Author Street Teams Drive-By Digging Self-Published Books. Author wars - authors behaving badly.

"People keep leaving one star reviews on my book, saying they'll never buy or read it because it's self-published. Isn't that against Amazon's terms of service? People shouldn't be allowed to leave reviews on books they never bought."

I agree. It shouldn't matter how the book was published. The book is published. Period. If you change your reviews based on how the book is published, then you are not leaving an honest review on any book you review. Your trade published reviews will end up harsher than needs be and your self published reviews will be watered down. Reviewers should pick a standard and use it for all their reviews regardless of how the book was published.

I've seen reviews on books that "accused" the book of being self-published when in fact it was published by a little heard of imprint of one of the Big Five. Kind of funny really.

I suppose my thoughts are: Why does it matter how the book got out there? Trade house, indie press, vanity press, self published, carrier pigeon... it doesn't matter - it is published, now it has to sink or swim just like every other book out there regardless of how it got published.

I remember once, a reader said to me that they felt bad that I "had to self-publish" my books.


They said how they went out of their way to give self-pubbed books higher reviews than they deserved, because they hoped it would help the authors to get "picked up" by publishing houses.


Oh dear.

Here's the thing.

I've been a published author since 1978. Many of my self-pubbed books today, are actually reprints of my older out-of-print trade pubbed books. They are books that I wrote 30+ years ago and were published traditional, originally. The REASON they were self-published is because -

  • #1 Readers requested the books be brought back in print
  • #2  the average publishing house pays a 4% royalty on reprints of long out-of-print books and self-pubbed I get a 70% royalty.

I think what bothered me about what that reader had said was that they were assuming the ONLY reason to self-publish was because you were not good enough to trade publish, therefore they had a sense of needing to pity the poor self-published author.

Okay, they had good intentions (I think) but the attitude of "oh poor self pubbed author" is kind of condescending and makes me feel like they think we are little lost puppies that need a pat on the head and be tossed a bone.

I mean, think about it: how would you like it if you were the owner of a "ethnic/minority" mini-mart and your customers only bought from you instead of the 7-11 because they thought you were inferior and they wanted to make you feel better. I mean, really stop and think about how mean, bigoted, racist, snide, arrogant, condescending, hateful, and hurtful that really is. 

How would it make you feel if you were a minority race and owned a store and someone came up to you and said they felt bad that you were born a minority and they wanted to make you feel better about not being white like them, and that's the only reason they shop at your store?

Can you see how absolutely mean and hateful that "good deed" really is?

So I ask, how is THAT any different from the people who leave good reviews on self-pubbed books just to make the author feel better about having to have suffered through being self-published?

It isn't. 

I think people need to get the "suffering/starving artist" mentality out of their heads. A lot of self-pubbed authors have bigger incomes then trade pubbed ones. They aren't exactly suffering from having been "forced" to self published.

Leaving a fake 5 star review, just because the author was self-pubbed and you felt bad about them not getting a trade pubbed contract is just as mean and hurtful as leaving a 1 star review that lashes out your hatred of self-pubbed authors. Sugar coating a prejudice, doesn't make it any less of a prejudice. In fact, by sugar coating it, all you do is prove to the world you are arrogant and letting your  ego fly high, saying "Look at me, I'm doing a good deed by giving this poor little piece of crap a tidbit, see how great I am for showering my rays of uber greatness on this worthless piece of trash."

A fake review is a fake review, no matter how many stars you put on it. 

I wish more readers would just review the book and leave thoughts of how the book was published out of it. It's not their job to judge an author's motives for self-publishing. Likewise reviews are not a podium to bash every self-pubbed book you see, or praise every self-pubbed book just to promote the indie movement. Reviews are not the place for agendas. 

I think part of the problem is that there are way too many authors out there who think the review systems are a place to get promotions. Too many authors are screaming "give me good reviews, pat me on the back and tell me how great I am".

Authors are forgetting one VERY IMPORTANT fact: reviews are written by READERS for READERS.

  • A review is not a place to say: "Hey author, I love/hate your bo
  • A review is not a place to say: "Hey author, I love/hate you"
  • A review is not a place to say: "I love/hate all self-pubbed books and this book is why."

Reviews are a place to tell other readers: "Hey, to all my fellow readers, I read this book and here's what I thought about it, here's why I liked/did not like the plot/story/characters/flow/etc and why I think you should/shouldn't read it...followed by 500+ words on the story, the characters, the plot, etc."

Reviews are for READERS not authors. I wish more authors (and even more readers) knew that.

Ah, but it is AGAINST both Amazon's and GoodReads (who is owned by Amazon) ToS for ANY author to leave a review on the book of another author. Authors are simply NOT ALLOWED to write book reviews.



So the ONLY way for an author to retaliate and leave fake reviews, is to violate the ToS of the review site itself.

Authors can and do have ALL of their books banned and deleted off Amazon if Amazon catches them leaving reviews on books on either Amazon or GoodReads.

If your book receives a review (good or bad) from a fellow author, that author is in violation of the ToS they had to sign and agree to when they joined either Amazon or GoodReads and by retaliating, they have tricked you into violating those ToS as well.

Perhaps the problem is too many authors publish on Amazon and join GoodReads without ACTUALLY READING the terms of service they signed and agreed to at the time they joined?

IMPORTANT: Amazon will at best delete your review, at worst delete your account AND the author's account AND all of her books. 

Friends, family, and acquaintances (including fans who have friended the author on FaceBook) are STRICTLY FORBIDDEN from reviewing an author's book and Amazon is very vigilant in tracking ISPN of reviewers to enforce that ToS.

You as a reader agreed to those terms when you joined Amazon as a buyer (and GoodReads which is owned by Amazon) and the author agreed to not ask friends or family for reviews when they signed their contract with Amazon to publish.

Short answer: Don't review her book at all. It's against ToS.

But, if a book is getting a lot of 1 star reviews (real ones, not fake ones intended to malign the author) what should you do? What do I do? I unpublish the book, rewrite it if needs be, have it re-edited, have it reformatted, etc. Depending on what it needs. Then republish it

I once uploaded the wrong draft to a book. It DID get published with the unedited draft instead of the finished manuscript. In that case it was a simply fix. All I had to do was reupload the correct file.

I see my books as forever a work in progress that can always use improvement no matter how good I think they are. I do strive to put up my best work, and if there is a problem, I do go back into the manuscript and fix the problem then upload the corrected file. It's our job as authors to constantly improve our work. If our work from 5 years ago was shoddy and very below our current work, it is our responcability to go back and fix the old works to bring them up to the standrads of our current work. Our readers deserve our best work. 

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