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Maze Runner
08-27-2012, 03:28 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/business/book-reviewers-for-hire-meet-a-demand-for-online-raves.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120826

Ken
08-27-2012, 04:03 AM
... scary stuff.


Mr. Liu estimates that about one-third of all consumer reviews on the Internet are fake. Yet it is all but impossible to tell when reviews were written by the marketers or retailers (or by the authors themselves under pseudonyms), by customers (who might get a deal from a merchant for giving a good score) or by a hired third-party service.

Hopefully the FTC will put him and his company out of biz. He's doing the public a tremendous disservice. Honestly disgusting.

johnhallow
08-27-2012, 05:39 AM
Ugh. I really hope it doesn't catch on.

James D. Macdonald
08-27-2012, 09:42 AM
Yet it is all but impossible to tell when reviews were written by the marketers or retailers (or by the authors themselves under pseudonyms), by customers (who might get a deal from a merchant for giving a good score) or by a hired third-party service.

It may be difficult to tell which exact category the fake review falls into, but the fakeness of most fake review is obvious to any but the most most oblivious reader.

(A question for Mr. Liu might be, "If you can't discern which reviews are fake how do you know that 1/3 of all reviews are fake?")

MarkEsq
08-27-2012, 05:17 PM
It may be difficult to tell which exact category the fake review falls into, ...


In some cases, but I think it's pretty obvious that any (even slightly) negative review of my book is a fake.

dangerousbill
08-27-2012, 06:04 PM
Hopefully the FTC will put him and his company out of biz. He's doing the public a tremendous disservice. Honestly disgusting.

First, he has to be breaking a law, and I'm not sure he is. Neither am I sure that laws regulating book reviewing are a good idea. Reputation of the reviewer is about the only way of validating a review.

On the other hand, faked reviews or reviews by people who haven't read the book are often easily spotted by the proliferation of superlatives as well as their insubstantive nature. Often, they don't mention any of the events in the story, or name any of the characters.

But there's a spectrum of honesty to reviews, beginning with the honest critical review, to reviews by friends who are anxious to support their friend's book, to reviews that are compensated, to totally bent reviews by people who don't care about or read the book. Where to draw the line?

dangerousbill
08-27-2012, 06:06 PM
Ugh. I really hope it doesn't catch on.

I was reading about paid reviewers ten years ago, and I'll bet it's been going on since Gutenberg printed his first Bible.

djf881
08-27-2012, 06:45 PM
The insidious thing about buying reviews is that the influence of those reviews on readers isn't the point of the exercise.

The issue is that large numbers of reviews and high star rankings figure (or used to figure) into Amazon's mechanism for deciding which books to recommend. If your book is featured prominently on Amazon, a lot of people see your book. Seeing your book is a precondition to buying it, and getting people to see your book is a major hurdle for authors to get over in an Amazon ecosystem that includes over 7 million books.

Amazon's various systems are designed to automatically recognize trends and memes and whatever else generates heat behind a book, and to get that book in front of its audience when it starts blowing up. It will move books into "recommended for you" lists on the front page, and it will add the books into the "customers who bought this also bought" lists more easily. It will even e-mail customers about the book.

Amazon is designed to identify whatever is popular or becoming popular and makes it more popular by essentially providing a huge surge of free advertising through prominent positioning on Amazon's site. So a very good way to actually become popular is to trick Amazon's computers into thinking you're popular already.

John Locke was able to do that because he spent a lot of money to contract for paid reviews in huge volume when nobody else was doing that. Now, fake reviews are very cheap, but much less valuable because they will no longer trigger Amazon to do all the things that Locke's fake reviews did for his book.

At the time, Amazon wasn't looking for authors to orchestrate hundreds of fake reviews, so Locke's fake review activity looked like an emerging bestseller to the algorithms, and they started promoting his books. Even at the $65 per review he evidently paid, according to the article, this was probably much less expensive per-pageview or per-click than Google ads or Facebook ads.

There are lots of other similar shenanigans that people have tried. For example: paypalling hundreds of people $2 each in exchange for buying a $0.99 e-book on Amazon at a specific time to engineer a ranking spike.

Buffysquirrel
08-27-2012, 08:43 PM
And Jeremy Duns, who outed Locke, keeps getting his Twitter account suspended. No doubt this is not the work of a Get Jeremy Duns Suspended From Twitter Mafia.

Fuchsia Groan
08-27-2012, 08:44 PM
Now, fake reviews are very cheap, but much less valuable because they will no longer trigger Amazon to do all the things that Locke's fake reviews did for his book.

Very interesting. That does sound like the crux of the problem. So, has Amazon changed its popularity algorithms in response to this? (Read the article yesterday, but if it mentioned that, I can't remember.)

I stopped reading Amazon reviews when I realized that, for every self-published book I looked up after someone sent it to me, I would find either no reviews or a bunch of generic five-star reviews that told me nothing. (These were obscure books, not best sellers.) For my personal reading, I use Goodreads, where I usually find some three- or four-star reviews with actual information in them. I've learned to ignore one- and five-star reviews — genuine or not, they just don't help me when I'm on the fence about buying something.

I admit, I was drooling as I read how much money Rutherford made from fake reviews. I receive dozens of self-published books for review each month. I cull them and read and review a few. Though I get a salary, it doesn't really cover the time I put into this. Writing fake reviews would be much easier and, apparently, more lucrative.

But I have these inconvenient scruples and a general hatred of everything that detracts from the credibility of honest reviewers, so it ain't gonna happen.

djf881
08-27-2012, 09:59 PM
Very interesting. That does sound like the crux of the problem. So, has Amazon changed its popularity algorithms in response to this? (Read the article yesterday, but if it mentioned that, I can't remember.)



Amazon did not reply to the NYT's request for a comment or an interview, and Amazon's mechanisms are not discussed in the article.

The NYT writer, presumes, like many people, do that the fake reviews function as persuasive testimonials to potential readers. I seriously doubt this; just about every book that hasn't been the subject of some kind of specific backlash has a rating between 3.5 and 4.5 stars on places like Amazon and Goodreads. Very obscure books often have near-perfect ratings because only friends of the author have reviewed them. And they stay obscure, despite those high star ratings, because the content of the reviews doesn't matter.

