In a nutshell, the case is of fake reviews on Amazon, including from authors dissing other authors’ books.
I believe I may have received such a review:
My thriller LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS (written with my husband Mitchell R. Miller, a member of the U.S. Naval Institute) got a mean one-star review. While anyone cannot like the book, the review was so nasty that I checked the reviewer’s other reviews.
From what I could tell, every book review he has done is a mean one-star review (he uses numerous nasty words). But he gives lots of stars to products he reviews!
Because this review is nasty and not offensive, I did not feel I could “report abuse” to Amazon.
What I did do was go on the StooshPR Facebook group I recently joined and asked that members of the group click on the “not helpful” option next to the review. I did, of course, explain why I thought this request was justified.
Understanding the “helpful” and “not helpful” choices:
It is important that authors understand how Amazon appears to utilize these two choices. For illustration purposes I am going to use DREAMLESS, the second YA novel in the STARCROSSED trilogy by Josephine Angelini.
As of this writing, the book has 53 reviews with a 4.4 out of 5 rating. The breakdown is 29 five-star reviews, 19 four-star reviews, 3 three-star reviews, and 1 each of two- and one-star reviews.
I have read this novel two times, and I read the first novel in the series three times. I personally know we can disregard the 1 one-star and 1 two-star review as mean reviews.
Here is the interesting thing:
Of the three reviews on the book page that are displayed in their entirety — one is a four-star review and two are three-star reviews.
Given that 29 are five-star reviews and 19 are four-star reviews and only 3 are three-star reviews (out of 53), why would Amazon’s algorithms show 1 five-star and 2 three-star reviews in the main review section?
The only answer in my opinion seems to be the “helpful” and “not helpful” votes. And I suspect these results themselves are even more skewed BECAUSE, if the main reviews displayed are 1 five-star and 2 three-star reviews, isn’t it likely this will be a self-perpetrating cycle thanks to the “helpful” and “not helpful” votes?
As an attorney might say in court, “I rest my case.”
Unfortunately, there is not a lot that we authors can do about this EXCEPT:
When it is appropriate, do click “helpful” on good reviews for books you know to be good and “not helpful” for negative reviews.
And if you are so inclined, you might click NOT HELPFUL next to this nasty review for LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS.
(As someone in the StooshPR Facebook group said, fiction is fictional. Ironically, I had just written a guest post about this — see “Fictional Characters Are Fictional.”)
P.S. The Facebook group StooshPR is an open collaboration group for media/arts/film/tech/business/radio, etc. Everyone is welcome to join this high-touch networking group at www.facebook.com/groups/stooshpr
© 2012 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks. A new nonfiction ebook of hers is TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON AND FACEBOOK and her newest fiction ebook is the thriller CIA FALL GUY.
She also has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the online marketing company www.MillerMosaicLLC.com
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