Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Author DeborahAnne MacGillivray Harasses Amazon Reader

Apparently, there appears to be a breakdown in the comment box on the previous thread. Ms. MacGillivray was the recipient of a three star review on Amazon. She chastises the reader for not understanding the book correctly.

Reba,

Thank you for letting me know you enjoyed “A Restless Knight” so much you read it twice. It’s always nice to hear this. I appreciate when people take the time from their busy lives to let me know what they feel about my books. Sorry, you didn’t let me know before. As it was my debut book, I was very interested in responses.

I think perhaps, as Anne posted, that you are a bit too much in love with Challon, and thus resistant to Damian. It does me credit that I can create a character who conjures such loyalty from you.

-.

However, I fear you did missed the point of Damian wanting to fight Dirk. He was not fighting for Tamlyn, he was going to take Challon’s place – to protect Challon.
-

I am think you skimmed the book, sitting in an auto place, worry about big bad men sniggering, and didn’t bother to see why the characters did things, just took surface reactions. You are keying into Aithinne’s POV, which at many times is not accurate to what was really happening.

-..

And where you got he was hung up on Tamlyn by the middle of the, that is SOOOOO wrong. He knew from his return he was mean for Aithinne, she was THE ONE. You are reading your quick assessment into that. He was NOT hung on on Tamlyn at any point after his return and he saw Aithinne. For you to keep saying that, shows how totally you are missing the true emotions of these characters.

As for accusing Athinne of asking Dirk into her room – he is MALE. Male do silly thinks when they are upset and jealous. This is so TM – Typically male. Men do silly things at times of high emotions. Damian is human, not perfect.

-

P.S. Thank everyone for the lively discussion. Sales have jumped!

She has since deleted the review, but not before it came to light that MacGillivray uses yahoogroups and author groups to encourage, browbeat, or by other means, individuals into taking down negative reviews by reporting that the review is a) not helpful and b) abuse. MacGillivray also appears to have taken even further steps to ascertain personal information about Reba

2c. Re: vote down this bitch please
Posted by: “DeborahAnne MacGillivray”
[email protected] scotladywriter
Date: Tue Aug 21, 2007 10:17 pm ((PDT))
Well, thanks to XXXXXX our PI , we now have her name, her husband’s
name, her chidrens’ names, her grannies and great grannies name. Her
address phone number and email
lol-quite interesting.

Hilary Sares, MacGillivray’s Kensington editor, purportedly ” is very aware of this situation and said only people with nothing better to do plays in this mess.”

As a reader, I hope that this is not true, that an editor wouldn’t be so cavalier about an author hunting down a reader’s personal information in this manner. I also hope that MacGillivray and her pals would stop using the Amazon system as their own little playground. This sort of thing works to devalue the very product that MacGillivray is working so hard to build up. I’ll be blogging more about this on Sunday.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

758 Comments

  1. Sulli
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 13:42:40

    Sheila:
    “We don't submit our potentially bestselling manuscripts to companies who countenance bullies and plagiarists.”

    Please tell us where you are getting this info?HP has my manuscript and are giving me the run around. The plagiarist part really scares me. I have a great story. I am going to ask for it back, but I am frightened it is too late. Now I am getting really nervous.

  2. CJ England
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 13:59:50

    I am going to ask for it back, but I am frightened it is too late. Now I am getting really nervous,

    Sulli,

    It is never too late to pull a submission. It is NOT theirs unless you sign the contract. Until then, you owe them nothing but a professional letter saying you are pulling your submission, thank you very much.

    Don’t let them scare you. If you don’t want your work at HP…and it sounds like you don’t, then let them know and shop it elsewhere.

  3. Jane
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 14:00:22

    We set up a petition to support Reba and keep the pressure on Amazon to make a change.

    Link here.

  4. Lynne
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 14:21:41

    Sulli, there’s no runaround for them to give if you have not signed a contract. If they’re acting weird, send them an email simply stating that you are pulling the manuscript from submission, and send them the same thing via a registered snail mail letter.

    They don’t have to give permission for you to pull your submission. It is YOUR intellectual property, and if you want to withdraw it, that’s final. If they’re acting like it’s up to them whether or not you can pull your manuscript, they’re seriously out of line.

  5. Sheila
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 14:31:19

    The companies still publishing Cassie Edwards and Janet Dailey are the ones I was referring to who countenance plagiarists.

    CJ has it right; you can always pull a submission at any time. You are not under any obligation beyond a civil note declaring your intention.

    Don’t be so desperate to get published that you are deaf to all considerations of self-respect and professional honor.

    Not that I believe HP will be around for another seven years. Despite all the threatening talk about blackballing, HP is a small, unimportant publisher. It does not have the clout to interfere with your writing career other than by trying dirty tricks such as the cover art thing. And that only worked because it was easy to intimidate a beginning author who was dealing with yet another tiny publisher and who was about two steps away from self-publishing. Legitimate major publishers don’t expect their writers to buy the art and design the covers, after all. (I’d forgotten that in my prior list.)

    Bottom line, despite their outrageous behavior, DAM and her coterie are small potatoes. Aim higher.

  6. Heather Holland
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 14:37:10

    I have to agree with the others on this. If you haven’t signed a contract, the book is yours to do with as you please. Just tell them thanks but no thanks and then take it elsewhere. There are plenty of other places to submit to–plenty of other GOOD places. Just ask around and look them up online and such before making any decisions on any publisher.

  7. Peter Durward Harris
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 14:42:51

    Well, I clicked the “Sign petition” link but then it came up with a form asking for a donation. As I don’t have any way to pay this donation due to my zero credit rating and there is no zero option, I just hope that clicking on the first link was sufficient to register my support.

    Note – I was declared bankrupt in September 2005 and discharged a year later, but I do not have a proper bank account. I have a savings account, into which is paid my unemployment benefit. I can only pay for things by cash or postal order. Neither of these are any good for Paypal.

  8. Krista
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 14:51:51

    Peter – your name shows up on the Signatures page.

    The donation is not mandatory.

  9. Peter Durward Harris
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 14:52:57

    The 117, like the 92, was achieved by not posting anything for several days beforehand, so it isn’t anywhere near your figure. I estimate that it takes 2 to 3 minutes to post a review, which of course doesn’t include the time it takes to read whatever bits of the book Harriet reads, nor does it include the time taken to write the review. So while you mentioned reading 150 books in a day, I mentioned posting 117 reviews in a day. Therefore, my original comment stands; the two figures aren’t close. I’d expect to post 117 – or even 150 – reviews in a day with plenty of time to spare, if they’re already written. I’ve seen a claim that it takes 5 to 10 minutes to post a review, but I assume that the person who made that claim either has a slow dial-up line or hasn’t posted reviews in batches or both.

    Harriet started posting her 16,000+ reviews many years ago. The average over the entire period is under 2,000 per year although I know that, like everybody else, Harriet started slowly then picked up speed. Her most recent 1,000 reviews cover the period November 17 to April 15. Conveniently, the review before that 1,000 started was dated November 15. So we can say that her current output averages exactly 200 reviews a month over a five month period. That period includes Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter but I don’t know whether these events inspired her to review more or curtailed her activities. Whichever way, 200 book reviews a month is fast – unbelievably fast – but doesn’t come close to 150 in a day; it works out at less than 7 a day. Still, given what I’ve said about posting times, it wouldn’t surprise me if, at some stage, she posts 150 in one day. And if she trusts somebody else with her password (her husband, perhaps), it would be perfectly legal for that person to copy and paste the reviews into Amazon while she continues reading and preparing further reviews. Harriet frequently posts in batches, which may be to deter negginators but is more likely to be linked to book release dates. I haven’t tried to analyze that. Maybe Harriet-watchers can research that.

    I know that Harriet posted one review to the wrong product recently. It made big news in some quarters, but again, it’s not the same as “so often confuses one book for another” or have you evidence of this? Anybody who regularly posts in big batches is bound to make some mistakes. I know that I’ve posted reviews to incorrect products before. It’s not difficult if one writes them on a computer then posts them separately, even in small batches. The furore surrounding Harriet’s recent error was way over the top. Sometimes it’s taken me a day or two to realize I’ve posted wrongly, but nobody made a fuss and I was able to rectify my error without fuss. As to those 5-star ratings, I’ve written about that elsewhere and I’ve copied it here (see later). Note that it applies to all of Amazon, not just one or two reviewers. But it’s a long essay, so let’s first clear up the bit about the diversion.

    You posted your first review on Amazon in October 2006, unless you’ve got private reviews that pre-date the public reviews, or unless you’ve deleted your older reviews. I started reviewins in April 2000, sporadically at first, but I started serious reviewing in June 2002. I discovered the DB in October 2002, since when I’ve been a fascinated observer of all things to do with Amazon’s system of reviews, lists and guides. My early days on the DB were certainly eventful. Two major scandals were exposed, resulting in one person losing all his reviews while the other was stripped of his ranking but kept his reviews. Yes, Amazon can act decisively if they feel the need to. Meanwhile I had strong opinions about another reviewer who I believed was cheating with votes but was never able to prove anything – DAM. Since the two cheats (but not DAM) were caught and punished, I’ve seen plenty of others go the same way. Some only lost their rankings while others lost their reviews too. But each case was dealt with individually. Success (in terms of getting them punished) was achieved by focusing on each individual and proving the case against that individual – and in each case it was likely that they’d been cheating for some time, got away with a certain amount, became over-confident and thereby set themselves up as easy targets. Success was not achieved by telling Amazon that there was widespread abuse. So whatever we think about Harriet or any other reviewer, I assure you that the best strategy is to forget about them whil DAM is sorted out. If Amazon thinks that sorting out DAM won’t achieve anything, they are less likely to act. So let’s sort out DAM and worry about the others afterwards. We have a realistic chance of victory that could so easily be thrown away by diverting attention elsewhere. There are other reviewers whose downfall seems likely eventually, based on the escalation I already mentioned, but Harriet’s case is different. I see no evidence of her doing anything that will expose her.

    So….

    Why do the vast majority of reviews on Amazon have 5-star ratings?

    The short answer is – Because the vast majority of people who post reviews on Amazon are amateur hobbyists who mostly review what they enjoy, and the Amazon rating system is very limited in its range of options. The long answer follows over the next several paragraphs.

