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MDSchafer
04-21-2014, 02:01 AM
So when it comes to self published e-fiction I'm thinking less than 5 percent of all reviews are authentic. It seems to me that between sock puppets, friends and families, supposedly unpaid "Super reviewers," and "Marketing agencies," I can't imagine that more than there's probably five or six honest positive reviews of indie fiction on all Amazon. Am I that far off base? And if you decide to self publish are deceitful reviews just part of the game?

Putputt
04-21-2014, 02:17 AM
Where are you getting that figure from? Is it just guess-work based on your own bias?

EarlyBird
04-21-2014, 02:50 AM
I've often wondered this myself. The only reviews I tend to trust on Amazon are those listed 'Verified Purchase.'

Samsonet
04-21-2014, 02:56 AM
First off, I'm pretty sure that indie /=/ self-publishing.

Second, how many self-published books have you actually looked at for this? Many of them are very good, and it's not surprising they would have positive reviews from actual readers. I know I've written a few five-star reviews for self-published books.

In general, you can usually tell if reviews are fake if a) they're all five-stars, or b) they're mostly five stars, but there's one or two reviews that are one-star. The more reviews a book has, the less likely it is that they're fake, particularly if a lot are four- or three-stars.

slhuang
04-21-2014, 03:05 AM
Note: "Indie" traditionally has referred to independent publishers (trade pubs who are not the Big 5/6). It's a bit confusing when it's used interchangeably with "self-published." :)


So when it comes to self published e-fiction I'm thinking less than 5 percent of all reviews are authentic. It seems to me that between sock puppets, friends and families, supposedly unpaid "Super reviewers," and "Marketing agencies," I can't imagine that more than there's probably five or six honest positive reviews of indie fiction on all Amazon. Am I that far off base? And if you decide to self publish are deceitful reviews just part of the game?

I think it depends on the author -- maybe some people do this, but I certainly wouldn't make this general assumption about SPed authors across the board. I self-publish, and that's not a game I play (or ever intend to play). And I know many SPed authors who feel the same; just stop by the SP room here at AW sometime -- I've never talked with anyone there who was anything less than hard-working and ethical.

The one thing I do is include a "if you have the time, a frank review is appreciated" in the "thank you for reading" section of my back matter. This is suggested in SPing circles as something that improves review response, and having a critical mass of reviews is surprisingly necessary for certain promotional opportunities, so I say it. But that's it. I'd never want a review that was less than honest.

I don't ask anyone I know for reviews, either. If they read the book and happen to leave one, that's wonderful, and I hope karma gives them a kiss for taking the time to do so -- but I myself probably won't notice, as I don't read my reviews. ;)


I can't imagine that more than there's probably five or six honest positive reviews of indie fiction on all Amazon. Am I that far off base?

Well, considering that I already have 8 four- and five-star reviews across all platforms, none of them were solicited, and I think maybe 3 are by people who know me at all (through AW) and the rest are by strangers (I think -- like I said, I don't read them, but I skimmed down to look), I think your numbers are definitely very severely off base. :) Because if that were the case, every single honest positive review of a SPed book would be of MY book, and I'm really not quite so arrogant as to think that. :D

(And btw, I did not request of the AWers who reviewed my book to do so -- they read it and liked it, apparently, and I'm certainly not going to call their reviews dishonest just because they did like it and took the time to help me by leaving a review. I think that would be quite rude!)

WriterBN
04-21-2014, 03:17 AM
I don't have a ton of reviews for my current book, but I can assure you that none of them are fake. Yes, a couple are from family, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything one way or the other--I know a few self-pubbed authors whose family members have been their harshest critics.

TheNighSwan
04-21-2014, 03:31 AM
All the positive reviews are fake reviews by their friends and families, but that's ok, all the negative reviews are fake reviews by their enemies and rival writers.

</silly>

MDSchafer
04-21-2014, 04:26 AM
Where are you getting that figure from? Is it just guess-work based on your own bias?

There's a ton of research out that shows that it typically takes several thousand customers to find one who leaves a review on a place like Yelp, less on Open Table where they actually solicit reviews. If you look at Amazon there are a number of indie authors who have more reviews than leaders in their genres.

Also, besides the literal ton of research out there, there are a number of news stories that document this trend.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/business/book-reviewers-for-hire-meet-a-demand-for-online-raves.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all&

http://www.heralddeparis.com/nineteen-companies-found-guilty-of-writing-fake-consumer-reviews/232920

And I'm sorry, if a family member leaves a review of your book and doesn't include words to the effect of, "I am related to the author," in the text of their review then yeah, it is dishonest. Sorry, just is.

DancingMaenid
04-21-2014, 07:39 AM
I think it's unfair to dismiss any positive reviews as being from friends and family, and I also think it's a bit unfair to dismiss any reviews from friends as being inherently dishonest.

Yes, there are definitely authors who recruit friends and family to give them positive reviews. But there are also a lot of honest authors out there who want people to give them honest reviews. Some self-publishers are part of small niche groups where their friends and/or fellow authors might also be their target audience and loyal customers. I plan to review a friend's self-published novel that I purchased, and it would never occur to me to be less than honest. I think I'd refrain from reviewing if I absolutely hated the book, but I'm certainly not going to lie in my review or only mention the things I liked.

RedWombat
04-21-2014, 07:56 AM
I've got..um..seventy-some reviews on my recent self-pub, I think? Some are undoubtedly friends and long time fans, but I never solicited any of them (I did give away...err...three review copies?)

