Dear Amazon…..

After contacting you about the missing reviews on my books across the board and watching fellow authors and readers post daily about the loss of honest reviews, I feel I need to say one or two things about the sort of replies your are sending out as reasons customers are losing reviews and the ability to review.

Biased reviews.

By this I assume you mean someone who has a love of the author, relationship possibly, or gained in some way to leave a review. Either paid to review, or given a free book. You know something traditional publishers have done for an age and yet you have not touched a single trad published books reviews. I guess being a ‘big’ author means you are less likely to have contact with your minions right? The little people cannot possible know you or be swayed to like you.
I would assume this also covers fans of the author, who follow and read everything that one author puts out? So that now being a fan is classed as biased in case this person may actually ‘love’ your writing style and plot lines? Yet again, only an issue among the self publishing books though, not the thousands and thousands of trad books with hundreds of glowing ‘fan love’ reviews. I assumed when I developed a writing style that getting a fan following was part of the way to succeed. I may have to take a webinar on ‘how to author’ according to Amazon, if that is not the case.

Review manipulation?

By this do you mean having people you know (connected on your accounts?) , read and review your book? Blog tours, bloggers, review teams? Fans? In the trad world they call this marketing, and from what I can see it is only a problem when it’s an indie publisher who takes on the well used methods of long standing big houses like the big 5 publishers. If you do not want us to market and send people to read, review our books, then please tell us how we are supposed to drum up exposure in such a saturated market. Reviews sell, that’s been known in the publishing industry for centuries and is the only way some of us have to get our books out there.

Relationships with the author?

Any connections on social media, or evidence of a friendship, or connection, is being seen as biased opinion? So you are spying and checking who is friends with whom in a rather creepy ‘big brother’ kind of way and assuming all connections on these platforms are suspect. Of course, no one friends celebs they are fan-girling over right? Completely unheard of to send someone you admire or appreciate a request in hopes of being able to bask in their awesomeness. I must quickly go unfriend a few celeb authors who have never actually interacted with me at all, for fear of having a biased relationship with them.

Now a few points you maybe do not understand about the self publishing community that maybe should be considered when making these assumptions. I feel that I need to point these out and highlight this, as your reasons for deletion seem a little out of touch for what we know is the reality of the indie world out there, on the wide vast plain known as social media.

The Indie community

We are a close knit huge group of readers, writers and bloggers combined. Who openly join the same groups, interact and become social media buddies. Yes, some of us actually talk to one another occasionally. Ooooh , send us to jail.
No matter who you are, what your standing is and what you do in the book world, we all connect and add strangers like it’s going out of fashion. Why? Because fans prefer authors who are easy to interact with, who can answer their questions and fuel the love of their books. We also cannot be seen on most platforms unless you are connected in some way. That’s the beauty of millions of untapped possible customers out there. they will only ever see us if we connect, interact or have a reason to be on their timelines.

  • We all friends request one another. It’s what you do when you want to grow your connections and get exposure.
  • Networking is done mostly on social media platforms and is a smart way to network. You are the only company penalising this. I think you need to update your archaic ideas.
  • Authors also read books by other authors. Who knew we could actually read, and yes, we sometimes know one another, but that makes our reviews  more honest. We are not afraid to voice opinions among fellows we respect.
  • We sometimes share fans (shocking I know) and guess what? They can love multiple authors at one time and still not have biased reviews. Being a fan does not mean Insta-love with every book we release. Fans are the ones who are first to tell us if something is crap.
  • Some of us have maxed out our friends ability into the thousands and cannot honestly say we talk to even 15% of them on our profiles, so it’s ridiculous to assume a connection equates to ‘relationship’
  • Bloggers are the bread and butter of small authors, they sell our books for us and do a magnificent job of getting us seen. Stop punishing them for loving books.

The wave of social media platforms means that nowadays your fave writers are within your grasp and you no longer have to admire from afar. You can connect and interact, follow and friend, and it actually boosts exposure. It doesn’t mean we have any sort of deep friendship or relationship with all the people on our accounts. Most never even speak to us at all.
This is the norm and what a lot of people do when trying to integrate into the book world on a deeper level. We encourage this as that’s what book lovers do. They congregate to talk books, share books and their love of books. It’s not a crime. If you spent one day asking your customers, they will tell you their favourite authors are the ones who take the time to be among the ‘normal’ readers and are approachable, down to earth people. Move with the times amazon.

The Indie community are a supportive bunch, but that by NO means takes away from the honesty of the reviews posted online. Readers and bloggers feel very righteous about the implications that being a FB friend or having some vague link to an author means their reviews are BS. You are assuming your customers have no integrity and that book lovers can be swayed by the presence of the author on their accounts, like we are some kind of higher power that should never be critiqued. You obviously have never bothered to join any of the book clubs and realise most readers will happily air dislikes and talk it out with authors to help them improve their books. In fact you have to grow a thick skin being an author in the new wave of easy to contact media. We get some corkers from readers who feel we owe them a higher standard. Sitting behind a device and never seen face to face actually gives them more bravado to air their dislikes. Don’t believe me… go look at any Goodreads reviews in the one star sections. OUCH.

Not to mention a lot of folks have usernames or anonymous accounts that are no way tied to social media profiles. So even if they are connected to an author, we could never guess it was their review. Most authors have pen names too and I bet a lot of the people on their private profiles have no clue it is even the same person. I know most have no clue who I am in book groups.

We have a unique relationship with our community and we are all avid net-workers due to the lack of funds for big marketing schemes like trad houses can afford. That’s what we call smart business advertising, using our tools in any way we can when we can’t pay out the big bucks to compete. We slave away building relationships in the reading community with authors, bloggers, and readers in a  bid to be seen, shared and helped out. Authors help boost authors even if they do not know them.
You are punishing us for managing to sell our books to people we have connected too, even though it’s probably the only way they found us in the first place. Favouritism doesn’t happen because they interact with us… we are ten a penny and most readers have hundreds of authors on their accounts even if they never review or even like their books. Stop punishing us for using social media as it is intended to be used.

As a platform who relies on sales you seem to be shooting yourselves in the foot. You will lose authors who will now deem to go wide and opt out of KDP select or even amazon altogether. Reviewers who will turn to other platforms to buy and review books, and this will have a knock on effect with how much money you make. As a company who seem to be moving into the book world more and more, you should learn that ‘happy author means more sales’. You should be helping us, not hindering us – you are not the only place we can self publish nowadays and I am seeing people cancelling their amazon memberships left, right and center because of this.

Treat your customers as valuable assets. They can and will go elsewhere and the reputation you have been building for years around your Kindle market, will take a dunt and a half if this keeps happening.
The Indie community talk, they band together and they flock like a mob when they feel someone is in the wrong. I mean look at the recent #cockygate debacle. If that is not proof of how this community works then I do not know what is.

Please sort this mess out.

Yours faithfully

A disgruntled Author, Reader AND Blogger.

 

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