Generally, once real readers start looking at books, the best reviews tend to get up-voted and the few reviews you see on the front of the page are decent, with the spammier ones buried.

juniper
08-27-2012, 10:12 PM
The NYT writer, presumes, like many people, do that the fake reviews function as persuasive testimonials to potential readers. I seriously doubt this;

I have an intelligent friend who used to believe the reviews on Amazon until she showed me a book she'd bought based on all the 5 star reviews. I read it and told her I thought it was really bad writing and why. And she said she could see my points and wondered why it had gotten such good reviews then? All 5 star, nothing negative at all?

She was surprised when I said many of the good reviews are written by friends and family and aren't true reviews at all ... she just hadn't thought of people doing that. She was naive and trusted the reviewers.

I'm not saying all good reviews are fake, not at all. I've written good reviews on books I really liked. But if a book only has 5 star reviews, all gushing and cloying, then I run away.

As to the article - man, that guy was pulling in $28k a month for writing reviews! More than almost any novelist, I assume. Glad that operation was closed down. But there will be another one along, probably.

Transatlantic
08-27-2012, 11:51 PM
This is just one more reason why I want the credibility of conventional publication (all digits crossed!) and would only e-publish as a last resort.

Another
08-28-2012, 12:24 AM
Is this the place to ask how to get honest reviews of self-published work? I realize there are threads on marketing published work, but perhaps self-published material is a special category. Any relevant threads on WC?

James D. Macdonald
08-28-2012, 12:29 AM
You can find book bloggers who still review self-published works. They'll generally have guidelines. Follow those guidelines to the letter.

Meanwhile, so far as I'm aware, no one has figured out how to game Published By Random House, Reviewed in the Times. Other than by writing an excellent book, that is.

djf881
08-28-2012, 12:40 AM
I have an intelligent friend who used to believe the reviews on Amazon until she showed me a book she'd bought based on all the 5 star reviews. I read it and told her I thought it was really bad writing and why. And she said she could see my points and wondered why it had gotten such good reviews then? All 5 star, nothing negative at all?

She was surprised when I said many of the good reviews are written by friends and family and aren't true reviews at all ... she just hadn't thought of people doing that. She was naive and trusted the reviewers.

I'm not saying all good reviews are fake, not at all. I've written good reviews on books I really liked. But if a book only has 5 star reviews, all gushing and cloying, then I run away.

As to the article - man, that guy was pulling in $28k a month for writing reviews! More than almost any novelist, I assume. Glad that operation was closed down. But there will be another one along, probably.

There's nothing especially sinister about the fact that reviews tend to be overwhelmingly positive. People tend not to buy books they don't expect to like. I may have my own assessment of books where 3 stars is the average book I read, but the average book I read is a very good book, because I only read good books. I think, when compared to the larger universe of books I don't bother with, the books I read are almost all four or five star titles.

The review culture also skews toward positive reviews. Anything less than 4 stars is basically a pan, so most reviewers give things 4 or 5, unless there's something really disappointing about the book. A community norm where five star reviews were reserved for very special books would probably be more useful, but that isn't the norm.

I read between two and four books a month, and with a few exceptions, I'd rate everything I've read in the last two years four or five stars.

djf881
08-28-2012, 12:45 AM
Is this the place to ask how to get honest reviews of self-published work? I realize there are threads on marketing published work, but perhaps self-published material is a special category. Any relevant threads on WC?

The trouble is that there are going to be over 200,000 self-published books this year, and there's really nobody out there with a professional interest in identifying the relatively good ones.

On top of that, traditional publishers are pushing into the low-priced market with Kindle Daily Deals and various sales on backlist titles. This is the flip side to self-publishing that Konrath and his acolytes don't tell you about. It's very hard to get people to read a self-published book.

If you're traditionally published, you'll probably be reviewed in at least one or two of the trades, and good reviews there can really draw attention to you. Many of the best book bloggers; librarians and other credible reviewers stick to traditionally published titles. The top-ranked Amazon book reviewers also stick mostly to traditional titles.

That's why almost everyone who can publish traditionally goes that route.

Fuchsia Groan
08-28-2012, 12:49 AM
This is just one more reason why I want the credibility of conventional publication (all digits crossed!) and would only e-publish as a last resort.

I generally agree, but ... In the past year, I have bought the only two self-published books I've found outstanding. I sampled both because of reviews (a blogger in one case, several Goodreads reviewers in the other). When a reviewer is highly articulate, seems intelligent, compares the book to other books I like, does not give positive reviews to everything he or she reads, and cites specific examples to support the book's worthiness, then I pay attention.

Well, at least enough to read a sample. If it is a good book, that will do the rest.

Another
08-28-2012, 06:12 AM
You can find book bloggers who still review self-published works. They'll generally have guidelines. Follow those guidelines to the letter.

Meanwhile, so far as I'm aware, no one has figured out how to game Published By Random House, Reviewed in the Times. Other than by writing an excellent book, that is.

Yup, I get that. But how about one example of a blogger-reviewer for self-published literary fiction? Call it a love story.

Another
08-28-2012, 06:18 AM
The trouble is that there are going to be over 200,000 self-published books this year, and there's really nobody out there with a professional interest in identifying the relatively good ones...



Sounds like a market opportunity for a good, trusted reviewer or two or three to steer readers through the trash to the good stuff. No?

DreamWeaver
08-28-2012, 06:41 AM
Sounds like a market opportunity for a good, trusted reviewer or two or three to steer readers through the trash to the good stuff. No?Check out the last several pages of Authors Should Really Stop Telling Readers How to Give Reviews
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=230972
and you'll see how that's been working out.

James D. Macdonald
08-28-2012, 07:30 PM
The guy who was selling paid-for reviews in the Times article justified himself by saying that later reviews by actual readers giving lower rankings would balance out and correct for the paid five-star reviews.

But we've seen that giving anything less than a five-star review is called "bullying" and opens the reviewer to personal attacks and harassment both on and off line.

Amazon keeps its exact recommendation algorithms a closely-guarded secret and is constantly tweaking them to keep people from gaming the system.

NeuroFizz
08-28-2012, 07:48 PM
For Sale: Answers to the final exam in Ethics 101. Guaranteed to get that A in the Ethics class on your permanent transcript. Cash only.

AnneGlynn
08-28-2012, 08:02 PM
This is just one more reason why I want the credibility of conventional publication (all digits crossed!) and would only e-publish as a last resort.

There is a definite credibility to convential publication and I wish you luck. You'll probably find that reviews are still important to future sales, though. Those are tough to get sometimes.

