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Monday 3 September 2012

The Problem of Reviews

As an indy author publishing on Kindle, I know very well the power reviews have in the selling of a book. Having a bad review that slates your narrative, your dialogue, your plot, basically trashing months and months of graft in the space of a single paragraph, can mean that your book is doomed, even if the slating is totally unwarranted. On the flip side, a five star review that heaps praise upon a possibly rather shaky work can see it soaring up the charts.
It's a cruel business, because anyone can write a review, anonymously, with or without even reading the book. As such, as a buyer I've learned to treat reviews with scepticism, but for many they're still what clinches the deal.
An example of the abuse of the review system is playing out in the news today, with one of my favourite authors being forced to apologise after being exposed as a review cheat. Using various false names, RJ Ellory has apparently been posting reviews, glowing ones for his own works, terrible ones for the works of his rivals. If it's true then it's a thoroughly despicable thing to do. Selling books is hard enough, without fellow authors conspiring to derail your efforts by underhand means. It's cheating. No other word for it.
The good news is that a story such as this exposes the inherent problems with the review system. I just wish it hadn't been an author I've admired so much that had been caught.
Telegraph RJ Ellory Story

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