    I for one, am not going to waste time or money writing about stuff that I don’t like. Occasionally, I write reviews of products that disappoint me in one way or other, the most obvious example being the CD “Good old country” supposedly by Barbara Mandrell, which I gave just one star. I felt that it was necessary to write that review to warn other people about the contents. I’ve also written a 2-star review and several 3-star and 4-star reviews. People who actually read my 5-star reviews soon recognize that I’m much more enthusiastic about some of them than others. This would be more apparent if I were able to give marks out of 100. Amazon decided on a 5-star system with no halves because customers want a simple system. This system is difficult to take seriously. If you like something, you only have a choice of four or five stars. Two choices isn't enough to cover the range of how much I like something. I’m told that Amazon once had a ten-star system (long before my time) but abandoned it because most customers didn't use the middle values. So I never take anybody's star ratings on Amazon too seriously. I always read the text. Anybody who reads my reviews will see that I regard some as more worthy of five stars than others.

    As a contrast, professional reviewers are generally told what to review by their bosses. This inevitably means that they sometimes have to review stuff they don’t like. (Of course, some bosses will try to select reviewers who they expect to like the material, while others will simply distribute the review material on an arbitrary basis, perhaps on a first-come first-served basis. Such variation will likely be reflected in the published reviews.) Also, professional reviewers have to do their reviews to fixed deadlines so they wouldn't have the luxury of waiting till they’re in the right mood. (Incidentally, the fixed deadlines mean that professional reviewers sometimes don’t read the whole book – an accusation levelled at Amazon reviewers by some critics, sometimes justifiably but not always.) If I were reviewing professionally under those circumstances, the ratings I give would differ markedly from what I post on Amazon.

    One other aspect that affects Amazon ratings is the customer base. Magazine readers aren’t necessarily fans of the artists or authors whose material is reviewed and expect an unbiased opinion although they rarely get it. By the very nature of internet search engines, people surfing Amazon spend most of the time looking up stuff they like. Therefore, they don’t necessarily expect to see bad reviews of stuff by their favorites, at least when it comes to books and music. Movies appear to be different but I’m not a movie fan so I won’t comment further on those.

    Despite all the 5-star reviews, it’s still possible to describe the material in such a way that somebody else can decide whether it’s suitable for them. In particular, if I review a CD by an obscure singer, I make clear what the style of the music is, which may or may not involve comparing the singer to somebody more famous. In that way, another customer may sometimes decide to ignore that particular album even though I think it’s wonderful. That’s fair enough because no two people have exactly the same tastes.

    Another thing worth considering is that if people start reading a book that they expect to like but don’t, they may not bother finishing it. In that event, they might post a review saying they couldn’t finish it, whereupon those who complain about all the five-star reviews would complain that you can’t review a book that you haven’t finished. Nobody is going to punish themselves by finishing a book they don’t like just to satisfy others that they write one-star reviews. Reviewing on Amazon is a fun hobby and should be seen as that.

    So now you know why the vast majority of reviews on Amazon have 5-star ratings, while magazine and newspaper reviews don’t – at least not those that I’ve seen. It’s what the review actually says that’s important – not the rating.

  10. Ester Mish
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 15:01:33

    I signed the petition and am sharing the link on my livejournal.

  11. Seressia
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 15:18:05

    Sulli,

    Send a certified letter stating that you no longer wish for manuscript XX to be considered for publication with the press, and you are pulling it effective immediately. You can send a return envelope if you really want the manuscript back, but let them recycle it instead. Thank them for their time and prompt attention to the matter, and send your proposal to someone else (several someones, in fact.)

    Make a top ten list of houses and start at the top. Google them. See if an acquiring editor has attended a conference recently or given an interview on an author’s blog. See what they like and if your story fits. Then query away. If you’re not a member of RWA, please consider joining. There is research material available and it’s invaluable for targeting your manuscript to acquiring editors. Most of all, don’t stop querying and sending until someone you like requests an exclusive read. Good luck!

  12. Jane
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 15:59:28

    Our first legal threat relating to this issue:

    Please provide an email address for legal service. One of my clients received a threatening email this morning concerning material posted to this site. She has never posted to this sit, never heard of this site and yet finds herself called a yellow dog romance writer. Then she was asked if she knew what happened to Old Yeller? Her life was threatened.
    She reported the threat to the local authorities and the FBI.

  13. AG
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 16:19:17

    So Dear Author is being threatened with legal action because someone, who is not one of the Ja(y)nes sent a harassing email? Did the writer identify her/himself and/or the state s/he is licensed in? Or explain how the Ja(y)nes are responsible for the action of a third party, particularly, given the general sentiment on the site and the comments that harassment is wrong?

    If she really was threatened, I hope the authorities will help her out. I am just not sure how the Ja(y)nes could be responsible for the threat given the complete lack of advocacy for that sort of behavior, in fact, the Ja(y)nes advocate for the opposite . . .

  14. Seressia
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 16:27:02

    To paraphrase Hattie McDaniel: “I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout serving no legal documents,” but:

    1. Can you be served via email?
    2. Should lawyers spell and grammar check before sending missives out threatening legal action, especially if they wish to be taken seriously?
    3. Did they not learn from Lanaia Lee and Gemmell Gate?

  15. Anon76
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 16:28:00

    OOORAH! Pump up the volume.

    Whenever the lawyer threats start flying, the mainstream media isn’t far behind. (That is, when the issue is an important one.)

  16. Jane
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 16:29:43

    I’m a bit puzzled myself as to what the exact wrongdoing is. It sounds like someone contacted someone else with a threatening email from information that was included on this site in the comments.

    So, no, I’m guessing that they weren’t around for Gemmel Gate and no, you can’t serve someone via email. And yes, you probably should spell check if you are writing a legal threat. It just makes you look better.

  17. Corrine E. Lagacy
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 16:34:42

    I’ve been lurking on this thread so far, but I have to comment on the fact that someone has supposedly sunk to DAM’s level and actually issued a threat against another author, who very well may be DAM herself. What’s the point in raging against the injustice of DAM and her cronies not being held accountable for their shenanigans when you’re going to go and do something like this?

    If someone on this did in fact send it, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  18. DS
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 16:54:50

    I don’t think “yellow dog” means what they think. Yellow dog contracts were once contracts employees were forced to sign saying that they would not join a union. Now I think it is a reference to a particular strict noncompete clause in a contract. I’m not sure what it could mean in this situation.

    Old Yellar had nothing to do with Yellow Dog contracts.

    Ah, internet lawyers.

  19. Ann Bruce
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 17:01:21

    And if the lawyer–and I’m using the term very, very loosely–tries to pursue a libel suit if the author’s name is mentioned in the comments, doesn’t he or she know blog owners are protected under the Communications Act?

  20. Lleeo
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 17:10:41

    DS, the person who sent the threatening email may have been calling Deborah a coward, hence using the term yellow. Which is an appropriate term to use to describe her current response to all of these accusations: deleting evidence, not responding to the allegations against her and in the past getting her supporters to harass and threaten readers who gave her negative reviews.

    I agree with you, Corrine. Sending threats like this to DAM isn’t going to help a lawyer or Amazon take this issue seriously because it makes both sides look like they are immature and over-the-line. The reference to Old Yeller sounds particularly sinister to me because didn’t Old Yeller die at the end of the movie? I never watched the movie because I heard it was so sad. The person who sent this threatening message to DAM should be ashamed of themselves because not only was it immature and hypocritical but it damages our credibility and our (especially Reba’s) hope for justice.

    However, another possibility is that DAM and their supporters are up to their old tricks and ‘sent’ this message to DAM using a fake email address to make her look better (like a victim herself). Maybe I’m being cynical but with this woman, from her previous atrocious actions, I wouldn’t put it past her.

    P.S. Jane, great petition!

  21. Shayne
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 17:22:35

    I was gonna say they’re sending in the net lawyers. Took em long enough, didn’t it.

  22. Nora Roberts
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 17:23:19

    ~1. Can you be served via email?
    2. Should lawyers spell and grammar check before sending missives out threatening legal action, especially if they wish to be taken seriously?
    3. Did they not learn from Lanaia Lee and Gemmell Gate?~

    All sensible and reasonable questions.

    Any ‘lawyer’ who can’t spell when puffing about legal action is one I would pay little attention to.

    Yes, if someone sent someone else an e-mail stating they were a ‘yellow dog romance writer’ it’s tsk-tsk time. But also, sorry, silly. And just how does a blog hold any responsibility if so.

    Sounds like bollocks to me. Tiny, wrinkly bollocks.

    Very nicely written petition, btw. Happy to sign same.

  23. Robin
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 17:32:55

    What's the point in raging against the injustice of DAM and her cronies not being held accountable for their shenanigans when you're going to go and do something like this?

    I really hope that isn’t the case. Jane and I were talking recently about how reasonable the comments on this issue have been for the most part. A lot of anger, but pretty composed reactions, IMO, especially in their focus on and relevance to the issues (and between this and the other threads, there are well over 1000 comments now).

  24. Anon76
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 17:34:34

    Hmm, I’m unsure as to whether I should sign the petition with my real name, or my pen name. I could choose anonymous, but that seems to lessen the value of my opinion. (Like it does on blogs and such.)

    Thinking, thinking…

    One must do that when faced with the crop of crazies running around out there.

  25. Nora Roberts
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 17:39:17

    ~Jane and I were talking recently about how reasonable the comments on this issue have been for the most part. A lot of anger, but pretty composed reactions, IMO, especially in their focus on and relevance to the issues (and between this and the other threads, there are well over 1000 comments now).~

    I really agree. It’s an hot issue, inflammatory really, but the response has been, imo, very reasoned, sane and on topic.

  26. Nicky
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 18:01:17

    Legal service via email? What state does that happen in? In my state legal service has to be filed to the registered agent of a corporation and it’s done via a process server. We sue people all the time, and we get sued and never ever has it been done via email.

    Did you verify that the attorney is a real attorney? Google him/her and see if info matches up to what’s in the email? Google the phone # with quote marks, ie “000″-000-0000″ and see what kind of hits you get from that and if things match up.

  27. Robin
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 18:12:29

    We sue people all the time, and we get sued and never ever has it been done via email.

    LOL, Nicky, this just cracked me up for some reason.

  28. Sara Dennis
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 18:16:56

    Tiny, wrinkly bollocks.

    I have just aspirated a mouthful of water. Can I sue Ms. Roberts? Do you think I’d win?

