Since being published and finding myself checking in with my books on Amazon from time to time, I've become quite familiar with the various abuses of the system that are going on.
For starters, you can spot the author-under-pseudonym reviews a mile off. Usually they award themselves 5 stars. The review is usually only a couple of paragraphs, presumably because they fear waxing on at too great a length, they might give themselves away. But the real give-away is when you go and check the reviewer's other reviews and find, surprise, surprise, there are none. It's as if said reviewer had winked into existence just to post the one (glowing) review, and then vanished into obscurity.
I think of these as 'phantom reviewers'...and they usually puff into existence, as if by magic, after a particularly negative review has been posted. And they don't come in ones. Oh no....the phantoms miraculously appear in two and threes, post their gushing 5 star opinions, and then disappeared amidst a cloud of wishful thinking.
So hmmm...it does seem a lot of authors are out there playing a bit of a dodgy game. I do think it's damaging the value and integrity of Amazon's review system that there is so much of this going on. As well as an author I'm a big reader and trawling for something new to read, I rely very much on what other readers have said about a book.
So bad is the proliferation of author-authored reviews, that the only reviews I'm beginning to trust are the negative ones! Even then...I suspect some of the really bad 1 star reviews are either posted by rival authors in an attempt to spoil each other's potential sales, or acquaintences from an author's distant past - perhaps some old school bully who's stumbled via Friends Reunited or Facebook onto the fact their one time victim actually managed to achieve something...or an ex-partner looking to stick an anonymous boot in.
I'd like Amazon to tighten up this system somehow. I mean, it's so open to abuse, that bigger name authors now have Web Pr companies busily heaping praise on their books no doubt hiring an army of monkeys to cut and paste generic glowing-praise reviews for their clients.