My small press publisher sent out review requests in re: my paranormal romance to over one hundred sites. No interest. I knocked on doors until two reviewers finally read the material. Now that I self-pub, I've put out six novellas and received one Amazon review.

Maybe I should have just bought some reviews. Less time + guaranteed results!

James D. Macdonald
08-28-2012, 08:22 PM
Maybe I should have just bought some reviews. Less time + guaranteed results!

That's why some guys go to hookers.

Aside from getting diseases, getting robbed, getting blackmailed, losing the respect of your friends, and losing respect for yourself, what's the downside?

Well, knowing that you were so desperate that you had to pay for it....

So anyway, Satan appears to a writer and says, "I can give you a thousand 5-star reviews."

The writer says, "What do I have to do?"

Satan says, "You have to sell me your soul and turn over your wife and kids to me, so that I can torture them throughout eternity."

The writer says, "Okay, but what's the catch?"

Cyia
08-28-2012, 08:41 PM
This is just one more reason why I want the credibility of conventional publication (all digits crossed!) and would only e-publish as a last resort.


Pointing out the obvious here, but "e-publish" =/= "self-publish"

Barbara R.
08-28-2012, 08:41 PM
Sounds like a market opportunity for a good, trusted reviewer or two or three to steer readers through the trash to the good stuff. No?

Not sure how that's a market opportunity, unless he's getting paid by the author for his reviews, in which case he can no longer be trusted. Earlier you asked an important question: How do self-published books get honest reviews?" which is part of a larger issue: How can readers find excellent self-published books when over 300,000 self-pubbed titles, most of them lacking any literary value, came out last year alone? How does any reviewer sift through all that to find the needle in the haystack? Readers' reviews are suspect and even the honest ones lack rigor; and the major media outlets exclude self-published work. There's a discussion of this on In Cold Ink (http://barbararogan.com/blog/?p=180).

I don't know what the solution will be, but finding a way to recognize excellence is necessary if the fledgling self-pub industry is to evolve rather than implode.

amergina
08-28-2012, 08:56 PM
I wonder if there will be any comments about this from the better-known self-pubishing-over-all advocates about this, since John Locke was one of the shining examples they held up...

James D. Macdonald
08-28-2012, 10:25 PM
So why don't all of my titles have twenty five-star reviews?

Choose the best answer:

a) Because I haven't pressured my friends and family to post reviews,
b) I don't have twenty sock-puppets,
c) I haven't laid down a grand to buy reviews,
d) My books suck,
e) No one's read 'em anyway,
f) All of the above.

AnneGlynn
08-29-2012, 12:23 AM
So why don't all of my titles have twenty five-star reviews?

Hold on. Your titles don't have 20 five-star reviews?

And you call yourself a writer?

Barbara R.
08-29-2012, 12:25 AM
So why don't all of my titles have twenty five-star reviews?

Choose the best answer:

a) Because I haven't pressured my friends and family to post reviews,
b) I don't have twenty sock-puppets,
c) I haven't laid down a grand to buy reviews,
d) My books suck,
e) No one's read 'em anyway,
f) All of the above.

Yes, but now you see the light. It's never too late. And you might add to that list: "Start tremendous row with reviewer who gave insufficient stars. Threaten violence." In a day, you'll be a superstar.

Timmy V.
08-29-2012, 12:28 AM
"John Locke was able to do that because he spent a lot of money to contract for paid reviews in huge volume when nobody else was doing that. Now, fake reviews are very cheap, but much less valuable because they will no longer trigger Amazon to do all the things that Locke's fake reviews did for his book.

At the time, Amazon wasn't looking for authors to orchestrate hundreds of fake reviews, so Locke's fake review activity looked like an emerging bestseller to the algorithms,"

I agree with the above theory, but more important to me is:

How did John Locke know how the Amazon system worked? How was it John Locke knew to pay for reviews when nobody else was doing that?

Was it that John Locke was super smart/evil and every other author were virtuous/chumps?

Or did John Locke receive inside information?

Many of us writers are pretty smart and have eyes wide open to the world.

Generally we have a lot of crooks in the world doing the same thing. How did John Locke alone scam the system so successfully?

I smell insider rats. Did John Locke pay Amazon staff as well?

Timmy V.
08-29-2012, 12:35 AM
I can't find the article, does anyone have a link? I googled John Locke outed NY Times. saw the AW posts but not the article.

Timmy V.
08-29-2012, 12:45 AM
I found the link to the NY Times article.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/business/book-reviewers-for-hire-meet-a-demand-for-online-raves.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

amergina
08-29-2012, 12:47 AM
I found the link to the NY Times article.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/business/book-reviewers-for-hire-meet-a-demand-for-online-raves.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

Just an FYI, article is linked to in the very first post of this thread.

Timmy V.
08-29-2012, 01:12 AM
Just an FYI, article is linked to in the very first post of this thread.


I'm a dope.

Sheryl Nantus
08-29-2012, 01:56 AM
I wonder if there will be any comments about this from the better-known self-pubishing-over-all advocates about this, since John Locke was one of the shining examples they held up...

I wouldn't hold my breath.

I figure Brother Joe and his disciples will simply blame it all on the Big Six and the Evil Publishing Empire for doing it first and thus Locke was just playing catch-up....

:)

djf881
08-29-2012, 02:23 AM
I agree with the above theory, but more important to me is:

How did John Locke know how the Amazon system worked? How was it John Locke knew to pay for reviews when nobody else was doing that?

Was it that John Locke was super smart/evil and every other author were virtuous/chumps?

Or did John Locke receive inside information?

Many of us writers are pretty smart and have eyes wide open to the world.

Generally we have a lot of crooks in the world doing the same thing. How did John Locke alone scam the system so successfully?

I smell insider rats. Did John Locke pay Amazon staff as well?

Everybody is the first to do something. J A Konrath was, among the first traditionally published authors to e self-publish his out-of-print backlist. Amanda Hocking was among the first self-published authors to pair professional quality cover design (she did them herself, but she is an awesome graphic designer) with a near professional-quality manuscript.

Locke was among the first to price at $0.99, which is the minimum you can list a book for in the paid Kindle store, and he was among the first to invest a lot of his own money in trying to game the Amazon algorithms.