  29. Susiq2
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 18:24:00

    Reba Belle, Hello, I am Susiq2 from the Amazon Romance Forum. I have had you in my thoughts and prayers, and I want you to know that there is a tremendous amount of support for you on The Romance Forum. We miss you, and sincerely hope to “see” you back with us, and posting again soon. If you need anything that could be of assistance to you through the forums, let us know, and we will get it accomplished. Take care, This too shall pass. You will have a Bestseller to write when it is over, and you will not have to think up the subject, nor the villain!;>)

  30. Mark Baker
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 18:42:04

    I have just aspirated a mouthful of water. Can I sue Ms. Roberts? Do you think I'd win?

    Only if you used an internet lawyer.

  31. Jane
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 19:09:32

    Robin is much too modest. She wrote the petition.

  32. Jane
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 19:17:05

    A couple updates.

    1. Re the petition. If you click submit, your e-signature is accepted. Simply close the window that asks for a donation. There is no need to make a donation. Ignore that final window.

    2. Follow up on the legal situation. There is no identifying information for the internet lawyer. It is an anonymous gmail account.

    My response:

    On 4/17/08, Jane Litte wrote:
    Thank you for your contact. You will need to be more precise in regards to the actual comment. Could you kindly provide a link?

    Additionally, all threats of legal action are taken seriously and will be posted publicly on the blog.

    Jane Litte
    http://dearauthor.com

    * * *

    Anonymous lawyer’s response (punctuation issues as is).

    We seek the identity of the person who threatened an individual’s life. There was a reference to this site in the email. . Thus far the police have not identified the perpetrator and until the person is identified, my client will take precautions to protect him/herself . I really have no information as to a link.

  33. Nora Roberts
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 19:23:41

    ~We seek the identity of the person who threatened an individual's life. There was a reference to this site in the email. . Thus far the police have not identified the perpetrator and until the person is identified, my client will take precautions to protect him/herself . I really have no information as to a link.~

    We’re seriously supposed to believe this person passed the bar?

  34. Glenda Wilson
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 19:24:05

    1. Please provide an email address for legal service. One of my clients received a threatening email this morning concerning material posted to this site. She has never posted to this sit, never heard of this site and yet finds herself called a yellow dog romance writer. Then she was asked if she knew what happened to Old Yeller? Her life was threatened.
    She reported the threat to the local authorities and the FBI.

    I’m having a hard time believing this came from a legal service. There is a misspelled word (sit for site), passive voice, and verb useage. I think it is a hoax.

  35. Nicky
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 19:35:46

    “2. Follow up on the legal situation. There is no identifying information for the internet lawyer. It is an anonymous gmail account.”

    HOAX HOAX HOAX. Do you know how to look at the email headers? Depending on the email program you’re using, say Outlook you can right click and look at properties. Find the sender’s IP and go to a whois search engine and fine out who the provider is, then complain to the provider if it’s threatening, etc. They should act if it’s truly a hoax, and act with a vengeance I suspect. Find the email contact for the IP provider, forward the entire email with the headers intact and see what happens. More fun, cc [email protected]. Use this link to search the IP, http://lacnic.net/cgi-bin/lacnic/whois?lg=SP.

  36. Reba Belle
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 19:43:44

    Good Evening,

    I just got a call from Danielle LaFreniere, Amazon's Executive Customer Service Department, at [email protected].

    It was very disappointing…prepare yourselves before you read further.

    1. Because I posted the message that Deborah had my families names in numerous places on Amazon it is considered SPAM and I am automatically banned for violating their terms of service. Period.

    She indicated she argued my case to the “powers that be” and they may, after a period of time, grant me back in good favor as long as I agree not to post on this issue again.

    And all my previous posts will NOT be restored. Ever.

    2. It did not matter that Deborah and her “goon squad” violated the “guidelines” by threatening, harassing, or posting my family information on Amazon. She said they are still researching this information.

    3. It did not matter that I, and many of you, provided written documentation that showed how Deborah had a way to circumvent “the system.” She said they are still researching this information.

    I was not happy and told Danielle that they have been researching this for 8 months. She’s had my case since January 2008, but Amazon and I have been “communicating” about this since August 2007.

    4. She told me they have some “staffing issues” and she has been transferred to a new department since January, but she is still in charge of my case, etc. etc. Then she told me the hours that she works and she won’t be back to work until Sunday…etc. etc.

    5. She said they are trying to keep up with the information provided and reading the forums, but when I mentioned a few posts, she wasn’t aware. She didn’t know about the petition and I don’t think she understood what I was talking about when I mentioned it, either.

    6. Bottom line: Amazon is still researching Deborah’s misbehavior even though it took them less than 5 days to fully research me and have me banned. They haven’t been able to “fully research” Deborah in the past 8 months.

    7. And it sounded like there was no way in Hades were they considering banning her or removing her books.

    I don’t know what else to say, except will someone please share this with the good people in the forums that have been supporting this intense topic.

    A huge disappointment,

    Reba

  37. Jane
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 19:44:04

    I’m not taking it seriously until I get the name, bar number and address for whomever the “lawyer” is. Then I’ll point out that a) they admitted that my site did not host any of the threats and even if it did, b) a host is not liable for the statements made on its site by others.

  38. katiebabs
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 19:49:15

    Reba,
    I am so sorry for all you are going through. Amazon’s response is total bull shit. There I said it. Amazon better think long and hard because this is not just one lone person anymore, there are many of us who are fed up. Mediabistro.com and Publisher Weekly has picked this story up and if they think business will go on as usual, they really need to get a clue.
    I need to calm down…

  39. Maddie
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 19:55:28

    I think it was DAM using one of her alias to send you this so called lawyer email, or maybe one of her cronie clickers doing her bidding.

    Not to make light of this but I can see this whole sitch on a Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

  40. CAS
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 19:57:17

    When my friend told me about this whole situation I thought she was joking. What kind of person goes so crazy over a review (and an average vote, at that)? And who has time to go do the whole “clickie” thing?

    I was wondering, though, if Catherine Spangler has addressed the allegations that she gave out her readers’ personal information? I find that very disturbing if true.

    The people who have sent out harassing emails to other authors and reviewers, are they just DAM and her rabid fangirls or are there other authors that are taking part in this? If they are authors I would like some names so that I know who to boycott.

  41. Robin
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 19:58:28

    katiebabs: Can you provide a link to PW’s coverage? I couldn’t find it by searching on their site.

  42. Not that Debbie
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 20:06:15

    I’ve been reading this, getting more and more appalled. Reba, you have my deepest sympathies for what you’ve been through and are still going through. I just canceled a pending order I had Amazon and told them exactly why in the comments box. It probably won’t make much difference to them since I’m only one customer who doesn’t spend much there anyway, but I figured it can’t hurt.

  43. Mad
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 20:06:39

    {{{{Reba}}}} Amazon is so full of BS…this is so wrong…

  44. katiebabs
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 20:13:06

    Robin,
    Actually it is a post for January about Amazon’s reviewing.

    But Deborah’s name is mention in one of the posts:
    Frankly, I think that almost three-quarters of reviews are not genuine reviewers who even understand what a reviewer is supposed to do. I agree a lot with Deborah Macgillivray and find her post to be quite insightful too. Stalker reviewers sound so scary! And yet they are real because just the other day a friend shared an Amazon link with me and I saw some serious author bashing going on and the prime “gal” sounded like she was having a ball leading her pack of vicious haters. One book they don’t like out of a whole backlist by a popular author and what do you know. They just will NOT buy another book of hers again. Gimme a break, peeps.
    In my opinion most reviewers don’t take the time to understand how much of effort goes into writing a book.

    http://www.publishersweekly.com/blog/880000288/post/460020646.html

  45. Anon76
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 20:25:30

    Oh, Reba!

    Now I’m just sickened beyond belief. Yes, I do think you spammed Amazon boards (by their definition), but for crud’s sake, your information needed to get out. Threats against not only you, but your family…that can’t be tolerated. If Amazon wouldn’t respond to your proof, what other choice did you have?

    How were your posts any more harmful than the commenters who basically degraded you? And hounded you? And eventually stepped way over the normal line and threatened you and your kin.

  46. Robin
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 20:36:28

    Thanks, katiebabs; how ironic that post is . . .

  47. Lizbeth
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 20:51:44

    Ok, I went back and searched through my Amazon email that I had yet to delete – 9 pages of it. Anyway, I found the email from December in which I had complained to Amazon because my review for DAM’s book had been deleted. In fairness to Amazon, they apologized and reposted my review, and it remained posted after that.

    As I said before, I’m just a reader. I’m not a member of any of Amazon’s forums or any other groups – probably the reason I read so many of the reviews on Amazon. I do want to say that, for the most part, I find the reviews to be accurate. When a book usually has a very high rating, I almost always find it pretty great myself. IMO, there are many more great books with not so great ratings than bad books with exceptional ratings.

    I thought about this a lot after reading these posts and about how I consider the reviews when making a purchase. I realized that I often ignore the long reviews, primarily from “top reviewers.” I don’t want to know too much about the story…I’m looking for a critique and not a synopsis, which I have found many of the top reviewers give. I want to know if the characters are well developed and endearing, is it a love story and/or a passionate affair, does the writing flow – is it a page turner or quite boring, etc. I never seem to get these questions answered by the top reviewers. I guess I don’t even know what a “review” is “supposed” to be, but these are the things I am looking for.

    I can usually look through the reviews and find what I need to know. I was fooled by the DAM reviews. I am more inclined to leave positive reviews than negative ones, but I was actually MORE COMPELLED to leave that review for DAM’s book because I saw only positive reviews and wanted to give my honest review and a dissenting opinion. Having been unaware about any of this at that time, I still knew something wasn’t right after reading those books. I knew they were not deserving of only those glowing reviews and I told Amazon that I had “no doubt” that there were more negative reviews of the book.

    Having said all this, I like the review system and often know not to read just the “helpful” reviews. I admit I often look at the negative reviews to see if they are consistent and if they give me a reason that I might not like that story. I don’t want a lot of restrictions placed on the review system that would discourage us “normal readers” from sharing our opinions. My experience is that this is not extremely widespread and I don’t fault a writer for encouraging good reviews – that obviously was not the circumstance here however – quite nutty.

  48. Lleeo
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 21:11:44

    Reba, I’m so sorry… this seems like the height of hypocrasy that they can find fault with your posts but none for Ms. MacGilivray’s. Like Anon76 points out, you were hounded, stalked and eventually had your family threatened. You had to do something if Amazon wasn’t going to lift a finger to do anything.

