Whodunnit? Amazon and the mystery of the vanishing reviews

Here’s a thing: We made the mighty ‘Zon almost £15,000 in May of 2011 with sales for ‘Sugar & Spice’. We got next to nothing.

I wonder if I went to my boss at my day job and said, “I tell you what, I’m gonna work these four weeks for free. I don’t want paying. Well, I DO want paying, but I’ll give you 110% commitment and you just give me a third of my wages.OKAY?”

i_love_my_boss_mug-p168621076993808767741x_325

You’d think I was crazy, right? Yeah, so would he.

Hang on a minute, let’s add something else to the mix here: “I know, not only will I work those weeks (and every other week that comes after it) for 30% of what I’m worth, BUT, I also want you to discount all the great things that my peers, colleagues and customers say about me. Right? Forget them. Wipe them from your mind like they were never uttered in the first place. Are we on the same page here?”

I can see the grin splitting my boss’s face in half right now. I bet it’s not as wide as the smile on Amazon‘s face/packaging…

amazon

I wonder what our customers would say if I rang them up and the tele-con went like this:

Me: “Hi, how are you? Having a good day?”

Customer: “Yeah, great, thanks.”

Me: “Good. Listen, I’m really sorry to spoil it, but you know that 25 tonne of plastic compound you bought from us last month (bear with me here, we can’t all be stay-at-home-full-time-writers. Got bills to pay etc), well, I kinda want it back.”

Customer: “Sorry?”

Me: “Yeah, I know how it sounds, but my boss has decided that it doesn’t matter if you paid for it and then told everyone how great it was, you’re in the same industry as us, so your purchase doesn’t count.”

Customer: “I’m really confused.”

Me: “Yeah, me too. But hey, he’s the boss. So what he says, goes. We’re only the little people, right? Hope we can still be friends? Oh, and I almost forgot; I hope you didn’t get any of  give any of  your family and friends to buy that compound and let them use it either, ‘cos if you did, we’re gonna need that back too.”

Customer: “Right, I’m hanging up now. Please don’t be offended.”

Yup. Wouldn’t be in business for very much longer would we? (Oh, and my boss wouldn’t have his dangly bits for too long either!) ;-)

But wait. Hang on, there’s more: What if a rival competitor of ours PAID some of his customers to take our compound and tell everyone how wonderful it was? Or, better still, what if we just pretended to be a customer and told everyone how brilliant our stuff was? Is that ok?

Apparently so.  Apparently, also, integrity and talent is no longer a pre-requisite for success. You’ve only got to watch X Factor to affirm that.

John Locke made millions from paying for people to review his books, and then, guess what? He wrote a book about it? (this should really be on my Banning the Bullshit blog) You can get it here if you really want to make a complete tw@t of yourself/take the piss out of the buying public and other species, like desperate writers

So, what is this rant about huh? Well, let me tell you.

On Friday afternoon, we had 263 reviews for ‘Sugar & Spice’, 45 for Snow White and ELEVEN five star reviews for Anca’s Story. I could go on.

Take a look now. It’s a mystery.

Whodidit? Who decided that because my sister bought, read and loved a book that I had spent two years writing and voiced her opinion and pride on Amazon for all the world to see, that she had a ‘financial connection’ with the author and her comments weren’t valid?

What about the other writers that I know who coughed up two quid of their hard-earned dosh and spent three or four hours that they will never get back reading my wares and felt inclined to pass judgement on it?

You know what? THEY. DON’T. MATTER.

Writers/minions – know your place.

minions

You weren’t traditionally published and we can’t force you to set the price, so we don’t love you any more. In fact, we never did.

How do you know? (It’s not you, it’s me)

Well, if we’re gonna argue: You made a huge tech-error when our book was riding high in the charts and it disappeared for almost five weeks with NO explanation, but I wasn’t allowed to ask… I don’t want to drag up the past, but in case you forgot about your failures, you can read about it here. Oh, and then there was the day (days) when apparently, my book wasn’t selling. You know, despite the fact that it has sold roughly the same amount for the LAST TWO YEARS and then I saw this little pearler: ‘We apologise for the delay, but your sales figures are currently not updating.’

Huh? So, you could be making money on my book and I just have to take your word for it that the numbers are right? Hmm, I don’t think this relationship is working out. Do you?

One more thing: You can’t seem to pay me directly into my bank account for foreign currency, so after I have taken my share of the royalties, I’m gonna make sure that you get charged again for depositing a dollars cheque into a UK bank account. So there! Bam! Take that sucker!

I think we’re over.

But wait. No, please don’t call time on us. Surely we’re worth more than that? And anyway… I NEED you.

Nope. Not interested. Not listening. You’ve served your purpose. I can discard you like a rusty old bike wheel and not give you a second thought and don’t you DARE ask questions. Do you know who I am?

Everyone likes a good mystery (I mean, look at the ‘Zon’s bed-buddies, Blake and Crouch. Talk about sleeping with the enemy) but usually, the villain is caught.

This one, Clarice, has a different ending. The world is a much nicer place with you in it. But is doesn’t mean I won’t rock up for some dinner, washed down with a nice Chianti. fffffffffff…

;-)

Saffi (at your sevice) Desforges

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20 Comments

  1. Brilliant rant! And I couldn’t agree more. This business of Amazon randomly removing reviews because authors might know each other is absurd. Of course many of us know each other. We’re in the same industry! That does not mean any of the authors I network with are paying me part of their royalties. Don’t I wish!

    Reply
  2. Charley R

     /  December 2, 2012

    *mutter mutter snarl*
    It’s stories like these that almost persuade me that the vehement assertion of my classmate that “there is no ethics in business” might just be right.

    Reply
  3. Fab, Saffi. Sock it to ‘em, girl. They’ve removed some reviews I left for others. I PAID for the books and used my own time to READ them. Why the heck am I considered to be unsuitable to leave a review, no matter who the author is? So unfair and very unjust.

    Reply
  4. I too have lost reviews. It rankles! Thanks for writing this.

    Reply
  5. Nice rant, Saffina. Love the comparisons and the sarcasm. If only the decision-maker at Amazon would read it!!

    Reply
  6. annerallen

     /  December 2, 2012

    The review sweep is just one of many arbitrary and draconian changes the Zon is making. Indies are no longer their Golden Children. It’s still possible to make money there (obviously you are doing OK) but it’s dumb to put all our eggs in the Amazon basket. Nobody’s “independent” when their income is subject to the whims of a multinational corporation.

    I’ve got more on this on my blog this week (with a quote from you about the Kobo that MW sent to me. I’m counting on Kobo to give the Zon a little healthy competition.) http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2012/12/indie-publishing-in-2013-why-we-cant.html

    Reply
  7. The Zon removed a bunch of my reviews too. Including reviews for Blake Crouch. Very disturbing changes.

    Reply
  8. I’ve never been wholly optimistic about my books being on Amazon. I buy books from there, and everyone cheers when the books end up on there, but locally, people ask me when my work will be in the major stores, and as an indie, I haven’t a clue…

    Reply
    • ONLY mactards see teblats as a companion device because you have NO choice. We who also use windows can buy a tablet with the full power of a laptop, in fact many teblats are laptops with swivel screens that turn into teblats.And yes, even the Ipad can be a laptop replacement. it does everything I need it to do away from home, everything.

      Reply

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