I’ve been subscribing to Kindle Unlimited for almost a year, so I guess you could call this a kind of product review. I’ve discovered that subscription book services are exactly right for me. I’m a buyer, and I’ve gotten hooked on Indie books. In full disclosure, I also publish to Kindle Unlimited, so I see the program from both sides; Dealer and addict. The honeymoon is over.
I’ll begin with the production side. The market over at KU is flooded with the so called scam books, and, yeah, a lot of badly formatted beginners floundering into it. As an author, I admit the frustration of watching people successfully game the system bugs the hell out of me. Amazon’s apparent targeting of mid-level author’s good reviews bothers me too.
By having their imprint program, they’ve willingly placed themselves in direct competition with Indie artists. By controlling the mechanisms by which each of those promote themselves, they put themselves in a very awkward position. They have the advantage, and no one on Earth believes a major corporation with an advantage in the marketplace isn’t going to use it. They decide who keeps their reviews, and, of course, there are paid reviews. There have always been paid reviews.After doing this for a while, I’ve started to understand there may never have been any other kind.
So, the question has to become, how do you know? How do you know those reviews aren’t genuine, even if they are paid. I review for a website. Typically, you never see my bad reviews at Reader’s Favorite, because they aren’t posted. They are sent to the author. 4s and 5s are plastered everywhere. Perhaps, Amazon you should consider a system where ratings determine whether a review is posted. Three stars and above can say what they like, anything lower is feedback for the author. Then, display an overall rate. Ten displayed reviews out of thirty and a three overall rating. I can do the math as a consumer.
As to friendship’s role in author reviews, well, there is one for me. I don’t review for friends. Acquaintances are not friends. If I love the book or mildly like it, there is a review. If I didn’t like, or, God forbid, didn’t finish, there will be crickets. I say nothing. I do nothing. I back away quietly and pretend nothing ever happened because I value my online relationships with fellow authors, and I recognize that MY opinion is not the only one in the world. I’m betting I’m not alone among professionals. Most of us treat this as a job. You don’t rattle cages at work and expect to get help or advancement from that. In any job, that usually makes life harder for you.
As a reader, I have a couple problems. The deciding factor was watching all my favorite authors pull their work. If I can’t find what I like, there’s no reason to keep looking. The payout on reads is dropping like a rock, and fund bonuses are going to scam artists who have learned how to game the KU reads system. The artists are leaving, and Amazon is squeezing the talent. As a consumer, I don’t like to support that. I believe in fair pay, so, even if I hadn’t seen with my own eyes, I’d be thinking of leaving the service. However, when all my favorites take their books elsewhere, I’m gonna follow. I go where the books are. Amazon seems to not understand that.