I certainly didn't post any myself. My mom doesn't have a kindle, my husband knows better, most of the rest of my relatives are dead. Won't swear my uncle-in-law didn't leave a positive, but he means well, and I've never figured out a tactful way to say "Please don't help--it's awesome you love me, but it looks weird."

(I don't know this for a fact, though, because I gave up reading my reviews long ago, as a great way to make myself violently neurotic.)

Anyway, if 95% of them are fake, I don't know who's faking them, 'cos it sure isn't me! (But I WOULD say that, wouldn't I...?)

cornflake
04-21-2014, 08:01 AM
There's a ton of research out that shows that it typically takes several thousand customers to find one who leaves a review on a place like Yelp, less on Open Table where they actually solicit reviews. If you look at Amazon there are a number of indie authors who have more reviews than leaders in their genres.

Also, besides the literal ton of research out there, there are a number of news stories that document this trend.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/business/book-reviewers-for-hire-meet-a-demand-for-online-raves.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all&

http://www.heralddeparis.com/nineteen-companies-found-guilty-of-writing-fake-consumer-reviews/232920

And I'm sorry, if a family member leaves a review of your book and doesn't include words to the effect of, "I am related to the author," in the text of their review then yeah, it is dishonest. Sorry, just is.

What in the world would Yelp have to do with Amazon? One is a shopping site at which you can review the items you purchased, the other is a site on which anyone can review all manner of businesses. Of course it'd take lots of customers to find one who leaves a review on Yelp. That's not applicable to the percentage of Amazon customers who will leave reviews on Amazon.

Amazon and Yelp review stats are like apples and fig newtons.

The second article has nothing to do with Amazon and discusses basically pr endeavours corporations employ to boost ratings on sites like Yelp.

Norman D Gutter
04-21-2014, 08:10 AM
None of mine are fake; that's the only ones I need care about.

RhodaD'Ettore
04-21-2014, 08:41 AM
I published a few ebooks on Smashwords Feb 28 (which then led to B&N and Amazon). One guy reviewed my free ebook on Smashwords saying it was five stars, and he thought it could be a tv movie or miniseries-- series compliment for a first writing. When I published my paperback in March, i sent him one--- yeah... hoping for another great review. I dont even know him. Another woman asked me for a review of her book, and after I gave her a 4 star review and offered some criticism, she wrote an awesomely glowing and very detailed review of my book. Unfortunately, it seems that I have reviews spread everywhere--- goodreads, B&N, google, amazon.. but not enough that are centralized in one place :(

Doesnt make me dishonest. HOWEVER, I also know an author whose work is total crap, and printed 250 names as acknowledgements in the front of her book. I was not surprised to see those same names giving her glowing reviews, while the 1 stars were saying "did we read the same book?"

What i think was worse, the author replied to the review stating, "If you didnt read the description of the book, don't blame me that you did not like it" Wow just wow

Polenth
04-21-2014, 10:22 AM
Someone who games reviews probably has far more than 5% fake ones. Someone who doesn't will probably have none. Fake reviews aren't considered normal in self-publishing circles... if an author is found out, it doesn't go down well.

Though it's possible to get caught with family. I had one family member leave a review without telling me, and they're not tech-savvy enough to explain to them how to remove it. All I can really do is ask them not to do it again and report it to Amazon in the hopes it vanishes. It does break Amazon guidelines (they have the same last name as me, so it's really obvious), so I'm hopeful. (ETA: Amazon appear to have removed it, so now I can just feel odd about reporting my own family.) The moral of this tale is have the talk about not leaving reviews with family even if they show no interest in reviewing anything.

On the review numbers note though, I don't have many reviews. But I probably have one review or rating for around every five to ten sales of a title (outside of free givesways, which skews it a bit). Readers who go for self-published work seem to have a higher follow-through on reviewing. Probably because they know the author is small fry, so it encourages leaving a review.

Bolero
04-21-2014, 01:44 PM
Couple of thoughts

1. If a reviewer on Amazon has only ever reviewed one or two books - and those by the same author, it is probably friend or family. But if they've reviewed more widely then I'd take them at face value

2. Some reviews on Amazon are weird - from the people complaining about slow delivery, through to those who took a personal dislike to a character, or an element in the plot, and give the book a one star to show their disapproval - irrespective of whether the book is well written or not. Also, a well advertised, popular book, picks up far more reviews than one that is not well advertised - but might be of equal standard.

JournoWriter
04-21-2014, 02:29 PM
I can't imagine that more than there's probably five or six honest positive reviews of indie fiction on all Amazon.

First, "indie fiction" does not equal self-published fiction, nor self-published "e-fiction." You might want to clarify the universe you're looking at.

Second, I'm not sure what your point is with this thread. Are an unknown number of Amazon reviews fake? Of course. It it possible to know how many? No. Could self-published books have a higher proportion of faked reviews than trade-published ones? Possibly, but we have no way of knowing.

Third, in the quote above, do you really mean *five or six reviews across the entirety of Amazon*? Or five or six per book?

And fourth, the thread title refers to Goodreads as well. Are you planning to address that site?


2. Some reviews on Amazon are weird - from the people complaining about slow delivery, through to those who took a personal dislike to a character, or an element in the plot, and give the book a one star to show their disapproval - irrespective of whether the book is well written or not. Also, a well advertised, popular book, picks up far more reviews than one that is not well advertised - but might be of equal standard.

Bolero: Reviews can be left for reasons other than a book's writing quality. I once left negative reviews for a series of books I enjoyed because the ebooks were clearly an unedited optical scan & dump of the print editions, with typos and awful formatting on nearly every page. Those are also valid types of reviews.

