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Review Controversy: What's an Author to do?

We authors know how important customer reviews are to the success of our books.

After publishing my first mystery, I begged family and friends to write reviews. I didn’t ask them to write five-star reviews, just to share their thoughts on Amazon. Most didn’t do it. Those who did had their reviews removed from Amazon because they were in Amazon’s opinion, family and friends.

Duh! If you can't ask family and friends, who can you ask?

All the people I asked had purchased the book. They were not given free books. One friend objected to Amazon’s policy. I am a verified customer of Amazon. Why did they remove my review? One of my colleagues, who is a librarian, had her review removed three times. Finally we posted it under her husband’s account.

business hand clicking customer reviews on virtual screen interface

Recently, I heard about authors paying for reviews (like people paying to get followers on Twitter). When I noticed a book with over 16,000 reviews and 5 stars, I was amazed and immediately purchased the book. Later I asked a friend if she’d read it, I was shocked when she said, “It’s a glorified romance. Really thin and not worth my time.” How could she say that. Sixteen thousand people liked it. I began reading the book and guess what? My friend was right. The book was terrible. Well, not terrible, but extremely weak. Worth maybe 3 stars. I am now suspicious about that author and how she got so many reviews.

I've garnered a respectable number of reviews for both my books.

They came from people who bought it that I might know but I had no idea they bought the book, from review bloggers I contacted and begged to review the book, and from review blog tours. I have not purchased any reviews. But, I’m looking at a service whereby you pay a fee and you can get reviews, but they are honest reviews.

Sitting here now, I wonder what people who don’t have access to the New York Times reviewers do?

How can we get people to look at our books and review them?

Why don’t more general readers review books? The estimated percentage of buyers who review books is something like .0001 percent. Even books that won awards, like The Clock Strikes Midnight, can’t seem to strike home with reviews.

Any suggestions? What have your experiences been? Help!!

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