All was happy in my life. I had finally finished my second book, Santiago Stories, and published it in its original incarnation on Amazon Kindle.
Slogging away through endless lists of reviewers, as recommended by Amazon marketeers, I finally found one who was prepared to review my treasured labour of love. Yes, I had hit paydirt!
A week later, the good lady announced that she had finished her review and loved my book, giving it a full blown 5 star rating that was duly published by her below my book title.
Like a shot, one of Amazons anonymous editors (in the USA no less!) pronounced it "Book of the Month - so far" and I sat back waiting for the lolly to roll in. Then, to my added astonishment, it was promoted to "Book of Year 2013 - so far..." and I was in seventh heaven. I was basking in false glory, until I found out that the accolade was somewhat tarnished by its concealment from the public; it did not appear until the actual book page was finally reached.
Now there is something that I should tell you about my book: it is a spoof of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The short stories in both books make no mention of the actual pilgrimage, and are bawdy in their contents. Mine were if anything even more bawdy than Chaucer's, since I was seeking to cash in on the same type of market as 50 Shades of Gray.
However, I did point out early on that no mention of the actual journey was mentioned by Chaucer and my offering followed a similar style. In any case, one only had to flick through the free read to deduce that mine was primarily concerned with telling risqué stories intended to make people laugh.
As time progressed, I even gave would-be readers the chance to download the book for free over two days. It was duly grabbed up by quite a few readers, none of whom saw fit to write a review of the contents. I read afterwardsthat someone who had written and published a steamy love story had been rewarded with 45,000 downloads, but only a measly 45 reviews. My experience was clearly not unusual, but you have got to wonder at the mentality of readers who cannot be bothered to respond as a token of their appreciation.
Anyway, in the meantime I had found a publisher who liked my work, read it thoroughly, and sent me an editorial review. This required me to provide a detailed itinerary of the actual pilgrimage. I had been hoping to avoid doing this, but was rewarded with a much improved story that reads something like The French Lieutenant's Woman; that is, the individual short storied were now wrapped in an overall sequence of events acting as a well-told "wrapper”.
In the meantime, some evil person masquerading as a reviewer called Liloladyhoo, or something like that, had vindictively posted a review stating - in a nutshell - "This has nothing to do with walking the caminos of Santiago. It’s just a book full of stupid stories. Don't buy it!"
Rapidly, my overall 5 stars diminished to 3, and I was outraged. I asked Amazon to delete the adverse comment, on the grounds that my well-crafted stories are anything but stupid and the buyer should have been aware of the nature of the book from my warning. They refused, citing their guidelines and rules for reviewers as justification. I studied these conditions and found that their ruling was perverse and inconsistent.
For example, one rule specifically cites that comments must not be made that are spiteful; couple this with the guideline that any adverse comments must be supported with clarification supporting and explaining them, and the situation is clear. Whatever else surrounds the list of rules and guidelines, these are irrefutable and unambiguous conditions for accepting reviews. Yet three times Amazon staff have refused to delete the review on the grounds that it complies with their requirements for a review to be accepted.
Clearly, the nellies at Amazon are a law unto themselves, to the point where they are in flagrant breach of their own guidelines. The review I object to is even written under an alias, which is a shameful way to behave. Liloladyhoo has only ever written two reviews and the other was even more scathing than the one written about my year's worth of effort.
What to do is the question? Well, I have written to Amazon again, and posed the question: "If you want to take that attitude, you won't and cannot mind if I too indulge in the same behaviour and begin a mass campaign of giving reviews that basically state, 'Don't bother to read this book. It is from a stupid company called Amazon and is just a stupid story,' signed by Liloldmanhoo. My wife is a voluminous reader of Kindle books and can soon get stuck into her task with relish. I take it as read that you cannot complain and will take no action?"
To date, no reply has been received. I have since reviewed 20 books so far that my wife has read, using these expressions and under the guise of Liloldmanhoo, and will see if Amazon attempts to suppress them. If they don't, the reaction from fellow authors should prove interesting.
My fear is that if nothing is done to curb Amazon's repeated bad judgement, this type of dilemma can occur ad nausea for any book that any author publishes with this monolithic monster of a company.
Now I am about to start looking at the Editor's Picks of new releases. Study them yourselves for a short while, and you will wonder at how many books are in the top 100 Paid Bestsellers with scarcely a handful of reviews to their credit. Something very odd is going on in the world of Amazon, and it flies in the face of logic.