Putputt
04-21-2014, 02:44 PM
What in the world would Yelp have to do with Amazon? One is a shopping site at which you can review the items you purchased, the other is a site on which anyone can review all manner of businesses. Of course it'd take lots of customers to find one who leaves a review on Yelp. That's not applicable to the percentage of Amazon customers who will leave reviews on Amazon.

Amazon and Yelp review stats are like apples and fig newtons.

The second article has nothing to do with Amazon and discusses basically pr endeavours corporations employ to boost ratings on sites like Yelp.

This, exactly.

Also, while I am sure fake reviews exist, I'm equally certain they are not limited to self-published books. Do you think that trade pub books don't have fake reviews too? Often I read what I thought was a terrible trade pub book, and when I go to read the reviews, it's filled with rapturous raves. I'm not sure if they're fake, although I've seen quite a few that come from accounts with only one or two reviews. Then there are the die hard fans who write reviews on the author's other books despite never having read them.

Fwiw, I'm hoping to get my books trade pubbed, so the original question doesn't affect me other than the faulty math which is derived from false assumptions.

chompers
04-21-2014, 02:54 PM
I'd say usually the books that have a large number of reviews are less likely to be fake. If it's a small number, look at the reviews. It's not that hard to figure out.

One time I saw this author who had a bunch of books listed, but the covers were really sloppy, like they were done with MS Paint. And it was terribly, terribly written, but more like they were just trying to get them out quickly. One of the books had a 5-star review. But it was obvious that it was a fake because the reviewer's city was the same as the author's. And all the other reviewers commented that even though the book was free, they still paid too much. And that 5-star review read almost like an advertisement for the book.

Torgo
04-21-2014, 03:58 PM
So when it comes to self published e-fiction I'm thinking less than 5 percent of all reviews are authentic. It seems to me that between sock puppets, friends and families, supposedly unpaid "Super reviewers," and "Marketing agencies," I can't imagine that more than there's probably five or six honest positive reviews of indie fiction on all Amazon. Am I that far off base? And if you decide to self publish are deceitful reviews just part of the game?

I think 'five or six on the whole of Amazon' probably is off base by a very long way, to be honest with you.

I agree that there are a lot of reviews on self-pub books that are there as a result of ill-advised, dishonest attempts at self-promotion. But that is also true of trade-published stuff - positive and negative - and I have in fact been asked on a few occasions to help game Amazon by colleagues. (I politely decline and usually point out that it's illegal under EU law.)

The question of what percentage of reviews are 'fake' is an interesting one, but I don't think we have the data to make a decision; and I wouldn't want us to start slurring whole classes of writers (which would contain lots of people here) on the basis of anecdote.

jari_k
04-21-2014, 04:02 PM
I don't see how we could even guess how many reviews are fake. When I was a new Kindle owner, I did download a book with all 5-star reviews and it was not good.

Fortunately, it was free at the time, on Amazon. It didn't really dawn on me that all the reviews were 5-stars until after I'd read a few chapters. I should have known that was a little fishy.

Interestingly, another reader soon added a one-star review, and it was almost instantly voted down by the precise number of 5-star reviews there were.

After that happened, it seemed to me either the author's six reviewers were lurking on his page, just waiting for a negative review, or all the glowing ones were by the author, using different accounts. The book was already more than a year old, so seems odd the "fans" would all be waiting for new reviews.

I don't know if the book was indie, self, or trade published. To me, it was worth maybe two stars, but I opted not to review it. I hadn't been able to finish it.

Filigree
04-21-2014, 04:16 PM
I've seen a bunch of vanity-published authors who leave reviews of their own work. Some of which Amazon hasn't taken down. I never report them because they are so obvious they're funny.

alexaherself
04-21-2014, 04:41 PM
So what percentage of Amazon/Goodreads reviews of indie fiction are fake?

When you say "indie fiction", you're actually asking about self-published, rather than independently published fiction, aren't you?


So when it comes to self published e-fiction I'm thinking less than 5 percent of all reviews are authentic.

I'm a notorious skepchick, but even I haven't ever imagined that it's quite as low as 5%?!

There isn't really a way of knowing, though, is there?

(I occasionally look at the reviewers' other reviews, which can sometimes be helpful.)

gothicangel
04-21-2014, 04:44 PM
If I'm suspicious of the review I check their user history. If they've only ever posted one book review, or only ever reviews one author than I would treat it with caution.

Bolero
04-21-2014, 08:44 PM
Bolero: Reviews can be left for reasons other than a book's writing quality. I once left negative reviews for a series of books I enjoyed because the ebooks were clearly an unedited optical scan & dump of the print editions, with typos and awful formatting on nearly every page. Those are also valid types of reviews.


I don't have a problem with someone leaving reviews criticising the physical quality of the book - I have done it a couple of times regarding pages falling out, or flimsy covers. However, I do think it is essential to be careful how this is done.

If someone left a one star review and said "poor print quality" of a well written book, I would think that is an incomplete review.

If someone left a three or four star review of a book which said "well written, but the poor print quality cost it a star" then I would be happy with that review.
On occasion I have gone so far as to write to publisher or author (if I can easily find contact details) and tell them they have a bad batch of books from the printer. Only had one reply, but that was a thank you.

I still disagree with reviews that relate to Amazon's service, rather than the quality of the product, especially if that is accompanied by a low star rating. In part this is a problem of the way Amazon has configured their website - for third party sellers, there are lots of options for commenting on the speed of delivery, the quality of the packing etc. For Amazon itself there isn't. So people use the product review to comment on Amazon's service and some products are given an unfair low rating as the comment is all about Amazon itself.
This presumably has a knock on effect on the sales of that product, but may not even noticed by Amazon itself.

