Thursday, January 24, 2008

Harriet reviews NONEXISTING book.

Check this out:
[...] I'm sure there are credible people out there sincerely writing some of the reviews seen on Amazon and the like, but how do you feel about it? Do you read them/write them/love them/hate them/ignore them/quote them? Is it a service to readers or a possible disservice to authors? Is there a line being crossed? And what about the Harriet Klausners who write 45 reviews a week? Is it even possible to read that many books and comprehend them? [...]

From one of the comments under this article, I gotta quote, it's hilarious:
[...] As an example, after I agreed to write Bayou Bad Boys a few years ago, one of the writers got ill and had to drop out. Unfortunately, the story description she'd sent in to Brava got on the back of the ARC under the replacement author's name. (Fortunately it was changed before the actual book was published!) But HK reviewed all three novellas described. Even one that didn't exist. [...]
(From the comment by Joann Ross.)

There are some cretinious entries too:
leeannewat commented: The only time I read a review on Amazon etc... Is if I am looking to find out what a book is about... And if I find that a person has given a Negative review I click the "No" U know where they ask u if this review has been Helpful or not... I'm not sure what this does but I hope it does some good for the Author... As I think everyone should be "Given a Fair Go"...

Deborah Macgillivray commented: [...] Yes, click NO helps! So keep clicking!! Also if you see a particularly bad review that is over the line, click REPORT THIS. [...] I am a top review there, as I am on the other versions, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca and Amazon.de. [...] This all so has nothing to do with reviewing. They are not posting reviews; they are posting their opinions. Big difference, though they don't seem to understand that [...]

Leah commented: [...] I do rely on reviews to tell me what's worth shelling out the dough. At Amazon, I look at the stars - not the actual reviews. If something has a number of reviews (say, more than 10) and they're all consistently 4 1/2 to 5 stars, I think that's meaningful [...]
Rivitting! We thought a review actually is the reviewer's opinion of the item reviewed, but then what do we know... maybe a review should be rewarmed liner notes: by looking at Amazon reviews one just can't tell.

16 comments:

Cathy said...

Well, very interesting. I'm going to vent a little now, excuse me if I go slightly OT.

What's really starting to bug me is the way people carp about not writing a "bad" review if you thought the book was bad. Maybe it's nastier in the romance genre (I've heard rumors), but where I read I've never seen anything remotely like that, negative attacks for posting a critical review. I've actually had people thank me in the comment section.

I have and will post a critical review for a book I hated, I do it constructively and point out what was wrong with the book. I also take the time now when checking out an author I've never read before to look at a few of those one and two star reviews. I wish I had done so prior to wasting my $$ on Follet's god-awful Pillars of the Earth that came so highly recommended to me. After I finished and wall banged the book I went back and read those one stars and I was in total agreement with them. By reading some of the one and two stars, I at least have advance warning that the book might not appeal to me and make the choice of getting it from the library, as I did with the god-awful Rhett Butler's People. It's much easier to give up on a book that you haven't paid for and just send it back to the library.

As for reviewers to "trust" I've seen some postings recently here and at the GH discussions and I do feel there are some honest top reviewers out there --- geez I've topped 1,000 at Amazon UK and 500 at CA, and I feel I'm giving honest thoughtful reviews, so don't paint us all black. My #1 Amazon reviewer is getting very very close to the Top 1000 and I'm rooting for her -- despite a young age of 19 and a reading handicap that young lady is blazing through the ranks and is quite well respected amongst readers of historical fiction.

Rarely do the books I read "cross paths" with a top reviewer, only three that I see regularly. Two of those I totally ignore as all they do is give a book report and tell the whole freaking story, but at least they read the book. The third is actually quite insightful and I enjoy coming across her reviews.

Lastly, it really pays to follow other reviewers who have similar tastes in books -- although you won't always agree. In Historical Fiction there is a regular troop that you'll end up seeing again and again reading and reviewing the same books. Those are the ones I trust.

Malleus said...

> I have and will post a critical review for
> a book I hated, I do it constructively
> and point out what was wrong with the
> book.
Exactly. Critical reviews, in my view, are even more valuable than positive ones. I mean, assuming both kinds are honest. Analysis takes more brain power and effort than praise. Now that Amazon added this little rating summary above the reviews, I always visit the negatives in isolation. Not that they're always great, but I do specifically check them out. In fact, sometimes negatives are tendentious too, and that actually increases the value of the book in my perception.

