What I’ve Learned About Authors This Month

I don’t like to think of myself as naive. I don’t believe the world is made up of rainbows and unicorns. I look at the world around me in an honest and real light. I see the good as well as the dangers. I know people are shady creatures, but what I’ve learned about authors in the last month makes me think I need to paint the world around me a shade darker. I’m seeing it in a light that’s just a bit too positive.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when my twitter and facebook feeds began to fill up with posts about authors who post fake reviews of their books on sites such as Amazon in order to boost sales. They set up fake ‘sock-puppet’ accounts so they can post reviews under different names. Apparently they’ve been doing this for quite some time. Sadly, I knew about this. I’ve never done it, but I have read articles on the matter before. It’s a low-down and dirty thing to do. But apparently there’s something even lower and dirtier that authors can do and they’ve been doing it.

Authors have been buying reviews. Fake reviews. Reviews by people who’ve never even read the book.

Before I go any further let me say this. Reviews are super important to authors. It doesn’t just help the reader decide whether or not to buy the book. It helps the author learn what he/she is doing wrong or right. Furthermore, there are advertising sites in which the author pays money to advertise that their book is on sale or free. In order to do this, they have to meet certain criteria. Mainly, they have to have a certain number of reviews for the book to be advertised. So in that regard, I can kind of see what might drive a writer to do such a thing. BUT I think it’s a dirty shame that they do it.

I had no idea this was happening. I walk amongst the writers, some famous, some not, and never even suspected that this was an issue. I’ve often wondered how authors get so many reviews so quickly when it’s all I can do to get reviews for my work. Not every reader is willing to give up a minute of their time to review a book. Yet some authors just seemed to be doused in them. Their books would come out on the first of the month, and by the end, they’d have hundreds — sometimes thousands — of reviews. It left me scratching my head and wondering how. What was I not doing that they were doing? Why didn’t my books have as many reviews as theirs? Now I know. They were buying fake reviews. Not all authors do this (at least I don’t think, though I’m now doubting everything I thought I knew) but a lot do, and some of them are authors I’ve admired for a long time. At least I DID admire them. I can no longer do that. I can’t admire someone who’s faking it. I just can’t.

As if the fake reviews weren’t enough, in light of Tom Clancy’s passing, I learned that he, as well as James Patterson, don’t even write all their own books. What?! Yes. Apparently, they have other people — unnamed ghostwriters — write their stories for them and just slap their name on the cover. Again, I was shocked and appalled to learn this is happening. Earlier this year, I was wondering how in the world James Patterson could possibly have written and published 11 novels last year. Now I know. He didn’t. I don’t know if he wrote any of them. I’d like to think he did, but then again I’d also like to think that he writes all of his own books.

My mind is reeling at the things I’ve learned in the last month. It scares me to think of what else I don’t know. How many other big name authors aren’t really writing their own books? How many others are buying fake reviews or posting reviews of their own work under false names?

I will say this though. I have NEVER, not ever, posted a fake review for any of my works. I have no intention of ever doing so. I’ve also NEVER bought a fake review. I’ve offered free books in lieu of an honest review which is a common practice in this business (hence advanced reader’s copies of novels), but I have and would never pay someone to write a review, especially knowing that they won’t even read the book. No. Not gonna happen. I want honest reviews from real readers. Not some phony review I bought from fiverr.com. And even though this should go without saying, I write all my own books. Always have, always will.

I plan to make it to the top of this heap of authors one day, and when I do I want to be able to say that I made it honestly. I didn’t fake my way up, I didn’t buy my way in, and I didn’t sell out to anyone or anything to get there.

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About Kimberly A Bettes

I whittle away the minutes of my life by entertaining myself with various projects and people. One thing is certain. I'm never bored. I also write stuff and take pictures of things.

Posted on October 9, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Couldn’t have said it better myself. I noticed this trend across Twitter. I was appalled and angry!! Why were these books getting such awesome reviews? I read the book, it was awful and full of MANY mistakes. Mistake after mistake. Yet, they had 100’s of 5 star reviews. Here I was getting slammed with 1 star reviews. I realized once someone gives you a 1 star review and the ending to your story, it opens a flood gate for others to do so.
    So I wondered how these other authors were getting so many 5 star reviews when I knew in my heart they didn’t deserve it. That’s when I came across some Twitter folks offering such service. It sickened me. I believe I even make a comment on my Twitter on now I was disgusted with those writers.
    I’m glad you shed some light on this!

  2. These practices are unfortunately not new. Theyve featured in the publishing world and other adjacent fields for at least a couple of centuries now, evidence I think that survival in the intellectual snake-pit requires a peculiar brand of ruthlessness to which talent and ability are of relatively minor importance.

    I suppose it furthers the evolution of the species, I don’t know. I would like to imagine that brilliance is rewarded with success, rather than made a target of predators and acquisitors, but I’m not so sure.that’s the way it happens.

  3. Here’s what happened to me. I’d appreciate some advise on this.

    I saw an author tweeting about his book. I looked at the book on Amazon, and decided to buy it. There were no reviews on it at that time. I tweeted to him that I bought it and would review it when done.

    When I got around to reading it, it was just about unreadable. But I said I would read it and I did, all of it. I would normally not read such a book all the way through, but I said I would. I never would give someone a one star review. This was so bad that I thought I would message him instead.

    Then I looked to see if anyone had left a review. There they were. Four five star reviews and one one star. None of those five star peeps mentioned anything that actually took place in the book. They could not have read it if they failed to mention the lesbian sex and the incest. Nowhere in those reviews was there any warning about sex scenes. None were in the description of the book either. That’s the author’s fault.

    So I looked at his other books and the same people gave him five star reviews on all his books. Nothing specific to tie in to the book.

    Now I really want to blast him with a one star and let every one know about
    the fake reviews. But that would not reflect well on me. I’m proud of my “clean & family type” online presence.

    What should I do? At the very least people should be warned about the content.

    • I think you should do it. I normally wouldn’t encourage something like that, but in this case, I think it’s called for. Clearly, 1 of 3 things is happening. Either he has set up fake accounts to leave his own reviews, his family members are leaving the reviews for him, or he has paid for reviews through sites such as fiverr.com (this is the most likely scenario since the reviews don’t mention things from the book). If the book is that bad, people need to know so they can make an informed decision before spending their money on the book. That’s what reviews are for. So I say do it. And I think it’s great that you stuck with your word and finished the book. You’re a great reader. 🙂

  1. Pingback: Calling All Authors, Editors, and Cover Designers! | Paige Nolley - Writer

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