Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

Romance is good for your heart!

Authors Beware: There are Sharks in the Water & Their Teeth Are Sharp!

Posted on Aug 3, 2016 by Lisa Ricard Claro   18 Comments | Posted in The Naked Truth

bitmoji-1987713694The flurry of activity surrounding the release of LOVE TO WIN has mostly settled to a manageable hullabaloo. There is still stuff upcoming, of course—blog blitz, FB giveaways, etc. But the big bullhorn announcement and release of virtual confetti is done. The early feedback has been terrific. My book has already kept a couple of people up all night reading, and a few have confessed to crying big, fat, ugly tears. Always a good sign. 🙂

I probably should have thrown a Facebook release party. Those things are hugely popular, and they do a good job of introducing authors to new readers. The reason I opted out is because there are just so many Facebook release parties already. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I receive three to four invites per week. If I attended all of them, I’d never get anything done.

Being a “takeover author” on those release parties isn’t a bad gig, though. The way it works is that the hosting author invites other authors to “take over” for an hour. So, let’s say you are the hosting author, and you’ve set up your release party to last for twelve hours. You may run things for the first hour, but then you turn it over to another author, who an hour later turns it over to another author, who an hour later turns it over to another author, every hour for twelve hours. Each author plays games to engage comments from the readers who have dropped in, and comments put a reader’s name in the hat to win prizes. The prizes range from $5.00 gift cards to gifts worth hundreds of dollars. Crazy, right? The “takeover authors” are only responsible for their assigned hour. The hosting author has to hang out at the party pretty much all day.

I’ve been a “takeover author” twice. I gave away copies of my books and Amazon gift cards. The Amazon gift cards seemed like a great idea, because they are easy to purchase and send via email, so there is no lag time for the winners. But I learned something recently that ensures I will NEVER again gift an Amazon gift card to any reader for any reason.

Amazon, in their quest to eliminate dishonest reviews, tracks both the gift card purchaser as well as the recipient. If the giver bitmoji-478940563is an author, and the recipient buys said author’s book and later reviews it, Amazon will disallow the review—no matter how innocent or honest the transaction. Not only that, but Amazon will disallow any review by that reader for any of the author’s future books as well! (I learned this recently and had it confirmed by a friend who attended a workshop with an Amazon rep sitting on the Q&A panel.) Add to that, they prefer that authors not leave reviews for other authors, because if both people are authors then surely they must be bosom buddies. HELLO! Authors are READERS. Authors read and review books all the time! How can Amazon pull reviews based on a person’s career choice, for heaven’s sake? In addition, now that Amazon owns Goodreads, they monitor those connections as well, so if someone is a “friend” on Goodreads and leaves you a review on Amazon, you’re toast. Even if you’ve never met or talked to the person.

bitmoji-991919712Engaging readers and getting reviews is already tough for us little guys. We’re working to keep our heads above water and Amazon has thrown sharks into the tank.

I appreciate Amazon’s desire to keep things honest. Truly I do. They’re trying to eliminate reviews by family and friends who might be less than truthful about a novel’s attributes. And there are authors out there who try to cheat the system by paying for reviews—an unconscionable practice and one in which I would never engage. So I understand Amazon taking measures to keep their review system free of cheaters. But in today’s social media world, it’s a fair assumption that a good many reviews will be generated by people who are connected to an author via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. To Amazon, that’s an unlawful connection. To authors, it’s a lifeline. Social media is how we stay connected to readers and how we reach out to new ones.

As an author who sits on pins and needles waiting for honest reviews, this type of policing feels intrusive and wrong. On the flip side, because I do know of other authors who are not so particular, I appreciate Amazon trying to keep it aboveboard for their patrons. Still, the situation pretty much sucks. For well-known authors, none of this matters. Stephen King sure as hell doesn’t give a flip if ten of his 10,000 reviews are pulled. But to a newbie like me, those ten reviews are vitally important.

What’s your opinion? Is Amazon doing the right thing, or are they overstepping?  With authors and readers so interconnected via social media, what is the solution?

A friend/reader/reviewer (OMG, the evil trifecta) gave me this link which is chock full of good information on this topic. If you’re an author, please read this to keep yourself out of Amazon’s shark tank. If you’re a reader and want your honest reviews to stand, this is also for you.

The secret behind disappearing Amazon Reviews?

See you next Wednesday. Have a great week, buttercup!
Lisa

Romance is good for your heart! To purchase your copy of Love Built to Last, Love to Believe, or Love to Win in eBook or print, go to AmazonBarnes & NobleBlack Opal BooksKobo, or AllRomance.

Ricard_websize logo  In need of a professional editor? Please visit me at Ricard Writing & Editing for details regarding services and rates.

18 Responses to "Authors Beware: There are Sharks in the Water & Their Teeth Are Sharp!"

  1. Comment by Stephanie Trietsch
    August 3, 2016 at 9:28 am  

    I love the new meme (hope that’s the right word)! She is adorable with short grey hair like someone else I know 😉

    I do dislike times of too much control and too many cooks in the kitchen. They can certainly ruin the stew trying to please everyone and make everything ‘fair’. I used to tell my girls in reply to the cries of: Mommy it’s not fair, “Life’s not fair but God’s always there!” They would shuffle off mumbling under their breath that I didn’t understand. Oh, if they only knew.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 3, 2016 at 11:29 am  

      Thanks! I created her through a free app, Bitmoji. I wish I was half as cute as she is, even with her wrinkles. (Yes, I was honest…I gave her wrinkles. lol)

      My kids never liked hearing the “life isn’t fair” comment either, but now that they’re grown, they know it’s the truth!

