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Bestsellers with More Than 150 One-Star Reviews

01 Oct

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Porter Anderson wrote in Jane Friedman’s blog a post about – I guess you can call it: Scandal of the Year.  Here are some snippets from his article, make sure to read the complete post, including the NY Times article and comments.

“Potential reviewers were told that if they felt they could not give a book a five-star review, they should say so and would still be paid half their fee…As you might guess, this hardly ever happened.”  Quote from a NYT article “The best reviews money can buy“.

Mr. Locke was secure enough in his talents to say that he did not care what the reviews said. “If someone doesn’t like my book,” he instructed, “they should feel free to say so.” But additionally: He also asked that the reviewers make their book purchases directly from Amazon, which would then show up as an “Amazon verified purchase” and increase the review’s credibility.

Locke appears to have been a happy customer of Rutherford. Having e-mailed Rutherford in 2010 that he was “ready to roll” with the false reviews he bought, he seems unapologetic now for using such a mechanism to build his now-discredited “success.” He confessed in the NY Times to contravening Amazon policy.

This NYT article got a wide range of responses:
“This is fraud! This guy, along with John Locke and his ilk, should be banned by Amazon for defrauding their clients http://t.co/xmDb4Pxx”

“It’s hard to overstate how angry I am with shysters like John Locke for taking the easy way out.” http://t.co/rTUk65kZ #selfpubauthorsspeak
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Jason Boog at GalleyCat pulls off an entertaining twist on the issue, creating a list of “Major Bestsellers with More Than 150 One-Star Reviews”:

  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (717 one-star reviews)
  • A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin (456 one-star reviews)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (432 one-star reviews)
  • A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (248 one-star reviews)
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James (3,665 one-star reviews)

When you read Porter Anderson’s blog post, don’t miss to scroll down and read all the comments, both authors and readers are pretty mad.
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I must say, I bought Locke’s book “How I sold 1 Million books in 5 months” – without paying any attention to reviews – and read /scanned it about three times to find out how he really did it. I wanted to learn from him how he achieved this enormous success in such a short time. But essentially he said he used only contacts through social media, especially Twitter to achieve those bestseller numbers. My feeling was: “he hides something”. Now I know…

It would be interesting to find out how all the other commercial reviewers, such as Kirkus (charges over $400) or Book Rooster (less than $100) handle this. Do their reviewers get the books for free or do they have to buy it on Amazon? Are their reviewers really free to use the whole range of stars?  One can also ask: Are 1-star reviews written undercover by the competition?  Or an honest valuation of the books content?

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