    Sounds like bollocks to me. Tiny, wrinkly bollocks.

    Bwahahaha! DAM can’t make me cynical about authors when there are amazingly cool ones with integrity like you, Nora. ;)

    Robin, allow me to extend my compliments to you on a wonderfully written and informative petition. I really feel that blogs like Dear Author act as an unofficial police force for the romance genre supporting peace, justice and prosperity. ;D You guys all have capes hidden in a closet somewhere that you take out for debacles like this, right?

  49. Radish
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 21:21:31

    Need a primer on reviewing? Here ya go:

    A Guide to Reviewing a Book: A Writer's Perspective,
    by Mike Brotherton, a published SF author.

    It’s brief and well-considered.

  50. Radish
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 21:23:47

    Gah. Apologies for the repetitious hiccough.

  51. Jane
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 22:05:49

    Closure for the legal issue:

    Only an address to serve a subpoena.

    Dearauthor.com is not the subject. We were attempting to identity the person. It is no longer necessary. The letter writer has been identified and the local authorities in that jurisdiction have made contact with the person. I apologize for my last email, as the information was in another communication. Please accept my apologies.

    Still anonymous. Still don’t believe that this is a lawyer.

  52. Just a note to add...
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 22:06:22

    I’ve spent two days reading over these posts. I was directed here by a post in the Amazon forums in the romance section. Many readers there are behind Reba Belle 100%.

    As I read further through these postings I became more and more upset. I have to admit to actually reading four DAM novels. (This was before I realized all of this came out). Well, that is the past, however, I did inquire to DAM about her books and how I was interested in reading them. I got 3 from the library and one I had to order since the library didn’t have it. It was one of her Challon books.

    I admit I decided to read them due to the 5 star reviews. I admit I do look at those as a yes or no to read the book. Although, that is definitely going to change now. After reading the books I also questioned why they had 5 star reviews. I thought they were all okay but not worthy of 5 stars. Honestly, I don’t review too much on Amazon so I didn’t review these books but I would have to say they were not 5 star worthy.

    Anyway, I hope Amazon does what Reba Belle asks. No person should be treated that way especially for just giving her opinion. Good luck Reba Belle.

  53. Mad
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 22:27:48

    We were attempting to identity the person.

    Spellcheck, anyone?

  54. Just A Reader
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 22:34:50

    reba,
    from all of the ladies who post & read at the Paperback Swap Love & Romance forum – we have a link to the Amazon petition posted there, and I signed it myself and sent off a rather harshly worded note to Amazon customer service tonight. We’re all thinking about you, and you have our support and best wishes. Big hugs & hang in there.
    And btw, I’d consider speaking to an attorney myself if I were you. I think a few people have definitely posted some rather threatening things to & about you, and since it’s pretty public & you know who they are, I’d see exactly what sort of legal recourse you have. As for Amazon, I flatly refuse to spend another penny there until they address this issue and reinstate you as a member in good standing.

    Sheila

    I agree with those of you who cynically suspect that neither Amazon nor Kensington nor Dorchester will do anything significant to stop or even to discourage such behavior in the future. But I also believe that we vote with our feet. We complain vociferously, and then we walk. We don't buy from companies that treat us like dirt. We don't buy or read falsely hyped books. We don't submit our potentially bestselling manuscripts to companies who countenance bullies and plagiarists.

    Ditto. Well said.
    And somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think publishers renew contracts with authors whose books they can’t even give away, do they? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say nobody from Amazon all the way down to puny little Highland Press is in the business to lose money:P

    And on the threatening email & letter from the (hahaha) “attorney”…
    Horsepucky:P
    Granted, I don’t know a lot of attorneys, but the few I’ve met tend to be, you know, literate.
    Since most everything I’ve seen that’s been dashed off of DAM’s keyboard of late sorta looks like she accidentally deleted her trusty copy of MS Word, my guess is this came from her. And I wouldn’t doubt that this supposedly threatening email was sent (via an anonymous gmail account as well) by her or one of her fembots – at her behest, of course.

    Oh – and don’t anybody kid yourselves that she’s having herself a big old time and smirking her ass off while all of this is going on. She’s avidly reading every syllable posted on this blog & elsewhere, snivelling and whining into some poor fool’s ear about persecution.
    Just remember that this kind of hot seat is no place for a writer trying to establish herself in the business to be. As miserable as anyone can imagine they’d be standing in her shoes, actually standing in them has got to suck about 100 times more.
    If she can’t stand getting lukewarm reviews, just imagine what all of this uproar is doing for her ego:P

  55. Seressia
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 23:00:36

    Identity English Composition first.

  56. Lleeo
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 23:25:01

    Dearauthor.com is not the subject. We were attempting to identity the person. It is no longer necessary. The letter writer has been identified and the local authorities in that jurisdiction have made contact with the person. I apologize for my last email, as the information was in another communication. Please accept my apologies.

    Wow… Nice backtracking, there. It looks to me like DAM’s group is trying to stir up drama. Too bad for them that we didn’t take the bait. ;D

  57. AnonReader99
    Apr 17, 2008 @ 23:52:50

    Reba, I’m completely sickened by how they treated you. I just canceled all my outstanding orders with them, telling them exactly why. I just wrote an email copied to all the addresses you’ve provided, expressing my disgust and letting them know they’ve lost a customer of 10 years standing. I will not shop there again until they clear this up.

  58. Kyra Heiker
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 03:07:05

    Just a side note, has anyone looked at DAM’s own website? It’s like a shrine and I for one find it creepy. There is no actual information, just accolades (real? fake? you be the judge)….

    Ego trip, much?

    Yeah, I’ll sign my real name–bring it on…..

  59. Chantal Fox
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 03:28:33

    I am alarmed at the suggestion that perhaps monies donated to help Dawn Thompson through online auctions and whatnot didn’t go to her and her family, as I donated over $200 (didn’t win anything and couldn’t take that off as charity on my taxes, either, as there was no receipt or such, but I wrote it off to mitzvah). Has anyone got any kind of real idea? I mean, has anyone spoken to her family about whether they got donations? That would be a big-time problem. Fraud and the like. Um, and since some monies were mailed, it becomes mail fraud, a Federal offense, a felony. Very disturbing. Is there anyone taking names to find out who gave money or find out what the total should have been?

  60. Nora Roberts
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 05:27:38

    Reba, this just sucks out loud. I can only hope that because there’s so much outrage about this Amazon will push this investigation process forward quickly and do the right thing. But meanwhile, I’m deeply disappointed in how they’ve chosen to handle it.

  61. Lynne
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 06:25:46

    I’m very disappointed in Amazon’s response. I had been planning to make a large purchase with them by the end of April but will now try to find the items locally. I needed to be doing that, anyway.

  62. Kristie(J)
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 07:12:38

    What really blows my mind about this whole thing is how the ‘victim’ (and I use that word in quotes because I don’t think in any way, shape or form that Reba is a victim – rather a strong individual who is willing to fight for what is right) is punished, but the perpetrators get away scott free. There is something insane about that picture.
    After reading Amazon’s response, I will no longer buy anything from them until this matter is resolved in a fair way.

  63. DS
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 07:59:07

    Closure for the legal issue:

    Only an address to serve a subpoena.

    Dearauthor.com is not the subject. We were attempting to identity the person. It is no longer necessary. The letter writer has been identified and the local authorities in that jurisdiction have made contact with the person. I apologize for my last email, as the information was in another communication. Please accept my apologies.

    Still anonymous. Still don't believe that this is a lawyer.

    Well, I don’t believe that “authorities from that jurisdiction” have “made contact with the person”, given that only a few hours earlier they professed to not know who the person was.

  64. Jane
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 08:11:38

    I think what happens is that most people at the vaguest sounding legal threat becomes fearful and gives up the information. The initial offering had just enough legalese such as “legal service” that if you weren’t familiar with the rules concerning personal service, you could easily be intimidated.

    Everytime I get a legal threat, my heart pounds a bit, even if I do think it is scurrilous.

  65. Anon76
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 08:28:28

    Yeppers, it sure sounds like someone was either a) using a scare tactic, or b) fishing for a real name and address.

    Which is really bizarre in the case of “b” because Dear Author doesn’t require a real name, just an email addy. Sure, they can see the IP’s, but if the attorney contacted the email server where the threat came from, they could receive that information. And that would be the correct way to go, wouldn’t it? Link the email attack to the true attacker?

    Verra interesting.

  66. Just A Reader
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 08:39:48

    Posting a list of mainstream media contacts if anyone wants to forward this story on to any of them. Lots of email addresses in there. There might not be tons of interest in little old nobody MacGillivray, but the whole Amazon voting/ratings fraud angle, with this as just one instance, might spark some interest.

    ABC News
    77 W. 66 St., New York, NY 10023
    Phone: 212-456-7777
    General e-mail: [email protected]

    CBS News
    524 W. 57 St., New York, NY 10019
    Phone: 212-975-4321
    Fax: 212-975-1893

    email for CBS news programs:

    CBS Evening News: [email protected]
    The Early Show: [email protected]
    David Letterman: [email protected]

    CNN
    One CNN Center, Box 105366, Atlanta, GA 30303-5366
    Phone: 404-827-1500
    Fax: 404-827-1906
    e-mail: [email protected];

    Fox News Channel
    1211 Ave. of the Americas
    New York, NY 10036
    Phone: (212) 301-3000
    Fax: (212) 301-4229
    [email protected]

    NBC
    30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112
    Phone: 212-664-4444
    Fax: 212-664-4426
    NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams: [email protected]
    NBC News Today: [email protected]
    Dateline NBC: [email protected]

    MSNBC
    One MSNBC Plaza
    Secaucus, NJ 07094
    Phone: (201) 583-5000
    Fax: (201) 583-5453

    PBS
    1320 Braddock Place, Alexandria, VA 22314
    Phone: 703-739-5000
    Fax: 703-739-8458
    The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer: [email protected]

    National Public Radio
    635 Massachusetts Ave. NW
    Washington, D.C. 20001
    Web site: http://www.npr.org

    Associated Press (AP),
    50 Rockefeller Plaza
    New York, New York 10020
    Feedback, [email protected]

    Newsweek
    251 West 57th St.
    New York, NY 10019
    e-mail: [email protected]

    Time
    Time & Life Building
    Rockefeller Center
    New York, NY 10020
    e-mail: [email protected]

