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Old 02-11-2013, 08:06 PM   #1
Elfwreck
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Smashwords: When 5 stars is not enough.

In the past, I'd posted about SW's apparent review farms, where people left the same exact review on several books by the same author. I've found a new trick--apparently, Smashwords allows reviewers to leave multiple reviews, and then averages in all those star ratings.

I went looking for the highest-rated fantasy book. Currently it's Blood Prize (Book #1 of the Running Veins Series) by Stella Purple, a vampire erotica book. (Um. Description is NSFW.) It has 69 five-star reviews, left by a total of 14 reviewers, all on the same day a bit more than 2 weeks ago--the same day it was published.

I don't imagine there's much SW can do about scams like "author asks facebook friends to give 5-star reviews," but they could limit the reviews to 1 per logged-in person.

Last edited by Elfwreck; 02-11-2013 at 10:12 PM. Reason: Stella Purple, not Blue.
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:37 PM   #2
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And people complain that Amazon's review system is broken...
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:49 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
I don't imagine there's much SW can do about scams like "author asks facebook friends to give 5-star reviews,"
No,nor could they really stop authors from buying reviews at places like Fiverr.

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but they could limit the reviews to 1 per logged-in person.
It makes no sense to me that they allow more than one review per title per account. I wonder what the thinking is there.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
I went looking for the highest-rated fantasy book. Currently it's Blood Prize (Book #1 of the Running Veins Series) by Stella Blue, a vampire erotica book. (Um. Description is NSFW.) It has 69 five-star reviews, left by a total of 14 reviewers, all on the same day a bit more than 2 weeks ago--the same day it was published.
Of course I had to go read the description. Wow. The quality of writing in the extended description makes me doubt that ANY of those 5 star reviews came from a genuinely enthusiastic early reviewer.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:55 PM   #5
Elfwreck
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Of course I had to go read the description. Wow. The quality of writing in the extended description makes me doubt that ANY of those 5 star reviews came from a genuinely enthusiastic early reviewer.
She's active on wattpadd; it's hypothetically possible the reviews are from her fans there. (It's likely that her reviews are from fans there.)

As someone who reads in those genres--not that one specifically, but close enough--the writing strikes me as tolerable but nothing noteworthy. Yes, it's over-the-top purple prose and heavy on the smut, but for the genre, that's normal and wanted. It could really use a proofreader/grammar-check edit pass, which means it probably needs a story edit pass as well, but I have no problem believing she has a couple-dozen devoted fans who love reading every word she puts out.

If I were rich, I'd just buy one of the books in order to give it the review it deserves, and knock the rating down so it's not a solid five-stars thing.
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:21 PM   #6
GlenBarrington
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Simple answer, Ask here!

Someone is bound to have read the book in question or at least has an opinion of the author's skills.

But in my experience, I find i can tell a real review from fake. Or, at least I THINK I can. (Same difference!) I ignore the stars and pay attention to the reviews themselves. A pretty decent set of results I think.
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:25 PM   #7
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Darn! I need more friends!

Seriously, I don't think it's possible, or at least practical, to stop this kind of engineering completely. But I do think it makes sense to limit reviews to one per ebook per account. If a person's opinion changes over time it should be possible to edit their review, which would eliminate any real need (that I can think of) to post a second review.
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:47 PM   #8
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Looks like a bottom-of-the-barrel review farm to me:

"the potential is too mysterious, and over all hocking."

"The suspend is killing me"

"The ability of Stella Purple on creating scenes so beliavable and tense and her mastering in adding new-unread before techniques will make you hocked with this book."

"Stella Purple wrote exactly just the things I want to read and the things I want you to surprised me with."

"Charming mysteries, powerful style, and hocking drama of an addition that just deserves all the five stars."

"Sexy, hot, complicated, a 100% satisfactory."

"Between sex and sets."

"Will surely make you stayed all night long."

And my favourite: "It was so sexy, I wet myself."
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Old 02-12-2013, 10:38 AM   #9
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If fake reviews are going to be a fact of life, we can only hope they are always that transparent. Unless both the book and the reviews were machine-translated from some other language.....
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:20 PM   #10
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From the extended description of the book:

"It was the day of Summoning Exam that Evey's friend shows her a painting of a very gorgeous vampire that when it is Evey's turn to summon a beast that she accidentally thinks of the handsome vampire and summons him instead - completely naked out in the open of approximately 20.000 girls and women. A massive blooding nose causes almost the entire school to go in the hospital - except for Evey herself."

If that's just the description, how poorly written is the actual book?!

Ah well, those reviews are at least so bad they are funny.
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:46 PM   #11
CWatkinsNash
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I'm going to start randomly using the word "hocking" now.
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:57 PM   #12
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Nah. "Hucking" like: "What the hucking Fell is happening here?"
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Old 02-12-2013, 01:21 PM   #13
usuallee
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Originally Posted by l_macd View Post
From the extended description of the book:

"It was the day of Summoning Exam that Evey's friend shows her a painting of a very gorgeous vampire that when it is Evey's turn to summon a beast that she accidentally thinks of the handsome vampire and summons him instead - completely naked out in the open of approximately 20.000 girls and women. A massive blooding nose causes almost the entire school to go in the hospital - except for Evey herself."

If that's just the description, how poorly written is the actual book?!

Ah well, those reviews are at least so bad they are funny.
Wow. Just wow. But incredibly, that is not even close to the worst written synopsis on Trashwords...

Publishers, for all their flaws, are soooo necessary. Although, I received the latest David Baldacci thriller as an xmas gift and I have to say, the writing there was only marginally better than what is on display above...
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:00 PM   #14
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Wow. Just wow. But incredibly, that is not even close to the worst written synopsis on Trashwords...

Publishers, for all their flaws, are soooo necessary. Although, I received the latest David Baldacci thriller as an xmas gift and I have to say, the writing there was only marginally better than what is on display above...
Publishers aren't absolutely necessary; editors are.

I think what I really want at Smashwords is a browser plugin that lets me hide all reviews by people who've only reviewed a single author's books.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:17 PM   #15
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Publishers aren't absolutely necessary; editors are.
+1
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