About Writers, Amazon, blogging, book reviews, book sales, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op


Amazon prevented me from reviewing books by Curtis Bausse and Victor Acquista because, they say, my review may be perceived as biased. Duh. I don’t know how they know but I do know they are wrong.
True, I only review books that are good. And yes, my reviews were positive but that’s because, as a writer myself, I know how difficult writing is and the good parts are always worth praising. Praising the best of a good book is not bias. It is acknowledgement.

So, I came up with half an idea.

If Facebook posts are any guide, many writers these days are pissed at Amazon’s review policies. What we need is a place where writers may post reviews of books. Peer reviews. Reviews by people who have read the story and can comment in depth because they have an appreciation for what it took to create that story.

Readers will not be mislead by reviews written by another writer if the fact’s disclosed:
– Review by Thomas Wolosz, Author of Agony of the Gods
Jeesh! It’s arrogant to believe that people can’t be trusted to think.

So, fellow writer co-opers, what say we create a place here, on the Writers Co-op, for writers to review books?
Call it, “Peer Reviews” and claim the high ground.
Many authors might appreciate it.
Authors will, of course, still want reviews on Amazon, but they would also link from their web page to their review in our Peer Reviews. It could make our site a bit more relevant to today’s writers.

As I said, it’s half an idea. The other half are the develish details.
What do you think and how might this work?


33 thoughts on “PEER REVIEWS

  1. Sorry, GD, but this doesn’t interest isn’t me at all. Three reasons:

    (1) I much prefer reviewing WIPs than commenting on finished work. Especially for struggling unknowns (as most of us here are, eh?) workshopping with trusted peers will, I believe, be of more use to the writer than posting reviews of finished work that will . . . (ahem) never be read by more than a handful of drive-by readers. I don’t see the point or the pay-off in creating a review section on the site at this time.

    (2) I’m sure I’m perceived as a difficult and/or hyper-critical reviewer. I’m not–I’m simply honest. However, I’ve no desire to be the Co-op kill-joy dragging down someone’s average reviewed book score. (“You killed my novel, you bastard!”)

    3.) There’s only so much time in the day left over after the ‘ole 9-to-5 has extracted its blood, sweat and tears. I have other priorities: reading, writing, reviewing the occasional WIP posted here. (Speaking of which . . .)

    All of which is to say: go ahead; create the new portion of the Co-op if you wish. I certainly have no objections; it’s just that (since you asked me to comment) I have to be honest in confessing that I most likely won’t be playing an active part.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. GD Deckard says:

    No 🙂 No Carl
    Co-op members are not being asked to write reviews!

    Not at all. I am simply suggesting we create a place whereby any author can post a review.
    This could generate new traffic since the author of the reviewed book would likely post a link to the review from his or her own website.

    Sorry for the confusion!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mimispeike says:

    I am not opposed to the idea, but I tend to disbelieve reader reviews, and a reader review selected by an author would be especially suspect. How about a blog-spot of first chapters?

    But, OK, let’s try it and see how it goes.

    Liked by 4 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      Agreed, Mimi. Reviews should be original & not selected by the book’s author or promoter.

      A blog-spot of first chapters? Sure, why not allow members to post some of their writing? I like that idea.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Like Mimi, I’m circumspect, but it’s worth trying. The devil is indeed in the detail. Does it resemble the possibility we discussed when starting out? Of having a team of reviewers? Or do we just say, ‘Here’s a space where anyone can post a review of anything’?

    Liked by 4 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      Dunno, Curtis. I’m inclined to think we let anyone post a review of anything but with the caveat that we can delete any review and/or ban any poster. But really, after everyone has a chance to comment, if it then seems worth the effort, we’d still need to do some research.
      How can we do this with our knowledge & resources? Is it already being done? How would we solicit reviews? Could/&/should we place ads on the pages? Will it cause changes to our co-op that we don’t want? Is there any liability whatsoever on our part? 🙂 Meh. Is it worth doing & why?

      Liked by 4 people

  5. Amazon does have tremendous control over the book market and it’s natural to want to do something to feel more in charge of one’s own success. The fact is, each writer needs to decide how each sliver of time is best spent. It’s useful to me to receive peer reviews if they assist one of two goals: Improve my writing or sell more books.

