Every day, I take some time out of my schedule to follow the KDP’s author forum as well as a couple other forums dealing with independent publishing. It’s a great way to connect with other writers and get help and useful information.
But it’s also the place for learning more about the business we’re in. Despite many opinions and views on self-publishing, it’s a business like any other, with unending issues you have to deal with. But even though I’m perfectly aware of the spitefulness of human nature and the tough fight to be noticed among thousands of other authors in the crowd, the behavior that seems to be spreading among competive indies like a wildfire is appalling to me.
Now, I have no need to complain, as I myself haven’t been a victim of this, but I still feel the need to address this issue. Had it been a few isolated cases, I would just put it down to a few people who never learned to respect others and compete fairly, but I’m hearing about this being done to more and more of my fellow authors.
The thing I’m talking about is independent authors, instead of just promoting themselves, doing everything to bring down their competition.
We have all heard about authors posting fake reviews on their own books in order to drive the ratings up and make the book seem more attractive to the potentiel buyer, but some of these authors take it much further.
Some actually pretends to be readers with no ulterior motive and posts vicious and downgrading reviews on other books in the same genre as they are writing themselves in order to hurt competition. They act like they have read the books and hated them, but a few clicks leading to their profiles show that they are not unpartial readers, but competing authors. Some even have the nerve to attack other books in their reviews and then suggest readers to read their book instead, even linking to them in the review.
The first time I read about someone who had been a victim of this, I was repulsed and didn’t get how anyone could have so little shame. I felt the same way the second time… And the third… Until I slowly started realizing that this was actually happening often and was becoming a common way to fight competition.
The worst thing is that so often it’s so blaringly obvious. I have seen reviews that don’t even target the book, but are direct attacks on the authors. Many of them are purely hateful comments with no arguments to explain why the “reviewer” dislikes the book/author so much.
And the most scary thing is that it’s not only happening among indie authors. Even some traditional publishers have used this method to bring down competition! This article on DailyMail.co.uk describes the behavior pretty well, and it was already published in 2010 showing that it’s not a new trend: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1333885/Amazons-amateur-book-reviewing-vicious-free-readers-victims.html
It’s a sad, sad thing that people are willing to stoop so low in order to get success. And in the end, I really doubt ruining potentiel success for others will ever lead to anything good anyway.
And what’s the use of reviews, when you can’t trust them at all?