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Old 08-29-2012, 06:00 AM   #31
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Easy for me to say as I don't pay much attention to reviews or ratings unless I really dislike a book and then I may look up the reviews. Backwards of me I know
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I do the same.
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:04 AM   #32
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I haven't read anything of his, and I'm pretty picky about reviews being objective, but to be fair, according to the NYT article, while he paid for people to review his books, he didn't take the option of positive-reviews-only, and he asked that the reviewers actually buy the books and read them.

*If* that's true, it doesn't bother me as much even as all the authors who get together and trade positive reviews of each other's books for free.

Hiring readers to review seems like a pretty fair thing to do, as long as the reviewers are encouraged - by whomever hires them - to be honest.
Yeah, it's a model that is used in almost all the markets. Movies, computers, mobiles, gaming even cars. It's marketing, the difference is that it's done on platform which is thought to be customer based, not a magazine, blog, TV-show or a site...
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:49 AM   #33
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Yeah, it's a model that is used in almost all the markets. Movies, computers, mobiles, gaming even cars.
Even if they say paid negative reviews are OK, the reviewer is going to realize the gravy train will stop if this happens a lot.

In every case, if the marketer of the product is paying for reviews, it is IMHO unethical and should be exposed.

Now, it's true that big city newspapers, and some magazines, are loaned cars for review purposes. That's unfortunate for readers, since the companies can hand-pick those cars. The fact that Consumer Reports is careful to buy the cars it reviews anonymously makes their reviews more credible. But it's not the same as if the auto makers paid for the reviews.
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Old 08-29-2012, 08:23 AM   #34
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Does this mean we can go 1-star bomb his books on Amazon?
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Old 08-29-2012, 09:56 AM   #35
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I always read from both ends of the review spectrum, to try to get the full range of opinions and see who I think I agree with, but I would say that having a high volume of reviews is generally reassuring, even if the score is mediocre.

However good you actually are, getting seen is the real problem in a flooded market like this. Gaming the review system might be one dishonest way to get that done, and seems to have worked for Locke.
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Old 08-29-2012, 10:11 AM   #36
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Does this mean we can go 1-star bomb his books on Amazon?
If it offends you that much, just vote your wallet; don't buy his products.
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Old 08-29-2012, 10:52 AM   #37
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Locke's quality aside, what he did is no different than what goes on in major publishing circles, or for that matter, all professional advertising. I'm not going to condemn him for that... in fact, I'm this close to congratulating him for finding the way to get independent authors noticed in this damned-if-we-do, damned-if-we-don't market.

He paid for it.

What a radical concept.
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Old 08-29-2012, 10:54 AM   #38
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This sounds interesting, but I don't want to see people unfairly attacked on the basis of weak evidence.

Do you have any reputable mainstream links, standing the test of time, that document this scandal?
I'd also like to know where there is any proof of traditional publishers buying reviews or doing anything comparable to what Locke did.
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Old 08-29-2012, 01:19 PM   #39
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Old 08-29-2012, 01:36 PM   #40
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I'd also like to know where there is any proof of traditional publishers buying reviews or doing anything comparable to what Locke did.
There is none as it has not happened on a similar scale. Certainly there are instances of "literary payola" but only on a minor scale. The checks and balances that are inherent in the existing print media world are missing from self published eBooks. In the print world reviews cannot be bought in any form that would fool the public as almost every publication has its own review section. Many of the reviewers in the smaller media organisations might tend to follow the lead of the "big guns" in the industry, but there are always those who would delight in shining a light on any perceived bias from such sources. Online we don't have the ability to source the reviews, we don't know who the reviewers are - with very few exceptions. It is unusual to find - in the real world - rave reviews from the New York Times coupled with scathing reviews from the London Times or similar. Online we have this constantly.

