The last time I wrote about the self-publishing and independent publishing industry, it was about whether indie authors produce well-written novels.  Well, that tempest in a teapot has now been overtaken by a new “scandal”.

A few authors have been outed in a very public manner for purchasing reviews for their novels or creating so-called pen names and writing reviews under those names.  Then there’s the authors with apparently little confidence in their work that spend time on Amazon writing 1 star reviews for authors they view as competition.

Writers are not in a competition.  Each writer has a unique offering even though they may in a densely populated genre.  I’m writing historical fiction.  Are there other historical fiction authors?  Yes.  Too many to count.  Is that a threat to me?  No, because no one is writing exactly the same novel.

The sad fact is unscrupulous and insecure authors are hurting others in the industry.  Amazon, the largest seller of ebooks, has a complicated system of ranking.  The bottom line is, however, the more 4 and 5 star reviews a novel receives the more likely the novel will show up as a recommendation.  One single 1 star review can sink a novel back into obscurity.

The reason I bring this situation to the attention of readers is to dispell thoughts that all reviews – Amazon, private blogs or otherwise – are untrustworthy.  Only one side of the story is published in Forbes, amongst other publications.  I tuly feel the need to “clear the air” and bring understanding to the situation.

Therefore, a little advice to readers:

  • Take Amazon reviews with a grain of salt
  • Join Goodreads and read the reviews there.  They are more reliable.
  • Google reviewers like myself in the genre you enjoy.  We are unpaid, honest and reviewing for the love of books.

The most valuable recommendation I can offer is always read the sample before you purchase. I never, ever, purchase an ebook without reading the sample.  All reputable sites selling ebooks offer this option.

Finally, it is my sincere hope the unethical behaviour of some authors will not taint all reviewers and bloggers.  The majority can still be trusted and work hard to earn and retain their credibility.  After all, it is you, the reader, who is most important to us.

I found an excellent article regarding “sock puppetry” and have included the link here http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/books/socking-it-to-the-puppets-of-reviewerland-20120905-25dsq.html.

The last paragraph is especially relevant.  If you truly enjoy a novel, take a few minutes and support the author by writing a quick review on Amazon.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, just a few sentences reflecting your thoughts.  It’s the best tool available to ensure you have the opportunity to read futher novels by that author.