Some of you will understand.
I prefer the texts for my English classes to know the difference between possessive pronouns and contractions.
There are bits and pieces in various threads on Twitter, but I haven't been able to put the whole puzzle together.
Part of it has to do with "stuffing" Kindle Unlimited books so the authors get more page reads than the book deserves. I've detailed a few examples I found before I even know "stuffing" was a thing. The author publishes a novel or novella or even a short story, but pads the document with other material, which may be previously published stories or even junk filler like recipes and scrapings from the internet. A link at the beginning of the book similar to "Click here for bonus material and special offers!" takes the reader to the end of the book and grants the author full Kindle Edition Normalized Pages ("KENP") credit for pages read. If a 200-page novel is expanded to 500 pages -- or more -- the author gets an enhanced payout. KU is currently paying just about $0.005 (half a cent) per KENP, so stuffing can mean the difference between a $1.00 profit and $2.50 per book. If the book is crap and would not ordinarily even have been read, that profit to the author goes up from maybe $.10 (for 20 pages read).
Apparently there's a crackdown on "stuffing." Apparently Amazon has changed review policies, at least on products other than books. I can't confirm that, though, because I pay so little attention to Amazon reviews. I don't look at mine and can't post reviews, so the whole issue is moot as far as I'm concerned.
I have five novels published with Kindle Direct Publishing, and all are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. I know this hurts readers who would like to avoid the behemoth, but I have to be realistic. When my books were listed with Smashwords, the sales were infinitessimal. Through Amazon sales and Kindle Unlimited reads, I've made way more than I could ever have made through other outlets. That income is what enables me to keep writing.
My books aren't padded. I don't have any stupid trademarks pending. I write under my own name -- Linda Hilton -- and that's the name I use to post online. The authors who game the system, whether it's through fake reviews, stuffing their books, or other shenanigans, are not my colleagues; they are my adversaries.
They are not friends of readers, either. Who would cheat their "friends" by making them pay, even with their time if not their money, for crap? The ill-gotten KU payments that go to book stuffers are funds taken literally out of the earnings of legitimate authors, those who are writing the books readers actually want to read.
I don't know what exactly Amazon is doing about this, but apparently they're doing . . . something. Whatever it is, I hope it works.
This one has had a relatively small impact, but follows familiar patterns, and reveals anti-reader, anti-consumer attitudes we've seen before.
Author Elena Maria Vidal has written several self published Historical Fiction novels, set around the time of the French Revolution, including one about Marie Antoinette which the blurb for the book claims is "...based upon the author's thirty years of research. Whenever possible the historical persons speak for themselves out of memoirs and letters." According to her bio she has an MA in European History.
A couple of readers with expertise in the subject matter, including The Just About Average Ms M, have posted their less than favorable reviews regarding Ms. Vidals novels, in part pointing out what they believe are significant historical inaccuracies.
Some of these reviews go back a couple years, some are more recent. These reviews have been targeted by a few of Ms. Vidal's fans (and/or possible sock puppets), posting unpleasant things in the comment section. Additionally Ms. M's own books, which I understand are academic in nature, have been victim to one-star retaliation ratings. Of course this activity cannot in and of itself be held against the author, without any evidence she's party to it.
However, a few months ago Ms. Vidal posted a blog post on her blog (recently now deleted) entitled "Trolls on the Internet and Negative Reviews" in which she attempts to paint herself as the victim of "bullying" and "harassment" due to these negative reviews. She claimed, in essence, that the other reviewer, who I won't name here, posted negative reviews of her book due to some personal vendetta against her. As evidence she cited the fact that this person had years previous held discussions with her via her blog regarding their mutual interest of French history, as well as debating such issues with her on one of her book reviews on Amazon. I've spoken briefly with this person and he's stated he enjoyed discussing the topic with someone who was mutually interested. I would not be surprised if these conversations became heated or adversarial.
I don't believe this person was motivated by malice to post negative reviews, but out of disagreement with historical facts and claims presented in the content. Regardless, Ms Vidal clearly feels otherwise. She admits to having contacted this person's place of employment to inquire if he had a "history of violence."
Independent of this Ms M., who is an expert in the subject matter, also posted negative reviews of Ms. Vidal's novels.
In her blog post complaining of these reviews, Ms. Vidal writes,
"There are reviews which are a genuine critique of the work which can actually help the author improve. I have had many such reviews and they have helped me to grow as a writer. But reviews of the one-star variety are not meant to help a writer become more proficient at his or her craft. One-star reviews are meant to destroy. They do not care about helping anyone's writing skill, They do not want the writer to ever write again."
As you can see she is another who believes consumer reviews are to be "genuine critique of the work" which in my opinion Ms. M's at least obviously are, and that their purpose is to "help the author improve", and "helping" the author's "writing skill" which of course is not their purpose at all.
Additionally, according to her, one-star reviews serve no legitimate purpose, and posting them must be due to malicious intent toward the author. I must wonder then why she thinks both Amazon and GoodReads offer their users/customers the option of rating a book 1 star. According to Amazon and GoodReads it's to allow their users/customers the ability to express "I Didn't Like It", according to Ms. Vidal it's "meant to destroy." and an effort to cause the writer to never write again. Which of course is utter bullcrap.
In this blog post Ms. Vidal also posted links to multiple reviews by these two reviewers, both on Amazon and GoodReads, calling these reviewers out and making it easy for fans to target them for harassment. Some did make the attempt, and both GoodReads and Amazon deleted such comments from the reviews due to TOS violations. In one place where she provided links she stated,
"I am linking to this to show how determined and obsessed they are to bully and harass me. It is psychological terrorism and terrorists need the light shown upon them."
Please note, she's referring here to negative book reviews.
Last week a couple GoodReads users posted as "Discussion Questions" of her books accusations of "persecution" and harassment of this author, referencing the blog post. Those questions have now been deleted and the users who posted them are now no longer GR users. I suspect this is due to GR action, per TOS, but I cannot be sure.
As many of us are aware, all of these are common tactics some authors employ in an attempt to intimidate readers into removing, and not posting, book reviews that displease them. Failing that, it is designed to discredit the reviewers so that readers and potential readers, disregard them and are taught not to post such reviews themselves.
In short - an attempt to subvert the purpose of consumer reviews as independent, unbiased, honest, consumer opinion.
Within the last day Ms. Vidal reported on her Facebook page that GoodReads has removed her account and she is no longer a GoodReads Author. I have confirmed this is correct.
"Now this is strange. I received a message from Goodreads saying that I have been banned. It seems that some people complained about my "abusive" behavior! I assumed then that my entire author page had been taken down. But it's still there, although I no longer am a "Goodreads Author." https://www.goodreads.com/aut…/show/150437.Elena_Maria_Vidal What is really weird is that they took down all my reviews of other authors' books! I feel bad because those authors sent me their books expecting a review! I just want people to know if my review of your book is gone, it is not my doing!"
Two experts say the Gallivans are likely unwittingly being used in a ruse to manipulate Amazon buyer reviews. The anonymous sender is likely writing glowing reviews of their own product.