    The first goal is better served by asking writers to beta read my WIP, generally in exchange for my time beta reading their work. While you can always update an e-book, it’s easiest to make a change when you’re earlier in the process.

    To realize the second goal, a significant enough segment of book buyers would have to learn about the peer review site, believe they get something there worth their time and make purchase decisions based on that information. The market could use something like Goodreads that’s not controlled by, er, Amazon. It’s a huge undertaking to create that place.

    Here’s a half-finished thought about how author reviews might be made visible and meaningful to real book buyers: Use the site as a repository for reviews, and create a means by which books that receive enough good peer reviews to be seen as “author approved” are pushed out to the mailing lists and social media outlets of participating authors. For such a system to really work, it would need widget-like convenience: An author would set up the service once and the rest would happen automatically.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. mimispeike says:

    Should we say: Pitch a book (but not your own)?

    A spectacular review by one of our editors in our company newsletter put me to investigating The City of Dreaming Books. This additional review dredged up by Google closed the deal:


    This is yet another 400 page walnut-cracker set in the bizarre and hilarious world of Walter Moers’ Zamonia. The sequel to “The City of Dreaming Books,” it picks up several hundred years after the events of CoDB where we find Optimus Yarnspinner on yet another trip to the City. Within its pages are Moers’ digressions, lists, and delightful illustrations that are his trademark.

    What is missing is a plot, because, at the end of this giant tome, the author reveals that due to certain practical constraints, he was forced to turn what he planned to be one book into two. In effect, this book is a 400 page prologue to the actual book you thought you were reading. (Fans of Moers might not be entirely surprised he could write such a thing, digressions upon digressions!)

    This might not have been too disappointing, but getting through the last hundred pages to find out that they were merely about Zamonian Puppetry, the history and practice of, and weren’t really leading up to something besides the next book was pretty disappointing.

    All of that said, Labyrinth of Dreaming Books does appear to be necessary reading for the next book, and does leave one very, very excited for its future release.


    So, you see, I do use reviews to guide me.

    This Reviews idea may end up being a very good thing.

    Especially if we attract extraordinarily interesting comments like the above. This author sounds like a soul-mate for me. I am going to buy this series for myself for Christmas.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. I see the beginnings of a good idea here. I’ve been, like everyone, frustrated with Amazon’s policy on reviews — not least having GD’s reviews deleted from my books. I could tolerate Amazon throwing out a lot of babies with the bath water, but they’re so wrong-headed about what constitiutes a valid review and what doesn’t, and really I think they ought to just butt out altogether and trust the public to develop a skeptical and critical eye. I mean, if a book has hundreds of reviews, then no one is going to be reading them anyway. If it has fifteen, well, then those reviews really might help someone make up their mind to give a new author a try, no matter whether it was written by a fellow author who occasionally rubs elbows with the author on Facebook, or whether by someone random reader. (Also, Amazon’s search engines don’t work very well. I’ve had reveiws removed, but many remain by people I DO know on Facebook or through other media. Just saying.)

    As far as GD’s half idea, I like it. I agree we need to make it clear we will delete reviews that violate our unwritten rules for probity and fair play. I think the hardest thing will be, as always, attracting the attention of a sufficient number of readers and authors to make it worthwihile, but you have to start somewhere. So what should it be exactly? A separate page devoted entirely to reviews? Reviewers submit and we approve or disapprove? One request: no stars, no numbers. Personally, I’d like to do away with any impression that we are trying to provide an “objective” score. Let’s embrace subjectivity for a change. Let creative, substantive reviews be rewarded by a positive response in the commnets.

    Liked by 5 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      You make sense, Atthys. I like your idea, “Let creative, substantive reviews be rewarded by a positive response in the commnets.”
      “… no stars, no numbers.”
      “Let’s embrace subjectivity for a change.”
      It’s all subjective anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The convenience of being able to read reviews and purchase books on the same page is difficult to dismiss and probably impossible to eradicate. If Writers Co-op proceeds with the idea to post reviews, might it be possible to ask authors to provide a link on their Amazon Author Page (and any other relevant social media outlet) to the reviews that would appear here? Would authors be permitted to provide a link “to more reviews” on the Amazon book page itself?

