This was a post we ran in January of 20202 but I felt like it was a good time to dust it off and present it again.
We complain about Amazon a lot, don’t we? Belonging to a community of writers and reviewers, the number one gripe that I hear most is, “Amazon has removed another one of my reviews!” Although Amazon has never been this nasty to me, I can fully understand someone else’s frustration with this issue. I would be upset and frustrated, too, if it happened to me. But, am I the only one noticing that some reviewers only read 4 and 5-star books? I mean, how do they always get so lucky?
When I became a book reviewer, not even half of the books that I was asked to review came close to being worthy of 3 stars, let alone, 4 and 5. And, although I had taken a break from reviewing the past couple of years because of my busy schedule (I’m reviewing again now), my review queue still never fell short of books for me to flip through. Lastly, no matter how much I preached HONEST REVIEWS around my community, I continued to see that some weren’t grasping the sermon.
By now, the entire world knows how I feel about everyone being given the opportunity to publish any and everything. Just as everyone wasn’t born to write or perform open-heart surgery, everyone can’t review books properly. And, no matter how many times you hear otherwise, there is a right and a wrong way to do everything … even review a book. Yes, I said that!
Some of you love to say, “But, what one views as trash, the next person might find to be treasure,” and although that might be true in some areas, it will never change the fact that if a book isn’t well-written (98% error-free) with realistic dialogue, believable characters, and a powerfully crafted storyline (an engaging story that won’t allow the reader to fall asleep while reading it), it doesn’t warrant a 4 or 5-star review. Truth be told, if any of what I just mentioned is missing from a book, it doesn’t deserve even 3 stars from where I sit. So, why are more and more of these books being given such high marks?
The truth of the matter is … those who freely dole out these high marks aren’t any more special than you and me. They are reading the very same books we are, but the only difference is, they haven’t quite learned how to review properly, OR, they are afraid of posting honest reviews. Notice how I didn’t leave room for any grey area there – I didn’t, because there isn’t any. This is a black and white issue – either you don’t know how to review properly, OR you’re afraid of telling the actual truth publicly about books you’ve read. For some of you, I’m leaning towards the latter. It saddens me that there is terror behind being honest in a review.
When these so-called reviewers leave their 4 and 5-star reviews of every or almost every book they’ve read, it hurts all of us – and then we wonder why Amazon decides to pull or delay the posting of some of our reviews. Maybe they’re seeing a pattern that doesn’t make much sense to them, either.
Maybe, like me, they question those reviews that are all 4 and 5 stars. Maybe, like me, they know that there is no way on God’s green earth that every book we read can fall into this rating class, especially with any and everyone being allowed the honor of publishing a book today.
I may come across to some of you as being really harsh in regard to this topic, but, I make no apologies about the passion that I feel regarding this issue. Why? Because this affects all of us, not just some. If you’ve been lucky enough to not have been a target of Amazon (yet), just keep breathing. As long as there are those who continue to post reviews under the reasons that I have listed above, we’re all just sitting ducks waiting for the hammer to come down on our heads.
We all have negative feelings about Amazon, and especially about the power that they have and how they wield that power, but, I think they are catching on to the fact that a lot of these reviews are bogus as heck, and I for one, am excited about that. Hooray! Finally, I can point to something that Amazon is doing right!
When you review under the umbrella of non-truth or ignorance as I’ve laid out above, you’re also jeopardizing your reputation as a writer. I can’t tell you how many authors who I once admired because of their remarkable acumen into the written word, have changed my opinion of them simply by a review that they have posted. Now, because I admired these authors for their own written works, that led me to believe that they know what good/great writing looks like, but, it saddened me that they just couldn’t find it in themselves to be honest in certain reviews. Out of fear? Fear of what? Retaliation against their own work? Fear that they would lose an internet-buddy? Fear of an adult throwing a tantrum on social media over a review they received? Well, we’ve all seen it all. Whatever the situation, if you resemble the picture that I have painted throughout this piece, know that you’re causing irreparable harm to your reputation when you leave such reviews.
Have you noticed a trend of high marks in reviews lately? And do you feel that dishonest reviews hurt authors?