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Topic: Authors & Negative Reviews on Amazon

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Subject: Authors & Negative Reviews on Amazon
Date Posted: 3/24/2008 1:15 PM ET
Member Since: 1/5/2008
Posts: 140
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I often read through Amazon customer reviews looking for new books.  Sometimes I've noticed fishy reviews, but for the most part trusted that lots of glowing reviews generally equalled a decent read.   Now I'm not so sure....

So, based on the great reviews I ordered A Restless Knight (The Dragons of Challon, Book 1) (Paperback)
by Deborah MacGillavray.  It actually was a decent read, but then noticed there was a whole discussion about negative book reviews being pulled!

I have to admit it really bothered me.  In fact I kinda feel dirty for even owning a book by her now!  I certainly don't want to buy any more books by her.  It just seems so manipulative for an author to force Amazon to delete their negative reviews!  I mean, certainly Amazon needs to run a business, but still!

What are your thoughts?

 

 

 

Date Posted: 3/24/2008 1:57 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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There's definitely a lot of fishy issues at Amazon reviews, but I wouldn't assume that MacGillavray herself forced them to do anything.  Though some authors do outright use their fan base to manipulate the system and she may have done that.

Date Posted: 3/24/2008 2:06 PM ET
Member Since: 8/31/2005
Posts: 3,730
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Yea it could go either way. She could just have a group of fans or are doing it without her knowledge, or she herself can't handle the reviews.

Date Posted: 3/24/2008 2:14 PM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2008
Posts: 2,553
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I think MacGillavray does do this. Not only with her own books, but of other authors she is associated with. MacGillivray does write her own reviews for books on amazon.com, she has a whole profile set up for herself as a reviewer. I wrote a negative review of one of Dawn Thompson's works that ended up deleted (it was a professional review, nothing crass), and noticed other negative reviews under Thompson's other books disappearing as well. I have a hard time buying when an author has nothing but 5 stars from the same few reviewers on every book. I think MacGilllvray does manipulate the review system on amazon, when it comes to herself and her favorite authors, or authors she is personally friends with. (which her profile shows Thompson is a favorite, plus I noticed she has reviewed each book thompson has). I wrote amazon's customer service about the problem but only got a form email in reply. I too noticed the discussion on amazon and figured someone else can take up the cause. I will not be purchasing any of the author's work, however.



Last Edited on: 3/24/08 2:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/24/2008 2:39 PM ET
Member Since: 1/5/2008
Posts: 140
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Sarah - that's what I was concerned about too.  One of the other people on that thread I posted above had a similar issue . And even in looking back over the reviews of some books you'll notice tons of other authors have reviewed it, kinda like there was a ring of friends reviewing each other's books.

I think more than anything I feel manipulated, which bothers me.  My issue isn't about her books, since I felt like the one book I did read was enjoyable - but I hate the feeling of having one pulled over on me!

Date Posted: 3/24/2008 2:50 PM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2008
Posts: 2,553
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Yeah, it irks me that an author has the audacity to screw with customer reviews. These are people that put money in your pocket to read your book and have a right to share if they liked it or not.

Date Posted: 3/24/2008 2:51 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2006
Posts: 673
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never noticed the author before that thread but I have been doing some googling about the author since then.

it's obviously the author herself that is behind the shenanigans.

 

1. she has a large presence on amazon so she knows what is going on with her reviews 24/7.

2. she is a little known, minor author. why would she have 57 reviews on her book unless the majority of the reviews are the result of spamming from friends?

3. I have read posts on blogs of some of her author friends that this author gives them advise on how to manipulate things on amazon to work for them. Google the authors name plus "amazon" and you will find the posts.

 



Last Edited on: 3/24/08 2:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/24/2008 2:52 PM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2007
Posts: 8,942
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I saw this happen with an author (exercise book) who has discussion forum that she hosts.  There were posts on the forum about negative reviews of the book, and how we all needed to complain to Amazon and get them removed.  I found it very underhanded.

ETA - it wasn't the author or her staff posting the thread about removing the reviews.  It was one of her scarily loyal followers.

