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General Chat - anything Goes > Shoddy behaviour

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message 1: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Abbott (rachel_abbott) | 230 comments I am quite shocked to have been contacted by message today by somebody offering his services through Fiverr (for anybody who doesn't know, people offer some service or other for ... a fiver).

He sent me a Goodreads message to say that he would 'like' my best reviews on Amazon from 20 different accounts.

I had really hoped that after all the storm last year about sock puppets and the like this shoddy behaviour would have stopped but it seems not. It's one thing to ask people you know to 'like' your book entry - but another thing entirely to pay somebody to fake twenty likes.

Am I being naive here? Does everybody else think it's okay?


message 2: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18543 comments Are people that desperate to be a top 1000 reviewer that they'll pay people to like their reviews to get them there?

An no I don't think this kind of behaviour is okay. It's things like this that make Amazon overreact and punish genuine punters because there is a teeny possibility that it is fake


message 3: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Abbott (rachel_abbott) | 230 comments I agree, Jud. I don't think it's to be a top 1000 reviewer, though - it's so that the review of your book that you believe to be the best stays at the top of the 'most helpful review' and so that you can choose one that's not so bad from the 'most helpful negative reviews' - at least, that was what I assumed!
I was probably so irritated when I read it that I didn't study it - perhaps you're right - perhaps it's about reviewer status (but he wrote to me, as an author, so I think he was trying to 'help' me.

Wanted to write a very rude response, but then I know for sure that I would get 20 one star reviews in retaliation!!


message 4: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18543 comments Ah ok, I get you. No, I think you are right. I was thinking along the lines of the reviews belong to the reviewer rather than to the author of a book. Either way it makes me sad that people are stooping to such tactics.


message 5: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments It's a pity people don't act in an honourable way. They make everyone else look shoddy too. I think you're quite right to be horrified. I would also hope that the one star reviews wouldn't materialise as a result of refusing but the levels to which people will stoop still amaze me.


message 6: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18543 comments That frightens me a little, that if you are honest you might actually get punished for it.


message 7: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Abbott (rachel_abbott) | 230 comments It happened to me a couple of times last year, Jud. I offered to review books for other indie authors - everybody needs some help! I had been really lucky and I aimed to help others. I would NEVER publish a bad review, so on the odd occasion that I found a book that I couldn't give a decent review to, I wrote to tell the author. I ALWAYS said that it was simply a matter of personal taste and pointed out all the positives. On one occasion I got such a load of abuse in the responding email, and then the same day I got 5 one star reviews - in a period when I was getting maybe one review a week, usually four or five star. But this was ALL in the space of two hours - and he'd used an anagram of his name on one of them. AND none of the others were verified purchases, and none of them had ever reviewed a book before. But I couldn't prove it.
So - what can you do? Just have to take it in your stride, I think!


message 8: by David (last edited Mar 19, 2013 06:11AM) (new)

David Haynes | 950 comments Hi Rachel.
Before I started publishing through Amazon I had this ideal image of a writer being a noble creature. I still do on the whole. Although I've never fallen foul of these cretins, I find it a worry that people browsing and buying books see these reviews and it makes them think twice about buying it. They don't know the machiavellian nature of some people. If I got an email from someone who'd read my book and offerred advice, I'd think, that's great someone has taken the time to give me advice. We all need that!
Unfortunately some think they are without fault and these are the same people who, in life are difficult characters to deal with.
You've done the right thing, you're clearly one of the noble characters which make it worthwhile!


message 9: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Abbott (rachel_abbott) | 230 comments Thanks David. For me, it's a kind of mission to try to help other authors. We're all in this together, as far as I can see, and just because somebody buys a competitor's book it doesn't mean they're not going to buy mine.