    I wonder why Amazon feels the need to censor reviews by people who seem to have some connection to an author. Don’t Stephen King fans review all his books? Does Amazon see fandom as a questionable connection? Is Amazon’s fear that the author’s acquaintance reviewers are so biased they would lie outright about the quality of an author’s work? (As if fans would never do that.) And even if that happens, couldn’t the readers who are misled into buying the book post their own reviews to counter the falsely positive ones? It seems to me the system should be self-correcting.

    Why should Amazon care about reviews that sell books, anyway? Isn’t it to their benefit to sell books? Isn’t that their job? Or are they jealously guarding certain authors whose books appear in those coveted thumbnail slots? Is it possible receiving 100 reviews is only one way to earn that distinction? Might an author pay Amazon for that exposure? After all, authors pay for Kirkus reviews. (What a disappointment that was to learn.)

    My point is that this seems like a policy authors and readers should take up with Amazon. Is there something Writers Co-op could do in that arena?

    Liked by 5 people

    • I have never agreed with Amazon’s approach, but I think they are fighting an unwinnable battle. Any writer who’s willing to pony up some cash can get tons of reviews (there are pages of “reviewers” on Fiver (?) who will pretend to read your book and post a postive review for five dollars a pop. Needless to say, this undermines Amazon’s credibility as a legitimate review-based site. Unfortunatlely, they have created this monster all by themselves. Quality or credibilty of the reviews is not what is rewarded by their search algorithms, it is only number. And sites like BookBub have bought into it as well. I understand that they can’t begin to cope with the number of books and reviews that flood their site in a thoughtful, personal way. They have to rely upon search engines and automata, but that is why they have this monster on their hands.

      Good to see you back on the site, Sue. We have missed you.

      Liked by 5 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      Absolutely, Sue! Links are a great idea. Links to wherever the book is sold, to any & all author pages, and to the author’s website. (Same for the reviewer? I vote yes.) This is the Internet.

      As for Amazon, I have this theory that their algorithms have completely taken over. No human intervention is allowed. The fat cat owners are sitting in a club chuckling over how they made their start by getting authors to donate free books for them to sell.

      Some things Amazon does are actionable. When authors complain on Facebook about their books being sold by pirates on Amazon, I give the authors the link,
      One of their attorneys phoned me and told me that they could act once their firm has a hundred or so complaints. Complaints can be filed on their website.

      Liked by 3 people

      • And I thought Facebook’s algorithm for deciding how many of your friends/followers would see each of your posts was the Dreaded Algorithm. If what you suspect is true, Amazon’s appears downright evil by comparison.

        Good to know about ClassAction!

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Sorry Y’all. busy time at work and home. I hope you all are having a great pre-Christmas week.

    Yes, I like the idea of a site devoted to authors being able to reach readers independent of Amazon. I absolutely love the idea of interacting with readers because readers is the only thing that really matters. I am in favor of any idea that helps connects writers to readers. i.e. tree falling in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound or rob writing 100 billion words that no one reads, does it matter?

    I would envision a split website. One side is primarily for the writer and the other primarily for the reader. There are thousands maybe more readers who are always looking for new material. That is the person you need to find for the site to be a success. It has to be about them and not the author. Otherwise it turns into another writer site looking for readers.

    I am opposed to editing any comments because isn’t that what Amazon is doing that is the genesis of this conversation. If I am a reader and I see that a comment has been removed then I have to wonder why and in this conspiracy driven world, folks will automatically assume that it was because of a unfavorable comment. Hide the offensive and/or inappropriate comments under a banner that the reader has to click on to see. Put a lawyerish “I am over 18 and I agree to look at the offensive material..blah..blah..blah.” Then it is up to them and not us for deciding that President Whoever sucks green donkey xxxxs is appropriate or not.

    I don’t like star rating system either, but I love yes/no I recommend this book. Very simple and no gray area if a 2/3/4 is really good or bad. You also need a search engine to put the books into categories. It just helps readers find other books like the one they just read.

    I think Mimi has a great idea about chapters and other samples of the writers work. I would suggest a nominal fee for the author to pay for the opportunity to post their sample/book for review. The key would be having enough readers to give a good review but this potentially could take a lot of bandwidth and time/effort to keep the site rolling. But it is the author’s responsibility to get large chapters/novels out to the beta readers via email. You are doing yourself a disservice posting a 28,000 word chapter. Maybe you can post 500 words and everything else has to be clicked on. But that still takes up space on the site.