 



Last Edited on: 3/24/08 2:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/24/2008 4:28 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I've stopped reading reviews because they usually give away too much of the book.  The only time I read them now is if I can't find a book description. 

I ended up sending out some unread books by Cindy Holby because the reviews gave major events in the plot away. Ruined it for me. 

Date Posted: 3/24/2008 4:28 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2006
Posts: 173
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I pretty much ignore reviews on Amazon because I find it totally unbelievable that everyone absolutely loves every book (slight exageration, but close).  I may look there to see if there is some hint on content or plot, but that's about it.  I prefer to use likesbooks.com for solid, realistic reviews, including critical ones when necessary.  Most sites that have reviews seem to either 1) praise everything or b) gives little more than the back blurb as a review. 

Date Posted: 3/24/2008 4:35 PM ET
Member Since: 12/6/2006
Posts: 623
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I use you all as reviewers.  Occasionally, I'll look at Barnes and Noble.  I order through Amazon though, because our rescue gets credit if we go through our website.

Date Posted: 3/24/2008 4:54 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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Well, I think that totally sucks.  Does anyone have a link to this discussion?  I'd like to read it.  And I think, how petty.  She's so thin-skinned that she can't tolerate some negative reviews on Amazon?  If her books suck that bad, those wouldn't be the only negative reviews she'd be getting.  And Amazon?  Criminy.  Like anybody ever reads those reviews and takes them as the gospel on anything.  I certainly don't.  Books I think are good can get 1 or 2 stars, and books that I think suck can get 5.  It's completely unreliable anyway.  Nice scandal fodder though.  I'd like to see smartbitches or somebody get ahold of it:P

Date Posted: 3/24/2008 5:27 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2006
Posts: 5,498
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Deborah McGillivray joined a Yahoo internet discussion group I'm on and the ONLY thing she contributed was plugs for her own books.  I can't recommend her at all after being exposed to her.

Sherri

Date Posted: 3/24/2008 5:28 PM ET
Member Since: 1/5/2008
Posts: 140
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Kim - there's a link in the top post - but here it is again:  http://www.amazon.com/tag/romance/forum/ref=cm_cd_ef_tft_tp?%5Fencoding=UTF8&cdForum=FxM42D5QN2YZ1D&cdThread=Tx1GBYID02K3VTS&displayType=tagsDetail

I guess I've learned a valuable lesson about trusting online reviews, maybe even in general from people I don't know!

There was a guy on myspace who added me some time ago and was an author. He sent me a whole long message about himself and his book.   We messaged a few times, but it was clearly just a plea to get me to buy his book . But - then upon looking further he'd created a bunch of his own reviews on sites since the way he worded things and the style was too similar to be different users.  It honestly kinda cracked me up, but it was also  kinda sad. The funniest part is that he in several reviews mentioned the "author is so dishy"  ROFL. 

his myspace:  http://www.myspace.com/waynesharrocks 

here's him trying to pretend to be different people:  lol http://www.whitbyonline.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?p=852&

 

 

Date Posted: 3/24/2008 5:29 PM ET
Member Since: 9/2/2007
Posts: 543
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I participate in the romance forums on amazon and I remember this thread. It was posted by a person who reviewed this book (A Restless Knight) and she talked about how she had written a negative review twice and got it deleted twice. Finally, she posted it a third time and to my knowledge it's still up. I have never read this author, and I was stunned and angered to find that people are doing these things. Apparently, this author does have a presence on Amazon (a profile and she participates in the romance forums there sometimes) and she does have some sort of following that has posted almost all 5 star reviews that skews the average ratings to the positive. I think her reviews for her books are all 4.5 and 5 stars on average because of this. For the most part, I trust the amazon reviews. I know most people are like me, posting their honest opinions with no ulterior motive. I write reviews to help others determine whether it's a book they may want to read. Of course, these types of behaviors concern me because it's obvious that there are people out there writing reviews with an agenda in mind.=P
Date Posted: 3/24/2008 5:43 PM ET
Member Since: 8/31/2005
Posts: 3,730
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Well that is just crappy. I have one of her books and now I don't want it. I think someone needs to tell her to stop writing if she can't handle it.

