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?”


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…


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.


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

I predict a riot

Well, it’s been a pretty eventful week. Riots – everywhere.

London rioted, quickly followed by Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. Looters and mindless vandals burnt down shops and homes and helped themselves to whatever they could get their hands on.

Then they blamed it all on the government.

Only in England eh?

Personally, I have had a pretty tough month too and to top it all off, my co-writer Mark Williams landed back in Britain and wanted to work! I mean, honestly, doesn’t he know that the country is in a mess? Write? Pfft… 😉

Seriously though, we had a lot to discuss. Our new book, ‘Snow White’ comes out next week (squeeeee!), we are setting up a new venture (more on that in due course) are hoping to have some ‘Saffina Desforges presents’ short story anthologies out before Christmas (accepting submissions from indie writers. Email Mark Williams at crossingthepond@rocketmail.com) and have two or three other WIP, so things are pretty hectic!

It’s an exciting time for all writers that’s for sure. ‘Sugar & Spice’ is still selling steadily and we received news yesterday that we had made the Top 20 on the Waterstones ebook chart. How cool is that?

So it’s all go at the moment for the Saffina Desforges duo, exciting times indeed. Mark and I haven’t spent much time together, face to face, on the same continent, writing – it could get messy. In fact, I predict a riot! 😉


Reading my writes: on crime thrillers

Well, I made it through. One major operation and two infections later and I live to tell more tales.

Sounds more like the premise for a gore-fest, horror novel than something you would expect from a crime thriller writer; but hey, in this digital age of publishing, genres aren’t so restrictive anymore!

Hell, I can write what I like! More about that in future posts.

Anyway, here we are, just two weeks away from the release of our next book – ‘Snow White’.


It’s a really exciting (and nerve-racking) time for us.

We have now passed the 75,000 copies mark with ‘Sugar & Spice on Amazon alone – not bad for a debut novel that agents didn’t have the ‘dangly bits’ to touch!  😉

It continues to sell thousands a month and is sitting pretty comfortably in the Top 100 on Amazon UK.


It’s a well-known fact among authors (up there with having a great cover and blurb) that the more books you publish, the more you sell. Write, publish, then write another. We get it.

So that’s what we’re doing. Writing commercial crime thrillers with a USP that we hope, readers will love and tell their friends about. (see Kristen Lamb; I am still reading and following the WANA mantra!)

We hope to have the second book in The Rose Red Series (‘Rapunzel’) out in time for Christmas 2011 and that will take us to 4 books published in 12 months – something that a year ago, would have been nothing but a figment of my ever-overflowing imagination.

So yeah, scary and at the same time, ‘squee-ably exciting’!

I mean, we just said ‘no thanks, not at the moment’ to representation by the biggest Lit agency in New York and the chance to pitch our books to ‘The big six’ – we must be crazy, right?

No, but it helps. It helps when writing crime thrillers too.

It’s a tough genre to write in – crime thrillers. There are millions of great writers out there, many of whom I have read avidly over the years and still do; so when we chose this genre (or rather, it chose us) it wasn’t a decision made lightly.

We were (and still are in some respects) tiny, unknown fish in a literary ocean and the competition from the predators is fierce. James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, Jo Nesbo, Konrath, Stephen Leather, Stieg Larsson; the list of sharks is endless and they have massive teeth! So deciding to go head-to-head with them was a biggie.

Would we sink? What was going to get us noticed in a sea of super-writers? How do we take on the big fish?

All questions that went through our heads when we first released Sugar & Spice, but you know what? We did it.

There isn’t some magic formula (so you can stop emailing and asking thanks) or ‘how to’ guide (although we may publish some tips that wannabe writers might find useful in the future) and success is never guaranteed. But if you have the balls, a bit of market savvy and a decent story, then who knows? You might just make it.

Snow White is a pretty unique concept and one that kinda crept up on us without us realising. That’s the fun bit about writing. In the words of Forrest Gump “You never know what you’re gonna git.”

 Both Mark and I are ‘pantsers’, we never plot or sketch out ideas. We start writing and see where the story takes us. Sure, this isn’t for everyone, but for me, it’s freedom.

Freedom to write what I want, how I want and about what I want.

We didn’t want to write a typical crime thriller. I have lost count of the reviews I have read where readers have accused writers of ‘following the rule book’ and producing the bog-standard thriller.

We also wanted to do something completely different to Sugar & Spice.

There may well be a sequel (and even a third) book in that series in the future, heaven knows, we have discussed it enough, but for now, we wanted to give our readers something totally different. Something that hasn’t been done before.

I think we did it with The Rose Red series. Honestly, I do.

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill thriller. Yes, it is set in modern-day London, there is a bad guy (or two) and the protagonist fights constant battles and jumps through hoops to achieve her goals, but that’s where the similarities end.

If you are looking for a fast-paced, urban thriller, with characters you can relate to and some you wouldn’t want to, then this is for you.

Everyone remembers their fairy tales, right? Well Rose Red is re-writing happy endings.

As for nice fairy tales, well ours is just beginning.

I can’t wait to get Snow White out there and see what the readers think. I can’t wait to write the next one – I am in love with Red and the family already. We hope you will be too.

I like being a writer, in fact, I love it and who knows what we’ll come up with next?

The oceans are vast, there’s room for everyone; but it’s survival of the fittest – do or die – and we don’t intend to be sleeping with the fishes any time soon. 😉



  • Buy Sugar & Spice from Amazon

  • Buy the French edition of Sugar & Spice (Paraphilia)

  • Buy Snow White from Amazon

  • Buy Snow White in PRINT from Amazon

  • Buy Rapunzel from Amazon

  • Buy London’s Burning from Amazon

  • Buy Ring A-Ring O’Roses from Amazon

  • Buy The Night Before Christmas from Amazon

  • Buy Anca’s Story from Amazon

  • Buy Anca’s Story in PRINT from Amazon

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Buy ‘Awakenings’ – Book ONE of INDIGO KIDS from Amazon

%d bloggers like this: