When a good review isn’t.

This is a potentially controversial subject. Please don’t judge me as ungrateful. I am merely seeking answers, as I believe this may be a big problem.

…but IS it?

Among the three (only three? What’s wrong with you people?) reviews of The Anomaly Problem, there’s one I wish would go away. It’s a five-star review by someone called “Pen Name.” The review itself is only four words: “It’s a must read!!” I don’t disagree, but the review was posted only a day after I released the book, and I am quite certain the reviewer never read it.

See, this review was written by a family member who thought they were helping. Thing is, looking at this review through the eyes of a book buyer, my mind screams “FAKE.”

Well, it is fake. And due to some bad shit that happened over the last few months, I’m no longer in contact with this person. If I were, I’d politely ask them to take the review down. I may still do that, but before I do, the inquisitive part of my mind wants to know what damage the review is doing.

Sure, I like having five-star reviews. But what I really want on my sales page is honest reviews. People shopping for books want this too, don’t they? And this particular five-star review is glaringly dishonest. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the majority of readers out there can tell.

Suppose that review is driving people away?

I asked Amazon about that. As many authors know, fake reviews don’t violate Amazon’s Community Guidelines. Hell, some people post reviews that have nothing to do with the book they bought (ever see one where the buyer complains about the delivery guy? One star ’cause the UPS driver left the book in the rain). Those are apparently okay, too. Needless to say, Amazon didn’t want to help.

I suppose if I had more reviews (seriously, y’all lazy or something?) it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But that one review sticks out like a sore thumb. And I can’t help but wonder: is it hurting sales?

So what do y’all think? When you see a review that you think might be fake or solicited, do you pass on the book? Do you ignore most reviews on Amazon, knowing their guidelines are trash anyway? Comment below if you’ve got a thought.


  1. I usually would discount the review rather than the book, but I know a lot of people are cynical about these situations and assume that it is the author writing fake reviews to pad their work and promote it more. If I am interested enough in a book or an author, I will usually do more research and look at multiple reviews but I also know that some people rely solely on specific individual reviewers. I suppose this is just a difficult situation and it is unfortunate when people who intend to help only hurt.

    1. Thank you for the comment. Yeah, I’m really curious about how much stock people put into those reviews. Glad to hear at least one reader out there is doing their homework!

  2. As a writer, of course I want everybody to love my books but, more than that, I want honest reviews, and so wouldn’t want a dishonest (even if trying to be helpful) five star review that wasn’t earned. As a reader, I rarely leave five stars because to me it’s akin to saying this book was flawless/perfect and what book is, I prefer a review that cuts to what’s recommendable about the book (and a star count reflective of its merits and, sometimes unfortunately, demerits) and perhaps because of the way I think about it, I do find orgasmic reviews a turnoff. In fact, when reading Amazon reviews, I tend to read a sample from the high star count and low star count category, paying attention not to the star so much as to why the person gave the star/s – and if there seems to be a disconnect between the star and the review then I might discard it – especially if the reader sample bears out that initial impression. That said, who else is going to know that that five star review was left by a family member? Nothing about it intrinsically screams fake without the backstory. So, I don’t think that one review will do any damage.

    1. You’re probably right. Not everyone would think it was fake. I have heard from some people that it looks a little suspect, but in any case, sounds like most people tend to dig a bit deeper anyway. Thanks for the comment!

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