Date Posted: 3/24/2008 5:52 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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I don't know, I read a really bad one the other day on a Susan Johnson book, and the reviewer said in her review that she didn't even read the book.  Another one, on one of Marsha Canham's books - Across a Moonlit Sea - threw a fuss fit about whether Elizabeth I was even the true queen by right of succession, and blah-blah-blah, said it was overwhelmingly anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish, and then rated it 1star.  These are the sort of reviews I mean.  I think they're largely unreliable - some are even laughable.  I'd rather get them from AAR or TRR, where I'm reasonably certain they're unbiased and honestly written.  The Amazon reviews are a good thing in theory, I just don't think it's a very reliable source.



Last Edited on: 3/24/08 5:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/24/2008 6:06 PM ET
Member Since: 7/10/2006
Posts: 673
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well, I try not to let the amazon reviews influence what I buy but half the time, AAR or TRR or Mrs Giggles dont have reviews of the older, more obscure romances. Sometimes, you cant even find a summery or backblurb of the book.

That's why the majority of my amazon reviews are of books that have less than 10 reviews. And I give out spoilers if I feel it's needed for the buyer to make an informed decision on a book.



Last Edited on: 3/24/08 6:07 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/24/2008 11:06 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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Yeah, that IS true.  You go back so far, and sometimes Amazon reviews are about all that's out there.

Date Posted: 3/24/2008 11:31 PM ET
Member Since: 10/9/2007
Posts: 812
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I have noticed that there are shameless self-promoters out there.  I enjoyed looking through the "Listmania!" listings for romance novels.  There were several that gave rave reviews about a book called "Unforgettable" by Frederick A. Babb.  I ordered it, and it was the worst piece of garbage that I have ever attempted to read.

It is one of those self-published or published on demand books.  It had horrible grammar, spelling, and syntax.  I have never in my life thrown a book in the trash until I got a hold of this one.

The thing that is so amusing is the hokey reviews that either this guy or his lame friends dreamed up.  And they are all "top reviewers".  I think that Amazon ratings are a joke.  The only people that are "top reviewers" are people with waaaayyy too much time on their hands, IMO. 

I only tend to read reviews from literary sources like "Bookmarks" magazine, or even blogs by other readers.

Date Posted: 3/25/2008 10:12 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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I went back & read a lot of this drama over a couple of threads.  I have to say I'll boil in oil before I buy a MacGillavray book now.  From the looks of it, there's pretty solid evidence that she indulges in this sort of petty behavior.  I was really appalled at her apparent rationalization that bad reviews are a threat to her livelihood, and therefore she has a right to use whatever means at her disposal to censor the people who write them.  Wth?  How bizarre is that?  If there was no internet, would she be getting her posse to write nasty letters to all of the newspapers who ran negative reviews of her work?  She needs a pill:P



Last Edited on: 3/25/08 10:14 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/25/2008 11:28 AM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2006
Posts: 670
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I started to get suspicious of MacGillavray a while back when I realized that she wrote 5-star reviews for every Anne Suart book I looked at on Amazon.  I love Stuart, too, but it looked fishy so I checked out her other reviews and realized that she 5-starred every book by certain other authors, too.  So now I don't even bother reading her reviews, and since I know now that she likely manipulates her own reviews I will not buy her books, either.

Katrina

 

Date Posted: 3/30/2008 8:40 PM ET
Member Since: 9/2/2007
Posts: 543
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Kim I think by and large, most reviews (positive or negative) are written by honest ordinary people like you and me. It's those bad apples that give people that bad taste in their mouth. I dismiss reviews that give one liners like "I loved this book!" or "This book belongs in the trash!" and especially reviews where the person didn't finish it or they don't even review the book itself but go off on tangents. I also don't bother to take seriously the reviews written by professionals or those that received the book from the author or publisher. I try to review books I read, and to give an honest opinion of what I liked/disliked, whether I give it negative or positive review.
Date Posted: 3/31/2008 6:12 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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Here's a link to a magazine article on the topic. There's also an interesting discussion on this topic at historicalfiction.org.

Date Posted: 3/31/2008 10:07 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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VERY interesting article, Genie.  Thanks for posting the link.

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