Monday, 24 September 2012

...and trolls

As a companion piece to my last blog I thought it pertinent to mention another species of review which gives cause for annoyance or amusement depending on whether you are on the receiving end.

With review sites like Goodreads and all retail sites having customer reviews which are open to anyone regardless of whether the purchase of said item can be verified, the way is clear for trolls to put the boot into any unsuspecting author they deem deserving. I call them trolls because personal attacks on an author can hardly be called reviews. These troll attacks can be the result of many things, but usually it's someone with a grudge for one reason or another.  I've seen spates of negative "reviews" appear after a forum debacle or after an author has received a bad press for whatever reason. Self publishing guru John Locke received a raft of these after the revelation that he had paid for some of his reader reviews. 

You can easily spot these in the one-star or two-star (if they're feeling generous) section. The giveaway is that they contain no specific details about the book, only vague criticisms of style/genre/cover art spiced with digs at the author. They often lead to bitter rows in the comments too which reinforce the vitriolic motive.

As well as these there also is a subset of trolls who fancy themselves as experts on a particular subject and make it their mission to nitpick every detail in a novel in order to write self-aggrandising reviews which are really nothing to do with the book at all but a means to show off their amazing prowess. Historical fiction is particularly prone to this kind of trolling.

These trolls are more interested in boosting their own self image than relaying useful information. Some barely mention the book, instead listing their own (dubious) qualifications. Sadly their lack of knowledge is even more apparent than the gaffes they are uncovering. Some have trouble stringing a coherent sentence together and it is hard to take someone's pompously proclaimed qualifications seriously when they can't even spell.

So there's much entertainment to be had from troll reviews. What do you do if you get one? Have a good laugh and ignore it. The one thing trolls love is to get attention - it's the reason they do it, after all. Don't feed them.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

On Sock Puppets and Reviews

Everybody's doing it. Or so it would seem.

In case you haven't heard - in which case you should come out of that sensory deprivation chamber NOW and get with the programme - there's been a lot of rumpus this week about authors faking rave reviews by creating sock puppet accounts. Go and Google sock puppet if you want all the sordid details, I can't be bothered trawling through the multitude of news items. Not only that but SP guru and Kindle pin-up boy John Locke admitted he'd achieved his jaw dropping sales by paying for five star reviews. 

Well, I'm disillusioned. With each new revelation it seems the world of honest law-abiding authors and reviewers is nothing more than an illusion. And I can't help wondering how long this has been going on. Did the doyens of literature stoop to such disreputable tactics to launch their masterpieces?

Amazon review of:  Oliver Twist by Norbert Cheeseworthy

This is the best of books. It's not the worst of books. Were I a younger man I'd aspire to write such a tome myself.

Was this review helpful to you? YES/NO    78 out of 98 people found this review helpful. 

Amazon review of: Genesis by Old Testament Scribe

And lo! I looked upon the face of the book and saw that it was good. Certainly worthy of five stars.

Was this review helpful to you? YES/NO    8965 out of 98888 people found this review helpful

Amazon review of Emma by Regency Fop

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a discerning reader should shell out a good part of his fortune to gain possession of this book.
                                                      Was this review helpful to you? YES/NO   76 out of 82 people found this review helpful