On trad publishing - I seem to remember that one of Gerald Durrell's later books has a mutter about having to read a book by another author who was either with his agent, or his publisher, and find something nice to say that could be used to put on the cover.

To my mind the best thing about Amazon these days is that you can read the first chunk of most books online. It isn't guaranteed that the rest of the book will be of the same quality, but if the initial part is badly written or edited, then that's another one to be passed over.

Jamesaritchie
04-21-2014, 08:46 PM
A lot of them are fake, but who cares? The last place I'd go to find a book to read is Amazon reviews, fake or not.

aruna
04-21-2014, 08:54 PM
In general, you can usually tell if reviews are fake if a) they're all five-stars, or b) they're mostly five stars, but there's one or two reviews that are one-star. .

This is not true. I know a lot of books that have genuine all-or-mostly five star reviews. For instance, the last book I read, This Fragile Life, has 32 5 star and only one 2 star. And I guarantee they are all genuine. (Not a SP book, but that shouldn't make a difference.)

Samsonet
04-21-2014, 09:52 PM
This is not true. I know a lot of books that have genuine all-or-mostly five star reviews. For instance, the last book I read, This Fragile Life, has 32 5 star and only one 2 star. And I guarantee they are all genuine. (Not a SP book, but that shouldn't make a difference.)

But it's got several four- and three-stars; people had varied opinions of it. I'm talking about those books where the reviews are all fives, except for that one that's wondering if he read the same book as all the others. (That usually happens with books that have fewer reviews, though, so it'd be easy for someone to judge each review individually.) I'm sorry for not being more clear earlier.

Sheryl Nantus
04-21-2014, 10:33 PM
All of them.

None of them.

All you can do is write the best story you can write.

:)

Arpeggio
04-21-2014, 11:30 PM
I've seen a bunch of vanity-published authors who leave reviews of their own work. Some of which Amazon hasn't taken down. I never report them because they are so obvious they're funny.

By the looks of it Amazon doesn’t stop selling counterfeit products a whole year after serial number concerns have been pointed out by reviewers.

http://www.amazon.com/LifeProof-Case-iPhone-4S-Packaging/dp/B005WF9OHI

DancingMaenid
04-22-2014, 01:57 AM
Bolero: Reviews can be left for reasons other than a book's writing quality. I once left negative reviews for a series of books I enjoyed because the ebooks were clearly an unedited optical scan & dump of the print editions, with typos and awful formatting on nearly every page. Those are also valid types of reviews.

I agree that reviews about the quality of the product are definitely valid, though because of that, I think it's misguided to treat Amazon reviews like book critiques. They can be, but there are also reasons to give a book a poor rating that don't have anything to do with the book's content, so looking at Amazon reviews isn't analogous to reading a review in a venue that isn't actually a store.

Though, one problem with quality and service-related reviews is that I believe they can become outdated if the product is altered/updated. I've seen books and other products that had some horrible reviews about the quality, but they were over a year old, which made me wonder if they were still accurate. I also recall looking at a cat toy on Amazon that had horrible reviews--people were getting toys that were made out of dangerous materials. However, it seemed like it was a problem with Amazon getting the product from multiple sellers, and not all of them were providing the exact same product. So were the reviews accurate for whichever seller was currently providing the product? Who knows.



I still disagree with reviews that relate to Amazon's service, rather than the quality of the product, especially if that is accompanied by a low star rating. In part this is a problem of the way Amazon has configured their website - for third party sellers, there are lots of options for commenting on the speed of delivery, the quality of the packing etc. For Amazon itself there isn't. So people use the product review to comment on Amazon's service and some products are given an unfair low rating as the comment is all about Amazon itself.

I agree. Also, I hate it when people use the reviews to complain about an independent seller who sold them a used copy of the book that was in poor condition, or who never delivered the item. There are other ways to complain about independent sellers and review them, and reviewing them on the main product page is of no help to anyone (especially since that seller may not even be selling that particular book anymore, but may be selling other books).

aruna
04-22-2014, 08:24 AM
I agree. Also, I hate it when people use the reviews to complain about an independent seller who sold them a used copy of the book that was in poor condition, or who never delivered the item. There are other ways to complain about independent sellers and review them, and reviewing them on the main product page is of no help to anyone (especially since that seller may not even be selling that particular book anymore, but may be selling other books).

Quite. I once received a used book described as "like new" in a deplorable condition, dog-eared and dirty. Each independent seller has a "bookshop" on Amazon where you can leave reviews, so I gave a bad review there and wrote the seller, actually several months after I received the book. He apologized, asked me to take the review down, promised to deal with the people who had shipped the book, and refunded the price.
I did take the review down.

Fuchsia Groan
04-22-2014, 08:50 AM
When an author pitches me their SP book for a review, I always look at other reviews. I don't try to figure out if they're fake, but I do disregard those that contain vague and generic praise. If I find a great deal of those, I sometimes do become suspicious. In my experience, when someone takes the time to read a whole book, they generally have more to say than "It was a delightful read" or "Pitch perfect, incisive and fascinating." Especially with novels: When readers get involved in them, they're more likely to fixate on specific aspects they liked and didn't.

This is one reason I don't pay attention to those paid Kirkus reviews. They tend to be pretty bland and generic (I'm sure there are exceptions). It makes me sad, because authors present them to me like they're a huge deal ("Kirkus raved about my book!"), and, knowing how they work, I don't really buy it.

