Amazon, Online Ordering, Shopping, Uncategorized

Shopping with Amazon -or- How to Wrestle with the 800-Pound Gorilla & Sometimes Win

I use Amazon. These days, who doesn’t? I own a Kindle Paperwhite and use it about 80% of the time when I read eBooks. When I read at my desk I use the computer Kindle App. And because the Kindle device and app synch, I can switch back and forth without losing my place. Convenient.

About once a month or so I order something, occasionally more, but it has never been enough for me to justify the expense of an Amazon Prime membership. Yes, it would be nice to download and read books for free, but not worth the monthly fee. And I’m not one of those people who needs two-day delivery on everything I buy. If I do, I guess I can pay for rapid delivery.

So, even though there are a lot of things about Amazon that I like, their hard and heavy push to boost their Amazon Prime memberships each time I buy something irritates me. What’s more, I don’t appreciate the heavy-handed tactics they use to entice people to subscribe. Let me explain.

In case you don’t know, Amazon delays shipping orders going to non-Prime customers. It is a fact. I’ve seen it first-hand. Things that I order will sit in the queue for 3 days (or more) before processing begins. It’s a penalty for checking the little box that says, “No, I don’t want my order shipped in the quickest way possible” – or whatever the exact verbiage is for that button I must check to not sign up for the trial Prime account they offer with each purchase.

If the order is fulfilled by Amazon from one of their warehouses, sometimes it appears to be routed from an alternate location that is farther away. Yes, I get it that sometimes a nearer location may be out of something, or perhaps they don’t stock the item, but it happens often enough that I think I’m right on this one. It is yet another way to delay an order from shipping.

The tactic used to be blatantly obvious. If you ordered two things, one fulfilled from an Amazon authorized supplier on the other coast from where you live and the other from Amazon (an item they stock in the warehouse nearest you) the item from across the country would arrive a couple or three days before the Amazon supplied item. To prevent that from happening (and being obvious), if you don’t use Prime, Amazon sits on your order for three days regardless of the fulfillment.

If you doubt any of this, test it. I have several times.

If Amazon wants (or rather if they need to because of a problem) they can get something to you from one of their warehouses on the same day you ordered it. They can certainly ship anything you order that is stocked in one of their facilities and get it to you within two days. That’s the Prime deal, right? They should be able to get a non-Prime package to me within four days, which I’m okay with. I think most people would be. But that is contrary to Amazon’s goal of having everyone signed up for Prime. So, without Prime I’ve come to expect seven days or maybe ten.

Why does Amazon rule the world? That’s the real question every one of their competitors needs to ask. You see, any company that wants to capture the hearts of disgruntled Amazon customers (like me) only has to do things the same or (preferably) better. For example, guarantee FREE two-day delivery for any purchase $20 or more, which undercuts Amazon’s $25 – without any membership fee. Heck, guarantee FREE 3 or 4 day delivery without a fee. That’s still better than the service from Amazon for non-Prime members.

Last Saturday I ordered a few things I’ll need for a trip I’m taking to the Midwest to promote my books. As always, I didn’t select the One Month Trial for Prime. And I confirmed that I didn’t want the items shipped in the fastest way possible. I expected I’d get them in a week or so. And that was fine. One of the four items was coming from an authorized supplier. The other items were fulfilled by Amazon, two from the warehouse south of Tampa and the other from a warehouse in South Carolina. I use past tense because the items have all arrived (two on Monday and one of them on Tuesday). Why so soon? Well, you see, I decided to cancel the item coming from the authorized supplier because it would take so long (possibly two weeks). I had decided to buy somewhere else or make a different selection. The box I checked for the reason for the cancellation was “It will take too long to arrive.” Then a funny thing happened. The next morning, Sunday, I received shipping confirmation on all my Amazon fulfilled items, showing them expected on Monday and Tuesday. This sort of proves that Amazon could get the items to me faster if they wanted to. Obviously, someone decided to get my stuff to me before I cancelled the whole order.

