There’s a thing going on at Amazon, and I didn’t notice it till late November. Amazon are taking down reviews that appear to be swaps, i.e. you review my book and I’ll review yours. In some cases, they’ll even take the books down.
The issues and problems are very well covered in this post (and further links) by Jo Robinson (whose blog I had never visited before) The Amazon Review Policy Elephant in the Room which was in turn reblogged by the Story Reading Ape, or I wouldn’t have seen it at all. He’s recently done his own post on the subject here.
As you know, I review the books I read. I get them from lots of sources, and some of them are ARCs provided by publishers or authors. I usually state as much. I need to state that in my reviews on Amazon and see if that has any effect. I tend not to publish reviews on anything I would give less than three stars to, which got me into trouble on Goodreads, where some teen readers pointed out that for Goodreads, 3 stars is ‘I liked’ it, 2 is ‘it’s okay’, whereas, frankly, I think 2 stars means it’s not good at all.
Which makes me think I should revise my personal star system, as I do get crammed up the 4 and 5 star end.
So, on here, my ratings from 2016 onwards reflect (or should reflect) the Goodreads tags:
1 I didn’t like it
2 it was okay
3 I liked it
4 I really liked it
5 It was amazing
There are a number of things I dislike about this – because the chance of my describing a book as ‘amazing’ is vanishingly small. The chance of me finishing a book I don’t like and also reviewing it, is also tiny. I’ve been reading a bookclub book I didn’t like, but I appreciate it’s well written, so it got a 2 stars from me. So will I ever actually give anything other than 3 and 4 stars?
In general Amazon stars will be 3, 4 or 5, because Amazon have a different list where 3 is more like ‘it was okay’. I give 5 stars to books I think were really good. But as we said above, Amazon is now a minefield, and the only thing I hope is that by continuing to review books by well-known authors and also by buying ebooks by indies and reviewing them, Amazon will decide my reviews are genuine and not ‘swapsies’.
So, if you want me to review your books, I’m not going to take ARCs anymore. I’m going to watch for those special 99c offers and buy them. Or put the reviews up elsewhere.
Maybe I should think about doing 99c launch prices and put them to sensible prices after a week – or a month?