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text 2016-09-23 18:39
A Discovery of Archives

I learned a very long time ago that keeping a paper trail can be a very good thing.  Therefore, I tend to keep . . . . .  everything.  Or at least as much as I can.  I've avoided a couple of lawsuits as a result, and held a few people to account when they would have blamed me for their own (intentional) mistakes.

 

This past week was the third anniversary of the Great Purge over on that other site, and for many of us our anniversary of joining BookLikes.  As fate would have it, this morning I stumbled upon a forgotten collection of archived emails related to the Purge, to Socks in Frocks and fiverr accounts and fake reviews and all that good stuff. 

 

I sure don't miss that drama!!

 

 

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text 2016-01-06 23:02
Josh Olson has been pre-empted

(This post will eventually be cross-referenced to its follow-up.  Please stand by.)

 

(edited at end)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title on the cover doesn't match title in the listing??

:facepalm: then :head desk:

 

 

 

 

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text 2015-09-10 03:14
Could You Write the Book for Me, Too?

[reblogged from 38 Caliber Reviews]

 

Scarlet on BL posted this. Let me just repost that screenshot:

 

Well now, isn’t this just so special? Let’s talk about this.

 

Congrats! You are on my list…” Run, run now. “to receive an ebook… for free” Oh really? Just how “free” is free? “in exchange for a positive review.” Oh-oh, a positive review. It’s good to be so certain that your book is the next best thing to Hemingway or Rowling or whoever but “in exchange” is already a price attached to this incipient literary crapsterpiece (and usually when they insist on a positive review the book sucks Nile water).

 

But it’s free, and surely if you absolutely, positively hate it— well, we’ll get to that. “After reading”, at least the author wants you to read it. I’ve seen authors imploring their fans for reviews and trying to make it easier by saying they didn’t have to read the book. Oops, looks like that “free” price tag is getting a little more expensive. “please help me spread the word by posting positive reviews about it on all social media sites”. On all social media sites and please notice that you are posting only positive reviews. But just in case you didn’t notice, “This includes positive reviews on…”, s/he will just ever so gently repeat it. In the first three sentences s/he uses the phrase “positive reviews” three times.

 

Already I don’t like this book. But wait! There’s lots more, “Amazon, Goodreads, and any other“, s/he left out Booklikes and Leafmarks; continues with, “blog, vlog, Instagram, Tubmlr (sp), Facebook, Google, or any …“, left out Scrazzle. This isn’t so bad, just copy and paste and paste and paste and…

 

Why do I feel so tired? Now you are instructed not only where but when, “please mention it BEFORE and AFTER reading“, at least s/he said please. “including links to it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble…“, I wish s/he would be more specific.

 

Now we get into the whatifIhateit instructions, written with a sense of disbelief because how could you possibly hate this book? Maybe because the author took twice as long to write your rules for reviewing as s/he did to write the damned book. Am I the only one thinking this “free” book is too much work? Do I even know this author?

 

IF”, and that’s a big if, “for some reason”, and really, it would be such a teeny, tiny, nit picky little reason, “you don’t like the novel”, GASP, SMELLING SALTS, “don’t think it’s worth a 4 or 5 star review”, OMG, you brute, you bully, you bully thug, you have no taste, “please DON’T leave a review on places like Amazon,”.

 

Why not? “as 1-3 star reviews REALLY HURT the Indie AUTHOR”. What about the poor, bewildered, exhausted reader? The poor, hard working reader who is spending all their spare time reading the book, mentioning the book, linking to the book, and finally they are ready to post and paste their review. If you, Dear Readers, are that poor reader take your finger off the post button because, “promotional sites will remove the author if you don’t have at least a four star average”.

 

Three words: Not. My. Problem.

 

Cold? Not a bit, this is a business transaction and you are not getting a “free” book, you are working damned hard for that book. The author is not without a point about this but here you have to make a choice; if you are lucky the book will live up to the author’s hype but if it doesn’t, what are you going to do next?

 

I recommend sleeping on it because if you’ve been busily following the author’s instructions you need to rest. Maybe a good meal, some wine. A pedicure.

 

So what to do if you didn’t like it, “write me and share with me why.”, or not. Just don’t tell any one else. Ever. You’ll kill my career, my glorious career. It doesn’t matter if I have written a big, steaming pile of fewmets, it just matters that you don’t tell anybody. Ever. Because I don’t care, I just want to sell it. To as many people as possible before someone who doesn’t know better or is a jealous hater tanks MY GLORIOUS CAREER by leaving a nesty, career-killing 1-3 star review.

 

But you won’t not like it. I spent a lot of time on it, nowhere the amount of time I’ve spent on writing out these instructions but this is the important stuff. This is where I become rich and famous. I just need as many of you as I can con persuade into writing those 4 and 5 star reviews.

