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Fringe Authors General Chat > Hoodwinked Readers and Revenge Reviews

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message 1: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
Part of "the struggle" amongst indie authors is securing reviews, especially upfront.

Naturally, friends and family are a go-to because they're inclined to do an author a solid favor AND likely not to be a harsh critic. Readers see a book with rave reviews and are more likely to give it a shot.

In my years on goodreads so far I don't think this is helping authors as much hoped.

Too often I see five star reviews followed by 1-2 ratings by someone expressing shock/outrage reviewers thought the book was amazing and duped them into reading. Some are exasperated while others vindictive, vicious or vaguely determined to denounce the story/author to any reader.

Buyer beware could be said, which is why I tend to pass on novels with reviews expressing how they were conned out of money by undue praise. Worse, authors are making detractors and enemies out of readers who probably shouldn't/wouldn't have read their books if not for fake endorsements by well-meaning loved ones.

Honestly, I'm thinking indie authors are better served soliciting random readers and sucking up lackluster reviews with enthusiasm and zeal. Indie books getting 3-4 stars is sincere since no bestselling book is even 5 stars - not with so many opinions and tastes to cater to.

I do get/relate to readers feeling like indie authors sometimes stuff the ballot box with praise for their writing but was wondering what thoughts others had on the subject?


message 2: by Lynne (last edited Aug 18, 2015 12:52PM) (new)

Lynne Stringer | 179 comments As an author, I'd rather an honest review, even from family and friends, than fake praise. I would never not read a book because it has a few one star reviews. Every book usually has at least one one star review. However, I will read those reviews and see what the reader objected to. If the review raises some good points about the problems the book has I will probably think it's legitimate. However, if they just say, 'This book SUCKS because its author is a moron!' or something like that, I'll dismiss it. The same with a five star review that just says 'This book's amaaaaaazing!' I like reviews that tell me why it's amazing (although without indulging in spoilers). I think these kinds of reviews help both the author and the reader, but the others are no help to anyone.


message 3: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
Always points for articulation, however many stars. Ones expressing only love/hate tell me nothing


message 4: by Riley (last edited Aug 18, 2015 01:17PM) (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 125 comments Lynne wrote: "As an author, I'd rather an honest review, even from family and friends, than fake praise."

Exactly, I want to improve, not hear "Omg! Most amazeball book evar!" My reviews are generally short and to the point though.


message 5: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Stringer | 179 comments Yes, so are mine.


message 6: by ♥️♥️ Lanae (last edited Aug 18, 2015 03:08PM) (new)

♥️♥️ Lanae ♥️♥️  (ramboramblernae) I disregard reviews that post ANY rating 1 through 5 without expressing WHY they rated it that. Reviewers are more for READERS than the authors because it helps decide if we want to read or pass. However, I think a genuine review gives insight to the author as well,on what they're doing right and/or wrong

I think after a while of reading reviews (on goodreads in particular) a prospective reader can get a sense of when a review is GENUINE as opposed to "puffing" if it's family/friends o "bashing" if it's a fan girl crazy that saw you give their favorite series a bad review and wants revenge. That actually a topic I'd like to broach. Anyone know if theirs a thread on goodreads authors and being brave enough to write reviews of other books??


message 7: by Nathan (new)

Nathan Wall (goodreadscomnathanwall) | 182 comments I hate revenge reviews, which is why I don't partake in review swaps. They're mostly fake anyway, and when you're honest you set yourself up for trouble.

I did a swap with this one seemingly nice lady. I read her book and it was GAWD awful. I tried to find some nice things to say, and found it wasn't without some merits. I posted a constructive 2 star review pointing out what I did think worked.

About 15 minutes later her review was posted. I could tell she hadn't read the book. Some of her complaints were dumb ones, like not knowing what *** meant despite the fact her book had used them.

After her review was posted she emailed and said we can just delete each other's reviews. Most of the reviews from her book was from obvious friends, so I declined.

What really sucked was when one of her friends gave a 1 star rating with no review.

Though it sucks to see the one stars, I think it ultimately helped me because her review was so bad, and all the independently purchased or blogger reviews were good.

As far as stuffing the ballot, that's impossible. I've given away 20 books to friends and family, and none of them have read it. You would think that would be an authors biggest support system, but often times the people closest to you couldn't give two shits. That's disappointing considering all the shitty indie movie premieres and student films I've paid to see my friends participate in.