  2. Comment by Stephanie Trietsch
    August 3, 2016 at 9:37 am  

    My last comment came across a little laissez-faire and I did not intend it to be! I appreciate the warning and detailed information. I seem to be jaded by the cycle of too much interference whether it’s governmental, media, or big business. I’m so tired of fighting it all.

    Our insurance UHC has decided to drop all Piedmont doctors and facilities from coverage. We the paying ‘constituents’ are the ones frustrated because we have no say until January and even then we don’t have an option to use our own money going into healthcare coverage because the regulations are choking the entire industry. ARG!!!!!!!!!

    Okay, off my soap box and back to the regularly scheduled programming.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 3, 2016 at 11:35 am  

      No worries. You didn’t come across that way at all.

      Regarding this new comment, I agree that there is too much intrusiveness on the part of pretty much every organization. Everyone wants more information than they’re entitled to. I tried to leave a comment on a blog earlier and couldn’t do it without signing onto their site as a member through FB. Whaaat? Just to leave a comment? Needless to say, I declined. And the insurance…oh, boy. Don’t get me started on that, either. My husband and I are both self-employed so we’ve watched the cost of insurance rise while benefits have declined.

  3. Comment by Debra Mayhew
    August 3, 2016 at 9:44 am  

    Yikes, I had no idea stuff like this happens. On the one hand, I do appreciate Amazon maintaining the integrity of their reviews. I imagine it would be pretty easy to get your family and all their friends to leave 5-stars reviews, so the gift card policy makes sense. On the other hand, the Goodreads connection takes it a bit too far. You’re absolutely right that writers are also readers. Aren’t we told over and over and over that if we want to write well we need to read even more? 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 3, 2016 at 11:36 am  

      Yes, exactly, Deb. It’s impossible to imagine how any of this will be adjusted to accommodate those of us who don’t cheat the system.

  4. Comment by Cathy C. Hall
    August 3, 2016 at 10:09 am  

    Well, this is a game-changer for the community of writers, readers, and their use of social media. I get it–we don’t want folks gaming the system–but geez, a handful of reviews? Definitely overkill on Amazon’s part. Meanwhile, the dishonest types will find a way around these measures; those authors with integrity (like you!) will continue to be penalized! So sorry for this, Lisa. I know how hard you work–and how much each review means to you!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 3, 2016 at 11:38 am  

      Thanks, Cathy. Of course, it’s bigger than me as it happens to everyone. It’s unfortunate, and appears the only way around it is to have so many reviews that a few don’t matter. Easier said than done.

  5. Comment by Pat
    August 3, 2016 at 11:08 am  

    Wish Amazon was so vigilant with preventing people from hacking accounts as they are with deleting book reviews. Seriously, Amazon?

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 3, 2016 at 11:38 am  

      Good point, Pat!

  6. Comment by ButtonsMom2003
    August 3, 2016 at 11:21 am  

    I’m still at a loss about all of this. Here’s another blog post that talks about the issue: https://imysantiago.com/2015/12/14/unlinking-social-media-from-amazon-does-it-actually-work/,

    I also understand and appreciate that Amazon wants to keep reviews legitimate but seems like they should at least contact a reviewer if they remove one of their reviews after over a year!

    I do not have any of my social media accounts connected to Amazon but I do use the same reviewer name on several of them. I am seriously thinking of changing that even though I don’t really want to lose the identity that I’ve established.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 3, 2016 at 11:45 am  

      Thanks for the link. This issue affects reviewers as much as authors. You, for instance, do reviews for Xtreme-Delusions. As a reviewer, you have to give honest reviews in order to maintain the trust of people who read based on your opinions and ratings. There is no benefit to you in padding reviews and, indeed, the effect could be detrimental to your status as a reviewer. And the authors whose work you review appreciate your honesty, as well. It will be interesting (and probably frustrating) to watch over the next few years to see how, and if, Amazon resolves this issue.

  7. Comment by Karen Lange
    August 3, 2016 at 4:21 pm  

    I had no idea. Like you, I appreciate them wanting to keep things above board, but this does seem extreme. Will rethink giving out Amazon cards in these instances.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 4, 2016 at 2:42 pm  

      Thanks for your comment, Karen. It will be interesting to see what happens over time.

  8. Comment by Sioux
    August 3, 2016 at 9:01 pm  

    This is quite a mess. That’s all I can say. Thanks for the link. I guess I should be grateful I am not (really) on “The Facebook.”

    Amazon has gone overboard, in my opinion.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 4, 2016 at 2:45 pm  

      Facebook and the other social media sites are only a problem for people who have the apps all connected. Goodreads is a bit different, because it’s owned by Amazon. I do appreciate what Amazon wants to do. I just wish there was a way to do it that doesn’t penalize honest authors.

  9. Comment by Linda O'Connell
    August 10, 2016 at 2:15 pm  

    Thank you for sharing this wealth of information, irritating as it is. Hope you have a great week.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      August 10, 2016 at 6:38 pm  

      Thanks, Linda. You too.


Leave a Comment



%d bloggers like this: