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Not my precious, precious reviews!

I’ve lost three reviews since last week. One day I checked my Amazon page and saw that Infinite Sacrifice went from thirty-two reviews to thirty-one reviews.

Huh?

This has never happened before and so, I go to where I always go for self-publishing news and advice: the Kindle Boards Forum.

And sure enough, there was already a post up about disappearing Amazon reviews. The person who posted claimed to have lost four reviews and other authors continued the thread reporting their losses and ideas why this would happen.

The theories:

1) Paid review
2) Reviews made from the same IP address as one with financial interest in the book
3) You gave a reviewer a gift card to purchase your ebook for review (considered as compensation). Even if the reviewer didn’t receive their ebook in this way from you, they might have received one from another author, and all of their reviews would be deleted.

4) A reviewer posted the same review on other sites (Goodreads, B&N, Smashwords, etc.)

5) Review left by another author (which I think it completely unfair)

6) That you used your review on other venues outside Amazon (some authors have said that they quoted an Amazon review as a book blurb and then their reviews disappeared.)

7) The reviewer deleted the review.

I couldn’t remember which review I lost (even though I sure did try), but I deducted it was a five-star review 😦

The next day I woke up to another review gone. Infinite Sacrifice now had thirty reviews and dropped from 4.6 stars to 4.5. This time I knew which review went missing. One of my favorites, a four star from a man (very few men leave reviews for my series). This time I could compare it to the reasons above:

1) No

2) I seriously doubt that they live near me

3) I didn’t give this reader a gift card and, since I checked out his previous reviews, he wasn’t a frequent book reviewer so I doubt he’d received a book via gift card for review.

4) This reviewer didn’t post up the review on any other sites.

5) He wasn’t an author

6) I didn’t post this review up anywhere outside of Amazon

7) I don’t think that he did since he only left the review a month ago.

So I still can’t figure out why that review disappeared

By the end of the day, I lost a review on my sequel. Infinite Devotion went from twelve reviews to eleven reviews. It was a five-star lovely and detailed review from a reader who purchased a print copy of my book.

I came up with the same answers as above, except:

4) She did post it up on Goodreads as well.

This might be the reason. Although, many of my other reviews that are still up are posted on other sites. Why aren’t they gone? I hope more reviews don’t disappear from this book since you need ten to run a promotion that I have scheduled to run early November.

When reviewers repost their original reviews, they get a sharp letter from Amazon threatening to take away their reviewing privileges. When authors complain, they are threatened with removal of their book.

I wrote an email to Amazon just letting them know how many reviews I’ve lost and that I’m not aware that they break any of their rules. I told them that I understood that they needed to react to the sock puppet accusations, but that what they are implementing is not effective. That they are deleting genuine reviews.

Here is their reply:

“Hello,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

However, I can tell you that reviews are removed from the Amazon.com website for three reasons:

1. The review conflicted with the posted guidelines, found here:  http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines/
2. The review was removed at the request of the customer who submitted the review
3. We discovered that multiple items were linked together on our website incorrectly. Reviews that were posted on those pages were removed when the items were separated on the site

Further, we’re unable to provide further details about why these specific reviews were removed from Amazon.com; we can only discuss that with the person who wrote the reviews.

I hope this information helps. Thanks for using Amazon KDP.”

Can anyone explain #3  for me?

If any of you experience this (whether it be a review you left or one you received) I think it’s a good idea to just send Amazon an email letting them know that you didn’t breech their review rules and something is not working on their end. You’ll probably get the same response as me, but maybe if they get enough of these they’ll fine tune something so this doesn’t keep happening.

What is going to happen? I worry that people will be discouraged from leaving reviews. The reviews I leave for others, take me some time to construct and if some of them were removed I wouldn’t waste my time to write more. Hopefully, this is a one time witch hunt and not that many reviewers were effected.

But if the three people who took the time to leave my reviews notices that their review is now missing, I want to apologize. I don’t know why they were taken down, but I thank you for letting me know what you thought of my books. It was not time wasted because I cherish every review and hope you are not discouraged to write more.
If any of you would like to read more on this, here are a few links:

http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,129759.0.html

http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,130243.0.html

http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,130320.0/topicseen.html

What about you? Have you lost any reviews (on your books or ones you have left for others)? Can you figure out why it’s happened?

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Aw! But they’re so cute!

There has been a lot of chatter lately regarding prominent self-published authors ( link) and traditionally published authors that have been buying positive reviews by the hundreds or writing reviews themselves. One author has gone so far to write negative reviews on rival author’s novels under assumed names (link).

This started a whirlwind questioning how can we trust Amazon’s reviews if so many are purchasing five-star reviews or fabricating them. Many thought that Amazon should have a policy where there would be a bias to reviewers with hundreds of reviews under their belts. Then the review average would lean heavier towards ‘reputable’ reviews.