He didn't know that the reviews would trigger the recommendation engine. He guessed well. He also apparently arranged for all the reviewer accounts to buy his books for $0.99, which made his fake reviews "verified purchases," and also spiked his ranking. ~70 books sold in a day puts you in the top 1000. If he bought 200 reviews, he could easily spike his ranking into a very visible position.

Timmy V.
08-29-2012, 06:45 AM
Everybody is the first to do something. J A Konrath was, among the first traditionally published authors to e self-publish his out-of-print backlist. Amanda Hocking was among the first self-published authors to pair professional quality cover design (she did them herself, but she is an awesome graphic designer) with a near professional-quality manuscript.

Locke was among the first to price at $0.99, which is the minimum you can list a book for in the paid Kindle store, and he was among the first to invest a lot of his own money in trying to game the Amazon algorithms.

He didn't know that the reviews would trigger the recommendation engine. He guessed well. He also apparently arranged for all the reviewer accounts to buy his books for $0.99, which made his fake reviews "verified purchases," and also spiked his ranking. ~70 books sold in a day puts you in the top 1000. If he bought 200 reviews, he could easily spike his ranking into a very visible position.

Then what John Locke did was brilliant really. It reminds me of another article I read today about the Samsung vs. Apple dispute. Yup Samsung cheated and stole ideas. But it brought Samsung to number one market share. Samsung will pay a lot of money, but they made ten times more. Its an interesting lesson John Locke and Samsung. They both made it to number one. Cheating pays. Cheating pays a lot. Its fascinating really. Its a lot of other things too. But you can't take the success away that resulted from the cheating.

benbradley
08-29-2012, 07:05 AM
...Locke was among the first to price at $0.99, which is the minimum you can list a book for in the paid Kindle store, and he was among the first to invest a lot of his own money in trying to game the Amazon algorithms.

He didn't know that the reviews would trigger the recommendation engine. He guessed well. He also apparently arranged for all the reviewer accounts to buy his books for $0.99, which made his fake reviews "verified purchases," and also spiked his ranking. ~70 books sold in a day puts you in the top 1000. If he bought 200 reviews, he could easily spike his ranking into a very visible position.
This is smelling rather familiar. I was going to post an edited post (removing the character's name and the name of his book) from the local robotics club list - it's private and not indexed by Google, but he posted the same thing in other clubs' public lists, so it's easier to link to his post there:
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/SeattleRobotics/messages/47165?threaded=1&m=e&var=1&tidx=1
Here's most of it:

Please pardon my spam, but I have just published a very short e-book,the first book in what will be a series of ten mini-books, on robotbuilding for absolute beginners. It is called simply "How to Build aRobot Using an Arduino".

I have put a few excerpts on my web site. [snip]


I am offering my book FREE to all robot club members, but here is the catch: you need to first BUY your copy for 99 cents from Amazon.com.

You will get your 99 cents back from me after you show me proof of your purchase, PLUS you will need to leave a (hopefully good) rating/ comment/ or review on Amazon.

If you don't own a Kindle, you can still read it on a PC (Amazon offers free Kindle software for the PC) or on most smartphones. Or if absolutely necessary, I'll print a copy for you (after you purchase it from Amazon.com) and then you can pick it up from me in person. I can't mail it.

I can send your rebate by paypal (but no other method). You will get your rebate MINUS the paypal fee (.99 - .33 = .66 back to you.). 33 cents for the eBook is still a good discount.

One book per person, This rebate offer will be open to thefirst 100 people who purchase the book.
This prompted a couple of responses on the local club list:

Okay, I'll ask the question. Who ARE you?
Looks like he's hitting a few other forums with that post:

https://groups.google.com/forum/m/?fromgroups#!topic/hbrobotics/-8oca3ouJsc (https://groups.google.com/forum/m/?fromgroups#%21topic/hbrobotics/-8oca3ouJsc)
And he responded:

I am [snip], president of the [snip] Robotics Society. I've been "lurking" around, following posts here for some time. I like to always keep my ear to the ground when it comes to robotics. I LEARN A LOT more that way.

I'm looking for feedback (good or bad) on my book.He could have done something (I'm not saying it for anyone reading this and desperate to try to get away with something like this) to look more legit, but he didn't.

Timmy V.
08-29-2012, 10:06 AM
When I was in radio, I thought that was the most greasy business there ever was. After a few years spent working in record stores and seeing from inside how the record industry operated, that became the sleaziest operation of all time. After reading the NYT article, I have a new #1! (But OMG, as many have pointed out while polishing their halos, we're writers, we're above all that.)


I think its great we know this happens now and just how widespread it is. It puts our writing world in perspective in a thousand ways. Now I understand all the 5 star reviews and why readers think the classics suck with their 3 star reviews in comparison to these "brilliant" self published books. Now I understand why some self publisher's books become run away successes. Now I understand.

But pointing it out and discussing John Locke's successful moral crimes does not make us self righteous as you imply "while polishing our halos" Locke's methods should be trashed by people for the trash that many people think it is whether we're wearing a halo or horns on our head.

What would you suggest? Should we be silent about it so as not to appear falsely angelic?

Joni Mitchell always says the music industry is a cesspool. People attack her as self righteous. She is. But it doesn't make the music industry any less a cesspool in the minds of a lot of people.

Transatlantic
08-29-2012, 01:34 PM
My small press publisher sent out review requests in re: my paranormal romance to over one hundred sites. No interest. I knocked on doors until two reviewers finally read the material. Now that I self-pub, I've put out six novellas and received one Amazon review.

Interesting point. What a drag that it's so hard. I figured that all the blogs devoted to specific genres and subgenres these days would make it easier to get some notice. I don't know much about your genre. Do you think it's just that the market is flooded?

When you say "Amazon review", do you mean by a reader or by Amazon itself?


Pointing out the obvious here, but "e-publish" =/= "self-publish"

Yeah, I know, I probably should have said "self-publish". Far and away most self-pubbing today is e-, anyway.



Locke [...] was among the first to invest a lot of his own money in trying to game the Amazon algorithms.

He didn't know that the reviews would trigger the recommendation engine. He guessed well. He also apparently arranged for all the reviewer accounts to buy his books for $0.99, which made his fake reviews "verified purchases," and also spiked his ranking. ~70 books sold in a day puts you in the top 1000. If he bought 200 reviews, he could easily spike his ranking into a very visible position.

What a drag that it has to come to that. It really puts me off self-pubbing. It reminds me of Authonomy -- just thousands of strangers spamming everyone. So hard to find the good stuff amid the mess and noise. Ruins the whole thing. Exciting times too, though.