Indie authors are up against it. Between vulture like fellow authors, a snob - like traditional system, skeptical readership and real world jobs, it's a wonder any indie can find the support or time to produce more than 1 or 2 books a year and have them at any quality.


message 8: by ♥️♥️ Lanae (last edited Aug 18, 2015 04:02PM) (new)

♥️♥️ Lanae ♥️♥️  (ramboramblernae) Nathan wrote: "I hate revenge reviews, which is why I don't partake in review swaps. They're mostly fake anyway, and when you're honest you set yourself up for trouble.

I did a swap with this one seemingly nice..."


I'm sorry you experienced that. Whoever that author is, she needs to pick a different profession because she clearly doesn't understand the concept of a review. I am VERY wary of review exchanging for this very reason. I don't want to say NEVER but it's very unlikely that I would do it, because I would do exactly what you did: Be Honest. Don't get me wrong, I'm always blunt and passionate when writing a review, no matter what the rating but if I was doing someone a solid and exchanging reviews I would put more effort into being gentle with how I dish out the constructive criticism. Sadly, in your case (and like MOST cases) it doesnt matter how positive you try to be. If you're not lying gushing about how amazing it was even though you could hardly get through it, the author will take offense and they won't be objective when reviewing your work. they'll even sometimes go as far as to get friends involved to trash your writing because of hurt feelings.

THAT'S the kind of reviewing I'm talking about. Only, I didn't mean revenge review in terms of exchanging reviews with another author. I mean goodread members of the twilight/50 shades/{Insert random popular series you hate} variety who will go out of their way to track down an author's book who rated honestly with 1-2 stars and give a bad rating/review without having read the book just for spite.

I commend authors who don't shy away from voicing their opinions because I'm scared to do it. That leads to a lot of aggravation, and can hurt you if you're trying to make a career out of writing. It's the equivalent of you not being able to use the "F" word in hollywood because you'll be unofficially blackballed. It doesn't matter if your words didn't come from a prejudicial place. You simply CAN'T say what you think about another author's book without triggering the wrath of his/her fans.

I ALSO agree with you on the whole stuffing the ballot box aspect. Most family/friends don't really take your Hobby dream career seriously to begin with. As much as my siblings support me, there's only one that I feel would give me an objective, HONEST review. And in this case it IS an advantage for me because I ask for all the criticism BEFORE I hit publish, that way her review IS genuine when she writes it for me, and she has all the facts to back it up because she actually read it all (including the rough drafts).


message 9: by ♥️♥️ Lanae (last edited Aug 18, 2015 04:21PM) (new)

♥️♥️ Lanae ♥️♥️  (ramboramblernae) I also no longer request ARCs from goodreads giveaway or netgalley because of the 20 or so I requested from netgalley, I was only able to get through 11 and of the 11, I had to FORCE myself to suffer through 6 of them. And I have six giveaway books I won, that I requested just for the Hell of it when I first joined goodreads and was excited to see free book giveaways that I just went down the list and clicked enter. Of those, I only liked two of them, so it feels crappy to either not read a book, hard copy at that, or to try to read and not finish it. It costs a pretty penny to do traditional print so I don't want it wasted on me if I'm going to end up not reviewing which is the least that should be expected for a free ARC.

Now, free copies of a first in a series to promote the 2nd or 3rd book in a series is different. By then, the first book has reviews that I can sift through to see if it's something would like. Then, if I don't win the giveaway, sometimes I request it from the library. Then if I enjoy it, I buy the E-Book for my kindle or Nook. And if I LOVE it I buy a hard copy of it for my bookshelf.

I think the reason I enjoy the whole reader/reviewer relationship is because I'm the kind of reviewer that will go out of my way to promote and recommend a book I thoroughly enjoyed with the same passion I'd put into writing a critically blunt review when I feel an author's novel didn't fulfill what was promised in the blurb. I'm guilty of being sarcastic when reviewing, but it's almost ALWAYS directed at the story/characters. E.L James and Cassandra Clare are the ONLY authors with novels I've reviewed that included talking about the author in a bad light and that's because I feel both plagarized.


message 10: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
Agreed about forcing myself to read free books that just fit for publication then trying to say something constructive in a review. It's times like that where self-publishing bothers me because:

a) the author didn't properly research/outline and wrote an underwhelming story as a consequence of lackluster foresight, character creation and world-building.

b) is not a strong or charismatic storyteller who keeps the readers engaged while presenting everything in an appealing manner.

c) rushed through rewrites/editing and did not consult someone(s) with a flare for objective critique who had an opinion the trusted, respected and used to appeal to the widest readership.

d) all of the above and other issues unmentioned.

