Sunday, September 29, 2013

Where do you buy fake book reviews?

I wouldn't have a clue. My sales reflect this; feel free to check my sales rank numbers on Amazon. It's pretty dismal but funnily enough, I don't mind... well, not much. I'm just not that ambitious, or desperate, whichever you prefer. I'd rather not sell than have people tell lies about my work. So why do people do it? (If indeed they are doing it as at the time of writing of this blog post, I have no definitive proof that this practice is going on. But, in light of recent events, (click here to read this article: Fake online reviews get reality check) one can only assume the book business, like many others, has fallen victim to the practice of paid fake reviews.

So why do people allegedly do it? To sell books on Amazon, I understand. Books with lots of  reader reviews will show up on the site more often, leading to exposure and hopefully sales. I understand the motivation, I really do, but there's just no justification for doing this. It is dishonest and fraudulent to the consumer, no matter how you look at it. A paid review will in no way reflect the true opinion of the 'reviewer' even if they did take the time to read the book, which they won't as they're too busy 'reviewing' too many books. Besides, reading the book is not what these 'reviewers' are being paid for. They're paid to come up with a couple of gushing comments which they will attach to the book in question. In the end, it is the consumer who is being fooled as paid reviews simply do not reflect the true quality of the book.

This begs the question: Should you trust any book reviews?
Probably not. The first few reviews of a book are almost always planted as authors will ask family members (at the very least) to help sell the book. There's nothing wrong with that; you should have family/friends supporting your efforts. Sure, these reviews will not reflect the shortcomings of the book either but at least the reader can rest easy knowing that these folks would have read the story from cover to cover, even if they do not give an unbiased opinion. 

I personally do not pay much attention to book reviews. This is not to say I do not enjoy reading or writing them. I do. But reviews are certainly not the tipping point for me when I'm deciding to read a story. And it shouldn't be for you either as a good percentage of book reviews (for all published and self-published books) are solicited in some way, be it from an author friend, or a family member or anyone you feel comfortable enough to ask for a review. Chances are, if you've asked someone you know for a review of your book, they will be kind, and so they should be. After all, nobody in their right mind will tell you your baby's ugly, will they? 

Asking people for reviews is nothing to be ashamed of. It's part of book marketing as we know it, though clearly not very effective otherwise there would be a lot more success stories starring independently published authors. It's not easy to gain a following when you're publishing yourself; it takes time to build an audience and get honest, unsolicited reviews and that's probably why less patient authors might resort to paying for fake reviews. It's the volume of book reviews that will gain the author visibility and generate sales, especially in today's saturated e-book market. The more reviews you have attached to a book, the more traffic you will drive to that book. It's a simple and effective idea but it doesn't mean that paying for fake reviews is okay. In the long run, I suspect, it will come back to bite you. 
However, in fairness to authors who are really only just trying to sell books any which way possible, readers should take more care when selecting books to avoid disappointment. Too many glowing/five star reviews should trigger alarm bells; no book is that perfect to have mainly five star ratings. If you think a book may have paid fake reviews, why not open the book (on kindle) and read the free sample? This should be enough to see whether the story is something you'd like to read. If more people paid less attention to the volume or star ratings of book reviews, we'd all be better off. Read the free sample and make up your mind on the quality of the writing and how engaged you become. If you like what you're reading, buy the book. That simple.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Authors paying for fake reviews on Amazon

Click on the title of this blog post and you will find out who allegedly pays for fake positive reviews of their books on Amazon.  
In all fairness, the information you will find in that article may or may not be true. Either way, it's food for thought.