    You will also need to have a place for the author to post their site, links to buy the book, pictures, and all of other social media things.

    In summary, it has to be easy to use, transparent and welcoming. Otherwise it is probably not worth the effort and I think it would take a lot of effort.

    Just my thoughts, please edit them as you wish…ha ha.

    Liked by 6 people

  10. Hear-hear! Atthys Gage and Sue Ranscht, folks! Let’s give ’em a big round of applause!

    ATTHYS: “Personally, I’d like to do away with any impression that we are trying to provide an ‘objective’ score. Let’s embrace subjectivity for a change. Let creative, substantive reviews be rewarded by a positive response in the comments.”

    SUE: “Is Amazon’s fear that the author’s acquaintance reviewers are so biased they would lie outright about the quality of an author’s work? (As if fans would never do that.) And even if that happens, couldn’t the readers who are misled into buying the book post their own reviews to counter the falsely positive ones? It seems to me the system should be self-correcting.”


    PS. Hey! Where were you guys–two of our most revered, intelligent, hyper-articulate writers–on that last blog post? Seriously–no comments?! Whatta ya think I’m working for out here?! It shore ain’t da folded green stuff. . . . (No guilt; no pressure. Heh!)


    Liked by 3 people

    • I did, and maybe DO, mean to comment on that post, but it’s a daunting thread. Between you and Victor, it’s hard to come up with an intelligent-sounding comment that isn’t just rehashing covered ground. I’ll give it another look.

      Liked by 5 people

  11. victoracquista says:

    I like the concept, but I am concerned about the work involved to do this well and turn it into a useful resource for prospective readers. Without fully understanding the process elements it is difficult to guess what the end utility of the site would be and what the potential liabilities might come into play. Most good ideas fail not because the idea isn’t good, but because the process of taking concept to operation is weak.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. DocTom says:

    Hello All,
    Nice idea GD. One thing that might save some room is to just allow people to post links to reviews they’ve already posted elsewhere. I have a few book reviews on my Web Page and would gladly post the links here. That would make this more of a way station to reviews but would accomplish the same goal of helping writers get some attention.
    Posting opening chapters or WIP’s would be nice (don’t we all miss Book Country?), but I think that would require a huge memory commitment (do you have your own server?). Also, as far as ease of use, just post the link to the book’s Amazon or B&N page at the end of the review – that’s what I do.

    Liked by 4 people

      • That might be a good step to start with, and then see where it develops. Authors probably know where reviews of their books are posted apart from Amazon, so providing a few links would be simple enough. A single thoughtful and thorough review can be of more help to the potential reader than 50 reviews on Amazon. Though there might have to be a way of encouraging readers to actually click on reviews, a bit like the ‘helpful’ tag on Amazon.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. mimispeike says:

    It sounds to me that what we are contemplating is less Peer Review and more Peer Recommendation: here’s something you ought to look at, for these reasons. Am I right or wrong about this?

    Liked by 2 people

  14. GD Deckard says:

    Here’s a different take. This is a Facebook post by author Shane Thomas, commenting on this blog:
    I have been trying lately to think about Zon only as a market place and not as my marketing effort. Amazon will reward you if you bring buyers to them rather than trying to talk to the people already in their aisles.
    By this I mean that I’m trying to cultivate a readership in my newsletter and website, expose them to my review of a fellow authors title, then bring them into Amazon to buy the book through my affiliate link. Then I get a cool 4% finders fee rather than persecuted for being biased.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. GD Deckard says:

    In a Facebook post about this blog, author Mar Marburg added, “They also block these reviews if they believe there is a relationship such as family and friends.”

    Now, how much has Facebook invaded our privacy to know that a review was written by a family member or friend of the author!?!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. mimispeike says:

    I don’t want my relatives to review my book. I’m going to forbid them to review it. I fear some will be transparently rah-rah. The religious-nut side of the family won’t have much good to say.

    On the other hand, a great, zany slam might attract readers. But I don’t think they’re up to great, zany. Boring peabrain is more their speed.

    Maybe I could write a great, zany take-apart myself, and get someone to post it.

    I skip over the five-star reviews and read the one-stars. How about you?

    Liked by 2 people

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