Despite my attempt to cancel the order for the last item (within 24 hours, mind you) Amazon was unable to kill the order with the vendor. I’m skeptical about that whole thing, but I’m receiving the item on Saturday. That is a week earlier than the expected date given to me when they sent the order confirmation. We’ll see if the product suits my needs, which was one of the reasons I tried to cancel the order. The supplier received some negative reviews about the item being a cheap knock off, not the real thing.

Yes, all this expedited order shipping could be a coincidence? Except, I write mysteries often enough that I don’t believe in coincidences. The fact remains that an 800-pound gorilla can do pretty-much what it wants. Amazon can make anything happen with shipping, if they want to. You can believe that.

Books, Editing, Publishing, Word, Writing

Preparing a Manuscript for Publication


It seems that each time an ARC is created from a Word doc into Kindle MOBI a number of formatting errors appear. Amazon and CreateSpace have instructions on how to eliminate some common problems that will prevent a title from being accepted but, from experience, the guidelines do not cover every issue that may arise.

Part of the problem is that there seems to be as many different ways of creating a manuscript writing as there are authors. Some of us old timers started writing on typewriters and, at some point, graduated to word processors well before the advent of programs designed for personal computers. Since each word processor had its own set of rules, personal style was influenced by the hardware used. This created a lot of habits that complicate the use of Microsoft Word for producing a manuscript.

Here is a non-inclusive list of the known issues author can address and fix in advance of submitting a final version of a manuscript for editing and eventual publication. This list assumes you are using Microsoft Word, but it may apply to other, similar programs like Open Office.

  1. Do not use tabs when indenting. This throws off the spacing in an eBook.
  2. Use left justification only. At some point in the finishing stages of the editing process the document will be set for left and right adjustment.
  3. Do not use spaces to indent. Again this throws off spacing in an eBook.
  4. Regardless of what you were taught in school about two spaces between sentences, that is only used for scholarly work and is not done in novels. In the past typesetters charged by the character, including spaces, so publisher saved money by minimizing the use of spaces.
  5. Ensure there are no extra spaces at the end of a paragraph.
  6. Ensure there are no extra spaces at the beginning of a paragraph.
  7. Ensure there are no extra spaces between words throughout the document. A useful tool for finding extra spaces with Word is showing hidden characters. In the most recent version of MS Word it is turned on automatically when you show paragraph ends. Look for the paragraph symbol in the tool bar.
  8. Set the ruler in MS Word to automatically indent the number of necessary spaces at the beginning of a paragraph.
  9. Set up the Page Properties to single space between paragraphs. If your manuscript is later set to double space, as it should be for greater ease of editing throughout the process, when the document is converted, so will the spacing between paragraphs. Then, when it is converted to single space for publication, there will not be an extra 1 ½ lines between paragraphs (which is MS Word’s default). Word is designed mainly for business use. For writing a novel it must be adjusted.
  10. Book titles and chapter headers that are centered on the page need to be adjusted so that the centering is from the margin edge not the set paragraph indent. This also applies to any special characters used to indicate a change of scene in the body of a chapter. Also End or The End, if you have concluded your manuscript in that way, need to be centered from the margin not the indent.
  11. Now, here’s the biggy. Between chapters in a manuscript you will need to insert a page break. This forces the Kindle Conversion to start your next chapter at the top of a fresh page. Otherwise your next chapter will appear immediately after, as in the next line, following the concluding sentence of the previous chapter. Still, that may not be enough. If your chapter ends on the last line of the previous page, you will need to insert the page break at the top of the ensuing page, followed by a new line. For the sake of having the beginning of chapters look consistent through a book on Kindle, it may be necessary to insert a new line after each instance of a page break. A page break should be used on the title page, the dedication page, table of contents page and each blank page you wish you have in the body of the manuscript. If the table of contents page is longer than a single page allow the document to flow onto the ensuing page. Set the page break at the conclusion of the last page of the table of contents.

