So…here’s my tangent today and I’d like to share it with all of you.

Yesterday I noticed a post on my Facebook feed about a petition to prevent Amazon from arbitrarily deciding not to post book reviews based upon their belief that the reviewer might know the author.  What this means is that if you post a book review and  Amazon thinks you know the author personally, they may refuse to publish your book review.

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I find this really disturbing, and here’s why:  what criteria is Amazon using to determine whether I know the author?  Is it because I’m giving a really great review?  Is it because I follow their Facebook Author Page?  Maybe I’ve interacted with the author a few times through that page.  Or maybe, just maybe, I’m Facebook “friends” with an author.  The problem is that none of those contacts mean that I actually know an author.  It simply means that, for whatever reason, the  author and I have made some sort of acquaintance.  He or she doesn’t know me from a stranger on the street, and would be very right to be frightened if I were to knock on their door.

Even still.  What if I do know the author?  Does my knowing the author preclude my ability to give a fair and honest review?  And how is knowing an author (and my ability to leave a fair review) any different than being an avid fan of an author?  I’d argue that I’d have a bit harder time giving a bad review to an author whose work I simply love than I would one that I knew.  Just because I know someone doesn’t mean that I think he’s brilliant.

Here’s the truth:  whether I know you or not, I’m not likely to give you a scathing review unless I truly hate what you’ve written.  And, I won’t give you a raving review unless what you’ve written is truly spectacular in my opinion.  Very few authors get a full 5-star rating from me, and very few authors get a single 1-star rating.

Now, here’s a real problem as I see it:  Social media has allowed authors to have direct contact with their readers in a way they never have before.  Facebook and Twitter have allowed readers to easily reach out to their favorite authors and, in many cases, those authors are kind enough to respond.  Some authors are very active on their author pages and, while they don’t know any of their followers, they interact prolifically with them all.  This is a really good thing all around.  It’s good marketing for the author, but it also makes the reader feel appreciated.  If Amazon continues with this decision to refuse to publish a review by an author’s “friend,” this can only hurt the wonderful interactions authors have been able to foster with their readers.

So, what can you do?  If you think Amazon’s decision is wrong – or at least arbitrary – you can sign the petition asking them to rethink this decision by following this link.

Whether you agree with me or not, reviews are important to authors.  Even bad reviews are good and important.  The next time you pick up a book, take a moment to leave an honest review on one of the many outlets available (B&N, Amazon, Goodreads, etc).  The author will appreciate it.

For now, I’ll leave you with a bit of humor.  Someday I hope to have a whacko fan like this. Or maybe not.  It didn’t work out so well for Paul Sheldon.