The times are a changing, or at least that what Bob your uncle said in that song. He was probably not that far wrong, the times are indeed changing with regards to to the relationship between writers, reviewers and the love 'em or hate 'em giant bookseller Amazon.
Amazon have made a number of changes to the way it handles the relationship with reviewers and writers. Some of it is heavy handed, some of it is plain bonkers, but some of it in my opinion is for the best. I'll try and take you through these changes from my point of view and my understanding of the new way in which Amazon will deal with this relationship.
For writers the biggest bone of contention seems to me when Amazon removes reviews where they have thought that the reviewer and the writer has a relationship (although all of the changes in truth are just different sides to the same coin and are all intertwined).
This seems to be an odd one, as most writers these days have a strong social media presence, the nature of this is where they do come to have a relationship with their readers and thereby their reviewers. It's a funny one, I personally have never had a review removed by Amazon for this reason. And I very rarely review books from writers that I don't know at least on the very basic level. In fact I rank some of the writers I review to be very goods friends. I've never let this impinge on my reviews, I'll be as honest as the day is long, as I think falsely giving reviews to books that are at best average will just harm the genre in the long run. Most of the writers understand this and take the reviews on the chin. Some of course take it the wrong way, spit their dummies out, slam the doors and block you from all social media. That's their look out, it's no skin of my nose.
I have had review removed recently because the author complained and somehow it was removed, however since become a top ranking Amazon reviewer I have reviewed the book again and it is still there along with something like 30 helpful votes for it. And I think this is one of the reasons why I have never had reviews removed for knowing the author. It's a point I'll come back to and expand on later.
In my opinion the main reason I have not had a review removed is down to the fact that I review on Amazon under the Ginger Nuts of Horror tag. By doing this I think I have created a buffer between by actual account name and the authors So if you are a reviewer consider doing something along the same lines.
Amazon have got a lot of flack for this, but I can understand why they did it. We all know in fiction reviews the SOCK PUPPET still runs rampant. WE all know lots of writers give themselves fake 1* reviews, give other authors fave 1* reviews and take part in the good old circle jerk. Hell there is a certain American publisher that seem to live off the circle jerk. Pick almost any one of their books, look at the acknowledgements, then double check the reviews and they pretty much match perfectly. This has to stop, what they don't realize is that this sort of the behavior only damages the genre. If we only promote the mediocre, then that;s all the casual fans will see.
The new policies are still in their infancy, and are a bit heavy handed, but give it time and I think it will work out, let them iron out the creases and they will start to only delete the reviews that are clearly sock puppet reviews.
The flip side to this, and this is where it gets interesting is that they are now going to give the reviews from top reviewers more weight. What this means is in the past the final star rating of the book was just a simple averaging out of all the reviews so if a book has two 5* and two 3* reviews it will have a final rating of 4*, see all very simple. With the new Amazon proposed changes this won't be the case, Amazon are going to give more value to the reviews from high ranking reviewers. It won't mean the end to the fly by nasty 1* reviews from disgruntled authors or the fake 5 star reviews form Mr Tube Sock, but ti will lessen the damage that these two types of reviews do.
What this means for writers like you, is that people like me who review on their website and cross post to Amazon re now your very special friends. Our reviews will help you more than ever. So if we review your book go onto Amazon and click the
"WAS THIS REVIEW HELPFUL YES BUTTON"
But don't stop there, the helpful votes help to move reviewers up the ranking system, so any votes on any book whether you consider the writer to be a rival or not will help to alter the rankings on your reviews. This is the perfect example of everybody wins. So you writers need to stop thinking that you are in competition with other writers, help us reviewers out and we will help you out. W e have the power to do good so help us do it.
Here is my public profile on Amazon, so why don't you get the ball rolling and go and start clicking yes. You know it is the right thing to do.