 

Now here is the very best part. I can’t believe any author is quite this mind-numbingly stupid.

 

As a huge favor, in your review, please DO NOT write things like, “I received a free copy from the author for an honest review…” Why not? “That’s an automatic turn off in review world and discredits your review from those who need to read it, so please don’t do that. Pretty please. :)” What the…?

 

I don’t know where to start. First, it would be a HUGE favor, all right. One that could land you in some trouble with the FTC, not to mention that some of those social media sites you are busily (or not) posting your review on take a dim view of reviewers “forgetting” that little disclosure. A review that includes the disclosure is not an automatic turn off to me, it speaks to the reviewer being honest. And second, what the hell is the author trying to say with, “discredits your review from those who need to read it”? Does s/he mean that readers skip over reviews that disclose? I’m really not sure.

 

So, to sum it up, the author wants you to promote his/her book by posting, linking, reviewing. The author wants you to do your very best to make sure the author sells a lot of books and maybe becomes a well-known, sought after author. The author does not want you to ever post publicly about the book if you didn’t like it. The author wants you to ignore the FTC rules and the rules of the sites you review on.

All for a “free” book.

 

 

(from Webster’s online dictionary)

 

Full Definition of FREE


1


a : having the legal and political rights of a citizen

b : enjoying civil and political liberty

c : enjoying political independence or freedom from outside domination

d : enjoying personal freedom : not subject to the control or domination of another


2


a : not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being : choosing or capable of choosing for itself

b : determined by the choice of the actor or performer

c : made, done, or given voluntarily or spontaneously


3


a : relieved from or lacking something and especially something unpleasant or burdensome —often used in combination

b : not bound, confined, or detained by force


4


a : having no trade restrictions

b : not subject to government regulation

c of foreign exchange : not subject to restriction or official control


5

a : having no obligations (as to work) or commitments <I’ll be free this evening>


b : not taken up with commitments or obligations

 

6

: having a scope not restricted by qualification


7


a : not obstructed, restricted, or impeded

b : not being used or occupied

c : not hampered or restricted in its normal operation


8


a : not fastened

b : not confined to a particular position or place

c : capable of moving or turning in any direction

d : performed without apparatus

e : done with artificial aids (as pitons) used only for protection against falling and not for support


9


a : not parsimonious

b : outspoken

c : availing oneself of something without stint

 


d : frank, open

e : overly familiar or forward in action or attitude

f : licentious


10

: not costing or charging anything


11


a (1) : not united with, attached to, combined with, or mixed with something else : separate (2) : freestanding

b : chemically uncombined

c : not permanently attached but able to move about

d : capable of being used alone as a meaningful linguistic form — compare 5bound 7


12


a : not literal or exact

b : not restricted by or conforming to conventional forms


13

: favorable —used of a wind blowing from a direction more than six points from dead ahead


14

: not allowing slavery


15

: open to all comers

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text 2015-04-17 07:55
GoodReads bans Kevin Weinberg/parogar

Couldn't have happened to a more deserving donkey's derriere.

Source: 38caliberreviews.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/goodreads-bans-kevin-weinbergparogar
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text 2015-04-10 15:29
It boggles the mind: An update on arrogance, hypocrisy, and deceit

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/977093/when-arrogance-hypocrisy-and-deceit-all-come-together-in-one-place

 

Self-publishing author Sandy Nathan, who calls reviewers stupid and tells them how to review, who buys reviews and perhaps Amazon up-votes on fiverr, is a Vine Voice preferred reviewer on Amazon.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Reflections-Prayers-Heart-Year-Old/product-reviews/1499632401/ref=cm_cr_pr_btm_link_2?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=recent&reviewerType=all_reviews&formatType=all_formats&filterByStar=all_stars&pageNumber=

2

 

 

"Vine Voice" reviewers are selected by Amazon and invited into the program.  The invitation is based at least in part on the reviewer's ranking, especially on how "helpful" their reviews are.  At least that's what Amazon says; the actual process of selection remains . . . mysterious.

 

Amazon Vine invites the most trusted reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make informed purchase decisions. Amazon invites customers to become Vine Voices based on their reviewer rank, which is a reflection of the quality and helpfulness of their reviews as judged by other Amazon customers.  (http://www.amazon.com/gp/vine/help)

 

Since it's very possible Sandy Nathan was buying "helpful" votes from fiverr sellers, was she essentially buying her way into the Vine program?  (Nathan has, apparently, been a Vine Voice reviewer since 2012, so it's not likely she used fiverr votes to get into the program, but it's possible.)

 

That "Vine Voice" label, along with other marks of Amazon reviewer status such as numerical ranking, implies a certain stamp of approval by Amazon that the review and the reviewer are somehow a little more credible than the average "Kindle Customer" or other screen name chosen by the reviewer.  After all, "Vine Voice" reviewers are chosen by Amazon,  One can't apply to be a Vine Voice reviewer; there are no auditions.