If manuscripts are created according to these standards or adjusted to them prior to submitting to a publisher in the editing process it will significantly reduce the amount of time and effort required for finding all the formatting issues created in the Kindle conversion process. Generally speaking, if the manuscript is set up for Kindle, the CreateSpace conversion will also go more smoothly, as will conversions to ePub and other eBook and print formats.



Customer Dissatisfaction – or – Wrestling An 800 Pound Gorilla Named Microsoft


Let me tell you a story, but first allow me qualify things and set the stage so you better understand. I have worked in retail as either a manager, sales association, customer service associate or retail vendor support representative for more than thirty years. Also I was a computer technician from 1997 to 2007.  Between 200 and 2007 I worked as the manager overseeing a technical repair shop.

Over the years I have trained others and lead discussions about customer satisfaction. I may not know everything but I have a level of expertise. Also I do not believe the customer is always right but understand that my opinion on that matter as a retailer is immaterial because the customer usually if not almost always believe he or she is always right.

Now then, with all that out of the way, let’s begin. About a month ago I purchased a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 I5 256GB from Amazon. It came with Windows 8.1 installed. My overall experience with the product has been favorable and until yesterday I did not believe there was anything physically wrong with the device. My problem came about from upgrading it to a Beta version of Windows 10. That installation works, albeit with some expected glitches.

The past few days the computers has begun to randomly tell me my computer is “Out of Memory”.  In Microsoft jargon that usually has something to do with how memory is allocated by the OS not anything to do with the physically installed memory, which in this case is 8 GB. Also the computer has a problem whenever it boots up in Tablet Mode. The Tablet View appears to crash immediately leaving only a black screen. Since I have a mouse there is a cursor that still moves about when as I move the physical mouse on a mouse pad. As long as the cursor moves the OS hasn’t crashed . It is just some application or overlay that uses the OS that is to blame. In this case it is a new feature in Windows 10 that gives a transparent mask over the background screen that is color coordinated with the desktop theme.(When it works it is pretty cool.) After  I give the computer the tradition “Three Finger Salute” by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL I am able to click on Sign Out and then log back on. After that everything works. It is an annoyance more so than a problem.

The combination of the two issues I have with Windows 10 Technical Preview caused me to desire returning the computer to Windows 8.1. When I installed Windows 10 I followed the instruction to a “T” when it came to backing up stuff. I created a USB Recovery Drive. So I didn’t think I’d have a problem reverting to Windows 8.1, but I did. The computer tells me I no longer have a recovery image even though I purposely left the image alone when I created the USB Recovery Drive. The system has the option of deleting it to free up space, but I have enough room in my SSD storage drive. When I tried to use the USB Drive the computer tells me the Recovery image is missing.

So, I think – no big deal. There has to be a way to download the image from Microsoft, right? I couldn’t find the image so I logged into Tech Support. I go through the same process with the online tech and we reach the conclusion there is something corrupted. He tells me they will replace the Surface Pro 3. However that’s going to take a few days. I can either give them a credit card for expedited exchange or they can send me the return authorization and once they receive my Surface Pro 3, they can ship me a replacement. I really didn’t to replace my device. All I wanted was a new drive image. And I didn’t want to be without my computer for a week or maybe 3. So I asked if I could do the exchange at the Microsoft Store – there are two in Orlando but both are a bit of a haul from where I live and certainly now within bike riding distance. When I asked the support tech if the in store exchange was possible he assured me it was and said he’d ensure they had a model like mine in stock to exchange and would schedule an appointment for me. I sent my son a text message to ensure he could drive me there and made an appointment for 8PM last night.

Based on what tech support told me I expected to go into the store, maybe have to explain my problem to them and perhaps have them check to see that the computer wasn’t otherwise damaged. Bottom line was I would end up with a different computer (likely refurbished) when I left the store. I did not expect wrestling with the 800 pound gorilla named Microsoft.

