I placed some of my out-of-print books in the Kindle Select Program and the last time around Amazon.com gave away over 10,000 copies of one of my mystery novels. Although I'd had 4 and 5 starred reviews for the book, I got several nasty, rude reviews from readers who got the book free. I reported them as abuse but Amazon won't remove them. Has anyone else experienced one starred reviews? If so, how did you handle it?

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I hang out at Kindleboards, where, mostly to vent, authors will post about their one-star reviews in the "writer's cafe," rather than respond to the reviewers directly. A lot of them have noticed that using Amazon's KDP Select program can lead to a lot of low-starred reviews. I think it's because people will download anything for free, and then, when they discover that they've downloaded a book that simply isn't for them, they'll trash it, whereas, if they'd been required to pay money for it, they never would've bought it in the first place.

Amazon seems rather inconsistent on its policies for removing reviews, based on conversations with other authors and my own experience. About the only time they can be counted on to remove a review is when a major plot point has been revealed in the review, a "spoiler," in other words. (I once had a 4-star review removed because of a spoiler.)

Personally, I've had my fair share of two-star reviews (among the 140 or so reviews I've had on Amazon USA), but only one one-star review, and I think of that one as a public service in that the reviewer was essentially warning potential readers of the squeamish bent that there's a significant degree of violence in that particular book. I suppose I've been lucky to date.

Thanks for your reply, Eric. I write humorous mystery/suspense novels and I don't think that people who download free novels take the time to read the descriptions. When readers admit to reading the entire book, how bad can it be? I thought that one star reviews were reserved for books so bad that you can't read past the first page.  

Jean, I've read of the same sort of thing on another web site. According to them, some such requests to Amazon were honored, others not. You may want to keep trying. It is noteworthy, I think, that it's particularly those people too cheap to buy a book who think they can trash a freebie, perhaps under the impression that, being free, it must be worthless.

In my case, freebies have attracted several bad reviews, but my downloads haven't been anywhere near yours in number. If you have enough good reviews to balance things out, it won't matter much.  In my case, I also don't have enough past reviews to ignore the danger completely.  I schedule freebies only rarely and only for one day.

I agree, I.J. So far the good reviews have kept the rataings to four stars, but I'm teetering on the edge. The upside is that my sales for last month were four times as many as the month before, so I have to decide whether sales or ratings are more important. It's a balancing act.

Another reason on the con side not to give a book length item away for free.  Unless it has no hope of selling anything to speak of anyway, I guess.

Also, if people got the idea Amazon was dumping negative reviews for any reason except the most extreme, the reviews in general would become meaningless.  

Thanks for responding, Jed. Giving away book length works does have its advaantages. The KDP program places the book in the lending library, for which the author receives anywhere from $1.70 to over $2.00 each time the book is loaned. In the case of a series, giving away a book usually results in the purchase of other books in the series, including foreign sales. My sales usually  increase dramatically for the next few weeks after a book in the series is offered free. The big drawback is that a few people write rude reviews because the free novel isn't the kind of book they thought it was when they clicked on it, without bothering to read the desciption or the first couple of chapters offered on Amazon.

Well, you have a point, Jed. My information comes from some very successful authors who play the giveaways, tweets, reviews, etc. like masters. Their sales are stupendous. I don't play those games and I don't have low prices, so my sales are modest but steady. I also don't believe in engaging in comment exchanges with reviewers (as some people try to do).  That can get very nasty. The occasional giveaway is necessary to remind readers of one's existence. Kindle-publishing is incredibly anonymous, and you aren't going to be mentioned unless you make a book free. 

You're right about responding to reviewers, i.J. I found that out the hard way. :-)

Ah.  Sorry to hear it. The atmosphere on some reader sites (Dorothy L, Kindleboards, and Goodreads) can also be frightful. In my opinion, authors need to stay away from readers. :) 

lol, I.J.  I enjoy hearing from 99% of my readers, who often make my day. But there's always that proverbial fly in the ointment whenver you strive to suceed. I just received an email from a friend who said, "My opinion is to ignore those reviews. Everyone I know gets a few. Those people [revieweers] are just nasty...guess they have a very limited life and this makes them feel more powerful." Good advice.

Btw, I'd like to interview you for my Mysteroius Writers blog. Email me, if you're interested, at JeanHenryMead@aol.com

About the only time they can be counted on to remove a review is when a major plot point has been revealed in the review, a "spoiler," in other words. (I once had a 4-star review removed because of a spoiler.)

Not anymore. They no longer remove reviews because of spoilers.

Seriously? That sucks for everyone. Who wants to be reading a review of a mystery, for example, and stumble accidentally upon whodunit?!


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