Thursday, March 13, 2014

March 13th

Hi, it’s Christina –

They said cold and wicked wind, no one mentioned anything about snow showers! MAKE IT STOP!!!! Please!!!

I did hear from Lys several times yesterday and already today. They are getting positively hammered in Burlington. Classes were suspended yesterday around three, and her classes this morning were cancelled as well. As of ten this morning, the snow was still coming down hard, and they already have over eighteen inches on the ground. Good Grief!

The blog is a little late this morning because I was up on one of my soapboxes fighting a battle, a battle I’m not sure all of you know about, so I am going to give you a little background as well as a copy of a post I made this morning.

As many of you do know, Amazon is the premier place if you have a book to sell. Your standings on Amazon are based on sales, of course, but they are also based on the almighty review. Together the two are plugged into some mysterious calculation which determines your placement on the food chain, a placement which can fluctuate on a minute by minute basis.

Some folks, who Amazon authors have dubbed “The Trolls”, are purposely posting scathing review in order to bring down Indie (self or small publisher) authors rankings. However, Indie authors aren’t the only ones outraged by this. We actually have a “big gun” fighting the good fight along with us; world renowned author, Anne Rice. She is currently in support of a petition to make Amazon change their review policy. I have signed this petition, and I have also spoken out in defense of authors who have been attacked by the trolls.

The proposed fix the petition offers is for Amazon to disallow anonymous reviews and for them to actually verify the person making the review is a living breathing person who has actually read the book or used the product they are reviewing. Below is the comment I made on one of the countless discussions on the subject – this one happened to be asking the reviewer their opinion on the proposed name disclosure (needless to say, they were not overjoyed with the proposal).

There is one small flaw here. The folks who commented above obviously are not the perpetrators or abusers. 

“Thankfully I have not been the victim of "the trolls", but I have seen other authors who have been. (I'm one of those quirky people who reads ALL the reviews on books I may be interested in.) Some attacks are rather viscous and are directed directly at the author and have nothing to do with the book itself; so it really doesn't have anything to do with the author being thin skinned.

“In one instance, a reviewer gave the book a one star review, and in that review had the unmitigated gall to give away the ending of the book - it was a mystery novel. Yes, I am an author, but I do not know all the other authors out there, and I did not know this particular author, but I jumped to her defense and replied to the reviewer. I told the reviewer she had every right to give the book a bad review if that was the way she truly felt, but she had no right to spoil the ending for all the other potential readers. Then, after a little digging, I found similar instances where the same thing happened, so this wasn't an isolated incident, just another well disguised form of an attack.

“If you ignore the names and just read the reviews, you will see they are written by the same handful of people - the words they choose and their phrasing are the tells. I read one author's one star reviews and it was so blatantly obvious two of the four reviews were written by the same person even though the user name was different. 

“I think the real issue is Amazon figuring out a way to weed out these bullies. They have built in algorithms to detect everything under the sun, somehow I'm pretty sure there is one out there to recognize recurring phrasing and word selection and to cross reference it across user names and multiple review. 

“I would suggest only allowing "verified purchases" to be allowed to post reviews, but I fear it would be a short time before the trolls figured out a way to circumvent the system (like purchasing and immediately returning, which would open a whole new can of worms).

“I am all for giving, and actually for receiving, one or two star reviews - if they are warranted. Don't get me wrong, five star reviews are an incredible ego boost, but if I want to grow as a writer, it's the less than stellar reviews which help the most. However, if it is obvious the review didn't even bother reading the story they are reviewing or they are posting multiple bad review using different user names, then they need to be stopped.

“Yes, this was rather long winded, and in the end I have no viable solution to offer up, so, for that, I apologize. Luckily, shoppers are becoming much more savvy and they take both the five star and the one star reviews with a grain of salt. Let's hope Amazon figures out a way to remedy the situation.”

Well, since this blog was rather long winded as well, I shall forego today’s writing challenge. I did not complete my edits on Corporate Blues yesterday, so I will be spending the remainder of my day doing that and writing the blurb for the back of the book. Then tonight I have to go to a Boy Scout meeting; my “nephew” Christopher is becoming a life member.

Until tomorrow. I hope y’all have a wonderful day, and happy writing!