I've set up a blog which aims to help other indie authors - everything from marketing to using Twitter and getting reviews. I don't see other writers as sworn enemies, and I've made some great friends of others in the same position as me. We genuinely try to help each other - and it's so much more satisfying than being sneaky.


message 10: by Robert (new)

Robert Franks | 150 comments The only reviews I've encouraged have been via R2R on goodreads (give a free ebook in return for honest review). I've never heard of sock puppets before reading this. Surely Amazon, if they're aware of this, would delete the inappropriate reviews? Or is that naive of me? A family member once left a review on one of my books, and I thanked them via amazon forums - the review was promptly deleted by amazon!


message 11: by David (new)

David Haynes | 950 comments I agree completely!


message 12: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Abbott (rachel_abbott) | 230 comments There was a big scandal last year with some well known authors admitting that they had a number of fake Amazon accounts, and they were writing reviews for their own books, and bad ones for competitors. The fake accounts are called sock puppets. It was a bit of a shocker, because these were pretty famous authors.

For a while, Amazon stopped authors from reviewing other author's books, because that was another scam - you review mine, I'll review yours. There are people who advertise all the time for review swaps!

There is nothing wrong with offering a free book in return for a fair and honest review - that's how reviewers work. It only becomes potentially dodgy if you say you'll review theirs in return.

Family members are usually allowed to review unless they are part of the same household, I think. But I'm not sure about that. It drives my husband mad that he can't review my books - he says that he's a reader, he knows what he likes and he should be allowed. But I won't let him!


message 13: by David (new)

David Haynes | 950 comments You've got to be careful with all of it. The last thing you want to do is get banned or have reviews removed as a reader or a writer.


message 14: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18543 comments It is a shame, I tend to stick to recommendations from this group now and books by our authors instead of relying on Amazon reviews.

A lot of us do try to review any books we read by indies because we know how much help it is. I usually upvote reviews from people in this group too since I know they will be genuine and honest reviews.


message 15: by David (new)

David Haynes | 950 comments Thanks, Jud. We do appreciate it! I think everyone in this group is beyond reproach, at least where books and reading are concerned. I can't say that for their personal lives though. There's a few lovable rogues knocking about I reckon!


message 16: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments You got a webcam?


message 17: by David (new)

David Haynes | 950 comments Yes! Although I've never used it!


message 18: by Robert (new)

Robert Franks | 150 comments Ignite!! There's me thinking you were so sweet and innocent ...!


message 19: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments Wherever did you get that idea from Rob?


message 20: by Robert (new)

Robert Franks | 150 comments Ignite wrote: "Wherever did you get that idea from Rob?"
These retired teachers. So many hidden depths! Lol


message 21: by Kath (last edited Mar 19, 2013 07:32AM) (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments Ah, I wasn't a teacher! I was an administrator. I got to shout at teachers (for putting their apostrophes in the wrong place!)
I was the dragon in the office!


message 23: by Kath (new)

Kath Middleton | 25093 comments Oh I SO ought to have had that on my door!


message 24: by D.D. Chant (new)

D.D. Chant (DDChant) | 7680 comments *Shakes head*

It's all rather sad, isn't it? I'm afraid that I no longer read to review other indies unless I know them VERY well. The trouble is that if the book isn't to your taste and you can't honestly say you liked it (a 4 or 5 star rating in my book) but there was nothing *wrong* with the novel so you give it 3 stars you just KNOW that the author is not going to be happy. If you think that their work is not up to standard, the whole thing just turns in to a mine field and you're not coming out of the experience without getting blown to bits.
Now when I read indies I only review the ones that I can give good reviews. I know that some people think that is a form of dishonesty but I'm in a vulnerable position. If an author writes a bad review of someone else's work they may be in for a load of 1* reviews to mysteriously turn up on their own work. If a reader writes a bad review, although they may be subject to abuse, the author cannot cause them any tangible damage. (Unless they are a frequent reviewer who is proud of their rating.) Although the experience is JUST as unpleasant.
And finally, the straw that broke the camels back, due to sockpuppetgate, and Amazon's subsequent actions, all reviews by indies are regarded as dubious. If it's a good review then you must have traded good reviews with the author of the book. If it's a bad review you're either getting back at the author for a disagreement, or slamming it because it is in the same genre and therefore competes with your own book.
I don't like to sound defeatist but that is the situation that indies are faced with.
However I think it's wrong to ignore that fact that it isn't completely unfair. As horrible as it is to say a lot of indies are so badly behaved that it's understandable that we've all been tarred with the same brush. Spamming, rude behaviour, inability to take criticism, self delusion, the belief that just because they have written a book it is the worlds duty, not only to read it, but to give it gushing 5 star reviews.
I cringe when I read some of the comments on Amazon and even on some of the more author friendly sites on Goodreads. Often a groups author friendly stance results in abuse by some authors.
I know that some of these problems are down to the inexperience of new indies, but surely they should put in some effort to learn the appropriate etiquette before rushing in where angels fear to tread!

Phew...

As you can see this isn't something I feel very strongly about though. ;-P

I'll shut up now.


message 25: by Jud (new)

Jud (judibud) | 18543 comments Ignite wrote: "Ah, I wasn't a teacher! I was an administrator. I got to shout at teachers (for putting their apostrophes in the wrong place!)
I was the dragon in the office!"


!!

You were one of those scary ladies in the office?

*horror*


message 26: by Jim (new)

Jim | 22035 comments Robert wrote: "The only reviews I've encouraged have been via R2R on goodreads (give a free ebook in return for honest review). I've never heard of sock puppets before reading this. Surely Amazon, if they're awar..."

Amazon don't care enough to spend money. They seem to be trying to tidy up the system using either some form of 'bot' or else an intern they've got in on 'work experience'


message 27: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments Sounds shoddy to me. This one sounds like a money making making venture to be sure...

Really I don't see why authors need to buy reviews. A lot of readers don't leave reviews and a book with no reviews is not necessarily a bad book. If the author has so little faith in his or her work that he or she needs to buy a review or fix the ratings with fake ones seems like that says a lot about the book...


Sending a reviewer a copy to review is one thing but either asking for money to like reviews or sock puppeting seems pretty dodgy.


message 28: by Nick (new)

Nick Wastnage (nickwastnage) | 231 comments Alexandra wrote: "Sounds shoddy to me. This one sounds like a money making making venture to be sure...

Really I don't see why authors need to buy reviews. A lot of readers don't leave reviews and a book with no re..."

I couldn't agree with you more. Several so-called indie guide blogs to promoting books suggest that a book has to have many reviews and that indie authors should do everything possible to get reviews, hence the sock puppetry etc. What's worse is that some authors go out and ask all their friends to buy their book so it shows a higher amazon ranking. The friend may never read it!


message 29: by Tim (new)

Tim | 9478 comments I'm with DD. I tend only to give reviews to mainstream published books now, and even ratings, I'm more likely to just mark an indie book as read on GR, and not rate it, regardless of what I thought. Even though my book is not out yet, the prospect of negative comeback just doesn't bear thinking about.


message 30: by Tim (new)

Tim | 9478 comments I have no compunction about asking all my friends to buy a book though - that's just marketing!


message 31: by David (last edited Mar 19, 2013 09:04AM) (new)

David Haynes | 950 comments I don't either, Tim. I don't have enough mates to catapault me into the top ten anyway!


message 32: by Jim (new)

Jim | 22035 comments Actually what Rachel has flagged up isn't new, I came across an advert on a genuine 'freelance writer' site, Someone needs 6 Amazon Reviews written and submitted from different accounts. For this they’re willing to pay the princely sum of $10. Being me I even blogged about it on http://jandbvwebster.wordpress.com/20...

That way as no one ever bothers going from the blogs to the pages advertising my books, if I've offended anyone they never spot I'm a writer :-(


message 33: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Abbott (rachel_abbott) | 230 comments D.D. wrote: "*Shakes head*

It's all rather sad, isn't it? I'm afraid that I no longer read to review other indies unless I know them VERY well. The trouble is that if the book isn't to your taste and you can't..."


I agree with all that. I like to review others in order to help them. But I can't do it now, for all the reasons you have given.

BUT ... the important thing is that in my experience 90% of the indie authors that I meet are incredibly supportive of each other. In any walk of life there are going to be some people that you wouldn't turn your back on, and this is just the same. Social media has just made it so much more public. AND (I'm not really shouting) some of the published authors could learn a thing or two as well. I've seen them tweeting about their readers and suggesting that when a reader doesn't like their book they must be thick, joking amongst each other about indie authors, and generally being quite aggressive. Again, a minority - but this isn't really necessary, is it?

Who'd have thought that one comment would have sparked such a discussion!!


message 34: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Abbott (rachel_abbott) | 230 comments Hi Jim - I too have blogged about this. You have long been able to buy reviews on Fiverr - but I think what shocked me was being directly approached by somebody - on Goodreads, which had always felt to me as if it should be above all this stuff!

Perhaps I'm just a bit naive!


message 35: by Sara (new)

Sara Boyd (saraboydauthor) | 1412 comments I think nowhere is above this stuff. It's sad, really.


message 36: by Robert (new)

Robert Franks | 150 comments I have to say though, i can't see the appeal in buying a review, even if it's a ploy to get more stars. The current market for ebooks is such that, even with an infinite number of positive reviews, the sheer number of books available means that any one book is just a drop in a digital ocean.If people don't know it's there, they don't know it's there! What helps is proper advertising, and like so many things, that costs 'proper' money, something most indie writers struggle to find. Plus there is the added buzz of going on to Amazon (smashwords, kobo et al) and finding an unexpected and unsolicited review. That has to be the best buzz of all!


message 37: by D.D. Chant (new)

D.D. Chant (DDChant) | 7680 comments Rachel wrote: "D.D. wrote: "*Shakes head*

@Rachel

This is going to sound INCREDIBLY ranty...

It's not really surprising that people still don't view Indies as *proper* writers because indie authors themselves are still hung up on the idea of getting trad published.

All of the break through indies have gone trad and it kind of irritates me.

I know that trad publishers can get your books into bookshops but the idea just makes me angry. For years they've been turning authors away, telling them they wont even read their manuscripts so get an agent. In the end it seems impossible to get ANYONE to read your book.

Yet now, after turning up their noses at the unimportant wannabe writers, they turn around after *you* have put in ALL the effort, not only writing, editing and proofreading but advertising and begging on bended knees for people to give your book a chance, and hold their hand out for their cut!!!

It REALLY makes my blood boil!!!



message 38: by D.D. Chant (new)

D.D. Chant (DDChant) | 7680 comments Ooo! I made a pretty font!!!


message 39: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 1674 comments I write reviews as a reader because I like (or not) the book I just read. Sometimes I don't write them, sometimes I do.

If people leave my book a review then great, if not never mind:)

If I write a review for an indie book I liked I will share the review to facebook and Gplus but that is about it.

There are a ton of books with bad reviews which I have liked, and a ton with good reviews which I haven't and often many in between.

Buying a review is I think dishonest. 'Pay me this money and I will say nice things even if I haven't read it or didn't like it.' How is that helping anyone - author or reader?

I can understand people selling cover art of editing services or whatever but reviews... no not for me thanks.

Such practices tar all indies unfortunately. Readers are suspicious of a good review and indies are treated with caution. I would be happy to give an honest review to a fellow author on Amazon but now I can't.

If a book is not to my taste then it isn't, no need to be spiteful, either as a reviewer or an author getting a bad review. The author may not agree with it (and I think many authors do take bad reviews personally as it is hard not to) but it is one person's opinion. The next review might think the book is great. I bought a book solely based on the 1 star review and only review because it looked like the sort of thing I would like and the review made me laugh because it was so bad.


message 40: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Abbott (rachel_abbott) | 230 comments D.D. wrote: "Rachel wrote: "D.D. wrote: "*Shakes head*

@Rachel

This is going to sound INCREDIBLY ranty...