I was greeted when I entered. As Tech Support told me to tell them my name and that I had an appointment (for which I was early, by the way) I thought it would be a ten or fifteen minute consultation at most. I sat down at the service desk to wait for maybe three or four minutes before a service tech appeared and offered assistance. I really can’t complain about anything up to that moment. It was what happened next that floored me. He asked what I needed. I told him Tech Support made an appointment for me to exchange my Surface Pro 3. He asked what problem I was having, which I expected. I explained. He informed me that my warranty was voided when I installed Windows 10 because it was a beta and that they could not replace my Surface Pro 3 and that if I wanted they could apply the image to my device for me but they would need to check it in and keep it for a few days. When I informed him that was not an option because I don’t have a car and had to have someone drive me there he reiterated that was all he could do.

It was immaterial what Tech Support told me or that they offered to ship me a replacement. He asked me if I had purchased the Surface Pro 3 from the Microsoft Store  as if that mattered somehow. I replied I bought it through Amazon. I told him I was completely dissatisfied. I expected to come there maybe have them check out the Surface Pro 3 I had with me and then exchange it. He said even if that were to happen there would be a $200 charge.

What infuriates me about this whole affair isn’t about a exchanging a defective device. All I wanted in the first place was a recovery image or something to fix my problem. The first rule of customer service is to never lie to a customer. Microsoft Tech Support created an expectation that could not be fulfilled at the Microsoft Store. As a customer I feel they lied to me and in the process I was inconvenienced. To add insult to injury, after I expressed my dissatisfaction they asked if they could get me anything, like a bottle of water – as if that would cool me down. I’d been in the store for maybe twelve minutes at this point. I might have actually accepted the water when I first arrived.

#Microsoft #MicrosoftStore #MicrosoftTechSupport #MicrosoftSurfacePro3 #Windows10TechnicalPreview #Windows8dot1 #CustomerService #CustomerSatisfaction #CustomerDissatisfaction #PoorService #Amazon #USBRecoveryDrive #Warranty


Reading Other Author’s Books


A fellow author, Rose Montague, author of Jade, posted an open query yesterday on one of her social media pages concerning reading other writer’s material. Since making a brief post on that thread yesterday I’ve been giving the matter some additional thought.

Let’s start off with a qualification. Writers may seem the natural sort of person to approach for feedback on something you have written but if you submit your manuscript to an author for review be sure you have a thick skin. You see, your fellow writers can be brutally honest sorts. Also the more experience we have in dealing with editors, the more little quirky things we pick up and hone in on. In other words, be prepared to be told your baby is ugly. That manuscript you have labored over for the past weeks, months or even years may need some cosmetic surgery before it is ready to put out there for the world to see.

Over the past few years I have acquired a disproportionate number of authors as friends (not exclusive to social media) when compared to non-authors. I suppose the birds-of-a-feather thing may prevail there. More likely I’m drawn to other creative people because I seem to have a number of friends who are artists. That’s not a problem. I like being around creative people. The rub comes when one of the authors asks me for a professional opinion on something. Most of my friends know me well enough by now to expect some frank feedback. Those who have never asked before I warn in advance. I will not publicly post a bad review of something, though, unless the author is aware of it. I offer feedback directly to them. And I always qualify it with a general understanding that I am not a professional editor or book critic.

Here’s the problem writers have with other writers reviewing their stuff. We are creative but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are attuned to the same creative flow or our muses speak the same language. In other words, I may or may not get the message, the point or whatever about your masterpiece. That doesn’t mean it is not art or worthwhile as a piece of literature. It means simply, I didn’t get it – nothing more than that. It happens. I like what I like and I tend to write in a few genres with which I am comfortable. I may venture outside of my comfort zone to read a good book, but generally I read sci-fi and fantasy. For some reason, over the course of the past couple of years, I have read several paranormal novels and some romance, mostly historical.

It is the bane of being a writer to be asked to read something for comment. I do some of that too, approaching my friends with a new manuscript. Some will read it others will not. Many will post reviews when a book is published, some won’t. Sometimes a review isn’t posted for the simple reason that writers do not like trashing the hard work of others in a public forum. Privately, well, that’s another matter.