ShaunHorton
04-22-2014, 09:53 AM
I count Kirkus Reviews as fake. They charge a substantial amount to review your work, and then they claim to give people the option to not have the review posted if they don't like it. That sounds like a recipe for a scam. They charge up front for a review, and then have plausible deniability if people point out they don't have many less than X stars.

alexaherself
04-23-2014, 06:30 PM
A lot of them are fake, but who cares?

I do.

I'd trust Amazon more if reviews were accepted only from verified purchasers using their real names. I acknowledge freely that this would be unreasonable as an expectation, but it's still why I care about fake reviews.

Torgo
04-23-2014, 08:27 PM
I agree that reviews about the quality of the product are definitely valid, though because of that, I think it's misguided to treat Amazon reviews like book critiques. They can be, but there are also reasons to give a book a poor rating that don't have anything to do with the book's content, so looking at Amazon reviews isn't analogous to reading a review in a venue that isn't actually a store.

Hey, everyone - if you see an Amazon review like that, or my own personal bete noire, a review that simply complains about the pricing or something, report it using the button provided? Takes two seconds. This stuff hurts authors, because reviews persist across time and across editions.

Amazon won't always DO anything about it (especially if it doesn't suit their interests) but it's as much as we can do.

aruna
04-23-2014, 08:42 PM
I do.

I'd trust Amazon more if reviews were accepted only from verified purchasers using their real names. I acknowledge freely that this would be unreasonable as an expectation, but it's still why I care about fake reviews.

They don't have to use their real names imo; what matters is their reputation/history. I value reviews by Top Reviewers, even if they are using a nickname, more than Real Name reviewers who just write a few random reviews here and there and don't have any reputation.

There are a couple of indicators of reputation: Top 500, 100, 50 etc; Hall of Fame; Community Forum '04. These badges show that the reviewers have collected a horde of favourable votes over time; in general, you can assume they write good and fair and in-depth reviews (with the exception of Harriet Klausner, who loves every book she reads).

I used to be a member of the original Amazon Reviewer forum; I remember well when invites went out for the Community Forum in '04 and how excited people were! These people take reviewing as a serious hobby, and discuss it as passionately as we do writing. And I'm glad I've managed to garner a few of those reviewers. They mean something; I'd rather have 10 of those reviewing my book than a 100 Real Name reviewers with no history.


Here's the page with Top Reviewer lists. (https://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers)

mfarraday
04-28-2014, 07:31 PM
I think a lot of the reviews on Amazon are fake. It bothers me greatly. I have read samples that were just awful before. Then I went to the reviews and saw oodles of 4-5 star ratings. They tended to repeat themselves over and over: 'couldn't put it down!' or 'Author Name has done it again!' or 'another bestseller by Author Name' or 'you will be on the edge of your seat until the very end' or 'keeps you on your toes!'

Then you read the 1-2 star reviews and almost all of them mention the terrible editing, the puzzlement of the reviewer that there are so many highly rated reviews in contrast to their own, their bewilderment about whether those people read the same book, and then there are the people who actually point out the errors (with page number) involving word usage, spelling, and the problems with the plot.

Then you read the reviews by customers who felt like they were tricked into buying the book by all the 4-5 star reviews.

Yes, it bothers me.

A.P.M.
04-29-2014, 12:44 AM
Glowing, over the top 5 star reviews has become the norm for a lot of self-pubbed books, and it makes me completely distrust any 5 star reviews I see. I typically start with the one and two star reviews--if I see the bewilderment at the 5 stars that others here have spoken of, I steer clear of the book. It definitely feels like the 1-4 star reviews are the only ones that tell you anything useful.

Also, what is the deal on goodreads with reviewers posting gifs all over their reviews? It looks tacky as hell and gets in the way of the actual review.

Brightdreamer
04-29-2014, 01:34 AM
I think it's unfair to dismiss any positive reviews as being from friends and family, and I also think it's a bit unfair to dismiss any reviews from friends as being inherently dishonest.

+1

When I post reviews on Amazon - which I don't do all the time - I do so honestly. I can count on one hand, with fingers left over, the number of times I've been given a book to review by the author (always a stranger), and I still keep the review honest.

Some titles, especially self-published ones, just don't get a lot of reviews; Amazon's a big ocean, after all, and some little fish just get lost in the depths. That doesn't mean that reviews about them are all fakes. In a few instances, mine is (or was at the time) the only one posted. But I can assure you that I'm real, and my review was based on my impression of what I read, not any association with the author. (If I'm not real, I'm spending way too much money on food.)

As for varying reactions... well, I hate some books that get glowing reviews. And I like some books that get iffy reviews. I'm actually more likely to post a review on Amazon if my reaction varies from the majority. As a potential reader, I often skim the top and the bottom reviews in an attempt to get a feel for a title, and different POVs are very useful.

MagicWriter
04-29-2014, 11:19 PM
I usually read the 1-3 star reviews and decide from there whether its something I'd read. After that I do the 60 page reading test. If i'm not into it by page 60, its gone. Not sure where the number 60 came from, but it works.

I know what the 5 star reviews say without looking at them - "Yes, its awesome, best work ever." But its in the 1-3 star reviews where you're going to find the thorns and roses. Everyone has their preferences in style when they read an author's work. By looking at the 1-3 star reviews, you'll find out quickly what worked for other readers and what didn't.

JustSarah
04-30-2014, 12:06 AM
They might not be fake, though I do raise my eyebrows a bit if there are only five reviews, and all except one are five. And the other is four. I won't name the book in question, but this does happen.

