Amazon.com Reviews – Review it Right … or Else!

I’m relatively new to the Amazon.com Review scene.  I began in September of last year (2011) and I’ve mostly enjoyed it.  My most recent review, however for Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate… by Eric Blehm, was only 2/5 stars, and boy…. am I feeling the wrath!

The first comment to my review asserted that I disliked the author’s storytelling because I’m simply unfamiliar with non-fiction writing and its tendency to be dry.  No sale, fair critic – non-fiction makes up at least half of my reading, and almost never do I cringe page after page like I did with Fearless.  Tonight I received an emailed comment to my review, which was apparently promptly deleted by its author:

[name removed] says:

Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion, but it’s one thing to say one didn’t enjoy an author’s writing style, and quite another to say that it’s “horrible.” I am an avid reader, across many genres, and have only come across a handful of books that I would deem truly poorly written. In my opinion, Eric Blehm’s writing is the exact opposite, easily falling within the top 15 percent: it is simple, concise, powerful, and handles the religious aspect with grace…I do not have a religious background at all yet did not feel bombarded by it in this book. In fact, after reading this review, I thought back over my own reading of the book and just could not understand how anyone could feel that any element of this book is “horrible.” Also, I do not know the Brown family, yet I still find it…

The email cuts off the latter part of the comment, unfortunately, so I have no idea what they wanted more to tell me about how wrong my review really was!  I find it strange that someone even gets the urge to critique someone’s personal experience of written word.  It’s sort of like music snobbery (which I also don’t quite understand).  If I don’t like a song, no amount of your outrage at my disliking it will convince me otherwise.  Sure, work yourself up into a tizzy at your own expense, but don’t expect me to change my mind just ’cause I’ve offended your sensitive egos (somehow).

Soon after, a new review popped up (as username Patriot Pete!) which was mostly comprised of critique of my and a few others’ (all < 4 stars, of course) reviews… sort of a meta-review.  I find that against the spirit what the Amazon reviews are meant for, but I don’t think it necessarily violates any of the Terms of Service.   If it does, let me know and I’ll report the hell out of it!  I did leave a comment to his “review” because he accuses me of having an axe to grind politically or against the military.

The only axe I have to grind is the one against poor writing skills.

If this is what I have to look forward to with Amazon.com reviewers, bring it on.  I have no intentions of “rounding up” on my reviews simply because I want to avoid reaction from random strangers on the internet.  I am going to review books honestly as I read them, and writing skill is such an immense piece of the puzzle for me in terms of enjoyment.  When writing is choppy and sloppy, it pulls me out of the story completely.  This, to me, seems quite opposite of what the author intends.  I intend to let them know.

6 comments

  • I have actually found that this happens quite often now that authors have dedicated social media networks built up with fans, and even just family and friends. When someone posts a low star review, they will sound of on their FB fanpages and twitter accounts asking friends to go post counter comments, downrate the commenter and comment on them. I have seen this happen, A LOT. And I have seen the Amazon commenting fields go haywire with mass downvoting and comments attacking each other instead of reviewing the book. If it is an attack on you, rather than a review, you can report it to Amazon and they will check it out and delete it if they feel it offers nothing to potential buyers. I remember one time there was a crusade type war on a page and they completely turned off commenting for weeks.

    • How crazy is that!? This particular review was a good blend of review and review-critique, so I have no doubt Amazon would find it appropriate.

      I think this was just a good experience in me getting my feet wet in the cut-throat world of Amazon book reviewing. 😉

  • Amazon reviews have always been contentious — are they made by sock puppets? People with axes to grind? What? And yet, the general belief is that without them, your books don’t sell.

    I agree that it’s horrible form for an author to reply in the manner of this Lorien person. But… they’re out there, and the only thing we can do is ignore them.

    And you may want to see out authors, like me, who don’t reply to Amazon reviews. I’ll reply to reviews posted on blogs, but never to attack you or defend myself. I’ll merely say thanks, and if you’ve given me something to think about, I’ll mention that, too — you’d be surprised at how enlightening a good negative review can be. (Nope, no oxymoron there. A negative review CAN be a good thing!)

    Hang in there. Not all of us authors are awful.

    • Oh, I definitely know that authors are not awful! Eric Blehm, author of Fearless, was not the one leaving comments to me. This was just a disgruntled co-reader. I’ve had really great experiences with authors thus far – and I definitely look forward to reading your work!

  • Hi, that post was deleted for a good reason: some friends were over at my house talking about the book Fearless and one decided she wanted to reply to your review. As soon as she hit post, she realized that she had accidentally posted under my account. She did not reregister under another account as far as I know. I would appreciate it if you don’t post this under my name since it is not actually a review that I wrote, but was in fact posted accidentally. Thank you.

    • I’ve removed your name.

      Your friend posted under your account at 8:48pm and then my comment to his/her (Patriot Pete) review is posted at 9:04pm. The review was posted between 8:49 and 9:02. Not much time! The major complaints remain from his/her comment under your account over to his/her whole review as Patriot Pete, so I’ve no question that the two are the same individual. P-Pete’s own review text speaks to the fact that he/she just created the account.

      Anyway, name’s removed. Thanks for letting me know.

Leave a Reply