I hate assigning stars to reviews as a means of rating. It is a way of quantifying something that is subjective and therein is the rub. My 3-star may be someone else’s 5-star. Why? We key on different things. So there really isn’t any standardization for the ratings unless one considers the source. Even then, do you, as a reader, pay more attention to an author who has reviewed another author’s book than you do to someone you don’t know – and for all you know they might be the author’s uncle or best friend? Would it be best to focus on what other readers say about a book as opposed to a writer? Each reader and potential buyer must decide who to listen to and perhaps once you find a reviewer who seems to share your interests in books you follow that person’s reviews in the future.

Star ratings are particularly misleading when one considers this:, the largest domestic venue for buying books online, considers 1, 2 and 3-star reviews ‘bad’ while 4 and 5-star reviews are ‘good’. Amazon will headline the most popular ‘good’ review directly next to the most popular ‘bad’ review to give some contrast for the reader to make a buying decision. The glaring inequity of this is when a ‘book troll’ posts a purposefully negative review for no other reason than to trash an author and his or her work. All an author can do is post a complaint to Amazon but it is almost impossible to get Amazon to remove the unfair review. After all, a review is just an opinion. Everyone has one.

Also, readers who look only at the star ratings without reading the content of the review do not understand that in the mind of the reviewer the star rating equates to a specific point on the following scale: bad=1-star, fair=2-star, good=3-star, very good=4-star, excellent=5-star. Some reviewers offer a rare 6th star – meaning outstanding. I have also seen a couple of reviewers assign a 0-star rating meaning awful.

Knowing the system at Amazon I refuse to post a ‘bad’ review without the author’s knowledge. My 3-star review means I liked the book but there are things that could be improved that would have made the book more appealing to me. I will never post a 2-star or 1-star review because I know what that does to an author’s overall rating. There may be something I don’t like about a book that is just me and totally because I am a writer. If I rate something lower because of something the average reader wouldn’t notice then such a rating would not be fair. However, I will provide feedback to the author concerning what I did not like about the book and what I think could be done to improve it.

Having said all that, there are professional reviewers, bloggers and critics out there who rarely give 5-star ratings. Their rationale is persuasive, though. They consider the highest rating reserved for a book that truly exceeds expectations, an instant classic, or something so cutting edge that it will set a new standard for everything that follows. Some use established, best-selling authors in a category as a benchmark, pegging their work as 5-star and measuring every book against that. I don’t have a problem with this method except that so many others do not do it that way and so the value of a 5-star rating has been diluted to the point that an honest 4-star from a critical reviewer – which is a very good review – makes a potential reader think there is something wrong with a really good book.

For a couple of years I actively posted on a writer’s website called Fanstory and found it most helpful to receive almost immediate feedback on my writing. Receiving the opinions of ten or twenty other writers was beneficial, especially when they spent the time to mention things that worked and didn’t work for them as a reader. The problem I had with the site was that they also used star ratings. And, just as with the situation, there was inflation of the ratings rendering them meaningless in most cases to the point that an honest reviewer’s critical rating would severely impact the author’s overall ranking. That is one of the reasons I no longer post there. However, I do read and comment on the submissions of authors I have followed for a few years, now. In the process of belonging to the site I have learned that there is a wide variance of opinion on whether something is or is not good.

It’s hard to take criticism but it is absolutely essential that you learn to do so if you intend to become a professional writer. Your goal must always and ever be to improve you craft and the quality of the work you produce. Even if you don’t agree with what a critic says you  need to pay attention and determine whether it is valid and might make your story a better reading experience. The reader is the ultimate critic for every writer. And so, it becomes moot whether a critic liked your story or even how you feel about your work.