Samsonet
04-30-2014, 12:35 AM
Also, what is the deal on goodreads with reviewers posting gifs all over their reviews? It looks tacky as hell and gets in the way of the actual review.

I think it's because they're not necessarily going for a serious review. Goodreads is like the tumblr of books: there are well-written posts with a serious tone, and there are cat gifs. But the users are there because they're enjoying the site.

Maybe it's just because I'm a teenager and pretty much grew up with social media, but it amazes me that people (not you, people like STGRB) think they can define standards for strangers on the internet.

jjdebenedictis
04-30-2014, 01:14 AM
A review can be just a review, but reviewers are writers with an audience, and some of them aspire to entertain, not just inform, that audience.

The cat-gif reviews and the frothy-mouthed hate-rants can be extremely entertaining. They don't necessarily tell me much that will help me decide whether I want to read the book, but that's not necessarily why I'm reading the review anymore.

I get much angrier about fake reviews than I do about nasty reviews. The former is attempted financial fraud; the latter is just an opinion.

JustSarah
04-30-2014, 02:44 AM
At least with ranty reviews, it is their real opinion.

I feel bad saying the above, because I know the book is by a personal friend of mine. But I can't help feel the reviews look ... not real.

Its not any member here.

Viridian
04-30-2014, 04:00 AM
I usually read the 1-3 star reviews and decide from there whether its something I'd read. After that I do the 60 page reading test. If i'm not into it by page 60, its gone. Not sure where the number 60 came from, but it works.

You're a saint. If I'm halfway through chapter one and I'm already bored, I do a skim test. I skip throughout the book and look for anything interesting. If the book looks boring throughout, I stop.

slhuang
04-30-2014, 04:48 AM
You're a saint. If I'm halfway through chapter one and I'm already bored, I do a skim test. I skip throughout the book and look for anything interesting. If the book looks boring throughout, I stop.

You're BOTH saints. If I'm halfway through the first page and am bored I'll move on, unless it's been highly recommended by people I know (then it gets a little longer!). Sometimes I'll skim ahead through the rest of the first chapter...if I'm feeling generous. ;)

Jazen
04-30-2014, 05:36 AM
You're BOTH saints. If I'm halfway through the first page and am bored I'll move on, unless it's been highly recommended by people I know (then it gets a little longer!). Sometimes I'll skim ahead through the rest of the first chapter...if I'm feeling generous. ;)

This is why I love the first look, take a peek option before I buy a book.

I like to look at a few of each star review to get an overall feel of the book. If I'm still on the fence then I do the take a look option to read the first however many pages of said book. If I'm not hooked by then I don't buy.

fredXgeorge
04-30-2014, 05:57 AM
You're BOTH saints. If I'm halfway through the first page and am bored I'll move on, unless it's been highly recommended by people I know (then it gets a little longer!). Sometimes I'll skim ahead through the rest of the first chapter...if I'm feeling generous. ;)
Yeah, this is pretty much me. I might push through if I think it has promise but usually if I'm not grabbed in the first page or so I'm done.

Arpeggio
05-04-2014, 02:31 PM
According to George Arkerlof’s “Market for Lemons” information asymmetry (e.g. fake reviews) can destroy a market. In the following the relevant part is the one titled “Asymmetric information”…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Market_for_Lemons

Before I got into writing (non-fiction), as a customer I never relied on online customer reviews. The place I bought most of my books had hardly any anyway.

I had no idea how much customers rely on online customer reviews for their purchase decisions. Perhaps one of the mistakes an intelligent person can make is to assume that because something is obvious to them to the point of being well below a mental challenge to conclude so, that it is indeed obvious and will therefore occur to others.

According to my calculations the conversion rate through my own website is large compared to what it is on Amazon, the only thing of course is I don’t have several million hits per day like Amazon!

I find a higher proportion customers through my own website are professionals such as a professor, university lecturer and managing director. Others I am assuming are professionals based on how they can read English and are out in the sticks and places where it is not the language. Probably people who don’t rely on customer reviews (I don’t have any reviews or link to any on my website either). Smug? Perhaps but no not really, I have felt the same as...


I think a lot of the reviews on Amazon are fake. It bothers me greatly.

Like anyone else, I’d want to see something positive in answer to it.

Interestingly a book of mine on Amazon that used to sell (due to being niche enough to not need any reviews in order to be visible) now sells less with a few positive reviews. Hmmmm…..too many reviews for the intelligent people who can think for themselves (and perhaps realize that real customers hardly actually bother post reviews) and not enough fabby 5 stars for the unwashed masses? Who knows, sales are down. I don’t care as most of my sales are not on Amazon now and I prefer it that way.

If you are serious and not a fraud, are Amazon reviews really worth taking seriously? Would Usain Bolt partake in a race, in which at the start line, he is next to a competitor on a motorbike with a tazer pointed at him just before the starter pistol? Even if you “win”, your genuine reviews will be in a sea of fakes. You would have looked better next to someone “racing you on foot” so why bother? All the more reason why fraudulent reviews will suppress the desire for and the amount of genuine ones.


There's a ton of research out that shows that it typically takes several thousand customers to find one who leaves a review on a place like Yelp, less on Open Table where they actually solicit reviews.

I’d be interested to see that.


Then you read the 1-2 star reviews and almost all of them mention the terrible editing, the puzzlement of the reviewer that there are so many highly rated reviews in contrast to their own, their bewilderment about whether those people read the same book.

I’ve noticed a higher proportion of these kind of reviews starting with “I’ve never posted a review here before but…” or “This is my first ever review…..”.

