about doing this."

They don't feel right about outright dishonestly?  Well, then there might be hope for us yet.

"The next best way to get reviews for your book is to ask friends and family to read it and to post a review. They'll be likely to give you a favorable review, but you won't have to coach them on what to write."

Okay, so posting fake reviews is "best", and getting your mother to do it is the next best?

My suggestion would be to consider slightly more than how your book does in search results. And if you do want to use black hat SEO methods, consider not talking about it publicly like it is the most normal thing in the world.

Oh, and at least consider getting reviews from the most obvious source: customers. They may not be easy to get and all 5-star, but they mean a hell of a lot more to other customers, to Amazon and--I would hope--to the author.

I would also recommend getting book promotion advice, wherever possible, from a person who has actually successfully written, published and promoted a book.

(Of course the entire post was only written in the first place to game the Google PR system by getting the backlinks in the bio.)


DED said...

Wow. Anything to make a buck.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Well said Emily. I posted my outrage all over Facebook when I saw this yesterday on my google feed.

I mean really. Can we make Indie authors look any worse.

Kae said...

The comment about reviews was awful, and I wasn't too crazy about the Listmania comment, either.

And now I feel that anyone who has read her post might be questioning the reviews they see. Bummer.

I recently received a 5-star on Amazon for my newest book, Dead Heroes, and I haven't a clue who the person is. But what will others think? My boyfriend, a neighbor? That whole idea promotes distrust, and I can't think of a way to counter it.

Mark Bacon said...

Call me a cynic. I'm trying to flog my new indie ebook of short mysteries. I'm not submitting to any blogs that ask you to pay for a review, I'm not going to review it myself with a phony ID on Amazon and I'm not going to have my wife write a review, but I'm sure lots of people do. In fact I was surprised--but pleased--to read your words Emily, and the three positive comments from others.

The question remains as to where to draw the line. Is it unethical or unprofessional to ask friends to read and review. What about acquaintances? One book review blogger I wrote to sent me a link to his book on Amazon. Is that a quid pro quo?

It's a slippery slope and I think the demands of the market establish what the average scribe thinks is acceptable. Like I said, I'm a cynic.


Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Mark, I discourage reviews from friends and family personally; however, I do submit to bookbloggers and groups on goodreads. Because I was a reviewer here for such a long time, I happen to know a lot of reviewers at the acquaintance level. I think that's ok. I also think peer reviews are ok as long as they are objective. You can tell an objective review from a scratch your back review. I find forums like goodreads are excellent places to get reviews. There are a lot of real readers out there who like discovering new authors and many bookbloggers do as well. I also get solicitations for reviews from authors who have read my review profile on amazon. Quid pro quo should never be a condition for offering a review.

Mick Rooney said...

Hi Emily/Cheryl and all,

This also led to a lively debate on my own facebook profile where all of TIPM's feed is shared to.


I deliberately didn't censor Charissa's point on Amazon reviews from authors (via their own fake ID's) because I felt it went against the spirit of a guest post on TIPM and it should also be a forum for varied opinion. I expected it to create a good deal of debate and it certainly did.

I think Mark's comment demonstrates that while some view it as 'dishonest' - the reality is that it is a widespread practice particularly on Amazon.

Cheryl also makes the valid point about using family and friends. I made the same point on during the FB debate - Is using/getting family and friends to post positive reviews much better than using fake ID's to generate positive comments/reviews on your own book.

I've been asked by my own publisher to encourage family and friends to post positive reviews on my books. While I can't stop them posting a review, it's not something I will do. I more than anyone know the best reviews come from readers you have never met and the most objectively fair reviews often come from your own writing peers.

Emily Veinglory: said...

To be honest I think the "spirit" of this guest post was to get a backlink. The post itself feel thrown together at short notice.

Joanna K Neilson said...

They said that? They had to be joking. Bizarre. I mean, really? Authors that do that are usually so easy to spot it insults the reader anyway. And how insecure do you need to be to do your own 'reviews'? Rubbish advice.

DED said...

Just because something is widespread, doesn't mean it should be an accepted, and recommended, practice.

That's like saying, politicians are accepting "gifts" from lobbyists so if you want them on your side you need to bribe them too.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Mick, it's still dishonest, plain and simple. A fake is a fake is a fake, widespread or not.

The author who wrote this guest post should be ashamed. I am pissed and thoroughly disappointed. Readers are not stupid. They can spot this stuff a mile away, and when they do, and they will, they will take the author to task publicly. Google fake reviews or authors writing fake reviews and you will see what I mean. Visit the goodreads forums or the amazon forums if you want a real look at how this affects Indie authors.

I mean, the general public already thinks indie authors are hacks to begin with, and now we are liars, as well. People will read this article and think the SP community condones this behavior. Like we need another stumbling block. This author's credibility is shot, as is the credibility of TIPM for allowing such a fraudulent suggestion to be passed off as a viable marketing practice.

I work hard for my reviews. I don't have many, and I stand by them, but what good are they now if readers think all indies are faking it. This is an outrage and a slap in the face to all indie authors who get their reviews the hard way and the right way. And by that I mean, submitting to review blogs, offering free reads to real readers via amazon groups, goodreads groups, and mailing lists to reviewers, and lastly, getting objective peer reviews. I gave away over 600 copies of my newest release to Kindle owners via KDP and Goodreads this month. I sacrificed royalties on 600 books just to gain readership and hopefully a few reviews -- good or bad. I've only garnered 2 reviews so far, and a third from the LLBR book review blog. Those were good honest reader reviews. I may not get any more from that 600. Dissapointing, sure, but at least I can say I did it the right way, and I don't need some hack marketer undermining my efforts. No indie author needs that.

We are not all fakers and frauds and hacks, and I am tired of a few slackers giving us all a bad rap.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Sorry, I had to delete the duplicate post of my rant. This is what happens when you get so angry you wind up smashing the keyboard.

Mark Bacon said...

Cheryl, I agree with you. I've written to nearly 100 book bloggers seeking real reviews and my book isn't even released yet. I wish we had greater access to more mainstream reviewers, but as you said, the fake reviews add to our reputation.

Ultimately (I'm hoping) quality writing will succeed--providing the writer perseveres with her or his marketing.

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Thank you Mark. I thought maybe I was a bit harsh with my last post, but then again, our reputations are at stake over this, and that is something not to be taken lightly.

DED said...

IMO, not harsh at all, Cheryl. I think you made a legitimate point.

Sarah Nicolas said...

Wow. Just... wow. I can't believe someone would say this "in public."