Arpeggio
08-29-2012, 03:21 PM
There are so many fake 5 star reviews on Amazon.

There must be ways around this for genuine authors. I try to control my own environment and not rely only on Amazon.

Most of the time when a customer reads a review, whether it's a good or bad one, it will be when they are considering purchase, before they have the evidence (your actual book). Giving away a free eBook as a marketing tool puts customers past the questionable review environment and brings them right in where they can make their mind up based on real evidence.

I think an idea might be to examine reviews of free eBooks everywhere, Amazon, Smashwords etc. and see if the good reviews of free eBooks are of similar nature to the good reviews of books you have to pay to read first and likewise for bad reviews between free and pay for books.

eternalised
08-29-2012, 03:23 PM
It's not that hard to get reviews; I mean, I for one don't think so. Maybe because I have a lot of book reviewer friends/acquintances. I organize virtual book tours, and we always manage about 5-7 reviews during a one-month tour. Bloggers put them on Goodreads, Amazon and B&N. *shrug*

I don't understand why someone would go through all the trouble to pay for fake reviews.

Ken
08-29-2012, 04:07 PM
It may be difficult to tell which exact category the fake review falls into, but the fakeness of most fake review is obvious to any but the most most oblivious reader.

(A question for Mr. Liu might be, "If you can't discern which reviews are fake how do you know that 1/3 of all reviews are fake?")

... that's a good point, lol.

Ken
08-29-2012, 04:15 PM
First, he has to be breaking a law, and I'm not sure he is. Neither am I sure that laws regulating book reviewing are a good idea. Reputation of the reviewer is about the only way of validating a review.

On the other hand, faked reviews or reviews by people who haven't read the book are often easily spotted by the proliferation of superlatives as well as their insubstantive nature. Often, they don't mention any of the events in the story, or name any of the characters.

But there's a spectrum of honesty to reviews, beginning with the honest critical review, to reviews by friends who are anxious to support their friend's book, to reviews that are compensated, to totally bent reviews by people who don't care about or read the book. Where to draw the line?

... the FTC is mentioned in the article, along with their potential involvement. The link in the OP is no longer good. Otherwise, I'd have quoted it. The link goes to an ad for the Times or something?

I'd personally draw the line with what this guy is doing: selling reviews that praise books for cash. That's really over the top and shouldn't be allowed, imo.

On an individual level, people heaping undo praise on friends' books, which they haven't even read and whatnot, is disturbing, but probably something that should just be ignored and let pass.

And has been said, it's fairly easy to spot such biased, bogus reviews. One just wishes that people would think before posting such reviews. They may be doing friends a favor, but they're doing readers a disservice, encouraging them to buy books that they may likely not enjoy.

Not cool.

PulpDogg
08-29-2012, 06:26 PM
Maybe the review system in general should be changed. I found this article this morning:

http://www.petapixel.com/2012/08/28/why-five-star-ratings-arent-very-helpful-when-buying-gear-online/

I don't think a comparison system would work for books - but maybe Amazon could adopt the YouTube model of just two possibilities. Like and dislike. I don't know if that is a feasible model, but it is an idea.


What a drag that it has to come to that. It really puts me off self-pubbing. It reminds me of Authonomy -- just thousands of strangers spamming everyone. So hard to find the good stuff amid the mess and noise. Ruins the whole thing. Exciting times too, though.

I am not entirely sure, but I think Amazon changed its algorithms in the past few months. Something like John Locke did shouldn't be possible anymore.

Starchaser3000
08-29-2012, 07:57 PM
I might tick off some people for saying this, but I don't believe that all paid reviews means that the author was trying to buy a positive review, unless said review costs like $300 or more. I was under the impression that the $90 fee was just to have the review permanently posted on their website and nothing more. Plus, most self published authors have no option but to get these type of reviews, since most review companies refuse anything that has to do with self publishing. Not to mention most reader blogs that claim to do reviews for free can't be bothered by self published authors. Trust me I know. So how is this fair?

Prisoner24601
08-29-2012, 09:22 PM
How did John Locke alone scam the system so successfully?

I smell insider rats. Did John Locke pay Amazon staff as well?

I highly doubt this. I mean, basically what he did was the writer equivalent of hiring a bunch of screaming and swooning girls like Frank Sinatra used to do. It's a publicity tactic that's been around for a very long time. He might not have known the exact fallout, but he could make a real educated guess at how a bunch of squeetastic reviews could affect his sales.

willietheshakes
08-29-2012, 09:28 PM
I might tick off some people for saying this, but I don't believe that all paid reviews means that the author was trying to buy a positive review, unless said review costs like $300 or more. I was under the impression that the $90 fee was just to have the review permanently posted on their website and nothing more. Plus, most self published authors have no option but to get these type of reviews, since most review companies refuse anything that has to do with self publishing. Not to mention most reader blogs that claim to do reviews for free can't be bothered by self published authors. Trust me I know. So how is this fair?

How is what fair?

Sheryl Nantus
08-29-2012, 09:40 PM
I might tick off some people for saying this, but I don't believe that all paid reviews means that the author was trying to buy a positive review, unless said review costs like $300 or more. I was under the impression that the $90 fee was just to have the review permanently posted on their website and nothing more. Plus, most self published authors have no option but to get these type of reviews, since most review companies refuse anything that has to do with self publishing. Not to mention most reader blogs that claim to do reviews for free can't be bothered by self published authors. Trust me I know. So how is this fair?

You're not making any sense here - please rephrase.

There *are* places to get your self-published book reviewed without having to pay for it.

Barbara R.
08-29-2012, 09:55 PM
I might tick off some people for saying this, but I don't believe that all paid reviews means that the author was trying to buy a positive review, unless said review costs like $300 or more. I was under the impression that the $90 fee was just to have the review permanently posted on their website and nothing more. Plus, most self published authors have no option but to get these type of reviews, since most review companies refuse anything that has to do with self publishing. Not to mention most reader blogs that claim to do reviews for free can't be bothered by self published authors. Trust me I know. So how is this fair?

But a paid review is meaningless, not to mention sleazy! The reviewers cited in the NYT article didn't even read the books in question. It's just an attempt to cozen potential readers into thinking someone found merit in a book. The whole thing reminds me of Elizabethan times, when play producers used to pay people to sit in the audience and cheer loudly.

