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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Book review policy on Amazon

Today I am pleased to publish my sixth guest blog post. You too can have a post published on my blog. Just read the guidelines HERE. In the meantime, enjoy...

Book review policy on Amazon . . . what would be best for the indie author?
By: Clive Eaton

There have been a lot of complaints recently regarding Amazon’s decision to ax huge swathes of book reviews from their site. Their reasons behind this haven’t, at times, been wholly transparent. The rumor mill continues to churn out a variety of different interpretations, and the only clear fact seems to be that many previous reviews have disappeared from their site. From a personal perspective, when considering a book on Amazon, I read reviews with a certain amount of skepticism, as it is very apparent that many reviews have been written by family and friends. Indeed, after reading a few books, and returning to the related reviews, I would even question whether or not some of these people have even read the book in the first place.  As a result, I now only consider reviews where the term ‘verified Amazon purchase’ sits alongside the format description. At least I know the person has made the purchase (or at least downloaded a free copy) via Amazon, and is therefore more likely to have read it. Occasionally a person does make the purchase via Amazon, and places the review on an Amazon page which does not relate to their purchase – e.g. the purchase is made from Amazon UK, and the review is written on Amazon US – and perhaps Amazon needs to review its algorithms so as to identify the reviewer as a genuine purchaser of the book. I received a review of my book recently where the reader purchased it from Amazon France, but wrote the review on the UK and US sites. The purchase therefore justified the term ‘verified Amazon purchase’ alongside the review.

In considering the above, perhaps Amazon should also consider splitting reviews into two clear groups – those purchased via their site, and those not. If they did this I feel eventually people will learn to regard the ‘verified purchase’ reviews as being more indicative of a book’s quality, whether that quality be good, or bad. Reviews by their very nature are exceptionally subjective, but to have Amazon full of heavily biased reviews from family and friends isn’t doing the cause for indie authors any real favors. I’ve seen no end of indie books with polarized reviews. Some reviewers wax lyrical, and others place heavy question marks over the books history in terms of proof reading, editing, use of grammar, formatting etc. It is therefore little wonder a number of published authors still look down their noses at indie authors. I’ve read books by both published authors and indie authors. Some of the books by the latter group are well worthy of publication, and some from the former group should never have had the ink wasted on good quality paper – such is the lottery of the publishing world. But this lottery is no justification for some indie authors publishing their books without even passing them through a spell-checker before placing them on Amazon, and then getting a couple of friends to give them a glowing review. I would go as far as saying I’d support Amazon in only allowing verified purchases to be reviewed on their site, if it were to help clean up the reviews provided. Of course, some authors would then reimburse a select few in return for reviews, but at least this additional cost to the author would significantly limit the hordes of people who currently write reviews about books they’ve never read. (To prevent authors overcoming the ‘verified purchased’ barrier with free books, Amazon could introduce a ‘verified FREE download’ option, with the date of the download.) If Amazon were to go that far, I believe it would allow the genuine cream of indie books more of an opportunity to rise to the surface, and tackle the traditional publishing world head on.

About Clive Eaton: Clive Eaton initially trained as an aircraft engineer in the Royal Air Force and worked on Vulcan bombers for a number of years.

He now works as a freelance international trainer in the area of business improvement, and his work has taken him to over 30 countries around the globe.

The Pyramid Legacy is his debut novel and the inspiration came when Egyptian authorities discovered a secret door inside the Great Pyramid of Giza. Although nothing was actually found on that occasion it triggered a 'what if?' question, and from there the story developed. Clive is now writing the sequel, which will be titled "Operation Stonehenge".

Clive lives in a very peaceful setting, with his wife Judy, in the heart of rural Norfolk, England, which he believes is an amazing place for getting in the right mood for writing.

Clive's website: Clive Eaton
Clive on Facebook: Clive Eaton
Clive on Twitter: @CliveEaton
Clive's Latest Novel: The Pyramid Legacy

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