It's not really surprising that people still don't view Indies as *proper* writers because indie auth..."


Sorry, DD, while I understand what you are saying, not all of the breakthrough indies have chosen to go the trad route. It's hard to say this without sounding like I'm trying to be smart (which is why I've rewritten this about four times) but my first novel was the 2nd highest selling indie book on Amazon UK last year, and I have specifically chosen to publish book 2 - yesterday, in fact - through KDP, just as I did the first one.

So we're not all turncoats! I also think we might see some of the indies turned traditional coming back into the indie fold - but that's another story.

There are some advantages of trad publishing, and I have nothing against them at all. It was a matter of choice to me. And I don't think that people turn their noses up so much anymore - there have been too many successes. Some of the trad authors turn their noses up, but I don't think readers do.

And Alexandra, I am really pleased to say that the furore last year about sock puppetry was generally aimed at the trad published authors. They were just as bad as the indies, and in a way it did us a favour because it made people realise that bad practice wasn't limited to the self-published guys.

So we're not all bad - honest!

Who would have thought that my simple comment would have produced all this. I'm going to try to think of something else controversial to say, I think!


message 41: by Jim (new)

Jim | 22035 comments Well when the whole sockpuppet thing blew up a group of us did form The Gumbee Fantasy Writers' Guild

http://gumbeeguild.co.uk/about-2/

It is an attempt to try and raise standards or at least set standards.
It strikes me that other genre could also throw up such groups


message 42: by Rosen (new)

Rosen Trevithick (rosentrevithick) | 2273 comments Perhaps the sender is targeting authors directly to see which of us (if any) bite, so that he or she can write an exposé?


message 43: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Abbott (rachel_abbott) | 230 comments Ooh Rosen - that's really interesting. What a devious mind you have - I like it!

And Jim, I think that's a really good idea. I hope it's successful fo ryou in your genre.


message 44: by Jim (new)

Jim | 22035 comments Rachel wrote: "Ooh Rosen - that's really interesting. What a devious mind you have - I like it!

And Jim, I think that's a really good idea. I hope it's successful fo ryou in your genre."


Of course she's got a devious mind, she's a writer :-)

Thanks for the good wishes. As you can see we set it up to be transparent and easy for everyone to 'police'. We want to set a standard for quality AND Honesty


message 45: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Abbott (rachel_abbott) | 230 comments Well done, that man! Now I should be getting back to work, really - all this fun when I'm supposed to be writing blog posts!


message 46: by D.D. Chant (new)

D.D. Chant (DDChant) | 7680 comments Rachel wrote: "D.D. wrote: "Rachel wrote: "D.D. wrote: "*Shakes head*

@Rachel

This is going to sound INCREDIBLY ranty...

It's not really surprising that people still don't view Indies as *proper* writers becau..."


Congrats Rachel! It's always lovely to hear of Indies doing so well! I hope you have even more sucsess with book 2! :-D


message 47: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Abbott (rachel_abbott) | 230 comments Thanks DD - it going well 36 hours in - but would probably go better if I stopped chatting on here and did some work!

A huge amount is down to luck too - so I'm not counting my chickens.


message 48: by R.M.F. (new)

R.M.F. Brown | 4128 comments Robert wrote: "I have to say though, i can't see the appeal in buying a review, even if it's a ploy to get more stars. The current market for ebooks is such that, even with an infinite number of positive reviews,..."

This is exactly what I wanted to say.

Somebody was saying that every time there is a boom, there will always be people looking to cash in. I've lost count of how many sites I've seen offering editing, covers, books on how to write a book, and now this. I'm not surprised in the least.


message 49: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Abbott (rachel_abbott) | 230 comments Well, I think that everybody on here agrees. It definitely is shoddy behaviour, and it's great to know that it's a majority opinion.


message 50: by M.A. (new)

M.A. Comley (melcom) It is awful, Rachel you're right. I'd send it to your contact at Amazon to see what they make of it. :-)


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