Friday, 30 November 2012

How to Defeat a Dragon

Do you know Smaug the dragon's one weakness? Well, his other weakness then? It's reviews.

Smaug absolutely loathes reviews, hates them with a fiery passion (especially positive ones). So much so, they make him bang his head against walls and tear his armoured scales off!

What's the up shot of this? If you want to help Thorin, Bilbo and company defeat Smaug the dragon, please leave me a review!

Okay, so I may have a slight case of Hobbit fever. Sue me! ;)

If the rest of this post doesn't interest you, please skip to the gratuitous Hobbit pic spam below.

Seriously though, reviews are one of a writers best selling tools, but the biggest and best site for reviews (Amazon) appears to have put a rather overzealous commuter program to use, trying to weed out untrue reviews. A few examples are the ones authors (such as John Locke) pay to be written, those left by friends, family and (as hit the newspapers headlines his year) author sock-puppet accounts. Quite how this program works, no one knows because Amazon won't tell. I can't even begin to fathom how you can tell which reviews were paid for and which weren't. From what I can gather though, reviews from people who live in the same genera zipcode/postcode area as the author, seem to be classified as friends of the author and bahleted with prejudice.

And it isn't just books, this applies to all products sold on Amazon and there are many, many customers who took the time to compose these reviews who are pretty angry too

Unfortunately this doesn't apply to malicious 1 star reviews, as it's assumed authors didn't leave themselves negative reviews. Never mind the person who left 1 star reviews on two different books of mine; she is not a verified purchase, openly admits in the review that she hasn't read the book and is basing the 1 star solely on my cover art! WTF man! Never judge a book by its cover!!! (Thorin is trying to track her down as we speak but so far, he hasn't had any luck).

However some decent reviews, mostly left by people I have ever heard of, are disappearing! To find out why, Amazon has told us that we have to contact the reviewer and ask them to ask Amazon why their review was removed. I can't even remember their user names to contact them (part of the whole 'having dyslexia' thing), so I must remain ignorant about why my reviews went. I'm lucky really, some people have been badly hit, losing dozens of reviews

Thorin Oakenshield LOVES reviewers!!!
Now if I were JK Rowling, with thousands of reviews on every book, it wouldn't matter so much but when you're an indie author like me, who's books only have between 4 and 10 reviews, losing even one decent review can knock down your whole average and badly affect sales.

So please, this Christmas, if you have ever read one of my books, please consider stopping by Amazon and leaving an honest review. If you don't know what to say, maybe read a couple of other reviews to get some ideas, but there is no right or wrong way to review. A review only has to be 20 words long, which is less than the average tweet, so I'm not really asking a lot here, am I?

Below are the links to my Amazon author pages, where you can quickly and easily find links to all my books.

My Amazon UK Author Page
My Amazon US Author Page

I've said for a long time now that Amazon needs to change it's review system as it's so open to abuse, but I would suggest a system like the IMDb employs (which is also an Amazon company). On there you can leave a review if you want to, or you can just give a film a star rating out of ten. If you look at any film or TV show, you will see that the star ratings have hundreds, often thousands more votes than people who have left written reviews. Don't ask me why but even composing 20 words seems too much for some people, however they are much more inclined to leave a simple star rating. I think that is a much fairer system, as the sheer numbers of ratings make the overall score much more accurate not to mention, harder to sway with either positive or negatively bias reviews.

Goodreads already employs such a system, which is a much better idea than Amazon's overzealous program.

Thank you for your time, please enjoy the gratuitous Hobbit pic spam below. (click to enlarge images)

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