You may already know that book reviews can be extremely sweet, or bitter as a mouthful of moth balls. You may also know that a bad review can sit on your book page, festering, scaring readers away until it falls out of sight. But did you know there are some reviews that can be posted to the "Editorial Review" section of your Amazon book page without your consent?
And did you further realize that these reviews are posted via Amazon at the very top of your page… before your product description?
How do I know this? I was helping an author spruce up his book page this week. I did my thing and saved the changes and told him that the updates should show up in a day or two as usual. They didn't. I didn't understand. I went to his Amazon page and noticed that there were two reviews posted at the TOP. In fact, the product description was pushed out of sight because of the length of the reviews.
I was pleased that one review was a starred review, but the first review was extremely critical. The Good review was published by Booklist and the bad review was posted by Publishers Weekly.
What shocked me more than the fact that the author had a bad review on his page, was that the review wasn't even accessable in the author's "Author Central" account. This is supposed to be the page where an author and/or publisher can access the complete book information, and make changes after intial publication.
I told the author that I couldn't delete that review if it wasn't in his book details. I told him to contact Amazon and have them remove it. Keep in mind, I believe in freedom of opinion, but not on the product description page! That's where the author should be able to pitch his book. The review section should be where reviews are posted.
Here's Amazon's reply to my writer friend:
"My name is Chantel from Author Central.
Publishers Weekly [reviews] are considered licensed content, provided to Amazon.com and owned by the publication. In order to keep Editorial Reviews objective and informative, we rely on many sources to provide content for this section. The reviews may be positive or negative; that is not a factor in our decision. We work to create a diversity of opinion on our site, and this may include negative reviews, when they arise.
While we're glad to offer you the option to add to this section or to correct typos, licensed reviews already appearing on your book's Product Detail page cannot be removed or moved to a different place on the Detail page."
Wow! That's a big deal!
Has this happened to you? Have you submitted your book to these sites for review? If you did, you better hope that they like it because a review by a reputable publication posted at THE TOP OF YOUR PRODUCT PAGE can be as damaging as a shot in your book's head. And you could be next.
If you have experience this, did you resolve it? If so I'd love to know what transpired. Here's a little bit of information (taken from each website) about two of the publications that Amazon is using for this valuable "content". Like I said, I'm all for diversity of opinion, and I'm all for Amazon finding professional methods of weeding out books that are not what they say they are, or riddled with gross errors and poorly edited material. But I think they should be a little more courteous to the author/publisher and let the reader find out what the story is about before they post any review good or bad.
Publishers Weekly is the international journal of book publishing and bookselling, including business news, reviews and bestseller lists targeted at publishers, booksellers, librarians and literary agents.
Booklist, the magazine the New York Times calls "an acquisitions bible for public and school librarians nationwide," is the review journal of the American Library Association. It recommends works of fiction, nonfiction, children's books, reference books, and media to its 30,000 institutional and personal subscribers. In-house editors and contributing reviewers from around the country review more than 7,500 books each year, most before publication.
Here's an update on The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe: I am getting the book back from Neal Hock (editor) tonight, and will make corrections and format this week. That means it shoul be available in digital formats this weekend. I will make it available in all ebook formats and sell it on B&N, Amazon and Smashwords for now. BOOM!
Jeff Bennington is the author of Twisted Vengeance, Reunion, and Creepy