I’m glad that Amazon has not changed this policy since I’ve noticed that many of my reviewers (five-star to three-stars) have a few reviews or have left a review for the first time. To outsiders, this may look suspicious, but I know that they’re readers who most likely listened to my plea for reviews in my foreword. When I see these first timers it truly touches my heart that they wanted to help me so much that it compelled them to leave their first review.

Before I published, I never left a review for anything. I honestly never realized they were so important. Of course, I read them when deciding between products, but only now do I go out of my way to leave a critical review. I don’t think it’s fair to judge amazon reviews by how many they’ve left before. Most of my reviews are verified purchases with ‘real names’ and that should sway folks to see that they are not sockpuppets. But even if people thought they were false, I could care less. I know that they’re not and I appreciate each one.
Yesterday, I received a nice review on my second book and I realized what a high I got reading it. That’s when it hit me. I would keep writing, even if I only made back all my costs, for these fantastic reviews. They mean so much to me. They fill me with so much happiness and motivate me to keep writing.

Authors who buy reviews, leave their own positive reviews, or thrash another author’s books aren’t going to get very far. Readers will make their own judgements after they’re enticed to try your book. If you have been misrepresenting your book it will catch up to you. Nothing baits a one-star review more than misleading your reader.
How important are reviews to you as a reader? Do you trust five-star reviews? Are you wary of reviewers who have never left a review before?

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About.com on Fiction Writing defines writing style as, “the way you write, as opposed to what you write about (though the two things are definitely linked). It results from things like word choice, tone, and syntax. It’s the voice readers “hear” when they read your work.”

Wikipedia (the definite source on writing :)) defines writing style as, “the manner in which an author chooses to write to his or her audience. A style reveals both the writer’s personality and voice, but it also shows how she or he perceives the audience, and chooses conceptual writing style which reveal those choices by which the writer may change the conceptual world of the overall character of the work. This might be done by a simple change of words; a syntactical structure, parsing prose, adding diction, and organizing figures of thought into usable frameworks.”

I have had a few reviews lately that have commented on my style and it’s surreal once you hear how others hear your words. All of the below excerpts were taken from Amazon reviews:

“The writing is clean and direct with very little flourish.”

“I was quickly entranced by the writing style as I partook in this unique, fascinating adventure. L.E. Waters captures scenery and dialogue with such ease that it’s easy to picture in your head, everything rolls naturally. No stilting, no rushing, no forcing.”

“I had never thought I would enjoy historical fiction however, it is written in such a way that it flows within the story and is very realistic.”

“The author’s writing is clean and well-done, and Waters does an excellent job giving a richness to the worlds her characters inhabit, while still staying historically accurate (at least as far as my somewhat meager knowledge of ancient cultures goes). Her characters are nicely complex while still being likable (that is, they’re not goody two-shoes, but neither are they evil).

“I found the writing to be somewhat flat; it didn’t feel like there was much action going on. I enjoyed the premise, but found the implementation lacking.”

(Oh well, you can’t make everyone happy)

I’ve looked up what clean writing implies and it seems it’s a direct, uncluttered delivery with minimal descriptions, that’s easy to read. So I can see why some may like this non-flowery narrative and others may detest it.

Did I set out to write like this? No. I really wasn’t aware, but I do tend to get itchy reading all the detail in a Dickens or Austen novel (yet I still love them!)  and I have been known to roll my hands rudely when someone tells a story in such a way, “Last Monday night—no, I think it was actually Tuesday and it was late afternoon…”

When I was researching how to revise and attract an agent I read that it was best not use adverbs, slash out needless words, and never use more than two adjectives to describe something within the same sentence. So I obeyed, and with the long list of characters I have it’s probably best to keep everything else simple. But I also write from two male POV and one Spartan female POV(more masculine than most females) in the first book. In these three lives I tried to be more direct and laconic. I wonder if readers noticed that I softened things slightly with the last female POV? I’ve yet to receive any comments about style on my second book but I’m curious to see if my ‘clean’ style is consistent.

Dashiell Hammett, author of The Maltese Falcon, once said, “It is the beginning of the end when you discover you have a style.”

Are you aware of your writing style? Have reviewers or classmates surprised you with comments on your style? Have you ever attempted to change your style? Is it the kiss of death to realize your style?

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Hey everyone! Sorry I have been absent lately, but I’m knee-deep in author interviews for a little blog tour this week. My blogging pal, Sara Flower, let me know about this inexpensive blog tour site, Full Moon Bites. If you’d like to check any of the stops out, here’s the schedule:

June 3rd- The Jeep Diva (Review) (Author Interview) (Book Review/Author Interview)
June 4th- Erotic Romance With a Bite…Leigh Savage (Author Interview/Promo Post)
June 5th- What’s Hot? (Author Interview/Promo Post)
June 5th– Heart Of A Wolf (Book Review/Promo Post)
June 6th- Simply Infatuated (Promo Post)
June 7th- The Book Connoisseur (Author Interview/Promo Post)
June 8th- D. VonThaer (Book Review/Author Interview)
June 9th- Turning The Pages (Promo Post)
June 9th- A Page Away (Book Review/Promo Post)

 

 

Be back soon 🙂

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One of the best things about making my first book free for the last three weeks (full promotion report due out at the end of the month!) has definitely been the increase in ratings and reviews.

