My books have been fortunate enough to only receive 4 and 5 star ratings from my loyal readers until a few months ago, often with incredibly kind comments accompanying them. Unfortunately, readers rarely take the time to provide feedback, which means such reviews are few and far between. Of my 20+ recently published books, only one of them has as many as four reviews; most have only one or two.
The situation changed a few months ago, when I began to do regular Free Book Promotions on Amazon. This is a promotion offered by Amazon to its writers, whereby once every 90 days, you can giveaway any of your titles over the course of 5 days. Obviously, the author doesn’t benefit financially from this exercise, but it is used as a marketing tool, to try and get your books seen by more readers, in the hope that it will drive future sales. Typically, one hundred plus free ebooks are delivered to readers, when I run a five day promotion.
On both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, after these giveaways have taken place, my number of one star reviews has increased for each book. Every time, the one star rating is never accompanied by comments to explain why they didn’t enjoy the book. It is worth noting that the only books I have received one star reviews for are those which I have included as a free giveaway (I don’t giveaway all my titles).
Here is an example of the feedback for ‘Educating Daisy’ on Amazon.co.uk. Previously, it had a single five star review. Now, with the one star review, the average has obviously dropped considerably.
An interesting article has been published on the BBC website today, entitled “Amazon’s Murky World of One Star Reviews“. It explains how some companies, having realised they can’t manipulate positive reviews for themselves, are now submitting negative reviews for their business rivals, in the hope of driving down their competition’s sales. The article goes onto describe how some sellers have gone onto abandon their businesses. As one person interviewed said, “Anything below an average of 4.5 and you’re kind of done.” I mean, would you purchase a book that once had a 5.0 rating, which had now dropped to 2.9? I’m not sure I would.
Now, I’m not saying this is necessarily what has happened to my books, but it does seem very strange to receive a flurry of one star reviews in such a short space of time, when I had previously never received a review below four stars. I truly hope this isn’t a scheme dreamt up by another author because, as a rule, writers are extremely supportive of each other, and this behaviour would be going against everything I’ve witness to date.
This whole recent experience has made me question, Should I continue to give away free books on Amazon? And I have to say, I think the answer, for now at least, is no. As a result, I’ve just cancelled the various free promotions I’d scheduled for the remainder of this year. I simply can’t afford to have my books being represented in this negative way.
Of course, such negative reviews would only have a small impact, if I had a large number of positive reviews. Unfortunately, as I have only managed to amass a handful of reviews to date, one single star skews the overall score dramatically. As a reader, if you’d like to try and reverse this trend, please do consider leaving both comments and star reviews for authors. Not only do we appreciate hearing your feedback, but your support is extremely valuable for the reasons I’ve outlined in this blog. Thank you.
Fenella Ashworth is a British author of contemporary erotic fiction. All of her stories are available from Amazon and free for those with Kindle Unlimited access. Her bestselling novels are ‘To Love, Honour and Oh Pay’ and the Daniel Lawson series.
Fenella also releases stories on BooksieSilk, Booksie, Lush Stories and Literotica, and is often visible in the Literotica ‘Erotic Couplings’ Hall of Fame (Top Rated).