MDSchafer
05-05-2014, 06:18 AM
Maybe it's just me. I just did a quick search for SF&F on Kindle and came up with a book from 2012 that had 700 reviews, 291 of them were five stars, and I just find that a little improbable because the low reviews were talking about the author's obvious grammar deficiencies. I counted ten mistakes in the first three paragraphs.

Maybe it's that readers aren't as discerning as I'd like to think they are.

Also, maybe kids are reading these things and leaving reviews. My 10-year-old niece is reading some horrid Harry Potter fan fiction, but she loves it and left a review, so maybe that's something to take into account as well.

Samsonet
05-05-2014, 06:55 AM
How many of the reviews were four/three/two stars?

DawnBrown
05-05-2014, 08:53 PM
Okay, no one in my extended family even knows I've written a book. I actually gave my book along with some others to my sister for Christmas. She really enjoyed it, she said. She doesn't leave reviews on Amazon, and she still doesn't know it's my book, though she should have been suspicious of my pen name.

I have a total of 27 reviews, 4 of them are 4 star the rest are 5 star. So, according to you, they are all family members? Sorry to tell you they're not. They're all real, and I only got a few of them by offering people ARC copies. In the reviews, those people stated they were ARC Copies.

I wouldn't paint with such a broad brush, personally.

My last 5 star review sounded like a 3 star review in the writing, but she marked it 5 and I'm not sure why.

Another reviewer said it really wasn't her thing, but also gave it 5 stars.

I read a review of a book I just finished reading, and the lady pointed out inconsistencies in the story, type-o's and a few other things, but gave the book 5 stars when her actual review sounded like a 3 or even a 2 star review.

So, don't always assume that reviews are not legit, and don't assume that every single self published author has their grandpa's brother's third's wife's uncle's great grandson writing reviews for them.

We can't control what reviewers write... we can only hope those who enjoy our work leave a review, and those who don't, don't.

aruna
05-07-2014, 05:12 PM
How to Spot an Amazon Fake Review (http://dmediamom.com/2014/05/06/how-to-spot-a-fake-amazon-review/)

Good tips here. I already look for all these signs.

Samsonet
05-07-2014, 09:30 PM
I'm a cynic.

Arpeggio
05-07-2014, 10:24 PM
Maybe it's that readers aren't as discerning as I'd like to think they are.

Yes, I can’t see people having the willpower or inclination to be their own detectives at a place like Amazon. It is the complete opposite to its main ethos of convenience.


I'm a cynic.

For most people, the more important something is, the more inconceivable being betrayed is. Therefore people don’t conceive being betrayed. In other words the more important something is, the easier it is to lie about it.

You could take the following statement:

“People who use chat rooms are usually models”

….and people will make a judgment on its validity.

Then compare the following:

“When the motivation is money however, online product reviews are always genuine too.”

…and people will judge it to be valid as though the seriousness of the statement is its own proof.


How to Spot an Amazon Fake Review (http://dmediamom.com/2014/05/06/how-to-spot-a-fake-amazon-review/)

Good tips here. I already look for all these signs.

That’s the best guide I have seen so far. I find most of those guides fairly misleading, such as saying: “don’t trust short reviews” when customers rarely post reviews, so a short one is hardly a stretch of the imagination. Also fake reviewers will be reading those guides to learn from too.

Once!
05-08-2014, 12:21 AM
There is misleading information all around us, whether it is Amazon, Goodreads, Tripadvisor or the dust jackets of traditionally printed books. If you read enough reviews of something it's generally not that hard to start to spot the patterns - whether that is the inflated good reviews, the spiteful bad ones or the honest "it wasn't for me" reviews.

Samsonet
05-08-2014, 03:05 AM
For most pople, the more important something is, the more inconceivable being betrayed is. Therefore people don’t conceive being betrayed. In other words the more important something is, the easier it is to lie about it.

You could take the following statement:

“People who use chat rooms are usually models”

….and people will make a judgment on its validity.

Then compare the following:

“When the motivation is money however, online product reviews are alw ays genuine too.”

…and people will judge it to be valid as though the seriousness of the statement is its own proof.


I don't think I understand what this means........

If it's about how I worded my original post, okay, I suppose it's not a very accurate way of determining fake reviews.

tethys77
05-08-2014, 05:06 PM
You'll never know for sure, but you can plug any given book's sales rank into the calculator and it will tell you how many copies are being sold of that title PER DAY.

If a book has a lot of 4 and 5-star reviews AND its sales rank is pretty consistently high, it's safe to assume that the reviews are all or mostly legit.

aruna
05-08-2014, 06:49 PM
Which calculator?

tethys77
05-08-2014, 09:18 PM
Which calculator?



http://kdpcalculator.com/index.php

Arpeggio
05-08-2014, 10:11 PM
If a book has a lot of 4 and 5-star reviews AND its sales rank is pretty consistently high, it's safe to assume that the reviews are all or mostly legit.

John Locke has been mentioned on the international news for buying fake reviews and is still doing well on Amazon now. Just goes to show that those who don't post their own fake reviews are mugs.

scifi_boy2002
05-08-2014, 10:37 PM
My problem is that I am a little concerned that I have too many good reviews. I worry because people may think that I did some of the reviews myself. I have 4 reviews on amazon, 1 on Barnes & Noble and one on Rambles net. They rate my book from five stars to three. This may sound crazy, but I wouldn't mind a few 2 and 1 stars just to even it out . I'm almost tempted to go on there and give my book a bad review. Now, my cousin did one of the reviews and he gave it a 5 star, though I did not ask him to rate it or even do a review. No doubt he was a bit biased. I suspect the other 5 may be someone I know, though no one one has owned up to it. The rest are probably real reviews. The Rambles site gave me a decent review though they compared it to a sat morning serial (which is actual what I was striving for).