    Newsday
    235 Pinelawn Rd.
    Melville, NY 11747
    e-mail: [email protected]

    The New York Times
    229 West 43rd Street
    New York, New York 10036
    e-mail: [email protected]

    The New York Post
    [email protected]

    USA Today
    1000 Wilson Boulevard
    Arlington, VA 22229
    e-mail: [email protected]

    The Washington Post
    1150 15th Street NW
    Washington, D.C. 20071
    e-mail: [email protected]

    The Philadelphia Inquirer
    Philadelphia, PA 19101
    e-mail: [email protected]

    The Boston Globe
    P.O. Box 2378
    Boston, MA 02107
    e-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]

    The Boston Herald
    One Herald Square
    Boston, MA 02106
    e-mail: [email protected]

    Chicago Sun-Times
    401 N. Wabash Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60611
    e-mail: [email protected]

    Chicago Tribune
    435 N. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60611

    Cleveland Plain Dealer
    1801 Superior Avenue
    Cleveland, Ohio 44114
    e-mail: [email protected]

    Dallas Morning News
    P.O. Box 655237
    Dallas, TX 75265
    e-mail: [email protected]

    Detroit News
    615 Lafayette Boulevard
    Detroit, MI 48226
    e-mail: [email protected]

    Los Angeles Times
    Times Mirror Square
    Los Angeles, CA 90053
    e-mail: [email protected]

    San Francisco Chronicle
    901 Mission Street
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    e-mail: [email protected]

    San Francisco Examiner
    110 Fifth Street
    San Francisco, CA 94103
    e-mail: [email protected]

  67. Cheryl C.
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 08:41:43

    There is so much that I want to comment on, but I will restrain myself as most of my opinions have already been expressed (far more eloquently than I could – “Tiny, wrinkly bollocks” OMG! That’s perfect. LOL).

    I have been following this for a few days and, as we have been describing it on the author forums that I frequent, it is literary crack and I just can’t look away.

    I am absolutely disgusted with Amazon and their “handling” of this situation and Reba’s complaints. I don’t often purchase with Amazon anymore although I used to be a VERY good customer of theirs. I do, however, still use them for their reviews and to research books, authors, and other products. Obviously, I have no reason to do so anymore as the reviews are easily manipulated. Also, Amazon makes a lot of money from advertisers based on the number of visits to their site. Granted, I am just the perverbial drop in the bucket and they are hardly going to notice my absence, but I am not going to support Amazon with my visits until the review processes and policies are revised and their reviewers held accountable for their posts and actions. Obviously, there is no perfect system, but it is obvious that there are too many ways to easily manipulate the system here, so wouldn’t you think that Amazon would want to make some changes? They can’t be making that much money off of DAM’s books. I spend (or used to spend) more with Amazon in a month than they probably profit from DAM’s books in a year.

    As for her “charity” raffle for Dawn Thompson, I believe that any person or organization that collects money and/or items for charity are required to disclose (upon request) where they went and how they were used. I would consider contacting the appropriate federal tax department, armed with as much information about the fund raiser/raffle and my donation as possible, and let them look into it.

    As a reader, I think that I am most appalled by how Amazon, DAM, and her supporters (including the publishing companies) are underestimating the importance of the consumer. DAM’s interview and forum responses, and her deletion and disregard for legitimate (and constructive) customer reviews and opinions show just how little respect she has for readers (AKA consumers). In fact, I think that she honestly feels that we are the unwashed masses and are far too uneducated and contemptible to even express an opinion, much less a critical one. I truly hope that this issue doesn’t just fade away as the initial interest dies. I am sure that is what Amazon, HP, Dorchester and Kensington, DAM, and all of her “clicky” cronies are expecting.

  68. Pixikins
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 08:56:39

    I too will be canceling a pre order I have at amazon in support of Reba

  69. Anon76
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 09:08:43

    Well, I don’t know if anything will come of it, but I just emailed the producers of the Oprah show with a link to this discussion.

    Who loves books? Oprah loves books. Who loves readers? Oprah loves readers.

    Again, nothing may come of it, but at this point, anything is worth a shot.

  70. Ellie
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 09:27:51

    I just emailed the consumerist about this. It’s a blog, but they have many readers. And they did a posting about the unreliability of Amazon reviews earlier this year. http://consumerist.com/348506/the-fakery-behind-amazons-top-10-reviewers. Not sure if anything will come of it, but it seemed worth a shot.

  71. Sheila
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 09:30:44

    Amazon’s response to Reba: pusillanimous.

    If Amazon believes that applying their own rules inconsistently and failing to right a genuine wrong is the way to treat customers–and at base that’s all we are to Amazon–then someone, maybe Jeff Bezos himself, needs to go back to business school.

    No, I won’t be shopping at Amazon anymore. It’s that simple. Barnes & Noble, here I come!

    And yeah, this is literary crack.

  72. L
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 09:47:12

    I’ve been following this thread for a while now, and it also disappoints me very much that Amazon is choosing to do nothing (from what Reba posted, that’s what I’m assuming). I have already made the decision not to purchase anything from Amazon until they fix this problem. I have been an Amazon customer for years, and it’s upsetting to see they will do nothing and allow this author and her gang to continue their abuse. I have signed the petition and hopefully all of us combined can do something where Reba alone couldn’t. Thank you Reba for getting the ball rolling, we all support you!!!

  73. Robin
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 12:15:46

    Robin, allow me to extend my compliments to you on a wonderfully written and informative petition. I really feel that blogs like Dear Author act as an unofficial police force for the romance genre supporting peace, justice and prosperity. ;D You guys all have capes hidden in a closet somewhere that you take out for debacles like this, right?

    Thanks for the nice compliment, Lleeo. Honestly, I don’t ever want to be the police of anything except my own life, because I’m generally marked by too much ambivalence to carve out a hard line, and really, I don’t think it’s my place 99.9% of the time. I DO want to be able to share my opinion, and share it strongly, which I will always do because I have a big mouth and a lot of opinions, and so it’s inevitable. And I realize that sometimes when you have strong opinions it can seem like you’re directing with them, but really, that’s not the case. If people like what I have to say, fine, and if they don’t, that’s fine, too, a good debate can force me to look at a situation differently and alter my views. Would I love it if everyone pimped and signed this petition — yup. Because I don’t see it as about Dear Author, but about readers and reviews in general — because I think it’s relevant to all of us, regardless of our genre preference or position. But I’m sure not going to make anyone feel like they’ve got to do it, because I wouldn’t want anyone doing that to me. Mostly I think it’s just a good thing to foster more openness, because I think a lot of the whackdom comes from not having an environment in which healthy disagreement and critical discussion of books is welcomed.

  74. Lizbeth
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 12:49:28

    I think the petition is good because it will keep Amazon’s attention focused on this. I have a feeling they aren’t as immune to this issue as a lot of people seem to think. I believe they are giving these noncommittal responses to those complaining because they are trying to figure out what to do – and probably were peviously wishing the issue would just die down. I bet DAM and her publishers are right there with their lawyers threatening any move by companies such as Amazon. Don’t you think Amazon is afraid that publishers might stick their lawyers on them if they show a willingness to pull an author’s books because of bad behavior by the author? The alternative is to admit their whole review system is screwed up which could lead them into more lawsuits, and I’m sure their lawyers are telling them to not to go down that path. I have a feeling we will see a gradual changing of their review system – so they won’t admit that it was flawed to start with – and would seem that they are just making “improvements.” I read the article someone posted about the review system at Amazon. I admit to having been completely ignorant how this whole review thing works for the top reviewers. Are they paid or not? What are they given for free? Who decides who is given what? I always wondered why someone would go through so much trouble to review so many items. I’ll start submitting a helluva lot more reviews if it will get me free books…lol.

    Do you guys think it would be better if they had a separate review system for people in the publishing industry? Perhaps that might be tough to monitor. What bothers me (I’ve seen others state this as well) is that so many of those top reviewers just give positive reviews with a synopsis, instead of any actual critique. I wonder if they are rewarded more for positive reviews. It just removes all of their credibility.

    Robin, I like your attitude!….so glad I stumbled onto this site a couple of days ago.

  75. Authors Behaving Badly « mindful meanderings
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 13:06:33

    [...] right now, stirred up by writers unscrupulously dinking around with reviews on Amazon.Com, and taking part in much darker and sinister shenanigans. By all the evidence, certain writers are unwilling to endure the existence of less than stellar [...]

  76. RenaRuadh
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 13:13:12

    Reba, this is disgusting, but sadly – call me a cynic – what I half expected. I’ve also cancelled some orders from Amazon, I’ll definitely by my books somewhere else.

    Jane, no way is this a real lawyer. I’ve trained to be one, and although I’m now in research at university, I remember enough to realise that no way can this be legit! Do these guys think others are stupid???

  77. RenaRuadh
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 13:13:41

    Reba, this is disgusting, but sadly – call me a cynic – what I half expected. I’ve also cancelled some orders from Amazon, I’ll definitely buy my books somewhere else.

    Jane, no way is this a real lawyer. I’ve trained to be one, and although I’m now in research at university, I remember enough to realise that no way can this be legit! Do these guys think others are stupid???

  78. Susiq2
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 14:01:03

    Lizbeth said: What are they given for free?

    Susiq2 says: Many top reviewers are given the products that they review. That would range from books to kitchen blenders, dog mats. cat mats, you name it, Amazon sends it to their top reviewers. Nice system, huh? Nice review, no pressure, more free stuff, more reviews etc. I am never shopping at Amazon again. Would anyone really trust a review when it is written by someone with something to gain? Many will do the correct thing, but it would be easy to be pulled into being a little soft on products that are free! Reba needs to be restored to Amazon. I am so disappointed that Amazon “dropped the ball”, and cut and ran from this trouble. We are peons to Amazon. We are the little people who apparently mean nothing to them, and in spite of what is being said on the romance forum, we are all being ignored, and may be removed as Reba was removed at any moment. We, who support Reba, are being vilified because we are not talking about romance, and book topics! Give me a Break. People need to wake up, and smell the coffee. Amazon is a Bully, and will wipe out anyone who disagrees with them, or their policies. I hope to see Reba restored, but I am not holding my breath………….Susiq2

  79. Eirin
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 14:30:04

    Hmmm.

    A cartooney slinging vague threats while taking pains to remain anonymous…
    The rats…they are a-scurrying.

