how authentic are amazon reviews.

This Thing About Authors Going After Reviewers

I’ve been reading this one particular blog post and comment thread about an author who didn’t like a review and the author, whom I don’t know and haven’t read, decided to confront the reviewer, in public, on the reviewer’s blog.

I haven’t read the book in question, and I doubt I will. I’m up to my neck with deadlines for publishers and I’m now beginning to read books for the 2011 Rainbow Awards, which leaves very little time for pleasure reading right now.

I have almost twenty years of experience in dealing with certain aspects of publishing. Rejection is one of them. I’ve learned how not to take it personally and I’ve learned to keep moving forward. Most rejection is subjective and there’s nothing an author can do about that. It is, in fact, nothing personal. But it took years to reach that point…YEARS.

I’ve also had twenty years of experience in dealing with reviews, both good and bad. Frankly, if all my books received three star reviews and nice, quiet comments, I’d be very worried. I’d also be worried if they all received five star reviews. Odd as this may sound, one star reviews aren’t always the worst thing that can happen to an author or a book. It falls under the category of you just can’t please everyone no matter how hard you try…LIFE. And if you’re not pissing someone off, you’re doing something wrong.

When I do receive one star reviews, I never confront a reviewer about it, not in private or in public. First, there’s nothing I can do to change it. Second, it’s just someone’s opinion and I honestly do respect that. And third, it’s all about freedom of speech and everyone has the right to express his or her opinion (I wish they would all stand behind their names when they review, not as anons, but I don’t get to decide that).

I would, however, go after a reviewer for knocking something in a book I wrote that has a social impact. I did it here, in this post. In other words, if I’m writing about an experience as a gay man, and I’m taking this information from my own personal experience and journey as a gay man and a reviewer questions this (or blasts it), I’m not going to sit back and take it. I’ve already done this a few times, and I have no regrets.

But I wouldn’t (never, never) confront a reviewer for simply not liking one of my books. And that’s because I have enough experience to know it’s not the end of my life or the end of my career. And, like I said above, I do respect everyone’s opinion whether they like me or not. I’ve experienced negative reviews from one person on goodreads about one book, and then the same reviewer has given me stellar reviews on goodreads for another book. Again, this falls into the category of subjectivity and there’s nothing an author can do about this but smile and move forward.

There is one thing in particular that I didn’t like about this entire author blasting the reviewer situation…in a general sense. After I finished reading the blog post and the comment thread, where the author in question blasted people on the comment thread, I checked out the author’s reviews on amazon for the book in question. And I was extremely disturbed by what I saw. I saw almost 100 one star, negative reviews. And they all seemed to be based on the author blasting the reviewer in public, not on the author’s book itself. This is scary because it suggests that most of the amazon reviews I read were not based on the fact that these people actually bought the book and read the book. The one star reviews were based on how the author behaved in public when the author went after the reviewer and the people on the comment thread.

I could be wrong about this. I hope I’m wrong about it. Maybe they did all read the book. But if I’m not wrong, it certainly does suggest there might be something wrong with the way people are reviewing books, and ALL products, on web sites like amazon. As far as I know, book reviews on amazon are supposed to be written by people who have bought and read the book, not by people who aren’t happy with how an author deals with a bad review.