In a recent post about Amazon Reviews, I mentioned in one of my comments that I had come across what I believe is systematic keyword stacking in reviews posted by some major publishers. I was also convinced that the reviews posted for this particular book were systematic, highly orchestrated and were probably posted by members of the publisher’s staff, or perhaps by paid reviewers. I have quoted myself below to save you hunting the long list of comments that my earlier post on Amazon reviews received.
If there is any doubt about major publishers using fake reviews (um, marketing?), then one book I noticed this morning is a prime example. A book published in 2012 by HarperCollins has 79 reviews. The majority of these reviews contain either the author’s name or the book subject within the first six words. This is called ‘keyword stacking’ in SEO language and in my mind is clear proof of the publisher posting their own reviews.
Another aspect of the reviews for this book was that ALL of the initial reviews posted through the Amazon Vine Program, the so called ‘Trusted Reviewers’ system on the same day! When I looked at the dates of the first 4 pages of reviews, it was staggering how many were posted in one day. The day of the book’s release!
Honesty in advertising? No such thing.
At first I was hesitant in posting details of this particular book, but I believe it is important to know what is going on with regard to Amazon Reviews and how they are manipulated. If you believe most reviews are posted on Amazon by caring and generous readers, you probably still believe in the tooth fairy.
So to the reviews of this particular book. There are three keywords associated with this book. One is the author’s name and the other two are key to the subject of the book. These three words are, Grippando, Madoff and Ponzi. In chronological order, here are the first few words of a selection of the reviews posted for this book during pre-release and on and just after its release on January 3rd 2012.
Author Grippando is the author of the Jack Swyteck series, ….
James Grippando is an author i’ve been reading for years…..
This is the first novel of Grippando I have read, but it won’t be the last…..
This is a thriller based upon a Ponzi scheme of the Madoff variety….
James Grippando is one of those writers who can hold your interest…
Grippando’s stories share a common thread in that …..
Of the four books by James Grippando that I’ve read, …..
I suppose that at least one positive thing that can be said about Bernie Madoff is that he inspired James Grippando…
Good grief. James Grippando’s novel is bulging with every character ….
This is the first time I have read James Grippando….
If you, too, followed the stories over the past years of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme….
This is the first book that I’ve read that has woven in Bernard Madoff’s $60 billion Ponzi scheme ….
The usually dependable Grippando goes off course with this one …
Another gold star in my book! Grippando creates a web of twists & turns …
James Grippando starts this one out with a bang….
As always when i pick up a Grippando book its like going to the fair…
This book is really great. Another one from Mr. Grippando that does not disappoint! …
James Grippando has taken a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme as his foundation…
Having read most of Mr. Grippando’s suspense novels, I can say fairly…
What if the U.S. government knew that Bernard Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme …
The Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme has influenced this novel….
Like a modern day Rumpelstiltskin, Grippando weaves a superb yarn turning ….
New York Times bestselling novelist James Grippando served as counsel for a law firm ….
From the first paragraph, I was hooked on another Grippando novel…..
Need to Know is one of the best of James Grippando’s books. ….
I appreciated the plot of this book – a take off on the Madoff Ponzi scheme,….
I have just finished the latest novel by James Grippando. It is a fast read…
As everyone says it’s a Ponzi scheme story. ….
“Need You Now” is now my favorite Grippando book which surprised me….
I am a long time James Grippando fan. He is one of a short list of authors…..
I think I’ll stop about here before I make myself sick with repetition. Most of these reviews were posted via the ‘Amazon Vine’ program, and in waves that coincided with the pre-release and then release of the book in January of this year. So if you are concerned about having friends and family posting reviews of your book, or even paying for reviews, don’t feel too guilty about it as it seems to me to be a common practice by major publishers. Just remember that the example above is not cheating, it is called effective marketing.
For the majority of self publishing authors, I think there is still a lot to learn about promoting and marketing books and about what is fair, and what is unfair. One thing is for sure though, it’s a very rough and tough business.