Category Archives: Amazon

The Case of the Disappearing Reviews (on Amazon)

They say that independent reader reviews are important to Authors. That’s a reasonable statement and one I have always accepted as true.

I often read reviews, but it doesn’t always determine whether I actually purchase a book or not. This really only happens on Amazon, because when I walk into a bookstore, I purchase books for different reasons. Maybe it’s the cover; often it’s the blurb on the back; rarely it has to do with publishers hype and it’s almost never is based on the book’s reviews.

Buying from Amazon requires a different approach than buying from a bookstore. Amazon publishes (and sells) hundreds and thousands of books by Indie Authors and the only way to identify a good story is to read some of the reviews, often a good story will shine above the rest because of the nice things their readers say (but not always).

This doesn’t always work because you can’t base your purchases on another person’s tastebuds.

Recently Amazon decided to remove some of its Authors reviews. There has been a lot of talk about why this happened but no one seems to know for sure. They did update their review posting guidelines but there doesn’t seem to be anything in the new guidelines to justify removing the old reviews.

Basically, you can’t pay a person for a review (among other things). This doesn’t include giving away a copy of your book to a reviewer because this is how the big boys work – sending out review copies of books to readers and bookstores to gain reviews and establish a prepared market ready for release day.

When I took my book into a local bookstore they asked for a ‘free’ review copy, in fact they expected it and demanded it. I originally purchased five books for this purpose and passed them around locally so I was happy to offer them one of these copies. Every time I ask a store to stock my book, they ask for a review copy. It seems to be the accepted norm with in the publishing industry.

Now, this is all fine and dandy but when Amazon reviewed their policy and removed the offending reviews, they took away over half of the reviews that had been posted on the Amazon page for Tomorrows Child!

I imagine a computer program did the work because I doubt that Amazon has the staff to read each offending review. Unless they have employed 1-million literate Lemmings to censer book reviews.

I assume they did this to all authors but I could be wrong, perhaps they just targeted indie authors. When the Lemmings went to work, they left me with three reviews! When they censored the reviews of EL James – Fifty Shades of Grey, they could have taken away 10,000 reviews (who really knows) but that still left her with over 13,000 reviews! (based on the +50% reduction rule they used for my book!)

I still don’t know why my reviews were removed and they didn’t appear to have broken any review laws… but who knows. Only Amazon and the Lemmings can tell us what really happened.

Anyway, I have decided to publish a review page – A central place to store my reviews should Amazon decide to remove the remaining three!

Reviewers go to a lot of trouble to write and post a review. They read your book, take notes, write thoughtful reviews and then go online and post them – usually on multiple sites. This is time consuming and even if I do give them a free copy of my eBook – they will earn themselves a whopping $2.99 (in virtual products). (I am sure we have many, very rich reviewers out there!)

Indie Authors need reader support so if you still want to leave reviews for Authors you love, please do. Post the review on Amazon and any of the other sites that promote the work of Indie Authors.

If you’d like to write a review for Tomorrows Child, post it on Amazon or Goodreads or wherever you purchased my book, but I would be most grateful if you also send the review to me so I can post it here on my website.

See the Review Page for Tomorrows Child

Advertisements

To be or not to be… a real author!

It’s 5am and I have just sent my 11-year-old son off to camp. Each year the school takes the Grade 7 students to the Gold Coast for a week. I probably shouldn’t be worried – he is smart, independent and brave, but it’s the first time he has been away from the family for more than a day or two and his first time in a big city – so I am a little worried.

But I guess I am worried about all of them – 30 country kids in the big smoke! As if a visit to Brisbane and the Gold Coast isn’t amazing enough, the V8 Supercars is on this weekend on the Gold Coast and about 200,000+ extra people will attend.

I can’t imagine 200,000 extra people on the Gold Coast; in fact, I can’t really imagine 200,000 people anywhere. Last weekend our school celebrated 100 years and about 1000 people showed up for the Centenary event – this I can imagine. Actually, 1000 people together in a hall is not all that difficult to imagine because people gather in groups this size every day.

Still, living in a country town means that things are small – groups of people, schools, traffic jams (??), waiting lines… everything is small and compact.

And this brings me to books, in particular eBooks -small, compact and portable!

Recently, I setup a stall at a local festival, signed copies of my book and gave away eBooks. It was pretty successful and lots of fun but one person commented about the value of eBooks and the validity of Authors who publish them.

I can’t offer an exact quote, but he said something about not being a ‘real author’ one book doesn’t make a person successful and publishing eBooks doesn’t really mean you’re an author.

At the time, I didn’t know what to say and while I was paused in shock… he said that if I ever publish a second book (that achieved good sales), it would establish me as an ‘Author’ and he might consider reading the first one. Personally, I don’t care what he reads or what he thinks but it got me thinking about ‘Real Authors’ and the validity of eBooks and publishing through Amazon and Smashwords.

So what is an Author – according to the dictionary an author is someone who writes a book or other text, literary work, article or report; a creator of something; a person responsible for the final form of a book, report or text.

Interestingly, in the definition of an Author there is no mention of actually publishing the written work – simply the act of writing makes you an author!

If this is the case than I have been an author for years – having written and published dozens of reports and hundreds of articles, quite a few booklets and several newsletters, but I didn’t consider myself to be an author until I had actually published my book.

EBooks may still be considered to be the poorer cousin of ‘real books’ but anyone who sells eBooks via Amazon (or any other outlet) knows that eBooks outsell paperbacks by about 100 to 1. Even for ‘not real authors’  like myself, this is true.

The truth is that eBooks are amazing – they have created an opportunity for anyone with stamina, patience and desire to ‘publish’ and after publishing an eBook, I bet most people would consider themselves a ‘real author’ regardless of whether the book is good or not!

Success is an entirely different matter. I felt I had achieved success when the manuscript was finished. I mean who is going to say that writing 100,000+ words isn’t an amazing achievement. Oh that’s right – that feller at the markets!

Success is personal and measurable by your own goals and expectations. If my goal was to write the next Harry Potter Series, draw in millions of fans like the Twilight Series or create the hype of Fifty Shades of Grey, than I would have fallen well short of the mark but this was never my goal or my expectation.

Success could be measured by book sales but selling one book to a complete stranger was enough to create a feeling of success and achievement (I guess I am easily pleased!). So while some stranger may not consider me or other indie authors who publish eBooks to be ‘real authors’ or even successful, I would have to disagree.