(Un)Warranted Attack on Authors Helping Other Authors?

Posted: October 11, 2011 in Writing

Background first.  I started the Twitter hashtag #AmazonLikes in late September when sitting in a hotel room brainstorming how authors could help other authors.  Little did I know it would result in almost more headaches than benefits.  The latest is an attack by a blogger with a post entitled “Are Reviews Useful?”


Ostensibly, the post should have been about book reviews, right?  Sure, to a certain extent it is.  And, naturally, the blogger who is a book reviewer concludes that reviews are useful.  But, the blogger also slips in a dig at the #AmazonLikes hashtag and likens it to “cheating.”  Let’s take that apart for a moment.

First, an implied assumption of the blogger’s post is what “liking” a book’s Amazon page means.  She doesn’t address this in any fashion, even superficially.  She simply assumes that people see a “like” and they believe it means, “I like the content of the book and would give it a high rating.”  But, what are the customer reviews for then?  Going deeper, what exactly does “liking” mean?   Can’t you like a cover?  A book description?  The sample?  The price?  The genre?  Any other hundred of things?  If you like the content, won’t you potentially write a review, instead of just clicking the “like” button?  I would posit that the “like” button on the Amazon page actually ranks much lower in a reader’s decision to purchase the book or not because it is such an amorphous and vague little thing.

Second, what about asking people to like your book’s Facebook page, or your Facebook author page?  Is this “cheating” too?  Should your Facebook likes simply grow “organically”?

Third, organic growth?  Eh, come again?  I’m pretty sure that as an indie author, with little to no following, nothing comes organically.  It comes through poking, prodding, asking, giving away, and some reciprocation from other people in the same position.  And, with that in mind, should we stop all giveaways that ask for readers to like a Facebook page, or hopefully write a review after they read the book?

Fourth, the blogger concludes that “tagging” a book is okay, but liking it is not.  Yet, as far as I know, tagging has A LOT more to do with search results on Amazon than liking does.  In fact, your tags can qualify you for other subgenres in which you can be highly ranked.  And, the high ranking books REALLY sell.  So, why isn’t tagging cheating, Ms. Blogger?

Fifth, because I like round numbers and I’m feelin’ particularly ornery, what about the other mutual-help author programs that would constitute “cheating.”  #Melissa_Foster has done a tremendous job of helping other authors, including her #sharethelove4authors tag, where authors can post everything from webpages, to Amazon pages, to Facebook pages to Twitter links.  Is she cheating?  Nope.  There’s the #TagNLike hashtag–did all those people cheat?  Nope.

Then, regarding authors, let me say this.  This blogger is essentially taking the picked on and disadvantaged kid who sits in the back of the bus (us indie authors) and throwing him/her out the window.  Really–is there a need to preclude those of us that have what amounts to the most uphill climb imaginable from helping one another?  We have no marketing department, oftentimes no agent, no money, no traditional publisher, no editor…can’t you let us have one another?  And, regarding readers, the blogger goes on about “protecting” or “saving” readers.  I give my potential readers more credit.  I am fairly certain that they can discern what they want to purchase, and whether something they see is a quality product.  I don’t think they are so feeble minded that they are unnecessarily swayed by a “like” button.

In short, rubbish.  #AmazonLikes has helped the “like” total for my book, Enemy in Blue, and I hope it has helped the other authors involved.  I’ll go on helping other authors as much as I can, and maybe, just maybe, one of us indies will make it out of the pile.

  1. I’m with you. Authors need to fight for one another and help the community as a whole grow and become better. Well said.

  2. Indie authors/musicians are always bitter. I just take what comes, you know?

  3. I like your defense here. It’s a tough enough world out there for writers and big enough for all aspiring writers. Read, sample, like, recommend, & write some more good stories to share. The negative stuff is tedious for everyone. Best always, Justin

  4. Toye says:

    I loved this. Even well known authors had to get a start somewhere. They weren’t born famous authors.

  5. “I’m feelin’ particularly ornery” I’d say so, but it’s great. 🙂

    First, I think you hexed her blog post. I clicked the link to her blog so I could read it myself, it loaded up and I was able to read about two paragraphs before the post disappeared and I was left staring at her pink background.

    Second, she obviously didn’t do research. From what I was able to catch before the post blanked out, it seemed she was comparing the Like button to a fake review. I don’t see how that could be. I have heard about people giving a fake negative review of a book. It’s done by other authors who are pissed off that the book received a better review than a friends book, so they target the author and leave negative reviews wherever they can. But as you pointed out, hitting the Like button doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with a review.

    Sure, someone may have read my book, left a review and hit the like button. Great! But I didn’t read your book (yet), and I didn’t hit the like button just because you had the #AmazonLikes tag attached to your link. I hit the like button on your book because the blurb sounded good, the reviews were good, and it sounds like a good book that I’d like to read.

    I think that’s the point she fails to see. The #AmazonLikes tag is authors helping other authors AND READERS to know about your books. It’s called spreading the word. I wouldn’t have known about YOUR book otherwise.

    Isn’t that what #MentionMonday is about for bloggers? Helping to spread the word about your blog and your post? Would she consider that cheating?

    It’s a lot of hard work to build a following and you can’t do it if no one knows your there.

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