If you are a writer or a reader – or both! – you need to go here RIGHT NOW and look at this petition. Then please sign it.
Lucky authors might self-published bestsellers that seem to gain word-of-mouth acclaim instantly, or have commercial publishers bankrolling major marketing campaigns. The rest of us struggle to collect quality reviews of our work, because reviews help sell books.
Amazon just strangled our ability to get cogent, useful reviews from our writing peers.
For a few years, Amazon has been pushing aside or entirely axing reviews left by other writers in the same genre as the reviewed book. The theory was that it was unfair competition, and could lead to vendettas.
Which it did, in part because of newer writers (often self-published) who hysterically conflated three-star or lesser reviews with personal condemnation, or used the Amazon and Goodreads review systems to bully each other. Grown-up authors don’t do that shit, we know better. Who better than to review a science fiction romance than other science fiction romance authors, hey? Why the hell does Locus Magazine exist, or Romantic Times, or other review sites, blogs,and industry magazines?
This is why I stopped submitting reviews to Amazon, and by extension to Goodreads. My reviews stay on my blog, right here, where I can control them and say what I damn well want.
At the same time, Amazon was notorious for allowing gushing five-star reviews from: the authors themselves, their agents, their family members, their best friends, their ministers, etc. It’s been a hallmark of vanity-published and dicey small-press publishers, who often pressure their authors into soliciting any reviews they can find.
Now Amazon is attempting to address that problem, too, and as usual is making it far worse. They’re trying to get rid of all reviews where the algorithms suggest the reviewer and the author know each other.
Huh? I’m a hermit, and I know several hundred other authors in several genres. I can review them if I want to, and I have no problem with them reviewing me.
Parts of the science-fiction community may seem ready to cannibalize themselves at a moment’s notice, if you believe all the Hugo nominations scuffles this year. That’s not true. Romance writers are usually even more of a generous and community-minded bunch, happily trading honest reviews back and forth for the benefit of all (after all, literary pariahs have to help each other).
Amazon is seriously undermining the self-policing community of writers, to the ultimate detriment of readers who will be deprived of easy access to quality reviews.
For all writers who feel they may have at-risk reviews on Amazon or Goodreads: copy them right now into a separate file you can cite and pull from at need. Because they may be gone tomorrow.