    Ja(y)ne/Robin

    I realize this is a lot of extra work for you, but could you possibly repost relevant e-addies etc.

  80. (Jān)
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 14:32:34

    Reba, perhaps you should do what my father always does when he can’t get results and only gets poor service. He sends a registered letter to the company CEO/president (requiring a signature) and outlines his problem, what he’s tried (with names), and his expectations for rectifying the situation. He almost always ends up with replacements, be they coffeemakers or vacations. When CEOs find out this sort of thing is going on and creating bad publicity they tend to do something about it.

    Oh, and on the letter, CC the states Attorney General.

  81. Just A Reader
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 14:32:48

    Don't you think Amazon is afraid that publishers might stick their lawyers on them if they show a willingness to pull an author's books because of bad behavior by the author? The alternative is to admit their whole review system is screwed up which could lead them into more lawsuits, and I'm sure their lawyers are telling them to not to go down that path. I have a feeling we will see a gradual changing of their review system – so they won't admit that it was flawed to start with – and would seem that they are just making “improvements.”

    The thing about it is, this isn’t just about lawsuits and keeping the lid on negative press. Some of it dances all around consumer fraud, which is a crime. I’m not even sure it isn’t fully across the line. Either Amazon is going to take a firm stand on behalf of their customers, and say we won’t allow them or our system to be manipulated in such a way, or they can look the other way, perhaps even condone it with actions like they’ve taken in reba’s case. I think if that’s how they want to play it, they should suffer the consequences. Everybody concerned has their chance to do the right thing, and Amazon is showing exactly what they plan to do with theirs. I’m emailing this story to the addresses on the media contacts list – working on the letter right now. I’m thinking I’ll title it “Is Amazon Guilty of Consumer Fraud?”:P

  82. Randi Thompson
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 15:07:27

    I signed the petition, and like others, Robin, kudos on the writing of it. It was very succinct. And color me another Amazon boycotter. As for us being “a drop in the bucket” to Amazon…true on an individual basis. But how many of us here are going to boycott them? And how many people reading this, though they aren’t posting, are going to boycott? Suddenly, those drops add up to a bucketful of lost dollars. Don’t ever forget that a small group of people can have an impact. And I don’t think this is small, anymore.

  83. Peter Durward Harris
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 15:15:19

    I think the petition is good because it will keep Amazon's attention focused on this. I have a feeling they aren't as immune to this issue as a lot of people seem to think.

    I agree with you although I can’t say that all my friends do. Based on Amazon’s previous form, it will depend how much fuss people make, how many people make that fuss and how long it drags on for. The involvement of celebrity authors and / or the media in any significant way would also be likely to impress Amazon.

    I believe they are giving these noncommittal responses to those complaining because they are trying to figure out what to do – and probably were previously wishing the issue would just die down.

    Exactly. If it all blows ovewr quickly, they’ll do nothing.

    Don't you think Amazon is afraid that publishers might stick their lawyers on them if they show a willingness to pull an author's books because of bad behavior by the author?

    It is rare for Amazon to do such a thing, but they have done it before so they know the legal situation.

    The alternative is to admit their whole review system is screwed up

    The review system isn’t perfect, but it’s not that bad.

    I have a feeling we will see a gradual changing of their review system

    If any change results from this specific case, it is likely to be in the way that reporting abuse works. At the very least, any review deleted by Amazon should trigger an e-mail to the original writer of that review.

    Although there are plenty of other changes that people might wish to see, this case of itself doesn’t prove the need for those changes. (You and I might think otherwise, but I know the way Amazon works.) Other cases in the future may force Amazon to change other parts of their software.

    I read the article someone posted about the review system at Amazon. I admit to having been completely ignorant how this whole review thing works for the top reviewers.

    I don’t know which article that was (there have been plenty of them) but I’ve set up a blog devoted to Amazon topics, although it contains far more detail than most people are ever likely to be interested in. Still, it doesn’t contain everything that it could and I sometimes add more stuff to it. And sometimes I copy and paste chunks out of it, as I’ve done on “Dear Author” (but not in this post).

    Are they paid or not?

    Not by Amazon. The vast majority of reviewers aren’t paid cash by anybody. I know of two magazine reviewers who also post on Amazon. I only know the detailed circumstances for one of them. He posts his review first in the magazine, but waits a few weeks before posting on Amazon, by which time the edition in which the revieww appeared is OOP. So if he’s paid, it’s by the magazine.

    I read the story about Donald Mitchell. It seems that he wasn’t paid himself, but asked that money be paid to a charity. Apart from anything else, this may have saved him from any tax liability on the actual payment. That’s the only case I’ve ever heard of an author paying cash for a review on Amazon. Are there others? Maybe.

    What are they given for free?

    Mostly books. Occasionaly other stuff. Although I primarily review music, most of the offers I get are for books. It seems that the book industry places a much higher value on reviews than any other industry does. I turn down the vast majority of stuff that I’m offered because I’m not interested in it.

    It’s worth noting that anybody who gets huge quantities of free stuff has to declare it for tax purposes, as it becomes income rather than gifts. So if I were to approach a publisher or a record label and try to strike a deal with them, I’d be liable for tax. I can’t afford that so I’m not going to try.

    Who decides who is given what?

    The publisher decides who they want to give stuff to. The problem is that publishers place more faith in the Amazon rankings than they should, so they’ll offer me books that I’m not interested in rather than offer those same books to somebody of lesser ranking who could provide them with a well-written review. Sometimes I advise publishers to look for similar types of books to those they offer me, look at the Amazon reviews for those books and decide from among them which reviewers to send their books to. Rankings provide a lazy way for publishers to choose reviewers, but not a good way.

    I always wondered why someone would go through so much trouble to review so many items.

    Because it’s fun (well it is for some of us). As I said on the “Amazon needs changes” thread and repeat at the end of this post, the reviewers who get most fun out of it are also likely to be the most credible, if you allow that they are basically fans of what they’re reviewing.

    I'll start submitting a helluva lot more reviews if it will get me free books…lol.

    I know you’re only joking, but anybody who seriously thinks that would be better working extra hours to make the money they need to buy the books, especially as if they ever get in a position to get lots of free books, they’d have to pay taxes anyway.

    Do you guys think it would be better if they had a separate review system for people in the publishing industry? Perhaps that might be tough to monitor.

    To what purpose? Very few professional reviewers post on Amazon. I’m not sure customers necessarily want to read those kind of reviews on Amazon anyway. The beauty of Amazon is that you can read multiple reviews of the same product from a variety of people. Some customers prefer to read a lot of medium-length reviews than one long one.

    What bothers me (I've seen others state this as well) is that so many of those top reviewers just give positive reviews with a synopsis, instead of any actual critique.

    As I explained earlier in this thread, the vast majority of Amazon reviews get 5 stars because they are written by fans for fans. They aren’t objective in the way that (say) a newspaper or magazine review might claim to be. However, this means that when they DO post negative reviews, they are all the more potent. That may explain why certain authors are so keen to get rid of them.

    I wonder if they are rewarded more for positive reviews. It just removes all of their credibility.

    Repeating what I posted on the other thread …….

    The only way in which my credibility has been questioned is that almost all my reviews have 5 stars. There's a simple explanation for this. With only 5 grades to choose from and with 3 stars meaning indifferent, if I like something I can only choose 4 or 5 stars. And because I tend to know what I like, I'm not going to bother with other stuff. So I can't take the actual star ratings seriously. I understand that Amazon once tried a 10-star system way before my time, but they found that most customers couldn't cope (they didn't use the middle range), hence the system we have now.

    I hope that people reading my reviews can tell whether it'll suit them from what I write. We all have different tastes and it's a question of providing sufficient information.

    Those reviewers who enjoy what they do are also likely to be the most credible. If rankings help in that enjoyment, so be it.

  84. Randi Thompson
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 15:20:36

    Copy of what I just wrote Amazon:

    Dear Amazon,

    I wanted to let you know that I will be ceasing all activity with you immediately. The situation with Reba and your review system is shocking and disappointing. I am not, at all, satisfied with your dealings on this issue. That you are rewarding a person who has used your forums to personally threaten another (and their children, and their parents and grandparents) is distasteful. That you are rewarding a person for manipulating the review system, is distasteful. That you were able to “research” Reba’s situation in seven days, but have yet to finish “researching” Ms. Deborah MacGillivray’s situation in 8 months, is distasteful. Ergo, I cannot, in good conscious, continue to do business with you. Should you decide to reinstate Reba and close Ms. MacGillivray’s account, please let me know, and I would be happy to resume my business with you.

    Sincerely,

    Ms. Randi Thompson

  85. Peter Durward Harris
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 15:22:46

    That would range from books to kitchen blenders, dog mats. cat mats, you name it, Amazon sends it to their top reviewers.

    Are you talking about Amazon Vine? Outside of that, I’ve never heard of them sending any freebies for review to anybody.

  86. Chantal Fox
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 15:49:15

    Look . . . I understand that people are concerned about that woman “playing the system” over at Amazon, but yowza, THERE COULD BE MONETARY FRAUD that went on with that raffle! This is a REAL ISSUE! I lost $200 in it, and one of my online critique partners lost $100. We have our Visa bills and our PayPal records to show that. If it did not go to charity, we want to know. (Did anyone win any critiques? Does anyone know that editor and might be able to ask?) We are willing to be named in a fraud suit. We have no idea how to go about demanding that the money trail be followed, and I’m a caretaker for an elderly person, so I won’t be able to research that. But THERE IS YOUR SIGN. If you would like to get to the bottom of all this, look at that raffle and whether the money went to the hospital, debtors, the family, or who.

    “About that raffle-check the comments here”: “So someone tried to warn Debbie was up to no good and she was denounced as a bitch and a troll?”

    Yeah, that’s what happens. You try to go against the clique and they turn into a mob and tear your face off. You can’t get the truth heard.

    “if you want to stop Debbie and her ilk, go after the money trail. All this hoohah about review manipulation isn't going to fly with the public or the police. Fraud caught Al Capone. It can catch an idiot like her too.”

    Absolutely. That is the way to go. All of this Amazon stuff, no one is going to care about, except Amazon might notice when we all stop buying there. (Will people really give up the discount and convenience just because the reviews are BS? Lots of people suspect that already.) If someone is interested in helping the family of the dead woman, THAT is the way to go–find out if the family ever saw that money, how the debts were settled with it, and so forth.