#writing #criticism #reviews #authors #Amazon


Advantages of Kindle Unlimited Go To Authors and Readers

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Okay, so a bunch of my friends are confused about what Amazon is up to with the Unlimited program. Let’s call it what it is: competition advantage. The program offers both authors and readers several advantages, though. Really the only ones who aren’t in favor of the program are those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo in the publishing world where the major houses dominate.

This is what’s good about the program:

For Readers: The benefits come from being able to download and try any book that is on the KDP program, roughly 600,000 titles, regardless of whether he or she owns a Kindle device. If you have a Kindle application on your computer, tablet or phone you can use the Unlimited program as well as those who own Kindles. The first month of the program is a free trial. You can borrow up to 10 books at a time. Then you must return a book in order to download your next book. But, unlike the previous and still existing lending library program Amazon has with KDP, it is not limited to one title a month or restricted to only those who own a device. After the trial period, the reader can continue in the program for $9.99 a month. Also, the reader can still purchase any book they want to keep as a private library item.

For authors: Unlimited virtually eliminates the advantage to pricing an eBook lower. A reader will no longer be as sensitive to price in determining which books to download. In fact a reader may be more inclined to read higher priced books because, well, they cost the same $9.99 a month on the plan. For the reader there may be perceived additional value in books with higher retail prices but, for the author, higher retail means a larger share of the lending pie when it comes to paying out royalties. Ten percent of the book is the threshold past which royalties are paid. Ebooks already display at least 10% o the book for readers to sample. So effectively there is no change in that. Once a reader advances beyond that point sale is recorded for the author’s account and it also counts for ranking purposes. Yes, the royalty is lower than if the book had actual been sold but here you have to think in terms of it as revenue the author would not get otherwise. It is a sale made to someone who previously may have not downloaded the book al all. Again, the advantage is to the author. Unlimited expands access to the library download feature in KDP that to this point only Kindle device owners could use. Authors in the KDP program are competing with 600,000 titles for Unlimited as opposed to 1.4 million titles for the overall market. As a result, it should be somewhat easier for authors to climb in the sales rankings with this new program.

For small publishers and those who self-publis: Unlimited gives access to a range of marketing features through Amazon KDP that traditional major publishers are less inclined to use. Although eBooks must be listed exclusively with Amazon for them to be on KDP that may not be such a bad thing considering the marketshare the 800-pound gorilla has. Major publishers do not like the KDP program because it required exclusivity which they perceive restricts their distribution options while also eroding their control over the market. However, if they were to participate in the program all the advantages I’ve mentioned would work for them as well, except that their eBooks would not be available through every distributor out there.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I think this is a good thing for authors and readers alike.

#Amazon #Unlimited #Publishing #eBooks #Kindle #KDP #Authors #Readers


Integrity in Life and Writing


These days the word ‘integrity’ may have lost a lot of its meaning for most people. After all we are lied to constantly from every direction until we come to accept that nothing is really as it seems. We suspect everyone and everything, even expecting that our institutions are not always honest with us. But one of the many good lessons I learned from my father years ago was to be honest and truthful. My dad taught me to have integrity because, as he said, you have to be able to sleep at night with a clear conscience.

I bring this subject up because over the course of the past couple of weeks I’ve learned a lot about the modern state of affairs in the publishing business and a lot of what I have learned disgusts me. Maybe what is going on hasn’t infected all levels. I hope that is the case. Certainly no one associated with my publisher condones the activity. And as far as I know all the authors with whom I associate do not participate in any unethical activities regarding the promotion of their books. None of them would risk losing their credibility with their readers and fans. Still I’m appalled that what I have heard is going on and is perhaps a lot more widespread than I might think.

For some of it I suppose Amazon is partially to blame. It wasn’t intentional as I can’t see why any business would support such a thing. But here it is, bold faced and out in the open. A short time ago I was asked in a quid pro quo sort of way to post a review for a book that I had not read in exchange for someone doing the same for me and my latest book. Of course, I declined the offer for reasons of personal integrity. If I review a book I have read it. And I expect the same of others who review my books.

