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Amazon Reviews

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on June 22, 2015

According to some recent online posts, Amazon is changing the way it will be rating reviews.

“The new system will give more weight to newer reviews, reviews from verified Amazon purchasers and those that more customers vote up as being helpful.”

As an author, I find this promising. Recently I have revised three of my backlist titles. Some of those earlier reviews from the original books are less than stellar. I’d like to see new readers overwhelm the airwaves with positive raves about my revised and updated editions. And I certainly wouldn’t mind if Amazon removed some of those low-rated earlier posts that say my writing should have been better edited. Because those reviewers are right. My earlier editions did need more work, which I can only now see from the perspective of 15 years later.

Permed to Death, book one in my Bad Hair Day series, is a prime example. It’s full of exclamation marks and other new author mistakes. Open Road Media has put this title for sale at $1.99 this month only. This is great since it’ll attract new readers to my series. But I hope they keep in mind this is my first mystery and understand that my writing has steadily improved over the years. Some kind reviewers, who enjoyed the story, have remarked that it’s the first in the series and should be judged that way. Earlier reviewers haven’t been so accommodating. Hence my eagerness to produce revised and updated editions.

I need reviews for these new Author’s Editions so they can supersede the earlier ones. If you have read Hair Raiser, Murder by Manicure, or Body Wave in their revised formats, please post a customer review at Amazon, and also at Goodreads or BN if you go to those sites. These books are all on sale now for $3.99.

You can also go to an author’s book pages on Amazon and click on Has This Review Been Helpful to You? Click Yes if you feel it’s a decent review or No if it bashes the book and you don’t agree. Some low ratings may be justified but others are unusually cruel, like one star reviews that say, “This is the worst book I’ve ever read,” or “Author needs work” or “Painful to read.” Be fair. If you think the writeup applies, click yes. If not, click no. And is this true of newer editions? We’re not asking for all good reviews, only fair ones.

Please consider leaving a review for any of my new titles you pick up. Your post might encourage someone else to buy my book. And the more books that sell from the frontlist, the more the publisher will be inclined to acquire the sequel.

You count as a reader, now more than ever before in the publishing industry. Use your power to help your favorite authors.

Follow me on Amazon and find my books: http://amzn.to/1BYmuXE

More articles on the Amazon Update:

http://www.theverge.com/2015/6/20/8818621/amazon-reviews-system-changes

http://www.cnet.com/news/amazon-updates-customer-reviews-with-new-machine-learning-platform/

http://recode.net/2015/06/20/amazon-upgrades-its-review-software-keeps-banana-slicer-reviews-intact/

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12 Responses to “Amazon Reviews”

  1. I think Amazon is doing the right thing. I’ve seen very old reviews for books that have been totally revamped, re-edited,etc., and do not deserve poor reviews based on prior reading. I don’t always agree w/their policies, but in this case I think it will be helpful to writers & readers.

  2. stanalei15 said

    Great information, Nancy. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Mark said

    On the other hand, I buy my books from so many different sources. My reviews will now be pushed down automatically if I don’t buy it from Amazon. On days when I start to care about my rank, it is tempting to buy everything from them.

    I’ve never liked the “Amazon Verified Purchase” tag on reviews. Who cares where you bought it if your review shows you know what you’re talking about? And since so many of the AVP reviews talk about great shipping and item arriving as described, they aren’t really reviews of the product any way.

  4. I agree with Mark about this. I don’t think there should be a stigma attached to an Amazon review because the reader/reviewer didn’t buy the book from them.

  5. Kevin said

    As Mark pointed out, this change is going to push down his reviews as well as mine. This also means that the system can be more easily gamed. A negative review or one that is not five star positive can easily be shoved down by 20 or more five star reviews that say the book is great. We have already seen this happening somewhat since Amazon no longer has a word count for reviews. Dropping the minimum word count has resulted in increasing numbers of one or two word five star reviews.

  6. I confess, I’m latching on to one very minor statement in your essay, where you mention exclamation points as the mark of a new author. I agree that they can be overdone, but I’m afraid the pendulum is swinging too far in the other direction. I’m seeing stuff by well-established, bestselling writers with such silliness as “Help,” she screamed, “it’s the zombie apocalypse.” Okay, the zombie bit I just made up, but I distinctly remember a “Help” followed by a comma. I say, when the dialogue calls for an exclamation point, don’t be afraid to use one!

    • I’d leave out the “she screamed” if we know who’s talking. But you are right. The occasional exclamation point may be necessary but not an overabundance of them.

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