Monday, 4 February 2013

Amazon Reviews

This is something I struggle with. I spend way too much time thinking about the idea of reviewing other writers on Amazon. Why? I'll fire some random thoughts into a list. Let's see how many we get.

1. The sockpuppet thing (OLD NEWS, I KNOW!) bugged me in many ways. That's all I'll say about that topic.

2. It's nice to be nice. When other writers review my work on Amazon, I remember their name and if I get time, I return the favour.

3. 'Favour' is a tricky word, isn't it? Most people don't expect quid pro quo, I'm sure. I don't. But 'favour' gives the impression that some reviews may be more generous than they should be.

4. I don't finish a book I don't like unless I'm being paid to review or talk about it.

5. Sometimes I read a book, say to myself, 'That was great! I should review that on Amazon!' (especially if it's an ebook or a small press title) and then I forget to do it.

6. Forgetting to do things can stress me out.

7. I don't write well when I'm stressed.

8. I like it when people like me.

9. I don't care when people don't like me (this may be bravado).

10. Sometimes I think that I'm wasting writing time by trying to come up with smart and snappy reviews on Amazon.

11. There's some weird digital black hole that often deletes reviews written by writers for other writers who don't make money from said other writers book sales but have the potential to and then everybody gets angry. (I might not have paid much attention to that last phenomenonenomnomnom.)

12. I don't like to work for free any more than anybody else.

13. Should Amazon reviews be considered work?

14. There are more thoughts rattling about in my head but I'm starting to get worried about my time and mental health here.

The list ends now.

I've been very lucky with reviews to date on blogs and on Amazon. I may even have been reviewed a few times in newspapers and the like. Some people seem to like my writing. Some people definitely don't. What I'm interested in knowing is: Am I being a bit ridiculous here? Should I just stop reviewing on Amazon altogether? Have I just wasted another chunk of time right there? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section. Or don't. I know we're all busy.

Anybody reading this blog for the first time should know, my books are generally better written than this here post. If I'm lying, buy one of my books and read it and then post an angry review on Amazon. ABC, Always Be Closing! Tee hee.



Dana King said...

I have a not dissimilar approach to writing Amazon reviews, though not quite as elaborate.

Any time I read a book I like a lot, I review it on my blog, and copy it to Amazon, omitting words and phrases their censors may find objectionable.

After that, I'm done with it. It is gets a reaction as you indicated, and someone wants to read something of mine and possibly post a review, excellent. I did it as a service to the readers, and, to a lesser degree, to the author, who may have troubles finding a review outlet in these times.

Stuart Neville said...

I don't post Amazon reviews of novels as a policy. I'll review the odd movie or music related item, but not novels. It's just a great big can of worms waiting to spill open.

Gerard Brennan said...

I think you might have nailed my main worry, Dana. Am I writing reviews for readers or writers? I am a reader and a writer and I think as a writer I have a conflict of interests but as a reader I kind of have a duty to express my opinion. But mostly, I think, I think too much.

Gerard Brennan said...

Stuart - I've noticed a lot of writers have the same policy and I can dig it. At first my Amazon reviews started as an extension of the original CSNI intention (to draw attention to the writing coming out of NI) and that's reflected in my username. But that was before I'd been published in any significant way.

It might be time to reconsider my own policy.


Barry Graham said...

I don't think of writing Amazon reviews as work, since my reviews tend to be just a sentence or two (unless I copy and paste something from my blog). The reason I post reviews of books I like is that it does make a difference to the visibility of the book on Amazon, and there are great books (yours included) that aren't getting the attention they deserve, so anything that helps books and readers to find each other is important.

seana graham said...

It is complicated. It's bad enough trying to sort it all out, but when you work in an indie book probably shouldn't be consorting with Amazon at all. And yet, I do. I write some thoughts about books on Goodreads, which feels somewhat less compromised, so I don't bother putting up posts on Amazon for most things, but I'll make an exception for books by people I know through blog land who I think do need more exposure. It's a fine line, but on the other hand, I get kind of tired of feeling like I have to show a more delicate morality than the average reader. So if I feel like writing something up on Amazon, I do, and don't lose much sleep over it. I do try and put some of it in other less monopoly seeking places, though.

But Stuart's right--it is a can of worms.23

Gerard Brennan said...

Hi Barry! Thanks for stopping by, and thank you for the kind words. Your review of WEE ROCKETS makes me smile every time I read it (but I'm too ashamed to admit how many times I've read it).

Personally, I think I enjoy telling people I know about books face-to-face more than anything else. For me it's much more satisfying to recommend a certain type of book to my father-in-law and a totally different one to my sister and so on. Kind of like tailored reviews for a very select audience. And with more people owning Kindles, smart phones and tablets these days, I can't help but wonder if I've contributed to other writers' sales more effectively this way. Then again, I may be underestimating the power of the Amazon review...


Gerard Brennan said...

Hi Seana! Yours is an interesting position, and not one I envy. I feel like I should mention that I love book stores. If I had it my way, I'd have my books stocked in your shop, David Torrans' No Alibis and any other indie outlet that would have me. And with a decent travel budget, I'd visit each one too. Unfortunately, Amazon makes up the bulk of my sales simply because that's where my publisher gets most traction. I feel like I'm missing out on a huge chunk of the writer experience as I saw it in my formative years. But I have to count myself lucky that I'm reaching readers at last and I'm sure there are others out there that'd happily mug me for that opportunity. My situation is mostly complicated because of me and the decisions I labour over and eventually make. Time to simplify things, methinks.