That's the trouble with indie - authors assume all the creative control as well the responsibility to say when a book is the best version of itself and ready for publication/sale. Publishing houses refuse books they don't think will attract readers or expect edits from ones accepted. Meanwhile indie authors green light themselves every step and it falls on paying readers to sort out the cream from the crap in the most basic sense of publication.

I'm not saying indie is bad - to be clear - but I've yet to hear of an author I respect and enjoy claim they didn't get rejected or had to edit their work per a publisher. Not all stories are ready for readers and not all authors are professional.

It does suck when authors publish their hobby book and expect people to pay.


message 11: by Jason (new)

Jason Crawford (jasonpatrickcrawford) | 591 comments Courtney wrote: "Agreed about forcing myself to read free books that just fit for publication then trying to say something constructive in a review. It's times like that where self-publishing bothers me because:
..."


It's true, and very sad. And we all know the reasons that indie authors give for this - not enough money, too much time involved, etc - but it needs to happen.

On topic, I've never given or gotten (that I know of) a revenge review, and I'm very sad for anyone who has (done either, honestly). It's not fair, it's hurtful, and spiteful. And on behalf of indie authors everywhere, I'm sorry.

But I firmly believe that the cream will rise to the top over time, and that these tactics, while possibly beneficial in the short-term, won't make for a lasting success story.


message 12: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
I've had R2R books with authors who have been...less than grateful for 3-4 star reviews.

Let's just be honest though - how many stories are genuinely 5 star/best way the story could have been told on it's own merits? Not a lot. Nor do I think many are 1 star.

I think there's something off if any author thinks it's easy to get 5 stars or would reset an average/above average review. It's setting themselves up for disappointment and - if they're that blind in what they anticipate for reviews - I don't think they were realistic when drafting/rewriting the book in the first place.

When it comes to writting there's a difference between proud, prideful and hubris - some people favor the latter two.


message 13: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Stringer | 179 comments I never do review swaps, but I have a lot of friends who are authors and these days I will not post a review of one of their books if I can't rate it at least three stars. I would rather not spoil the friendship by going there.

I reviewed the debut novel of a girl (someone I don't know) once and gave her what I felt was a constructive two star review. Then someone on Goodreads who had her as their only friend rated both my first two books one star each. No review, so no evidence if they might have actually read them or not, but because it came after I'd posted that review I'm suspicious of it.

That was one of the things that led to me deciding not to review books that I rated under three stars unless it was a popular book that already has a good number of reviews on it and so long as I don't know the author personally.


♥️♥️ Lanae ♥️♥️  (ramboramblernae) Courtney wrote: "I've had R2R books with authors who have been...less than grateful for 3-4 star reviews.

Let's just be honest though - how many stories are genuinely 5 star/best way the story could have been tol..."


Lynne wrote: "I never do review swaps, but I have a lot of friends who are authors and these days I will not post a review of one of their books if I can't rate it at least three stars. I would rather not spoil ..."


It's the WORST kind of censorship! You can't be a passionate reader/reviewer anymore if you want to pursue a writing career. Not unless you publish and interact with two seperate accounts.

That, what Courtney experienced is the perfect example of why I don't like the idea of trading reviews with a fellow indie author. I REFUSE to write a review that doesn't express my honest opinion because the purpose of a review is to let other potential readers know what you thought when they're deciding if they want to buy or not.

And more important then that, I EXPECT an honest review for my own work. There's no growth if you're just kissing my butt, ya know? I want a GENUINE review. I want to know WHY you liked or disliked something. If I exchange reviews with someone I want them to be as honest as I Will be.

And, Lynne I'm SO sorry that happened to you. That author definitely falls under the category of "Don't ask for a review if you don't want one". You can PAY people to lie for you. Plenty of those kinds of bloggers


message 15: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Stringer | 179 comments Well, to be fair, she didn't ask me to review it. I read it and reviewed it, as I did all books back then. It was after that happened that I stopped reviewing certain books if they were clearly indies by struggling/new authors and I couldn't compliment them.


message 16: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha Vohn I've really enjoyed reading this conversation, and I think it's a relevant issue to discuss, because it IS so hard as an indie to solicit credible reviews. Most of the the initial reviews that we glean-however honest-have to come from venues such as ARC's and Giveaways to bloggers and readers.