> Lastly, it really pays to follow other
> reviewers who have similar tastes in books
Very true too. I was surprised that so many commenters on this page claim to simply ignore reviews on principle. There are a lot of good reviews on Amazon, maybe not the majority, but quite a few. I, too, have discovered a few guys who usually tend to review in some specific area or genre. Not that I monitor their reviews page and gradyharp every entry there, but when I'm checking out a book and see their review, I know I don't have to investigate them to see if they're trustworthy; I'm always glad to see a review like that; sometimes a single review like that is all I need. And yes, sometimes their reviews lead me to books I wouldn't know about otherwise.

Barbara Delaney said...

This is why the fakes and the posers are doing so much damage to the entire amateur reviewing system. Who wants to wade through all of their crap in order to find the honest and helpful reviews? I read more and more people saying they ignore all Amazon reviews because of the obvious fraudulent nature of the "top" reviwers.

Malleus said...

Ditto to that.

Malleus said...

Rereading the quotes above, I now wonder if perhaps Deborah Macgillivray meant something else: reviewing a book vs spewing your opinion on the same topic but unrelated to the book. If that's the case, then I certainly agree with her: a lot of idiots gibber on about anything at all but the book they're supposedly reviewing. That is annoying; mostly this happens, I noticed, on political books' pages and religion. Well, unsurprisingly.

Mark said...

As much as I don't respect Deborah Macgillivray, I tend to agree with your new view on her meaning. It's something I see more with political books then fiction, however, so I wonder how she sees it so much.

And I'm sorry, but negative reviews should be expected, period. Not everyone is going to like everything. And if you can't accept a negative review, get out of the entertainment business.

Malleus said...

Of course. Btw, who is Macgillivray? You say you don't particularly like her: is she someone known (or, er... notorious :-) ?

Mark said...

Her old biography left a bad taste in my mouth because she was too full of herself. It's down now, so there's nothing to see. She is the #29 reviewer at Amazon.

Malleus said...

I see. Looks like, in addition to reviewing, she actually writes the kind of stuff that Harriet reviews: hunks on cover, bulging pants is circumstatial, etc., another half-literate, though not quite Harriet. Well, all right; moving on.

Cathy said...

I've seen her comment in the romance discussions, along with other HR writers and readers about this topic. I guess anyone who slams a romance book they didn't like are open up to a nasty attack on the review comments. I've never seen it. If and when I'm in the mood for a good old romance book I pick out one from the grande dames of the 70's and 80's, thus avoiding that crap.

Malleus said...

HR writers?

Cathy said...

Sorry, HR = Historical Romance. I would suspect from your ignorance you don't stray into that genre very often :-0

Cathy said...

Malleus, to expand further on commonly used abbreviations (at least in the reader's group I participate in),

HF, historical fiction
NF, non-fiction
TBR, to be read
MT TBR, I'll bet you can guess that one :-)
POV, point of view
TSTL, too stupid to live, and a term often used in the romance discussions (which can be quite entertaining at times LOL, the time someone started a thread about sex scenes on a horse)

Cathy said...

", she actually writes the kind of stuff that Harriet reviews: hunks on cover, bulging pants is circumstatial"

Malleus, in defense of Macgillivray (although I have never read her books, nor any of the current romance books out there), there are some things that are beyond a writer's control, the editors tell them what they want in a book, and that's what the writer has to produce to get published. This topic has also come up on the romance discussion boards and several authors have weighed in on the topic, including Macgillivray.

Several readers were asking for more Civil War romance books, and it was noted that publishers wouldn't touch those with a ten foot pole in our age of PC -- that slavery issue you know.

The same goes for choice of covers, unless you are a well established author you have zip to say when it comes to your cover. So, although I have not read DG's books it's possible that they may or may not be the bodice ripping crap we assume from looking at the cover.

Case in point, three books by author Jennifer Roberson were recently republished with covers that indicate major bodice ripper. However, I've read all three and are quite chaste in comparison to what's currently out there. Of those three, one of those, while containing a sweet little romeo/juliet type of romance, tells a serious story of the massacre of a clan at Glencoe Scotland. Now, look at the new cover --
http://www.amazon.com/Lady-Glen-17Th-Century-Scotland-Massacre/dp/1575661292/ref=cm_lm_byauthor_prod_5_0

As I noted previously the love scenes are quite chaste and most of it is left to the reader's imagination. WTF is a publisher thinking putting a cover like that on a that tells the TRUE STORY about the massacre of a clan?

Barbara Delaney said...

Malleus,

Last March I had an exchange of comments with Deborah Macgillivray on one of Harriet Klausner's reviews. She was defending Harriet's reviewing record and taking issue with those of us who were questioning the huge number of books Klausner consistently reviewed.

Malleus said...

Thanks for the explanation, Cathy.
Barbara, I'm not surprised at all: she's obviously yet another member of the gang.