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I feel like I’ve committed a crime.

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AND I BLOODY HAVEN’T

Thanks to Amazon and their carte blanche attitude to book reviewers, I have begun to feel that I am in the wrong for a reviewing a book I felt excited and passionate about. Is this a good thing do you think? I know I will be very wary of reviewing a book ever again, epsecially as I will always be linked to my daughter and she will more than likely always be linked to authors and books.

As Julie says in her comment here,
Authors beware…

Funnily enough, I have just referred a client to Jo, and also won one of Lisa’s books. I’m feeling I’ve committed a crime before I write a review!!

I wonder how many authors are now losing their valuable reviews. There certainly does not appear to be an appeals process when you believe your review was valid and without inappropriate connections. I think in future, if there is a book review future for me, I will always write a disclaimer at the bottom. Not that will protect me from Amazon’s software, but at least I will feel happier that I will have offered up anything I feel should be taken into account whilst reading my review.

I am sure there are millions of bogus reviews on Amazon, and I agree that these should be addressed, but when I know my review was from an honest place…

I am not alone, thank you Jo.

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Jo came across this today. I think she will be blogging later about Amazon book reviews. Meanwhile, here is a useful piece from Forbes.

Amazon deletes wrong reviews.

Wish I had seen this before the weekend.

What it highlights for me is, if I continue to pursue them, I am likely to put the very book I am reviewing at risk of being removed from Amazon. I am not willing to do that. So, on this subject at least, it’s goodnight from me and it’s goodnight from him.

I will add a link to Jo’s blog at http://www.writersblockadminservices.co.uk/ once it’s published.

Here’s the link to Jo’s blog:
Beware. Amazon could remove your book.

Amazon reviews are they moderated by software?

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Here’s a very interesting email I received from my very good friend John, a person who’s knowledge I trust implicitly. He says,

Kathy,

I know you and I believe it when you say that what this book is important and that people should know about it. The sad thing is that I suspect that no human being at Amazon has yet read a single word you have written. I imagine, and look forward to being proved wrong, that your review was analysed by a bit of software which decided that your language sounded like a publisher/author marketing a book. In your writing you say little that is personal to you about the book: how much it has helped you, how it resonated with you, what bits you loved, how you wished there were more like it. What you do say is that everyone in a particular market sector should read it and then give an overview of the contents. It sounds like a sales pitch and that is, I suspect, how the software interpreted it. It can’t help that you (i.e. your name) is connected with self publishing and that this book is published, essentially by the author.

I doubt also that the reply you got to your email was anything other than automated: it ignored everything you said; perhaps your second email will push the system into a human dimension and you can get a dialogue going. I have no idea how closely Goodreads and Amazon’s systems have been integrated so I don’t know if your review will remain.
I hope it does because, like I say, if you say this book is important and should be noticed I believe you. Good luck with it.

Love, John

Typical of me, I have now read the first bit of this more closely and from my recollection, I was much more personal in my original (lost) review). In fact Lisa’s book The Brightness of Stars resonated for me quite deeply in parts. In my review on Goodreads I am far less revealing of my own feelings whilst reading the book. Probably because, as I have suggested, this is the 3rd time I have written it and the spontaneity and passion I felt immediately after reading the book is reduced, and of course overlayed with the anger I feel towards Amazon. However, I do believe what my friend has explained above.

My name is connected with self publishing only due to Jo’s (my daughter) work at Writer’s Block Admin Services and her
e Book Formatting
I am a mother, and mother’s support their children where they can, and following her and retweeting her stuff is how I do that. Jo also published Dad’s book Sojourn in Silesia, I am named as an editor. So, I can see how the software has made it’s arbitrary decision about me and the book by Lisa Cherry (that if I mention again, I might end up looking like I am invested in it in some other way, rather than it’s message).

I’ve just had a chat to John, he’s happy for me to share is suspicions. He’s says I do sound like I am promoting the book, well yes I AM, because I believe it is important and I feel passionately about the subject. It makes sense now that the 2 emails from Amazon are pretty impersonal, and of course they can’t answer my further questions as they’re not real people. I am hoping that if I contact Amazon again (and again) that eventually a real person will come along and see the mistake.

Amazon making false claims about my honesty!

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I am fuming and don’t really know what to do next.

Over the last few weeks I have been following the journey to book launch of an author I admire called Lisa Cherry who has written a book called The Brightness of Stars. (normally I would have put in an Amazon link but that doesn’t actually feel right).
Her book, about her journey, and that of other children who were brought up in the care system in the UK, comes at time when “cared for children” are quite high profile in the press.

During the lead up to the book launch, Lisa held a competition, and I was lucky enough to win a copy of the book. Having read the book, I wrote a review on Amazon. The review didn’t appear (and I sorely regretted not writing it and saving it to Word), so after 48hrs I wrote another. Guess what (still not copied in Word), this too wasn’t published. So, I went to Help on Amazon, explained what had happened and here is the reply I received earlier today.

Your Account
Amazon.co.uk

Message From Customer Service

Hello Kathy,

We’ve removed your review from “The Brightness of Stars: Stories of Adults Who Came Through The British Care.”

Reviews are meant to give customers genuine product feedback from fellow customers. When we perceive that a reviewer has financial interest in a book or a close personal relationship with the author, we remove the review to protect the authenticity of our customer reviews.

If you have additional questions, please consult our Customer Review Guidelines:http://www.amazon.co.uk/review-guidelines

If, after reviewing our guidelines, you believe your review was incorrectly removed, please reply to this email with additional detail and we will take another look.

We hope to see you again soon.

Warmest regards,
Frank Lohe-Baartzes

I was astonished, and pretty angry, as i have no connection with Lisa other than following her on her Facebook page, reading and commenting on her book and following her on Twitter.
So, I respond to the email with,

Hello,

I only know of the author virtually, and only as someone’s who’s views I agree with and who’s work closely connects to my previous work as a mental health nurse and psychotherapist. . I don’t understand where in my review it suggests I have a close personal relationship with the author and I certainly have no financial interest in the book. I am astounded and angry.
Please explain?

Kathy Gower.

This is the reply,

Hello Kathy,

This is Bryce from Amazon Communities.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

I understand you’re upset and I regret that we haven’t been able to address your concerns to your satisfaction.
However, we won’t be able to provide further insight or assistance for your request.

Warmest regards,

Bryce C
Amazon.co.uk
Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.

So, still no review, and no acknowledgement that they are making untrue accusations about my honesty.

My reply below,

I’m sorry Bryce, that’s not good enough.
I shall have to take this further as you have accused me of dishonesty and of lying and having a financial interest in a book I have no connection with.

Kathy Gower.

So what do I do now. I feel so angry that they have not checked out the proof of their accusations. I feel angry on behalf of the author who feels passionate about her subject and really connects with her audience.

Anyhow, I feel a little less angry for writing it here. I hope that someone, somewhere will come up with a plan so I can leave a review for a book I feel is really important for the care world. Off to GOODREADS where hopefully my review (which I’ll have to write again (this time in Word) for a 3rd time. It will lack the passion and spontaneity but the book deserves reviewing.

And you wonder why I keep the gate closed!

a plus

As an after thought, I am now deleting my reviews from Amazon.
They say,
“Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.” at the end of their email. Well, I don’t think so Amazon.