Another issue is that in many jurisdictions buying positive reviews is illegal and can attract heavy fines and in some cases criminal charges. Here, (Australia) there are very severe penalties for using "False and misleading advertising" in an attempt to generate sales. The same thing has happened in the US with convictions for "Payola" resulting in many millions of dollars in fines for those involved.

No, regardless of the opinions of some here, what Locke has done is not simply an online version of a common practice.

Amazon removed many of his reviews recently, they are apparently not risking charges of being involved in or accepting of Payola. They have only removed those reviews known to have come from those involved in the NYT article. There are still many that are suspect but not openly known to be purchased.

Many phony reviews come from an organisation called "freelancer.com" another pay for review source that was not mentioned by the NYT. I still have copies of the Freelancer ads asking for people to review Amazon books - fifty at a time. They specify that each review must include a purchase, for which the reviewer will be reimbursed independently of payment for the reviews.
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Old 08-29-2012, 01:37 PM   #41
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I'd also like to know where there is any proof of traditional publishers buying reviews or doing anything comparable to what Locke did.
I've been reading other threads where people have been going through his reviews. Most of the ones that are identified as fakes have the title of the book in the title of the review, and once you start looking at those and the other books those reviewers have reviewed, you start to see the same books over and over again and get an idea of who has been benefiting from this service. The number of traditionally published books reviewed by these fake accounts vastly outnumbers the number of indies.

But I haven't done this research myself.
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Old 08-29-2012, 02:33 PM   #42
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...In the print world reviews cannot be bought in any form that would fool the public as almost every publication has its own review section...
You may be forgetting about the "blurbs," short quotes that often appear on the back or inside jacket of a book, usually penned by popular authors whom the publishers solicit directly. A single glowing sentence from a Stephen King can catapult a horror book from a lonely shelf right into a browser's basket faster than you can say "Kujo."

Those blurbs are as valuable in selling books to the public as independent reviews, mainly due to their direct association with known and popular authors and actual attachment to the product (unfortunate but true). It's incredibly transparent and obvious... but it works anyway, just as celebrity endorsements have "fooled" consumers since there have been advertisements; it is often a more powerful sales tool than independent reviews.
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Old 08-29-2012, 02:47 PM   #43
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You may be forgetting about the "blurbs," short quotes that often appear on the back or inside jacket of a book, usually penned by popular authors whom the publishers solicit directly. A single glowing sentence from a Stephen King can catapult a horror book from a lonely shelf right into a browser's basket faster than you can say "Kujo."

Those blurbs are as valuable in selling books to the public as independent reviews, mainly due to their direct association with known and popular authors and actual attachment to the product (unfortunate but true). It's incredibly transparent and obvious... but it works anyway, just as celebrity endorsements have "fooled" consumers since there have been advertisements; it is often a more powerful sales tool than independent reviews.
No, blurbs are something altogether different and quite acceptable - I have written many such endorsements for writers, but only if I have read and like the work. A review is supposed to be a genuine opinion by a person who is not allied with the author. I first looked at John Locke's work when he was initially touted as "the" Amazon success story. It was immediately apparent that the system was being gamed, his work was substandard yet rated (reviewed) much higher than better novels by other new independent authors. I have been following his "career" with interest.
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Old 08-29-2012, 03:49 PM   #44
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No, blurbs are something altogether different and quite acceptable - I have written many such endorsements for writers, but only if I have read and like the work.
Considering the end result is seller-solicited promotion specifically designed to encourage sales, I fail to see the effective difference, or why one is acceptable over the other. If, as you say, you don't write negative endorsements, that makes your positive endorsements automatically biased, which sounds at least as bad (to me) as soliciting reviews of any nature, good or bad.

This, to me, just sounds like someone who'd figured out how to game the new system in much the same way that big publishers and established authors have gamed the old system for decades.
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Old 08-29-2012, 04:05 PM   #45
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I doubt that many would print a bad blurb/review in a book they were publishing. Also seems a tad unlikely that a well known author would write a glowing review of a book they found to be mediocre or worse.

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