But, to be honest, I don't depend on reviews on deciding on what books to read therefore I don't care if any of them are real or not.

tethys77
05-08-2014, 10:43 PM
John Locke has been mentioned on the international news for buying fake reviews and is still doing well on Amazon now. Just goes to show that those who don't post their own fake reviews are mugs.

I'm pretty sure I saw on Konrath's site (because I wasn't publishing at the time this hit the news so I just had to read the archives) that Locke didn't know he was buying fake reviews, just 'reviews'- similar to the World's Most Expensive Blog Tour. I think he claimed he didn't even know they'd be good reviews.

tethys77
05-08-2014, 10:46 PM
After a while you won't care anymore. When I put my first book up, I flagged an obviously fake 5-star review. I didn't know her but I looked at her profile and she'd been cut and pasting the same one sentence review to everything under the sun and giving them all five stars. I don't know what she thought she was doing. Maybe she thought she could get into the Vine program that way.

Now I just don't worry about it. Once you get other titles out there, it's hard to keep up with all that.

Torgo
05-09-2014, 12:11 AM
I'm pretty sure I saw on Konrath's site (because I wasn't publishing at the time this hit the news so I just had to read the archives) that Locke didn't know he was buying fake reviews, just 'reviews'- similar to the World's Most Expensive Blog Tour. I think he claimed he didn't even know they'd be good reviews.

I'm not entirely sure that it excuses Locke if the excuse is that he didn't know they were going to be 'fake'. For me, a paid Amazon review is a fake review no matter how many stars it has attached to it.

As a consumer I want to see Amazon reviews by people that
(a) paid for the book and were given no other incentive to review it
(b) were not approached to read the book by the author or publisher.
That is, people like myself, the consumer. In those circs it feels like you can divine at least some information from the number and quality of the reviews.

When you start having to factor in (a) and (b), you need to get more and more forensic to get any kind of information out of them. This is fundamentally at odds with the intention of signifiers like the star rating, which becomes far more complex to analyse at a glance if it's being gamed to any extent at all. This is noise, not signal.

tethys77
05-09-2014, 03:54 AM
I'm not entirely sure that it excuses Locke if the excuse is that he didn't know they were going to be 'fake'. For me, a paid Amazon review is a fake review no matter how many stars it has attached to it.

As a consumer I want to see Amazon reviews by people that
(a) paid for the book and were given no other incentive to review it
(b) were not approached to read the book by the author or publisher.
That is, people like myself, the consumer. In those circs it feels like you can divine at least some information from the number and quality of the reviews.

When you start having to factor in (a) and (b), you need to get more and more forensic to get any kind of information out of them. This is fundamentally at odds with the intention of signifiers like the star rating, which becomes far more complex to analyse at a glance if it's being gamed to any extent at all. This is noise, not signal.

I can't imagine at this point it's still a huge issue. Amazon became aware of the companies doing it and shut them out. They also booted many authors who were using the paid review sites.

I think these days anyone who has the thousands of dollars required to buy reviews couldn't get away with buying them. And if review buying is still going on, it's at such a small level that it's really only costing the author money while yielding nothing in return.

How many reviews could you possibly pay for before Amazon smelled a rat? I can't think it would be that many anymore.

It was a thing that happened years ago that isn't an issue any longer, just like people using free to zoom their ratings up shortly after the free promo ended. Amazon changed the algorithm and it's not possible to game that way.

Anyone who is gaming the system now by buying a handful of reviews isn't going to get anywhere in the long run. They won't be able to afford to keep buying multiple reviews and their books will only stay at a bolstered rating for a tad bit longer than they would have anyway and then sink back down like they were always going to.

aruna
05-09-2014, 06:56 AM
The thing is, even hundreds of reviews won't help you if nobody knows of the existence of your book. What matters is visibility.

And I believe that that is much harder to achieve by any kind of gaming-system.
The best thing is to get a book into some kind of a loop where someone who bought a popular book "also bought" yours, so that it is right there on that popular book's page.
The next best thing is to get on the first page of a popular sub-category.

I repeat: good reviews are a wonderful thing to have but useless if your book is invisible.

tethys77
05-09-2014, 06:00 PM
The thing is, even hundreds of reviews won't help you if nobody knows of the existence of your book. What matters is visibility.

And I believe that that is much harder to achieve by any kind of gaming-system.
The best thing is to get a book into some kind of a loop where someone who bought a popular book "also bought" yours, so that it is right there on that popular book's page.
The next best thing is to get on the first page of a popular sub-category.

I repeat: good reviews are a wonderful thing to have but useless if your book is invisible.

I fully agree with this. And in terms of visibility, the need for it is steering authors toward working together and also toward building their social media platform to connect with readers, which can only be a good thing.

aruna
05-09-2014, 08:06 PM
I fully agree with this. And in terms of visibility, the need for it is steering authors toward working together and also toward building their social media platform to connect with readers, which can only be a good thing.


This happened with me -- I don't know how, but somehow my book became linked to another book with the same publisher -- and funnily enough, she's the author whose first book I loved so much it made me check out the publisher in the first place! And so it was great when my book was linked to her second book, and when hers began rising in the UK rankings so did mine, piggyback style, because it was there on her "also bought" list. So there we were, two authors who loved each other's work, and supportive of each other, and both happy to see the other do well. It was, and still is, a mutual support system. We tweet each other's books, link to each other's reviews, etc., and we both profit from it.