  87. Susiq2
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 15:54:31

    Just a reader said: I'll title it “Is Amazon Guilty of Consumer Fraud?”:
    Susiq2 says: Yes!!

  88. Mark Baker
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 16:08:06

    Susiq2 (and others),

    I’m another top reviewer at Amazon. Granted, I haven’t cracked the top 50, but I can tell you I have never been paid by Amazon for anything I have reviewed there. I have gotten exactly two DVD’s in all the years I have spent there. One I had already bought (like six months before I got it), the other I had never heard of and had no interest in. So two DVD’s in 7 years of reviewing. That’s my compensation.

    I do know Amazon has the Vine program now, but this top 100 reviewer wasn’t asked to join. Probably wouldn’t have had I been invited, but there you go.

    I get offers for Advanced Review Copies all the time. Very rarely do I even consider taking them because they are self-published books I have no interest in. I accept maybe three ARCs a year, usually from authors I already know I enjoy. Yes, I wind up writing a positive review of that book. But then again, I have positively reviewed every book of theirs I bought, so it’s not that surprising.

    The thing is, situations like this drive me up a wall. I have spent a lot of time and energy writing fair, honest reviews for the site. Then something like this blows up, and suddenly all of us are painted with one bad brush and people start questioning our integrity.

    Yes, there are bad apples like DAM. Absolutely Reba was treated horribly. Amazon had better get their act together and soon if they want my continued business. But please don’t throw all of us out with DAM.

  89. Susiq2
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 16:11:07

    Peter Durward Harris said: Are you talking about Amazon Vine? Outside of that, I've never heard of them sending any freebies for review to anybody.
    Susiq2 replies: Yes, I am talking about Amazon Vine, and any other people who receive books, and items to review for Amazon. At this point I do not trust Amazon to be honest about anything.

  90. Karen Scott
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 16:24:36

    Reba, I e-mailed your post about Amazon’s response to Galleycat. If I was you, I’d send the e-mail they sent you as proof of how badly they’re handling this matter.

  91. Susiq2
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 16:29:14

    Mark Baker said:Yes, there are bad apples like DAM. Absolutely Reba was treated horribly. Amazon had better get their act together and soon if they want my continued business. But please don't throw all of us out with DAM.
    Susiq2 says: You are, of course, correct. I do realize that there are honest people who review because they love reading, and enjoy reviewing. I truly do not want to throw the baby out with “ye ol’ bath water” so to say, but I am very discouraged with Amazon, and the tactics that they have employed during this reviewer/author scandal(IMHO). Amazon has a terrible reviewer system. They now know that they do. What/how do they repair/fix it? They killed the “messenger”. I have bought numerous books at Amazon that upon reading I would check to see if I had received the correct book. For several years I spent a lot of money at Amazon until my hubby got fed up dealing with them, cancelled our account, and credit card number. I have since been purchasing books upon the recommendation of my fellow forum members, not the reviews, at my local bookstore. I sincerely apologize for “lumping” all of the reviewers into one stinky pile. Yikes! That was wrong of me.

  92. Karen Scott
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 16:57:16

    Hey Reba, are your reviews back online? Your reviews are still on your profile.

  93. Peter Durward Harris
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 17:14:32

    Yes, Amazon left those six reviews but deleted all Reba’s comments.

  94. (Jān)
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 17:41:01

    Chantal, it’s not about DAM playing the reviews at Amazon that has me up in arms. It’s the fact that they are, by not acting, condoning the stalking and harassment of one of their customers by authors who sell on their site. They are, in effect, punishing the victim for stating her opinion, and letting her abuser go free and continue this behavior. That is abhorrent to me.

    If DAM did perpetrate fraud through this raffle, by all means people should go after her.

    But I thought you should know that what people are mad about here goes beyond fake reviews.

  95. Mark Baker
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 18:15:55

    Susiq2 said

    but I am very discouraged with Amazon, and the tactics that they have employed during this reviewer/author scandal(IMHO).

    Now there’s a point we can definitely both agree on.

  96. Robin
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 18:55:33

    Ja(y)ne/Robin

    I realize this is a lot of extra work for you, but could you possibly repost relevant e-addies etc.

    I think Jane is going to do this tonight.

    Look . . . I understand that people are concerned about that woman “playing the system” over at Amazon, but yowza, THERE COULD BE MONETARY FRAUD that went on with that raffle! This is a REAL ISSUE! I lost $200 in it, and one of my online critique partners lost $100. We have our Visa bills and our PayPal records to show that. If it did not go to charity, we want to know. (Did anyone win any critiques? Does anyone know that editor and might be able to ask?) We are willing to be named in a fraud suit. We have no idea how to go about demanding that the money trail be followed, and I'm a caretaker for an elderly person, so I won't be able to research that. But THERE IS YOUR SIGN. If you would like to get to the bottom of all this, look at that raffle and whether the money went to the hospital, debtors, the family, or who.

    IMO there are some issues readers can legitimately pursue and some we can’t. For example, I think it’s up to authors to pressure the RWA to do something, or at least to RWA members, be they reader or author. I don’t know where the raffle falls, but it may be something that needs to be initiated elsewhere. I don’t know, but perhaps someone else does . . .

  97. Nicky
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 19:47:59

    Interestingly on Amazon UK look what happens with Vine Reviews,http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crossed-Bones-Jane-Johnson/dp/0670917311/ref=cm_pdp_profile_reg_itm?ie=UTF8&coliid=I208B5E1RXLVSR&colid=2CDVIWAIKGOVF

    Right there in black and green it shows which reviews were generated via the Vine Program. Why can’t Amazon US do that? I know this is an impossible dream, but when I post a review I have to click that I’m over 13. Can’t they add an option to click that I got this for free from the publisher or the author asked me to review it?

    As far as reviews on Amazon, there’s no perfect answer, as always it’s buyer beware. Learn to know the reviewers you trust, even if they aren’t ranked. I don’t want to paint them all bad, I think most of them do post honest reviews. However, if you look at some of those profile pages and their “In My Own Words” are blatant requests for what they want to review.

    I’ve seen one reviewer (in the top 25 at Amazon UK) that I suspected for some time he wasn’t reading the books until the PW blurb made an oops on a character’s name and he picked it up in his review, and like Harriet he never met a book he didn’t like, I’ve never seen anything but four and five stars.

    Ultimately, as Peter said there is not perfect answer. However, reviewers like DAM and her ilk that need to removed from the Amazon community, and Amazon need to find a way to fix the abuse of the report this button — it’s been used/misused in other forums as well.

  98. DS
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 21:04:38

    Something quick about the charitable lottery.

    DAM was in Kentucky– Here is the url to the Kentucky Office that oversees charitable gaming:

    http://www.ocg.ky.gov/complaints.htm

    Leeann Burroughs and presumably Highland Press is in Florida. Here is the url to Florida laws.

    http://www.flsenate.gov/statutes/index.cfm?mode=View%20Statutes&SubMenu=1&App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=raffle&URL=CH0849/Sec0935.HTM

    This will get you to the complaint form for Florida:

    http://myfloridalegal.com/pages.nsf/4492d797dc0bd92f85256cb80055fb97/030e31f06ef0184d85256cc600706904!OpenDocument

    Note that the statute finds that failure to comply with all of Florida statues regarding charitable gaming is a deceptive trade practice.

    Dawn Thompson was in New York.

    Here is New York’s Rules:

    http://www.racing.state.ny.us/charitable/faqs_raffle.htm

    and here is an address of the overseeing authority:

    New York Charitable Gaming
    New York State Racing and Wagering Board
    1 Watervliet Avenue Extension, Suite 2
    Albany, NY 12206
    Phone: (518) 453-8460

    Here is where you can file a complaint.

    http://www.consumer.state.ny.us/

    The thing to remember is that the only people actually defrauded are the ones who sent money or the ones to whom the money was supposed to go. They are the ones with the standing to complain.

  99. Susiq2
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 21:27:47

    Mark Baker said: Now there's a point we can definitely both agree on.

    Susiq2 says: :>) Good! I like agreeing on matters! (<:

  100. Susiq2
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 21:48:48

    DAM was in Kentucky- Here is the url to the Kentucky Office that oversees charitable gaming:

    Susiq2: I Live in Kentucky! Can I be of assistance?

  101. Summary Post of Reba’s Amazon Fight | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Apr 18, 2008 @ 21:54:41

    [...] 17, 2008 – Reba Belle finally receives an update from Amazon customer service indicating that her account will remain in bad standing and that maybe [...]

  102. Lizbeth
    Apr 19, 2008 @ 01:15:56

    Is there any way to know how many of the negative reviews were removed? I am curious because I am sure there are many people like me who bought those books based on those reviews and then left a 3-star rating or lower only to have them removed. My review was deleted sometime in Nov. or Dec. and put back up after I complained to Amazon in December. Their email to me said something about some kind of technical issue that caused my review to be removed. Obviously, that was not what happened.

  103. Peter Durward Harris
    Apr 19, 2008 @ 04:16:33

    Interestingly on Amazon UK look what happens with Vine Reviews …. Right there in black and green it shows which reviews were generated via the Vine Program.

    I clicked on the “What is?” link. This is what Am-UK say …

    What is Amazon Vineâ„¢?

    Amazon Vineâ„¢ is a programme that enables a select group of Amazon customers to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make educated purchase decisions. Customers are invited to become Vine Voices based on the trust they have earned in the Amazon community for writing accurate and insightful reviews. Amazon provides Vine members with free copies of products that have been submitted to the programme by publishers or manufacturers. Amazon does not influence the opinions of Vine members.

    ==============================================

    Well, that’s what they say. But it’s not accurate.

    Customers are invited to become Vine Voices based on the trust they have earned in the Amazon community for writing accurate and insightful reviews.

    Customers also have to be resident in the country where the Amazon website is. Hence, I wouldn’t be eligible for Vine USA and most of you wouldn’t be eligible for Vine UK.

    I know that (at least in the USA), Amazon won’t bother reviewers who haven’t set their customer communication preferences up in a certain way. This has to be why Mark Baker wasn’t invited. He fits all the other criteria. A long time ago, I was told how to set them up to have a chance of a Vine invitation, but I’ve forgotten. Any Vine member can tell you.

    Why can't Amazon US do that?

    Software changes generally happen first in America. Other sites take a look and decide which features to install in their own sites. This is one of those rare exceptions. I can’t think of anything else that Am-UK have that you won’t find in Am-USA, but there’s a long list of features where the reverse is true.

