Thursday, 8 March 2018

Chuckles Chat #59 Reviewing Samples

Welcome to Chuckles Chat where great blogging minds unite to discuss the topics of the day mainly in the book and blogging world. I'll be sharing my thoughts on a topic and then inviting you all to share your thoughts. It's ok to disagree but PLEASE be respectful of each other's views! All of the comments on my blog are moderated and offensive posts ie racist, bigoted will not be published! 

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This topic was basically inspired by a spat between one of my favourite authors and a fan who did a low star review on a free sample of his book on Amazon. At first it seemed to me that this was going to be a simple case of author behaving badly, which disappointed me as I hate seeing authors I enjoy involved in an issue with a book reviewer. But when I actually read into it, it was a bit more complex than I first thought and I figured it would be good to get your perspectives on this.

Basically, this woman was a fan of the author's apocalypse books and decided, as she always did, to read a sample of a new one before committing to buy it. She didn't enjoy the sample and said that she didn't like the political caracatures in it and wouldn't be buying it, but would continue to buy the other work in his various series that she did enjoy. She rated it one star. The author was unhappy about this, saying that it was unfair that this reviewer could do a one star rating on his book despite not buying it or actually reading it. He complained to Amazon but they said the reviewer did not break any rules and they didn't do anything. It escalated into his fans and fellow authors getting involved. You can read the story here. 
http://angie.booklikes.com/post/818860/how-not-to-treat-your-fans-darrell-maloney-edition

Now, I'm just going to focus on this post with the issue that started the problem in the first place-the fact that she rated and reviewed a sample on Amazon. 

I read a lot of samples and mostly I find them useful in deciding whether or not to buy the full book. It gives me a chance to look at a new author and see their writing style, the characters, the pacing and the plot. Or it gives me the chance to have a sneak peek at a new series coming out by an author. When I read the sample, I write down the plot that was featured in note form and any observations that I have, with a decision on whether or not I will go on to read the book and why/why not. I then do my Chuckles Goes Sampling post on my blog where I share my opinion on three or four samples. I do not give the samples a star rating and I don't put a rating and review for each sample up on Goodreads or Amazon. The reason for that is simple-I have not purchased the book or been given it to review by the author, so I don't think I should be reviewing a sample.

In this story I can fully understand the author being unhappy about about a one star review based on a short sample. I can understand other authors being unhappy about this. Why? One star ratings on a book can affect sales as we know. If someone buys and reads even a decent sized part of it and doesn't like it, a one star review is fair enough. But is it fair to get one star reviews dragging down a book rating when the person has not purchased the book and has only read a small number of pages from a sample? I don't personally think so. If I have paid money for the product or been asked for an honest review, I will do so even if I DNFed it but I would never review an actual free sample. 

I think Amazon are wrong to allow it. I agree with letting people review something they didn't buy based on an author giving someone a free copy as that person is agreeing to potentially read the whole book, but this policy of reviewing a sample means if your sample isn't totally brilliant, if your opening two chapters aren't outstanding, you could get a ton of one stars from people who didn't read the book. Likewise if the only good chapter in your book is the first one, you could get a ton of 5 star reviews based on samples! Is this really a fair way to measure how good books really are? I can understand the author frustration. Now we are going to get authors agreeing to positively rate each others samples to offset what the reviewers are doing! It's mad! 

What do you think? Should Amazon as a commercial outlet allow people to review things they have not bought? Should there be an exception for review copies from authors? Do you rate and review samples and if so where? Would you rate and review on something like Goodreads?

10 comments:

  1. I would never review a sample. That seems unfair. I only review stuff I’ve read. Amazon probably doesn’t want to spend time/money on policing reviews. It’s probably easier for Amazon to let reviewers do whatever they want. Then Amazon only has to react when an author complains.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. It does seem strange to me that Amazon allow this. I think you might be right about the reasons for it as well.

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  2. I support Indie authors and get many complimentary review copies from them, so yes, if you provide a disclaimer, I think Amazon should keep allowing you to post reviews. Where did many of the digital books come from in the beginning:) As for rating a sample. I don't think that's very fair. They haven't bought the book or received it for review. And they only read a small taste of it, so no. I can see this becoming a big problem for authors.

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    1. I agree with you that Amazon are right to let review copies be reviewed if the person is clear about getting it from publisher or author. I've reviewed copies like this on Amazon at the request of the author. I never knew they let you review samples until I saw this argument. I don't think it's fair to authors either.

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  3. Forgot to say that I now download some free samples per your example and have found some good ones to purchase and some to not spend my pennies on. Never do I intend to post reviews for them though.

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    1. I wish I could stick to samples all the time though! I tend to just buy apocalypse books without thinking about it when I'm in splurge mode!

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  4. yup this is why I don;t usually review my DNFs because I don;t think it is fair unless you have read the entire book. There have been just a handful where I found them really offensive or problematic in which case I have posted a review for a DNF

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    1. I feel it's different if you have been given the whole book-if you DNF it I think you do have the right, if you want, to review it as you bought or were gifted it with the 'intent' to read it all, even if you didn't. Samples are just not complete books and I find it wrong to treat them the same way.

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  5. I couldn't imagine posting a review for a sample on Amazon. I do post reviews for books that I didn't buy on Amazon so I don't know how they could stop something like this unless they started only allowing verified purchases to be reviewed.

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    1. Amazon should just take down all reviews of samples the way they do it for inappropriate content. If enough authors complain or withdraw their books maybe things will change. I hope they solve it before that happens though as Amazon is pretty much my only book source!

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