Alphabet Blogging Challenge Day 18

It’s day 18 of my September alphabet blogging challenge

The letter is R

and the subject is REVIEWS

I thought of doing a post on rewriting and revising today, but I’ve written a few posts specifically on writing, so I thought I’d have a change (bit of one, anyway)!

I also wondered about relief, as I’ve recently read somewhere that the Cambodian alphabet has 74 letters! Phew! I think 26 is a challenge.

But I’ve settled for reviews – especially of the amazon variety – as they’ve been somewhat in the news recently with RJ Ellory’s ‘outing’ as a fake reviewer for his own books!

When I first heard that, I thought it couldn’t possibly be true. I’ve heard him talk at a major writers’ conference, and although I haven’t read any of his books, I know he’s a very popular crime author and his books have sold world-wide. Why on earth would someone like that compromise his position by writing fake reviews?

However, the following day he apologised for his ‘error of judgement’! And apparently he didn’t only write glowing reviews for himself, but negative ones for his rivals!

I presumed his reviews would be withdrawn, but I’ve checked amazon and there are a few suspicious ones. I do wonder about the one that describes Ellory as a Shakespeare for today!

He was due to be the headline speaker at the PowWow Lit Fest in Birmingham on Sunday, but he’s withdrawn (too cowardly to face people, I suppose) and they’ve got Alison Moore (author of shortlisted Booker ‘The Lightship’ instead). A better bet, I’d say.

But the RJ Ellory issue does highlight the problem of amazon reviews. They appear to wield a huge amount of influence, and yet, the system is clearly open to abuse. Even if people don’t falsify their reviews, friends and family can be encouraged to write lovely comments, artificially bumping up the five-star status.

Perhaps I’m just envious, as although I’ve had a few really nice reviews from people I know, and from others that I don’t know, the majority of readers don’t seem to do it. I’ve had strangers make the effort to contact me with lovely comments about ‘Unravelling’, but they don’t post reviews on amazon. I know a lot of people don’t think of it (as well as others who are opposed to amazon full stop) and I’m certainly not blaming anyone, let me hurry up and add! It’s really nice when readers get in touch – and thinking about it, I don’t remember ever writing to a writer even when I’ve loved their book – but a bit of me would like to say to those readers ‘You couldn’t post a review on amazon, could you? Oh, and while you’re about it, could you make it five stars?’!

Otherwise, there’s the danger I might start writing them myself!

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  1. Donna says:


    Hint taken, and I will be posting a review on Amazon and anywhere else that would be of use to you. I can see how important they are to authors like yourself, who self-publish) so I’ll do what I can to support you.


  2. Lindsay says:

    Thanks for that, Donna. I appreciate it, but I don’t mean to push people into writing a review (I think my post might have the opposite effect and irritate people anyway). I was more musing on why people don’t – and I include myself in that! And yet the reviews matter to all writers, self or traditionally published. I really wish amazon didn’t hold such sway, but that’s a bit like wishing the tide didn’t come in!

  3. Donna says:

    I can’t see your comments irritating, I thought it was a well-considered post and if it helps you get more sales, which I assume most of your blog-readers would support, even better. But I did forget to put in a smiley after “Hint taken” 🙂

  4. Guilty as charged ma’am … I think I’ve written one review on Amazon ~ and would be much more likely to write to the author directly ~ something quite impersonal about the book seller methinks …

  5. Lindsay says:

    No, I don’t write them either, Polly, but unfortunately they see to count.

  6. Hi Lindsay,
    It’s amazing, isn’t it, how few folk write reviews. I’ve had over 14,000 downloads of my book now and only 30 reviews – 30 reviews which I’m really grateful for, of course. The sad fact is that people don’t tend to review unless they are asked, and I’m just as bad!
    I’m really enjoying these posts, by the way. I can see this published in some form as the A to Z of Writing. Well, I’d like that anyway, even if you just let me have it as a pdf 🙂 xxx

  7. Lindsay says:

    Perhaps the fact that they don’t write reviews but buy our books, Jo, is more important than the reviews. In a way, that’s what I was trying to suggest in my post. If only the amazon review could assume less importance. If only it wasn’t SO important that the likes of Ellory feels the need to make false claims. But as it says in Unravelling … ‘If is a little word that stands in the way/But only for if, we’d be happy today!’
    On a more positive note, I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts. I’ve worried that lengthy posts, dropping into people’s inboxes every day, might provide a yawn factor. In fact, I’m so sensitive, I’ve noticed I’ve ‘lost’ a subscriber and thought – well they must have got fed up with the alphabet!
    However, like your idea of A-Z of Writing!

  8. Becky gethin says:

    I think one has to be very careful what one wishes for on Amazon! I have seen some hilarious reviews of products I am much too shy to show you!!!!! Cheers Becky

  9. Lindsay says:

    Completely agree , Becky. If we’re not careful we might get a five-star from RJ Ellory!

  10. Christine says:

    I’m guilty of not reviewing books on Amazon. No excuse, probably just laziness. But I am going to make myself do it if only for the writing practice! I answered a job ad on an online writer’s forum recently (is that apostrophe in the right place?) for Amazon reviewers. The spec was to write only positive reviews of between 250 and 500 words and the rate of pay was £8! Firstly, the pay wasn’t enough – not for the writing but for the reading and secondly, the chances that all of the books were deserving of 5 star reviews was unlikely. I turned it down but I’ve since heard it’s banned by Amazon to pay for reviews. Not sure how they police it though.

  11. Lindsay says:

    I don’t know whether it’s something we should feel guilty about, Christine. I’m very ambivalent about the whole thing. On the one hand, I’m delighted when someone writes a review on Unravelling, but the system is open to such abuse, and it’s annoying that it seems to have achieved such significance in book-buying decisions.
    I didn’t know people were actually employed to write 5-star reviews! That’s amazing.

  12. Actually I’m really enjoying them arriving in my inbox everyday! I’m going to be bereft when we get to Z … you’ll just have to come up with something else. Seriously, you should consider publishing the series as an ebook. I’ll buy it x (And I’ll format it for you if you need me to)

  13. Lindsay says:

    That’s really good to know, Jo! And your comment yesterday has got me thinking about the possibility of an ebook. I’d need to do further work on it, but it would be fun. So, I might be calling on your expertise!

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