I encourage each and every author I know, even the reviews, fans, and followers to write to Jeff@amazon.com a similar letter:
Chief Executive Officer
Dear Mr. Bezos,
I want to thank you for providing such a platform as KDP Publishing and Create Space for authors to self-publish as well as small publishing houses to use print on demand and e-books.
Recently it has come to my attention how harsh the culling of reviews has become. When we, as self-published authors or small publishing houses complain about a review that may have been a little harsh, or the book unread, or someone buys it and returns it in a few hours when they have read the whole thing, we are frequently ignored. When we have faithful followers we will now be punished because you look at our social media friends list, our faithful followers, and decide that these reviews are not earned and remove them.
Personally, I have 4600 followers on Facebook alone. I have another 19,500 on Twitter. I also have 25,200 on my blog. I couldn’t POSSIBLY know EACH and EVERY one of these people. I’m just grateful that the hard work I have put into promoting myself as an author is paying off in the form of faithful readers who help support me by reading my Novels, Novellas, and Short Stories. To find out that their continued support in the form of recommending my books via a review may be stopped is a little alarming. Yes, any system can be abused, we see it every day in the form of those giving bad reviews because they don’t like an author, but if we report it, it can be and frequently is ignored. Not every book or story I write is going to appeal to every reader, that’s the great thing about it though, variety. If I deserve a bad review, I should take it, but if my fans choose to leave me a good one their integrity is questioned?
Yes, some of these fans have become ‘friends’ over the years of my publishing endeavors, but they started as fans, they read my works and the works of my authors, and I encourage everyone to leave a review whenever possible. Now, because they are on my ‘lists’ they may be suspect?
I am also a small publisher, I encourage and in fact teach my authors to promote themselves through social media in the form of blogs, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and any other social media platform that may help them sell a book. Finding readers is easy, keeping them is hard…and when they show that they are faithful fans their reviews are helpful. So a practice whereby your people, your algorithm’s ‘decide’ which reviews stay and which go may not be as good an idea as you might think.
I have to question if this happening to the truly big sellers of books? Do the Danielle Steel fans get monitored for this? How about Johanna Lindsey? Even dead authors like Louis La’Mour or Beatrice Small, are their reviews being monitored? Or are you only targeting newer authors, smaller authors and presses? They couldn’t possibly ‘know’ the millions who follow them, how could I know the tens of thousands who follow me?
I also have another question for you? Is it true it takes 25 or 50 ‘reviews’ before Amazon will ‘promote’ a book in the same genre? If so, then are you watching as 25 or 50 reviews appear instantly on some author’s new releases to make them best sellers? Isn’t this suspicious? When only 1-2 appear at a time you now are suspicious of those? You wish to take away those from these authors?
I, personally, find it a little creepy that now our social media platforms are being ‘watched’ by the giant Amazon to see if we are ‘friends’ with our ‘reviewers’ so that these reviews can be flagged and taken away. How ‘big brother’ of you. Don’t you think there are more important issues to worry about such as the theft of someone’s intellectual work in the form of torrent sites, the targeting of some authors in the form of trolls, or simply, good customer service?
I personally hope that these rumors about these review practices are simply that, rumors and that it won’t happen large scale as it is being stated. It’s a sad day when we can’t even trust that the company we place our works of art in the hands of is now second guessing things, watching out ‘for us’ in a way that is very invasive.
Amazon is a huge company, I understand that. I personally spend hundreds of dollars at your site every year and love its convenience. It scares me though as a writer and publisher that the dollars we count on to earn at your site may be in jeopardy because of some practices that are too intrusive. Please rethink this policy.
K’Anne Meinel, Author
K’Anne Meinel, Publisher of Shadoe Publishing