After yesterday’s post about amazon’s new reviewing rules which was written in a journalistic manner I wanted to give a more personal post today to sum up how I’m feeling and why I can’t continue reviewing as I was.
Authors I’ve promised reviews for Read this!
Before I start, if you are an author who I’ve agreed to review for please read the following: Given the recent news I found out about amazon US and the rule regarding needing a credit/debit card to review, I will no longer be putting reviews up on amazon.com. I can only now review on amazon UK and Goodreads and of course this blog. For those that have sent physical copies of books I will of course still review your book (but I’m sorry I cannot do it on the US site) but for those who have sent electronic books I will ask whether you still want a review if it doesn’t appear on the US amazon site.
Having to contact every author who’s already contacted me for a review is not only going to be a time consuming but painstaking operation. Many of my recent requests have been with the understanding that a review appears on the US site, in fact one author was only interested in a review there. Not being able to cross post to the US site will upset a lot of people and I just feel terrible in having to say I can’t post there anymore, I am really sorry to all the authors who wanted a review on the US amazon site. I’m sure my review requests will now go down significantly as most authors also put stock into the US amazon site. When I read authors sites, regardless of where they live, they are always excited by the number of reviews on amazon US. Even after my ‘Respect the Reviewer 2’ article was posted explaining the importance of keeping author bios updated on all sites, it’s still clear that most authors just have no care for amazon UK. So I’m really sorry but I know I’m going to disappoint so many authors today :(.
The Effect on Me
The news about reviewing has had a bigger effect on my than I thought. I understand first hand how corrupt the system of reviews is on amazon and how so many abuse it. There was one very prolific reviewer in the UK last year. They had reached the top 10 and posted countless reviews a day. 40+ was regular with some days reaching 100 reviews – yes in a day! Most of their reviews were copy and pasted onto multiple listings of a product. You may have noticed that some products have many listings with foreign versions, old versions all listed as ‘currently out of stock’. Well this reviewer took to posting the same review on all of these copycat listings, just to give them a rise in ranking.
Not only did they post many, many reviews but they made sure their own review for products listed on amazon were always at the top of the product page. They did this creating multiple accounts and voting their own reviews as ‘helpful’ using these accounts, and voting for everyone else’s reviews as ‘unhelpful’, at least until other reviews dropped below theirs.
Several of my colouring book reviews suffered this abuse of down voting when this prolific reviewer took to reviewing colouring books. These were colouring books I had bought, loved and written careful and detailed reviews for. Many people enjoyed my reviews (and I understand if sometimes customers rightly choose to find my review unhelpful) but one day when this reviewer posted up their reviews I incurred anything up to 9 ‘unhelpful’ votes on my review in the space of just an hour. The amazon system rates 1 unhelpful vote as being the equivalent of 3 helpful, so it was like being given 27 unhelpful votes all in one go.
Amazon finally deleted this reviewer’s account when they had started arguing on the forums and had freely admitted to voting positively on their own reviews to avoid troll votes. However it wasn’t the end of this person. They soon re-emerged as another account. They had changed their gender and were writing reviews to climb up the ranking again. I even noticed the alarming similarity to my own reviews, in fact this reviewer had taken to copying my text and style when explaining how a product comes packaged (I usually go into more detail than others and use the same words and phrases so it felt spooky to be reading my own words in another’s review). Soon this account was deleted too but it shows the horrible corruption that has occurred in amazon.
I started out reviewing as a way to help others know about the colouring books and videogames I loved. It was an almost therapy for me having gone through a horrible time, it gave me something to focus on, to take my mind of thinking about the situation. When I started being offered items for review, I thought I would be helping others by giving as honest and unbiased opinion as possible. But being a reviewer who just receives stuff to review has lumped me into the great pile of ‘bad reviewers’. I’ve had unpleasant comments on my reviews, down voting on amazon, and the exchanges between people on the forums is getting unpleasant. It’s made my whole outlook on reviewing feel bleak and unrewarding.
Even though I focus now on book reviews, I know a lot of people and authors will be disappointed and may not even want a review from me anymore given I cannot post it on amazon US.
So it’s probably no surprise by the tone of this post that I feel more depressed than I want to or can cope with right now. Every time something good seems to happen I then encounter a bunch of setbacks: a ‘friend’ author who left me feeling an idiot, an attack on facebook and now this. I’ve even noticed an obvious drop off in the number of people visiting my blog – statistically similar to March/April where I didn’t such a following yet. Even more depressing is the fact I’ve agreed to run two giveaways in November and December and it makes me wonder if there’d be anyone even interested in entering them.
I’m really sorry to leave this post on such a low note. I’ve updated my review submissions page as well as my amazon profile to reflect the fact I’m no longer reviewing in the US and I’ve already decided to stop reviewing any more products on amazon (bar the ones that are still being delivered). I’m sure plenty of people are happy for amazon to be taking a stand like this, in fact my views on all this are probably wrong. It’s been less than a whole year since I started blogging, nearly two years I’ve reviewed things on amazon, and I just feel drained. Of course I’ll still review all the books I’ve been sent, and give my usual honest opinion. But right now I’m struggling to decide whether I should continue to review them in the future. I’m sorry everyone 😦
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