Yes, these are gold for reader confidence and promotion, but they’re priceless for restoring my faith that this was all worth it. All the hours I stayed up late after putting my kids to bed; all the hours I spent researching; all the time in writing workshops; all the forums I joined and books I bought seeking out self-publishing advice; all the money I spent on getting the best product out—all had to be appreciated by someone.

I honestly never expected my books to make much money. Never expected to be the next Amanda Hocking. I would be very happy if I could just pay back the expenses. But the one goal I’ve had this whole time was to simply hear from a fan that appreciated all the things I set out to create. I worried that maybe the series was too complicated; that readers might not like tracking each character through time; that people might not like the fact this was a true series.

Besides my friends and family, I didn’t know how the world would see my book.

Well, I cry every time I read a kind and thoughtful review. I don’t think I truly felt like a writer until someone completely enjoyed what I set out to deliver.

I’m actually connecting to strangers through my story.

After reading these reviews, I wish there was some way I could personally tell these people how much it’s touched me. The only thing I can do is print the reviews out and frame them to start a little inspiration collection over my writing-table.

Anytime I have any doubt, I’ll just look up and they’ll be there. All my fans 🙂

The more these reviews come in, the more I want to write! Even if negative reviews come in, it only matters that some people are fans and those are the people I’m envisioning when I write my next book. Some of them haven’t left many reviews for other authors, and that has meant even more to me since they probably read my plea for reviews in the forward and went out of their way to help me.

If they’re reading this, truly, thank you. You have no idea how much this has meant to me.

It’s so important to tell a writer after you enjoy their book. Let them know what you loved and how they’ve touched you. I’ll never put down a book again without leaving a note for the author. It’s extremely rewarding.

For those who have published, has a fan ever inspired you? If not published yet, who has given you confidence?

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Oh, it’s the time I dread most of all. Book reviewers! I feel like I’m turning my term paper in and most of my grade depends upon it. There is something so scary about sending your baby off to someone who is going to look your it over and point out all the flaws to the public. Hopefully, you chose carefully enough that you pick the right match for your book but anything can happen after you hit the send button.

I’ve found that most reviewers have three-month backlists, so the sooner you send them your book the better. The process is very similar to agent querying: you need to check each reviewers guidelines and follow it to the tee. They all want different formats, but I found that the Smashwords coupon was the most accepted form and the easiest. Another great reason to upload on Smashwords. It took me most of the day, reading the kindle boards for suggested reviewers, finding good matches, and submitting to them.

Here is a list I’ve gathered of indie book reviewers:
Motherlode

Readers Favorite

SF Book Reviews (Submisions closed until 2012)

The Tattered Scroll

The Fantasy Book Critic

The Self-Publishing Review (Costs $40, but you’re allowed to decide to publish review)

POD People

The New Podler Review of Books  (Submisions closed until 2012)

The Compulsive Reader

The Indie Spotlight

Rambles.net

Books on the Knob

Candy’s Raves

Fyrefly’s Book Blog

Good Book Alert

Adarna SF

Doubleshot Reviews

To Publish or Not to Publish

Daily Ebook Reviews

…and for an amazing list of book reviewers that I have yet to attack here.

A few say they won’t review the book if it’s less than three stars–these I like. The ones that can be brutal and will point out all the problems, are the ones I’m worried about. But negative press is better than no press at all, right? Oh, I hope so.

Do you know of any other book reviewers (large or small) that are willing to review a fantasy indie book? Let us know.

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I want to extend an offer for a free ebook review copy to all my awesome and supportive blog followers. You have all been so fantastic along this journey and I wanted to say thanks by giving you all a chance to get my book for free!

The first ten people who privately email me (see sidebar for address) I’ll send a free Smashwords ebook coupon to. If there are those out there that are not familiar with Smashwords (me, before self-publishing) then I will be more than happy to give a little instructional. You don’t need an ereader or kindle either since you can download a copy that you can view on your computer screen.

If you have some free time to read this quickly, and to leave a review on Amazon upon my launch or shortly after, I would be so appreciative. It would be so wonderful to have a few unbiased reviews up around my release date: 11-11-11. *Gulp*

I’m asking everyone who reviews my novel to be completely honest. I know that no book is perfect and I welcome everyone to say what they liked and didn’t like. Sometimes if someone sees all rave reviews they’re suspicious that they’re left by family members, (funny thing is my family members will probably be the most critical on me–remember family of eight-no mercy there). Sometimes negative reviews make readers more interested in the book. So please, feel free to review critically.

If you don’t have the time to read right now or prefer not to leave reviews, I will have other opportunities in the future to get my book and other goodies for free, so keep an eye out.

Thanks everyone!

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