Not sure where you feel the unfairness lies, if not with these desperate writers scamming readers. Although, come to think of it, I also blame those fervent advocates of self-publishing (which does have some useful applications) for eliding the downside, including the difficulty of getting serious reviews and critical feedback.

James D. Macdonald
08-29-2012, 10:11 PM
I might tick off some people for saying this, but I don't believe that all paid reviews means that the author was trying to buy a positive review, unless said review costs like $300 or more.

Nah, the going price for a five-star review is $5.00.


So how is this fair?
You were expecting fair?

Starchaser3000
08-29-2012, 10:16 PM
I meant how is it fair to self published authors whose only avenue is to get a paid review, but for doing so they are met with ridicule and disdain? Anyway, none of my reviews give any indication that the reviewer did not read my book and just gave me a glowing review.

All of them touched on points that I wanted to convey to the reader anyway, and they fairly reference that I am an amateur author who has room for improvement. I thought the reviews I got, paid for or not, was fair and balanced and did not seem they were making up stuff about it. I would have known if they did since I wrote the damm thing.

James D. Macdonald
08-29-2012, 10:28 PM
I meant how is it fair to self published authors whose only avenue is to get a paid review, but for doing so they are met with ridicule and disdain?

First, the only avenue for self-published writers is not paid-for reviews. Paid for reviews fall into that vast grey area between a Very Bad Idea and an Out-And-Out Scam.

Second, people who buy their reviews are met with ridicule and disdain because they deserve ridicule and disdain. They bought ridicule, they paid for ridicule, and now they own their ridicule.

------------

Here's a handy list of reviewers who are open to self-published electronic works (http://www.theindieview.com/indie-reviewers/).

Follow their guidelines to the letter.

Starchaser3000
08-29-2012, 10:38 PM
Second, people who buy their reviews are met with ridicule and disdain because they deserve them. They bought 'em, they paid for 'em, and now they own 'em.

Tell me about it. But I still stand that I did not buy these reviews with some pre conceived notion that I was going to get a positive review somehow. And like I said, I would have known if the reviews were made up since I was the one that wrote the book. If I can notice that the reviewer touched on something that can only be noticed if they actually read the thing, then that trumps whatever judgment or refusal to believe a random critic on the internet could give me.

Thanks for those links.

Old Hack
08-29-2012, 10:56 PM
You can't necessarily tell if it was an accurate review, though, Starchaser. I've seen many writers argue against negative feedback that their work has received, but I've yet to see many argue against positive comments about their books.

Starchaser3000
08-29-2012, 11:08 PM
I think this is true if the review is overtly sugar coated. None of my reviews are really like that and even one of them references that my writing is not for everybody. I never intended my book to be that commercial friendly to begin with. So how could the reviewer have known that if they did not read the book objectively?

Sheryl Nantus
08-29-2012, 11:20 PM
I think this is true if the review is overtly sugar coated. None of my reviews are really like that and even one of them references that my writing is not for everybody. I never intended my book to be that commercial friendly to begin with. So how could the reviewer have known that if they did not read the book objectively?

So are you saying that you PAID for reviews?

Because that's the impression I'm getting from your other comments.

Old Hack
08-29-2012, 11:37 PM
I think this is a review for Starchaser's novel (http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/blog/2012/06/review-fantastica-by-victorio-velasquez/), and it's at a site I know charges for all reviews.

Timmy V.
08-30-2012, 12:05 AM
My computer where I am now isn't letting me give reputation points. This is an Reputation Point IOU for James MacDonald and Old Hack. This debate is a great debate even though its a non-debate. I can't see anything debatable about paying for reviews. I applaud James MacDonald and Old Hack for their patience and even tempers. I'd be screaming to Starchaser, flailing my arms up and down, other dramatic gestures etcetera.

Sheryl Nantus
08-30-2012, 12:06 AM
I think this is a review for Starchaser's novel (http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/blog/2012/06/review-fantastica-by-victorio-velasquez/), and it's at a site I know charges for all reviews.

Ah.

And they totally agree with the idea of paying for reviews. (http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/blog/2012/08/epitaph-paying-for-reviews/)

So it goes, as Father Kurt would say.

:Shrug:

I must say the review doesn't encourage me to read the book.

fireluxlou
08-30-2012, 12:22 AM
I typed in his name and this is what came up, someone brought this up to him in this thread about another site that requests payment for reviews:


I, Brian
Admin and Tea-boy

Isn't Bookreview.com where people pay for positive reviews?

Also, I thought you stated in another thread that you were getting your manuscript professionally edited, and were posting critiques in order to tighten up your writing?

Or are you saying now that you already had a book published, and all your supposed critiques here were about trying to generate some attention for your already published book?
http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/535142-fantastica-victorio-velasquez.html

He didn't really answer the questions :/

Another
08-30-2012, 02:31 AM
Not sure how that's a market opportunity, unless he's getting paid by the author for his reviews, in which case he can no longer be trusted...

What makes the book arena self-published or otherwise so different from other markets where reviewers make a living not getting paid by the subjects of the review? I'm thinking of respected movie reviewers with some presses, for instance, or restaurant reviewers. Or are we simply presuming there is no market potential where there might be?

Another
08-30-2012, 02:51 AM
Yup, I get that. But how about one example of a blogger-reviewer for self-published literary fiction? Call it a love story.

James, do you have a blogger-reviewer you can mention who, as you said, might be respectable and has guidelines to be followed? I'm interested in the literary fiction area.

James D. Macdonald
08-30-2012, 02:54 AM
If the Times hires you to write reviews, good on you!

If you have a review blog with ads in the sidebar that bring in enough to pay the server costs, good on you!

If reviewing is a hobby, well, it's cheaper than stamp collecting, safer than sky diving, and takes up less room than model railroading. Things that you do for fun don't have to generate a revenue stream.

James D. Macdonald
08-30-2012, 02:59 AM
James, do you have a blogger-reviewer you can mention who, as you said, might be respectable and has guidelines to be followed? I'm interested in the literary fiction area.

If you're interested in literary fiction you should already know who the respected reviewers are. Whose reviews do you read?

Here's yet another list (http://bookbloggerdirectory.wordpress.com/) of places willing to read and review self-published electronic works.

Barbara R.
08-30-2012, 03:21 AM
What makes the book arena self-published or otherwise so different from other markets where reviewers make a living not getting paid by the subjects of the review? I'm thinking of respected movie reviewers with some presses, for instance, or restaurant reviewers. Or are we simply presuming there is no market potential where there might be?