That being said, I truly understand the frustration of reading bogus reviews. I, too have been suckered into an indie title and been dumbfounded by the content vs. the glowing reviews.

There's something to be said for having integrity as an author (however unknown), to fight the good fight and to encourage only honest reviews of our work. I, for one, would rather have an honest, critical opinion than to have smoke blown up my arse! Every writer, artist, musician thinks their own work is great; that's what makes TV competitions like America's Got Talent so popular. But who wants to be one of the sad people wearing their heart on their sleeve while their secretly the butt of the joke? No one I should say.

All indies are approaching the market of writing the hard way-let's face it-and we all have reasons for doing so. Mine is impatience; I don't want to wait years and spend thousands trying to catch the eye of one of the top 5. However, if indie writing is going to become and remain a viable market, then there has to be a standard of quality that authors hold themselves accountable to. Once more indies are of that mindset, I think we're going to see the market grow and become more readily welcomed.


message 17: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha Vohn Also, on the note of authors reading other authors: man, I definitely don't accept R4R's anymore but I do relish the opportunity to promote a fellow indie and-if that author is receptive- to establish a relationship with them as a fellow author.

I think of all the trad. published books I read where one author's recommending another author. It's sad that b/c of (perhaps) more regulations in the trad. published world that that practice is more trusted. Maybe it's inter-publisher propaganda but they've already got their foot in the door, so there's what.

I don't see anything wrong with indies being supportive of one another. However, I would never ask an indie whose novel I enjoyed to read mine as well; that has to come from them. If two authors truly like each others' work and want to promote each other, I say more power to them!


message 18: by Ericka (new)

Ericka Scott Nelson | 35 comments Maybe this isn't entirely fair, but honestly, any time I see a self-published book with a just a few reviews, and all of them five star, I figure that's the person's family and friends. I don't really give any weight to these reviews, especially when they don't come with any specifics about why the book is so awesome. I wonder how many indie authors solicit honest, thorough feedback from people other than family and friends before they publish their book?


message 19: by Belle (new)

Belle Blackburn | 29 comments I am self published and here is my process. After I finish the manuscript, I go back over it carefully. Then I send it out to 5-6 beta readers who give me feedback. I consider their suggestions and thoughts and make corrections. Then I send it to the editor. I get back her thoughts and decide on changes. Then I send it to 5-6 alpha readers and take their thoughts into consideration and make changes and then I publish. I don't know how others do it but that is my M.O.


♥️♥️ Lanae ♥️♥️  (ramboramblernae) I wish their was some kind of system to stop people from writing revenge reviews without having read the book. If they could make it like most store sites (Walmart, Amazon, etc) where you have to be a CONFIRMED purchaser of the novel to leave a review. And if you borrowed it from a library (which would be this n
Big loophole in this idea ) you have to confirm that somehow.

Im not saying that will stop someone determined to trash your dream career. But at least this way, it's likely you have their 2.99-4.99$. That's SOME dedication if you buy someone's book JUST so you can trash it.

For the record this is simply wishful thinking on my part lol.

And I borrow from the library a lot. If the author isn't already on my automagic buy list, I screen my books and then buy the cheaper Ebook for my kindle, nook, or iPad if I enjoyed it. I only buy the more expensive hard copy if I LOVED the story/series.


message 21: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 519 comments its rare that I review anymore but the few indies i have read the quality has been about 80%. i only suffered 3 books the rest either i enjoyed or i could finish. i only had one author dump haterade and do a revenge review which they later took down after i pointed out how stupid they were acting. i simply got tired of fighting fussy authors who demand only nice reviews or think their books are perfect. i know my own limitations and the few bad ones I get are from those who dont understand my work so i never sweat them. (my works were intended as YA but the slang is 20 years old... though i was a teen when i churned them out. also a lot of crazy ish and ultra violence... yay drugs -_-)
be like eazy. they already bought your work so let them hate. you made more money in return. who doesn't like money??
and in the case it was an ARC or a swap its free publicity. let them act like fools promoting that one book while you churn out more. my 'worst' of the bunch happens to sell quite well. im like WTF every time i see royalty payments for it but ayy it pays my phone bill lolz


message 22: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 1398 comments Mod
I currently have a group of people whom will be reading my latest book before it's release however I want them to be as honest as possible. Don't sugar coat it for me, be honest, I want real reviews, not 5 star ratings just because you know me.

