Update: Gender misidentification corrected.
Wierd confession on MediaBistro by first time novelist Allison Burnett. Burnett apprently got caught up in his Amazon ratings and sales traffic to the point he aggrevated a reviewer and created a backlash:
Whether the Blitzkrieg that followed was the work of Jack alone, using a host of aliases, or of a coalition of the willing, I’ll never know. What I do know is that no one involved was a signatory to the Geneva Conventions. Their one-star bombs were nasty and relentlessâ€”landing at a rate of five a day. My characters were undeveloped, my structure sloppy, my prose trite. There were complaints of money and time wasted and of friends never again to be trusted. Some hated the book so much they were forced to put it down. One argued that Christopher was, in fact, “too dull to hate.” And each review was headlined in bold capital lettersâ€”things like “SUCH A DISAPPOINTMENT” and “YAWN!” And, to make matters worse, above each bad review was a landslide of endorsements: “18 of 18 people found the following review helpful.” And above the old, positive reviews the numbers had changed overnight: “20 of 68 people found the following review helpful.” Within a few days Christopher’s review average had fallen to a mediocre three stars.
Burnett, author of Christopher, ended up writing to Amazon to complain and they eventually removed some of the offending posts. His reaction seems slightly petty but to be fair the reviews were not from people who had likley read the book and they did skew the votes. Plus, it is hard not to take it personally when your reputation and income are on the line. Still, it seems wise to simply stay away from direct involvement in these kind of forums – the risk is greater than the potential reward.