Tuesday, July 19, 2016


I've spoken about reviews of books before at various times, so maybe this isn't news, but I am frustrated.  Our genre is lucky to have a great many talented authors working in it.  They have provided some amazing books.  Unfortunately, there are people who seem intent on driving those people away.

In my time at Amazon, I have seen an incredible number of unfair reviews posted against quality authors.  I've seen reviewers lie about the contents of books.  I've seen them allege plagiarism where the authors made it clear they were re-writing an older book with the consent of the other author.  I've seen trolls who just go down the list posting one star reviews on the books of every author they can find.

Just as bad, I've seen people leave reviews that were generally positive but then slam the book with one or two stars.  I've seen reviews written by people who wanted the book to have a different ending and give out one star reviews as punishment for not getting what they wanted rather than speaking to what the book was.  I've seen people attack books because they were longer or shorter than the books they normally bought, even though the page counts can be seen before purchase.  I've seen people go through an author's catalog leaving one/two star reviews on book after book while complaining about how much they hate the author... so why keep buying all the books of an author you hate?

I think there are a lot of psychological problems behind much of this.

The problem is, though, that this is damaging for our entire community.  How?  I know two authors who have stopped writing because they got unfair negative reviews and no one seemed to stand up and post a counter review saying, "This is just not so."  I know quality authors who have become indifferent to putting out more books because they know they will get slammed by someone no matter how good their book is.  I know one author who wrote one of my favorite books but left our genre because this doesn't happen as much in other genres.  That's our loss, not his/hers.

If we don't want to lose more amazing authors, then people need to start leaving positive reviews when they find books they like.  Don't let the trolls and the people who make themselves happy by tearing others down decide for you what you can read.

Thanks for listening.


Anonymous said...

I sympathise with what you are saying Anne and I think part of the problem is with the amazon review system which I think puts people off leaving reviews. As far as I can see when you click into a reviewers profile it shows all of their reviews of everything whether it be books or gardening equipment or video games. You may wish to steer people in the direction of your reviews of the latter without them being aware that you are into the former. I leave ratings on goodreads but not reviews on amazon for that reason, if you could simply leave an anonymous rating then I would. I think the best authors such as yourself have followings that are not put off by bad ratings as people have read your previous books and can see the trolls for what they are. For others I think the best way to combat these sorts of troll reviews is to leave larger preview samples on the look inside feature so people can see that criticisms about books being incoherent etc are untrue. Not sure what makes people leave this kind of review but even on fiction mania where the books are free there seem to be any number of really spiteful people leaving horrible feedback. Also some feedback, not aimed at you, as you always deliver very good value stories but to some other authors is they really need to stop making what ought to be one book into two and effectively charging double for what ought to be a single product, it's the easiest way to alienate people from buying your books as they feel like they are being fleeced.

AnnMichelle said...

Thanks for the comment!

I agree with you. I think it would be easier for the world of erotica if people could leave reviews at Amazon without them appearing on their regular homepage. I get a lot of emails from people who say they can't leave reviews because they don't want people seeing what they read, and I very much understand that. Right now, Amazon has stopped letting you see all the reviews on people's pages, but it seems random. I'm not sure what they are doing there.

In terms of readers ignoring trolls, mine definitely do. I have occasionally had books harmed by reviews, but nothing too serious. But I also have a very thick skin too. (You should see some of the truly nasty emails I get! lol) The problem is that a lot of good authors don't have a thick skin, especially in a genre like this which is necessarily much more personal than something like a spy novel. A lot of ourselves goes into these books and many authors do feel very exposed when they put out a book. So negative reviews can be painful or feel unjust. And I do know several authors who have quit after finding their books repeatedly unfairly attacked and no one really standing up to help them.

On breaking books in two, I very much agree. There are authors out there who put out whole series of books that don't combine into much more than a short story when they're all put together. I don't think that's fair.

For me personally, I try to write stories in the 30k word range. I've found that to be a good range to tell the stories I like to tell -- other authors write shorter stories and some like longer stories, and there's nothing wrong with either, I just personally like my stories in this range. Some of my stories have gone as high as 45k as a single book.

Lately though, I've been running into stories that just seem to grow as I write them. These end up 70-80k words total. They also typically have a natural break where the story changes and essentially becomes a second story, even if it is a continuation. Those are the ones that end up as two parters for me.

As a general rule, I think it's fair for an author who normally publishes books of X length to break a particular story into parts if each part is at least X long or longer.

Interestingly, every author I've talked to about the multi-part series has said that they sell better than their other books. Not sure why.