As for review swaps well...it just so happens that I've had several people message me on here, my website and another site all asking for review swaps. I declined because I just don't do that for the same reasons as you all have. Nathan's recent experience reminded me of a situation I almost found myself in as a guy said he would review my book but I have yet to ever hear back. He asked if I could read and review his books on religion which I declined and he said no problem and that he'd still review my book but..never did! To me review swaps are basically saying"

"Hey if you give my book a good review I'll give your book a good review" but then you feel like telling that person..

 photo z4vwbt_4_zpsjxx6lnuf.jpg


message 23: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha Vohn Justin wrote: "I currently have a group of people whom will be reading my latest book before it's release however I want them to be as honest as possible. Don't sugar coat it for me, be honest, I want real review..."

Right? SO true! Sadly, R4R's just don't work. I had a similar experience: read and reviewed someone's work (who, by the way approached me and I thought, what the hell...)and my book is still in their currently reading list...about two years later. Whatta you do?

Just say no to R4R's! it's bad business with no recourse.


message 24: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
Ah...no.

I'm a fan of this one group - Lovers of the Paranormal - because it specializes in R2R and it seem like authors do alright...depending on what they wrote. Also, because it's a group and not friends people are polite but still not shy to give a book 3 stars if that's their feelings on the subject :)


message 25: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha Vohn Wow, that's pretty cool.

I guess I should qualify my statement by saying that private "handshake deal" R4R's are best avoided like the plague :0)


message 26: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
We used to have something where authors put in a book and read/reviewed three others by authors. Some people had success with that. If we get activity up around here, maybe we can try reviving that in some form or another :)


message 27: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 1398 comments Mod
Courtney wrote: "Ah...no.

I'm a fan of this one group - Lovers of the Paranormal - because it specializes in R2R and it seem like authors do alright...depending on what they wrote. Also, because it's a group and..."


I suppose if it's a group who has a set of detailed rules regarding the whole thing then it may work as you have said. It's the whole solo author to solo author R2R that just gets really ugly most of the time.


message 28: by Riley (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 125 comments I know the Lover's of Paranormal. The thing about their group is a great moderator that jumps into the organization side of it. She has to do a lot of work for that to workout right. Still, I respect them all the more for it, because I couldn't do it!


message 29: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 1890 comments Mod
Yeah it's gotta be a part-time job organizing all that


message 30: by Jenna (new)

Jenna (jennasilver) | 6 comments I read a lot of books and of also do R&R for authors: I don't take reviews serious if all of them are high rating and if it's not explained why is was good or bad.

My reviews are always honest even though I sometimes do feel bad for giving a 1 or 2 star rating. I have author praised for me giving them a bad rating to authors not communicating with me anymore because of a bad review.
If didn't have read so many books and have more experience how to view ratings and previews I would have feel tricked into buying "bad" books. I will always read a couple of bad reviews before I buy a book so see if this a review based on good reason or not.

Some books have such a low level of writing.

What I don't understand:
Why would someone publish a book without a good editor, I don't mind some typo's, I often don't even notice since my native language is Dutch.
Impossible books, insta love, perfect characters that are overly nice, can do all.

There are some Indie authors out there with so much talent and it is a shame that they are not discovered by the big public.

( sorry I'm tired getting off topic)


message 31: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Stringer | 179 comments Jenna, that's one of my pet peeves too. I'm a professional editor, so I usually pick up every problem of any kind, but the spelling and grammar is something that can be dealt with by a good proofreader or editor and should be dealt with before any attempt is made at publishing the book.


message 32: by Jenna (new)

Jenna (jennasilver) | 6 comments Lynne wrote: "Jenna, that's one of my pet peeves too. I'm a professional editor, so I usually pick up every problem of any kind, but the spelling and grammar is something that can be dealt with by a good proofre..."

You must a hard time reading books with typo's.


message 33: by Lynne (new)

Lynne Stringer | 179 comments I do. Admittedly, I read one a couple of weeks back that had a lot of typos and I still loved the story. That doesn't happen very often, though. Usually they spoil a story for me.


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