Basically they're the same thing. Would you trust a restaurant review from a reviewer paid by the restaurant? If you're asking can book reviewers make a living other than by soliciting bribes, er, payment from writers, then I'd have to say no, not unless you land a gig with the NY Times, and even then...Papers and magazines pay freelancers for reviews, of course, but you could hardly live on it.

Transatlantic
08-30-2012, 01:01 PM
hiring a bunch of screaming and swooning girls like Frank Sinatra used to do.

He did?! That's hilarious.

Maybe what I need on self-doubting days is to hire a fawning entourage. Yes! Are crowdsourcing sites still a thing?

Transatlantic
08-30-2012, 01:15 PM
What makes the book arena self-published or otherwise so different from other markets where reviewers make a living not getting paid by the subjects of the review? I'm thinking of respected movie reviewers with some presses, for instance, or restaurant reviewers. Or are we simply presuming there is no market potential where there might be?

Now that we have the Internet, and sites like TripAdvisor and Amazon, there's less and less paid work for reviewers, and less chance of survival for the magazines, newspapers and books that used to publish reviews. Most people are happy enough to websurf to find out about restaurants, etc., and that means they don't buy papers, books full of listings, etc. The day of vetted, trustworthy professional reviewers is all but over.

eternalised
08-30-2012, 01:57 PM
With the latest Amazon and Goodreads crazies of 2012, I admit it's harder than ever for self-published authors to find bloggers interested in their works, and to read and review them.

That said, I still accept self-published authors on my blog, and I know a fair share of other reviewers who do as well. You just have to search hard enough, and you'll find someone.

Arpeggio
08-30-2012, 02:00 PM
Forbes article including Mark Coker's take.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/suwcharmananderson/2012/08/28/fake-reviews-amazons-rotten-core/

EngineerTiger
08-30-2012, 04:00 PM
Paid for reviews are NOT the only reviews available to self-published authors. My books have several on both Amazon and Goodreads by readers who purchased and then reviewed the books. One was even selected by the Sony eReader forums as their July Book of the Month. Granted, there were only two people who commented on the book in the discussion forum but it still was a nice little lift to my ego and, based on the report just received on Smashwords, it is apparent that the downloads for that book jumped quite a bit in July. I assume even that little discussion prompted some of those downloads. I did nothing to solicit that either as I didn't even know that Sony had an eReader forum. One of my other readers sent me the link as a "hey, you might want to take a look at this".

If you check with the self-published gang on AW, you'll see we run the gamut from beginners to successful veterans. As far as I know, most of us have never paid for reviews but have relied exclusively on verified purchases, Goodreads (which can be a mixed blessing), some targeted advertising, and word-of-mouth. Granted, I got a huge boost when one of the veterans took the time to read and review the books on Amazon and later Goodreads but I didn't solicit him or set up any kind of quid pro quo. Nick read the first book because it appealed to him and read the rest because he liked them.

My point is that it takes time to build a buzz for a self-published book/author because we don't have access to the marketing arms of the trade publishers. There is no quick and easy path to fame and riches unless you get extremely lucky (which is also true for trade-published authors). Unless you're an established author who is self-publishing your backlist or someone with an established following from a blog, social media, etc., you can't expect instant recognition for your work but must rely on the old tortoise instead of hare mode of progress.

On the other hand, self-published authors don't have the time constraint to get our books recognized ASAP. We have the luxury of time to let the books gather their readers/reviews at their own pace.

AnneMarble
08-30-2012, 04:08 PM
Forbes article including Mark Coker's take.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/suwcharmananderson/2012/08/28/fake-reviews-amazons-rotten-core/

I found this quote interesting. "Indeed, many authors will recognise the phenomenon of the malicious one-star review designed to sabotage their book." The article also says that there is "absolutely no doubt" that some of the one-stsr reviews are being posted by rival authors "who see self-publishing as a zero sum game in which if they lose out if another author does well." And it goes on to say that other one-star reviews are being posted by fans trying to protect a "rival" author, or by malicious trolls.

Or maybe readers simply don't like the book?!... I know that one-star reviews can be faked just as easily as five-star reviews. There was a self-piblished fantasy author whose marketing plan seemed to consist of posting one-star reviews of books by popular print authors, and I'm sue others tried the same. Also, there are trolling one-star reviews that attack authors for disagreeing with the reviewer, for daring to write about a crime in the author's hometown, etc. (This happens to commercially pubbed authors, too.)

But how do they know those particular reviews were faked just to hurt them? It's so easy to go from this line of thinking back to "all negative reviews are by bullies and trolls" and of course to even more bad behavior by authors when they blog about them, try to get them voted down by fans, etc. :rolleyes:

bearilou
08-30-2012, 07:41 PM
But how do they know those particular reviews were faked just to hurt them? It's so easy to go from this line of thinking back to "all negative reviews are by bullies and trolls" and of course to even more bad behavior by authors when they blog about them, try to get them voted down by fans, etc. :rolleyes:

I noticed that too and had the same thoughts.

And I still continue to question this belief that negative reviews hurt sales.

James D. Macdonald
08-30-2012, 08:01 PM
What everyone has to realize is that Amazon doesn't host reviews for the authors, and it doesn't host reviews for the readers. All they're trying to do by hosting reviews is get people's eyeballs to stay next to the Buy Now link for one more second.

djf881
08-30-2012, 08:02 PM
Ah.

And they totally agree with the idea of paying for reviews. (http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/blog/2012/08/epitaph-paying-for-reviews/)

So it goes, as Father Kurt would say.

:Shrug:

I must say the review doesn't encourage me to read the book.

Paying for professional reviews is different than paying for Amazon reviews. Paying for Amazon reviews is a direct attempt to manipulate Amazon's workings. Paying for professional reviews is the only way to get those reviewers to look at the book (and doesn't guarantee a favorable notice).


Criticism, like writing novels, is a profession, and while some hobbyist bloggers review for free, many qualified critics expect to be paid.

Readers and advertisers and subscriptions can support criticism of mainstream novels. But readers of self-published novels are a much smaller audience and far tighter with their cash than mainstream readers. And the booksellers and librarians who subscribe to publishing trades that review thousands of mainstream titles per year don't buy or stock self-published books, so the subscribers are not interested in reviews of them.

