On 8/11 I posted a blog by Linda Hilton, Somewhere along the way, the whole game changed, Linda has written several others about this growing problem. This is the first posted back on 5/23.
Parris Afton Bonds shouldn’t have to game the review system. Well, actually, no one should be gaming the review system, but Bonds should know better than to even try.
Since I can’t post this on either Goodreads or Amazon, I guess I’ll post it here.
Parris Afton Bonds has republished Dream Time, one of her historical romance novels. When I picked it up this morning (Friday, 23 May 2014) as Kindle freebie, the five 5-star reviews caught my eye. As I began to look at them, I could feel my blood pressure start to rise.
One reviewer only has five reviews in her history. They are all of Parris Afton Bonds’ books. They are all 5-star.
This one, posted by “Winchester168” looks perfectly legitimate.
But if you look at her profile, she identifies herself as a fiverr reviewer. I saw that and got sick to my stomach.
The other three reviewers all have lots and lots and lots of reviews, but they’re in a variety of genres, which right away suggests to me that these are fiverr reviewers also.
For instance, here’s a 5-star review on Amazon.com from “Christopher Gill.”
But that text seems familiar.
This pisses me off. This pisses me off big time. Parris Afton Bonds shouldn’t have to rig the system. She should know better.
But wait, there’s more. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to post a spreadsheet. . . so I’ll just have to give you a description.
I decided to compare the reviews/ratings on GoodReads posted by the three reviewers who gave Dream Time 5-star ratings: Hector Purgess, Neela Jensen, and Caldric Blackwell. Their book totals ranged from 57 (Purgess and Blackwell) to 44 (Jensen), but they remarkably had approximately 35 titles in common. Most of their reviews/ratings were posted in the same sequence, and virtually all were 5-star ratings.
The few books they didn’t have in common were either classics (The Hobbit) or current bestsellers (Divergent).
And when I compared those to the reviewers on Amazon, “Rich Blaisdell” fell right in line: Same titles, same sequence.
These are not reviews. They are paid advertisements masquerading as reviews.
I suppose there isn’t much we can do, other than continue to report this as we find it and hope there’s still some integrity left in the world. (I’m not holding my breath; are you?)
It’s one thing to rant and rage and obsess over some of the meltdowns we’ve all seen. The authors who get caught in their own little lies, whose sock puppets are revealed, and who get kicked off GoodReads and Amazon and even BookLikes time and again. We shake our heads at the shifting allegiances as trusted friends become bullying trolls and back again.
And one of the reasons why I’ve never been able to get too enthusiastic about BookLikes is that I think it’s too easy for this kind of chicanery to go undetected. Without a single page per book, where all reviews, ratings, comments, discussions can be viewed and accessed and compared, it’s too easy for an author to game the system without detection. On the other hand, BookLikes right now is the only place where this kind of chicanery can be exposed, and where the primary focus is not on selling books.
I don’t know what I’m going to do with this information. As an author, I can’t post on Amazon without running certain risks, especially since Parris Afton Bonds and I write in exactly the same genre. On GoodReads, I’m still a bit paranoid after the September purge; I don’t know how seriously any of my complaints are taken.
I’ve given up most of a day’s free time to this today. I don’t have all that much free time to give.