 

Even if the review written isn't of a Vine product, the review still shows the reviewer's tag of "Vine Voice."

 

I found Sandy Nathan's above review quite by accident last night.  After the news of Amazon's lawsuit against a supplier of fake product reviews was announced a few days ago, I went to check on some of the fiverr reviewers I'd tagged months ago.  Many had been removed from Goodreads, but none, not a single one, had ever been removed from Amazon.  I wasn't the only person reporting them, but still, nothing happened.

 

So last night I just went to the Amazon.com page and keyed in the name of an author I knew had been buying fiverr reviews and who was himself a fiverr reviewer, Michael Beas.  You can see my Booklikes report on Mr. Beas's relationship with fiverr here.

 

The first of Mr. Beas's books to come up on Amazon was Reflections: Prayers from the heart of a 14 year old boy.  As I skimmed down through the reviews written for this book last summer and fall, I recognized a lot of the old familiar fiverr account names:  Chloe H, R. Coker, Stan Law (who bought lots and lots and lots of fiverr reviews).  I wasn't shocked to see Sandy Nathan's name, because I already knew she was affiliated with fiverr as a buyer of reviews and other stuff, and because I knew she wrote in a shall we say spiritual vein. 

 

What did surprise me, however, was that "Vine Voice" seal of Amazon approval attached to her name.

 

In the wake of the recent lawsuit filed by Amazon against a company that sold "fake" product reviews, there's been additional attention given to Amazon's own policies on reviewing.

 

Two specific policies appear to apply to the Sandy Nathan "Vine Voice" situation.  I'll address the second one first, since it's more relative to what I've already posted.

 

Paid Reviews – We do not permit reviews or votes on the helpfulness of reviews that are posted in exchange for compensation of any kind, including payment (whether in the form of money or gift certificates), bonus content, entry to a contest or sweepstakes, discounts on future purchases, extra product, or other gifts.

The sole exception to this rule is when a free or discounted copy of a physical product is provided to a customer up front. In this case, if you offer a free or discounted product in exchange for a review, you must clearly state that you welcome both positive and negative feedback. If you receive a free or discounted product in exchange for your review, you must clearly and conspicuously disclose that fact. Reviews from the Amazon Vine program are already labeled, so additional disclosure is not necessary.

 

Reviews from the Amazon Vine program are designated by a green line (which I can't personally verify because I didn't take the time to go looking for a verified Vine Voice green lined review), but all reviews by a Vine Voicer receive that tag.  How many Amazon review readers are aware of the distinction?

 

Furthermore, however, if Amazon does not permit helpful votes to be purchased, what is their mechanism for verifying that?  How is anyone supposed to know that any given reviewer -- Vine Voice or not -- has achieved their ranking via legitimate votes or via purchased votes?

 

It should be noted, also, that fiverr.com has apparently cracked down somewhat on Gigs(r) openly offering such votes for sale, whether they are "like" votes on Facebook or Twitter or other sites, as they violate the Terms of Service on those sites.  No one has any way of knowing, of course, how many such votes anyone has already purchased.  Again, it is possible that Sandy Nathan purchased the votes that put her into the Vine Program and gave her reviews the added weight of credibility.

 

But there is another part of the Amazon review guidelines that applies to this situation.

  • Promotional Reviews – In order to preserve the integrity of Customer Reviews, we do not permit artists, authors, developers, manufacturers, publishers, sellers or vendors to write Customer Reviews for their own products or services, to post negative reviews on competing products or services, or to vote on the helpfulness of reviews. For the same reason, family members or close friends of the person, group, or company selling on Amazon may not write Customer Reviews for those particular items.

As an author, Sandy Nathan is not permitted by Amazon to post a negative review of a competing product.  Although Amazon used to specify that authors could not post negative reviews of other books in their own genre, the parameters were never spelled out.  Could an author of historical romances write negative reviews of contemporary romances?  Could an author of academic non-fiction write negative reviews of popular fiction? 

 

As a Vine Voice reviewer, however, Nathan is supposed to be scrupulously honest.  Well, we should all be at least reasonably honest, but for those bearing the Vine Voice tag, you would think a higher level of honesty on reviews was in order.  Of course it is quite possible that Sandy Nathan reviewed Michael Beas's because it's in the same sortof spiritual category that she writes in, but she's required by the Amazon guideline posted above to give a positive review . . . or none at all.  She can't, if she wants to abide by the review guidelines, be honest.  And yet honesty is required of Vine Voicers.

 

Amazon has filed suit against a supplier of paid, fake reviews.  It looks like maybe Amazon should either stop throwing stones from their own glass house, or sue themselves.

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