It makes me wonder, though. How many of the reviews others have posted on Amazon are real? I’d like to think the vast majority are and those that aren’t the author knew nothing about. But now I have some doubts because some authors are writing their own reviews and providing the verbiage to others to post just to pad-out their totals with five-star reviews.

I don’t agree with all of Amazon’s policies or practices but, as the 800-pound gorilla that they are in the publishing world, everyone has to deal with the reality that they account for upwards of 80% of all books sold. They have acceptance criteria for reviews that sometimes allow for mistakes and people taking advantage of the system. Every author is exposed to the possibility of people posting nasty and untrue things about their books and it’s a long, difficult process to get Amazon to remove a review once it has been posted. So, for the most part, you live with the unfair criticisms as well as the honest ones.

However, I’m appalled that not only are some authors writing reviews for others to post on their behalf but also some reviewers charge fees for the service they offer, whether or not they actually read a book. This smacks in the face of credibility for both the author and the reviewer. I’m sure if Amazon had proof of such things going on they would remove the reviews and perhaps ban the reviewer as well as the author. But how do you prove such a thing is happening?

I’m only aware of the practice because I was approached and ensured that it is done often. It was explained to me that there is additional promotional support offered to books having many favorable reviews. Gained attention for a new book may push it into the ranks of a best seller in a genre or category, which will help push the book even higher on recommended lists. Apparently 50 reviews is a magical number that opens a lot of doors for authors in getting recognition. As I’m not there yet I can’t say directly if this is the case but what was explained to me makes some sense of how the process works.

I’m reporting this to make others aware that some reviews may not be true and honest appraisals of a book. Be especially suspicious of reviews that gloss over details or seem especially slick as if they are promotional pitches. Also, I want to assure everyone that every review posted for my books has been the legitimate result of someone reading the work. With Fried Windows I sent out a number of advance copies to fellow authors and reviewers. At no time did I pay any fee to anyone or make any arrangement other than the customary ‘I’ll read your book if you’ll read mine’. That is totally legitimate and highly ethical. The reviewer receives a free copy of the book in exchange for the review and there is no guidance or expectation of the review rating.


When I post a review for something I had read it is an honest appraisal. The reason my reviews are mainly in the four and five star range is a reflection of two things. First, I do not post any reviews for any work that I feel does not merit at least 4 or 5 stars. It’s a personal thing. I know how hard it is to write a book a publish it. If a book needs serious attention in editing or structural revision I will inform the author separately and decline to post a review. I offer to review the book again once the problems have been fixed. Second, no one pays me for my reviews. I don’t consider myself a professional book critic. I tend to find the good in every story and give far more weight to the quality of storytelling than the mechanics of language. I ignore a lot of wrong words and mistakes, though I will note them and mention them to the author so they can be fixed.

I don’t post reviews for books I don’t want to read. Generally I will read a variety of genres, but there are some types of books that I do not prefer and generally I don’t read those. If I am not familiar with a genre I will mention it in my review and judge the book on its merits as a story not how well it fits into a specific genre. As my own work tends to span several genres I hate the necessity of categorizing books especially since Amazon and others require a book to be assigned one or a very few genres. Labels serve as an aid in searching for books of similar subject matter. I get that. A reader wants to know what he or she is getting in advance of purchasing it. I’m just saying that all fantasy or sci-fi books are not the same and the fact that mine are considered in those genres may not reflect the actual content of the book. My stories contain romance, mystery and many other things as well.

I’m not sure how Amazon can effectively police the review process. That’s up to them. I don’t want to see them go to an extreme where they require verified purchases for the posting of reviews because that will prevent legitimate reviews based on author/publisher supplied advance readers copies (ARC’s). That would be unfair to the author who is operating within accepted industry standards for receiving critical attention for a new book prior to its official launch.

The matter rests with each individual author and his or her artistic integrity. Rest assured that to the best of my knowledge every review posted for any of my books is a real review from someone who has read the book.

#reviews #integrity #authors #Amazon #books