The only people who might be willing to pay for professional-quality reviews of self-published books are self-published authors. That's why Kirkus, etc. charge for reviewing self-published books.

The bloggers that focus on self-published books and review for free are swamped. There are going to be 250k books self-published in 2012. If these people somehow read a book a day, they'll still have only read zero percent of what's out there.

James D. Macdonald
08-30-2012, 08:28 PM
Criticism, like writing novels, is a profession, and while some hobbyist bloggers review for free, many qualified critics expect to be paid.


Paid by the magazines/newspapers that employ them, or paid by the visitors out of ad revenue; not paid by the people/products/services that they are reviewing.

The appearance of impropriety, all by itself, is too strong a taint.

aruna
08-30-2012, 09:15 PM
. Plus, most self published authors have no option but to get these type of reviews, since most review companies refuse anything that has to do with self publishing. Not to mention most reader blogs that claim to do reviews for free can't be bothered by self published authors. Trust me I know. So how is this fair?
You write as if, as a SP author, you are entitled to reviews on reader blogs. You're not. You weighed the risk, decided it was worth it, and took the leap.



Second, people who buy their reviews are met with ridicule and disdain because they deserve ridicule and disdain. They bought ridicule, they paid for ridicule, and now they own their ridicule.

.
:Clap:



My point is that it takes time to build a buzz for a self-published book/author because we don't have access to the marketing arms of the trade publishers. There is no quick and easy path to fame and riches unless you get extremely lucky (which is also true for trade-published authors). Unless you're an established author who is self-publishing your backlist or someone with an established following from a blog, social media, etc., you can't expect instant recognition for your work but must rely on the old tortoise instead of hare mode of progress.

On the other hand, self-published authors don't have the time constraint to get our books recognized ASAP. We have the luxury of time to let the books gather their readers/reviews at their own pace.

See? That's the right attitude. You have no inherent right to loads of reviews, paid for or not, and you can't scream "not fair!" when you don't get what you want.

aruna
08-30-2012, 09:17 PM
GalleyCat: How to read Amazon Review Graphs. (http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/how-to-read-amazon-review-graphs_b56703)

(Response to the NYT article)

(ETA: I don't agree with the graph analysis; maybe it applies to many SP books, but certainly not to all.)

Another
09-06-2012, 10:41 PM
If you're interested in literary fiction you should already know who the respected reviewers are. Whose reviews do you read?

Here's yet another list (http://bookbloggerdirectory.wordpress.com/) of places willing to read and review self-published electronic works.

Thanks for the link. Thatís all I was asking about for starters.

O, and I'm well aware of my most imperfect knowledge of things I should be knowledgeable about, whether in traditional or self-publishing. Humbly (usually) and with girded loin, I keep posting my often innocent questions and perspectives on the Cooler, trying to tease out information from the various knowledgeable Gods I find there. Thanks again.

bearilou
09-06-2012, 10:58 PM
Humbly (usually) and with girded loin, I keep posting my often innocent questions and perspectives on the Cooler, trying to tease out information from the various knowledgeable Gods I find there.

It helps if you bring your own chicken. Gets you ahead of the line. Goats work, too.

James D. Macdonald
09-06-2012, 11:07 PM
Thanks for the link. Thatís all I was asking about for starters.


Well, if that's all you were asking about....

Here's a third list of book bloggers who are open to self-published works:

http://sarah-janelehoux.blogspot.ca/2011/11/book-review-blogs-updated-regularly.html

Figuring out which also read "literary" works is up to you.

Another
09-06-2012, 11:08 PM
Now that we have the Internet, and sites like TripAdvisor and Amazon, there's less and less paid work for reviewers, and less chance of survival for the magazines, newspapers and books that used to publish reviews. Most people are happy enough to websurf to find out about restaurants, etc., and that means they don't buy papers, books full of listings, etc. The day of vetted, trustworthy professional reviewers is all but over.

Yes and no, I believe. Yes we all look to the web and the host of user comments there about restaurants, movies, shoe repair, bike shops, doctors and the like, but I still know many people who have favored movie and TV critics, restaurant and wine reviewers, and book reviewers with local or national papers, sources who earn income doing their reviews without connection or support from those they review. Not so sure the days of such reviewers are waning or over, especially as we experience the very mixed and voluminous nature of user and customer reviews on the web, not to mention the most odd and cranky nature of many of those reviews. Perhaps we will swing back to the independent critics with time, in fact.

Another
09-06-2012, 11:26 PM
Paid for reviews are NOT the only reviews available to self-published authors. My books have several on both Amazon and Goodreads by readers who purchased and then reviewed the books. One was even selected by the Sony eReader forums as their July Book of the Month. Granted, there were only two people who commented on the book in the discussion forum but it still was a nice little lift to my ego and, based on the report just received on Smashwords, it is apparent that the downloads for that book jumped quite a bit in July. I assume even that little discussion prompted some of those downloads. I did nothing to solicit that either as I didn't even know that Sony had an eReader forum. One of my other readers sent me the link as a "hey, you might want to take a look at this".

If you check with the self-published gang on AW, you'll see we run the gamut from beginners to successful veterans. As far as I know, most of us have never paid for reviews but have relied exclusively on verified purchases, Goodreads (which can be a mixed blessing), some targeted advertising, and word-of-mouth. Granted, I got a huge boost when one of the veterans took the time to read and review the books on Amazon and later Goodreads but I didn't solicit him or set up any kind of quid pro quo. Nick read the first book because it appealed to him and read the rest because he liked them...

On the other hand, self-published authors don't have the time constraint to get our books recognized ASAP. We have the luxury of time to let the books gather their readers/reviews at their own pace.

Thanks for showing and telling about your specific experience. It is informative, instructive, and cautionary while offering a glimmer of light for those of us trying to understand more about the emerging world of self-publishing, rocky as it is.

Sander
09-23-2012, 10:52 PM
Getting reviews as a beginning writer is hard. Which books get reviewed? Books that sell. Which books sell? Books that have reviews. The point is that unless you have an established fanbase your books aren't going to start off as bestsellers. E-publishing is 60% marketting and part of that marketting is getting reviews. Giving away free copies in exchange for a review is one way to go.

Buying reviews is another. But that's a disgusting way to cheat the system.

Jamesaritchie
09-24-2012, 09:03 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/business/book-reviewers-for-hire-meet-a-demand-for-online-raves.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120826

One more reaosn why I don't read reviews.