A lot of readers apparently decide on what book to read by looking at the reviews below the blurbs. There can be a lot of them. Readers also rely on the likes. If a lot of people liked the book, positively reviewed it, what could go wrong?
Well one thing is fraud. The best book reviews money can buy. You see the reviews full of effusive praise for the book, and you think it must be a great read. You get it and wonder what they read when it's poorly edited with stereotypical characters and a ridiculous, manipulative plot. The link tells you how some are getting those wonderful reviews. Some of this buying of reviews comes from the difficulty of getting independent books even seen by the reading public.
Amazon has done what they can to let the reader check the validity of a review by a notation above the review certifying it's a purchased copy. Since legitimate reviewers also request a copy, I am not sure this helps much.
A sneaky tactic suggested, even in some of those books on how to sell a million copies, is to acquire a bunch of emails with various sites and names. Then the author can flatter themselves with effusive reviews from say five different people, who are all them.
Various places, I've seen the writers come in asking for 'likes' for their book. You don't have to buy it, just 'like' it for me. They know that it will influence some purchases, maybe enough to get their book into the top 100 list of some category.
Sales are the only way readers can find a lot of these books. The average reader will not go to Amazon Forums to get recommendations. They will do a search and if they go past the first 100 titles in that category, it would be surprising. It's not hard to see why writers do whatever they can to get their books there.
Writers who mean well ask for the likes if the others like their book but it's implicit in the asking that they want it and will do it in return. It pretty well makes the 'like' category meaningless since it can be based on friends clicking the button without reading the book.
So what's the answer for someone who wants to purchase books they will enjoy and not be defrauded? I'd think checking out the blurb for whether the plot sounds good, and then taking time with the free sample chapters. (If they aren't offered-- most are-- skip the book as there is a reason).
For writers like myself who don't ask for reviews (a few of my friends have read my stories and done reviews without the asking), what is the answer to getting them? Pretty much I think independent writers have to stick to writing the best story they can and do what they can to get the word out-- but honorably.
I do more reviews now than I ever did before I got into the ePub world. Back then the only place I would write a review of a book was in my blog and had never done one at Amazon. I understand how important it can be to a writer, but I won't do one by request and don't write something I don't believe.
Basically I don't do negative reviews as I tend to think one person's poison is another's delight. I've seen some poorly edited books; but what if I put that in a review, they get it fixed, who's the one with a review looking foolish? Mostly I think that if the problem is a plot device and say discussing it would give away the plot, then a review would not only be mean but unfair to readers. The next reader might and often does love what I, as a writer, feel was a gimmick.
Finally I have read the opinion that writers should not do reviews at all. I disagree with that. Their logic is a writer cannot be fair. They might do a negative review to squelch competition or a positive one as payback. That implies writers are all dishonorable which is ridiculous. Writers are like anybody else with the honorable, who write because they have a story to tell, but also those who'd sell out their mother to get a book in the top 100. I think writers should do reviews and can offer tips to another writer for why their book works or does not.
Either way reviews should come from those who read the book, truly liked or hated it, and are willing to take their own precious time. If they were all done that way, they'd be of value to readers and writers.
From August, the photos are of summer gardens along the Oregon Coast. I love gardens there as they can grow things that would freeze out here. Some are lush, overgrown but with a rush of colors. They bring back memories to me of the years my grandparents lived on the Coast. I like the funky sense of style mixing flowers, lanterns, planters, and colorful beach buoys.