Et tu, Catfish? Writing with Integrity

catfish books are rampant on fish-216132_640Recently I’ve learned about a new (to me) term: catfishing. It means someone pretending to be what they are not. In terms of selling books on the Internet, this basically boils down to someone posing as an expert in a given field, then writing short, pithy eBooks using information easily and freely accessible on the Internet (think Wikipedia) and then passing it off as a definitive guide on Amazon.

The Washington Post recently ran a very thorough article on the phenomenon. The upshot is that (1) this is nothing new; there have always been people gaming every system ever devised and (2) most of these catfishers operate at least nominally within Amazon’s guidelines with the exception of paid reviews, the thing that Amazon is really cracking down on lately. Continue reading “Et tu, Catfish? Writing with Integrity”

Are There More Amazon Review Deletions to Come?

amazon is ready for battle carnival-787071_640
Amazon is ready for battle. Image courtesy of Pixabay

Yeah, I know. That’s a clickbait title and possibly this article will end up looking like clickbait as well. Only time will tell. But I have a theory that the deletion of book reviews by Amazon might turn even more serious for some authors. Let me explain why.

I first became aware of bunches of reviews being deleted at least a couple of years ago. It happened sporadically; the authors of the books in question were never sure what happened or why. Usually some of the reviewers were identifiable as other authors, but only some. Inquiries to Amazon went nowhere. Continue reading “Are There More Amazon Review Deletions to Come?”

Amazon Cracks Down on All Fake Reviews

flash fiction contest gavelI get it. It does feel like Amazon’s review policy makes our indie-author lives harder. This review is okay, but this one is not, so poof! Out it goes, with very little recourse. We work really hard for each and every one of our reviews. We need them all. Why is the Zon picking on us?

They’re not, of course. Fake reviews are a problem for any retailer that allows reviews of the products it sells – which is pretty much every e-retailer out there – and for every product imaginable, not just for books. Everybody who has a product for sale at Amazon is trying to get eyeballs on their product, and favorable reviews will push the product higher in the rankings. Continue reading “Amazon Cracks Down on All Fake Reviews”

Going on a Witch Hunt

A friend called my attention to this post at a site called Amazon Alert: Your Guide to Unethical Authors. I read the article which largely focuses on a specific author who they allege to have purchased a large number of ‘fake’ reviews. The post ends with a list of authors who they claim have each purchased in excess of 500 fake reviews using the site As I scanned the list I saw a bunch of names that meant nothing to me (I’m constantly amazed at how many indie authors are out there) along with a few I did know, a couple that should be recognizable to most of you.

But none of this is surprising or new. In the first (and thus far biggest) scandal over “fake reviews” a little over a year ago, the Fiverr site was one that got mentioned time and again as one source for getting these reviews. And there is no doubt in my mind that authors are using this site to get paid reviews. I was able to easily find authors who had done so and identify accounts on Amazon that were being used to post the reviews. Continue reading “Going on a Witch Hunt”