    I guess that if you want this feature installed in the USA,
    ask Amazon. That’s the standard link for all queries and suggestions.

    Can't they add an option to click that I got this for free from the publisher or the author asked me to review it?

    They could, but can you imagine Harriet clicking that option every time she posts a review? Maybe she would, but I fear that the presence of such an option would raise customer expectations unduly and would end up as just another stick to beat reviewers with. If it were introduced, I’d eventually go through my old reviews and update them, but I doubt that many would bother. I also doubt that everybody would declare freebies via that option. Of course, there are some reviewers who declare freebies within their review.

    Learn to know the reviewers you trust, ….

    Absolutely.

    …. even if they aren't ranked.

    All reviewers are ranked, except those that have requested their removal from the ranking system or those that Amazon have stripped of their ranking for malpractice. You don’t see the actual ranking on the product page, but you can click on their name or their “see all reviews” link to find out their ranking.

    On the product page, the only evidence of rankings are the top reviewer badges, which may lead people to believe that other reviewers aren’t ranked. There are actually more than 3,000,000 ranked reviewers on Am-US although those with multiple reviewing accounts are counted once for each.

    their “In My Own Words” are blatant requests for what they want to review.

    This is against Amazon rules. If you complain to Amazon, the reviewer will be told to change their profile page to remove these requests.

    Here’s the participation guidelines – a confusing title, because some guidelines are just that, while others are rules that Amazon will enforce rigidly.

    I've seen one reviewer (in the top 25 at Amazon UK) that I suspected for some time he wasn't reading the books

    This sort of thing does the reputation of reviewers no good at all, but if Amazon were going to take any action over this sort of thing, they’d have started with Harriet years ago.

    Anybody who wishes to tell me about things they see on Amazon can do so via my contact page. Of course, I won’t be able to do anything about it but I exchange e-mails with other reviewers and we build up a clearer picture of what’s really going on. And that in itself might make some difference in the end.

    DAM and her ilk that need to removed from the Amazon community

    I really believe that the momentum is strong enough that Amazon will be forced to act against DAM, though they won’t be rushed into it. “Her ilk” will still be there to haunt us. We just have to pick them off one at a time. I’ve found that reviewers get away with a certain amount of cheating, but that this gives them confidence and they do a bit more, which gives them more confidence. So their cheating escalates until it reaches the point where even Amazon’s software decides they’re cheating.

  104. Peter Durward Harris
    Apr 19, 2008 @ 04:23:48

    Is there any way to know how many of the negative reviews were removed?

    Not by us. Amazon never actually delete anything; they just block access. It may be, if they were really determined, that Amazon could look to see which reviews have been deleted for a given product and to identify whether those were deleted by their original writers or by abuse reporting. It would likely be a costly exercise and they’d certainly be reluctant to do it. If the main charges against her are proved and her books are de-listed, that exercise won’t be required anyway.

  105. Lleeo
    Apr 19, 2008 @ 04:30:06

    And I realize that sometimes when you have strong opinions it can seem like you're directing with them, but really, that's not the case. If people like what I have to say, fine, and if they don't, that's fine, too, a good debate can force me to look at a situation differently and alter my views. Would I love it if everyone pimped and signed this petition -’ yup. Because I don't see it as about Dear Author, but about readers and reviews in general -’ because I think it's relevant to all of us, regardless of our genre preference or position. But I'm sure not going to make anyone feel like they've got to do it, because I wouldn't want anyone doing that to me. Mostly I think it's just a good thing to foster more openness, because I think a lot of the whackdom comes from not having an environment in which healthy disagreement and critical discussion of books is welcomed.

    Thanks for making an excellent point, Robin. I made a bad analogy without really thinking it through. You are right; Dear Author or any other good reader review site isn’t here to, and shouldn’t, try to enforce rules and regulations of good conduct on readers and authors in the blogosphere. I think you put it well when you say that places like Dear Author help to foster openness and provide an environment where “healthy disagreement and critical discussion of books is welcomed.” I just liked the image of you guys as superheroes for justice because Dear Author does help get the word out about important issues facing the fiction world to a huge variety of people affected by the business. And they don’t tell people what to think, that they are absolutely right or that you aren’t allowed to disagree with them. You guys simply allow a positive space for critical, mostly on-topic discussion of the issues and I think that’s great. :)

  106. Corrine E. Lagacy
    Apr 19, 2008 @ 20:27:01

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have another occurence of reviewer abuse. The book is “Demon’s Are a Ghoul’s Best Friend”. The author attacked a reviewer who gave her a 1-star review. What is going on that this is becoming more common?

  107. Ann Somerville
    Apr 19, 2008 @ 21:05:48

    Wow, that Victoria Laurie is a class act. Here’s the direct link to the ‘discussion’.

    Perfect example of how arguing with a reviewer in public just makes you look like a horse’s arse.

    Maybe we need a new blog to report Amazon Authors Behaving Badly or something.

  108. Lynne
    Apr 19, 2008 @ 21:26:04

    I dug up that review, Corrine, and responded to the author’s stalker-y comment on J. Kaplan’s other review. Sheesh.

    Attacking your paying customers in a forum where your potential paying customers hang out? That is SO not logical behavior.

    Corrine said: What is going on that this is becoming more common?

    I’ve wondered the same thing. I know Amazon reviewers have been getting stalked and threatened for a few years now, but it seems like things are getting worse in the last year. Maybe the state of the economy is making people desperate?

  109. Lizbeth
    Apr 19, 2008 @ 23:49:01

    OMG..I don’t even know who this Victoria Laurie author is but someone needs to teach her to control her emotions. She seemed quite adolescent in that discussion. I cannot think her too smart to engage in that behavior. My question is don’t these publishing companies have PR departments that convey what is appropriate behavior for representatives of their company, or at least some rules like “don’t fight with your customer.” My thoughts are that they should freak if they see this kind of behavior from their authors, and immediately have them put an end to the most unbecoming behavior. If any potential customer were to read that, I believe that person would be turned off immediately from purchasing a book – why support an unkind loose cannon – I could feel her seething through her words…..more like “I want to give you a hug…and squeeze the life out of you while doing so.” lol Seriously, I wouldn’t mind a good debate between an author and a reader, but these childish rants are so counterproductive to the ultimate goal, which I believe is selling books.

  110. DevonM
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 00:00:14

    Good grief. I just googled this Victoria Laurie. Not only is she an author, she claims to be a physic. She charges $100 for a phone session.

  111. Ann Somerville
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 00:03:59

    she claims to be a physic [sic]

    Then I wonder if she saw this discussion coming :)

  112. Lizbeth
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 00:07:45

    she claims to be a physic [sic]

    Then I wonder if she saw this discussion coming :)

    too funny!!!!!!

  113. Concerned Reader
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 00:20:30

    You would think that published authors would strive to act professionally when it comes to dealing with fans and readers. We are their customers, are we not? If a salesman insluted me for not enjoying a TV I bought from him he’d be in hot water with his boss. If he were to dig up personal information on my family and use it to scare me? He would no longer have a boss and be in hot-water with the authorities.

    Deborah MacGillivray may not sell TV’s but I think the comparison still applies.

    I’ve never heard of Victoria Laurie, but she seems to be cut from the same cloth. She even seems to have an entourage of cronies who follow her around to bash others, like DAM. Another unprofessional author who can’t seem to see the big picture.

  114. Peter Durward Harris
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 04:38:18

    new blog to report Amazon Authors Behaving Badly

    And people want to boycott Amazon? Where else on the internet can you have so much fun? How about somebody compiling a book from the funniest comments to be found on Amazon? With Amazon’s permission, of course – we don’t want to infringe any rules.

  115. Lynne
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 08:57:26

    I agree, Concerned Reader. This thing of retaliating against reviewers blows my mind. Imagine what it would be like if a customer at the Estée Lauder counter tells the salesperson that the Advanced Night Repair hasn’t done much for her, and then the CEO pops out from behind the cash register and starts loudly proclaiming that their products aren’t intended for the hopelessly ugly. Any customer who hears this and might’ve considered stopping by to try a new lipstick will head over to Elizabeth Arden instead.

    I just read an interesting and timely post on this at Blogging in Black. This oughta be turned into a workshop at RWA National, IMO.

  116. Shannon Stacey
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 10:19:08

    I wonder if the ability for authors to blog on their amazon pages and comment and interact and such is somehow making a few authors see them as “their” pages to the point a negative review would be received the same way as a reader stopping by the author’s website and leaving a negative comment—her living room instead of a bookstore, so to speak.

    Not that that would in any way excuse speaking to a reader that way, but I’m just trying to wrap my head around what would make an author behave like that. I’ll admit Victoria Laurie’s comments totally stunned me. Unless there’s some serious backstory there we haven’t seen, that was just…wow.

  117. Jane
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 10:32:05

    I wonder if Laurie earns more from her $100 psychic readings than she does from the sale of her books.

  118. DS
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 10:34:41

    Nicky, if you mean the statement about the review being a Vine Customer Review– it does exist on the US Amazon site– in green type. The Vine Program contains very few different items so your chance of running into an item with Vine reviews is low. Go look at A Nation of Counterfeiters by Stephen Mihm on the US site if you want to see examples. Great nonfiction book about the state of the US currency prior to the Civil War.

    Edited to add I just caught up with the Laurie thing. Is this catching? Maybe it you are bit by a rabid, stalking author you become one.

  119. Heather
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 11:01:11

    I was the one who found out about “VL”. All I was doing was looking up to see if the book was out and I could order it. Much to my dismay I found under “comments” for the 1 star review, Nasty comments from VL to the reviewer!! I was shocked! I sent this alert to “certain ” people so others would know about this. I thought I was safe going to a paranormal books, but, I was wrong!!!! I truly hope that ‘DAM” hasn’t set the way for other authors to harrass other reviewers!!!!!!!!
    I will continue to save my comments and be on the lookout for other authors who feel they have the right to harrass reviewers!

  120. DevonM
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 11:12:54

    I will continue to save my comments and be on the lookout for other authors who feel they have the right to harrass reviewers!

    This is right in line with something that’s been on my mind lately. There are sites where you can find out about publishers and agents behaving badly and unethically. Now I’m wondering how far away are we from a similar reference to authors who behave badly. And the next question would be, where would the line be drawn between acceptable and not acceptable? When I read Ms. Laurie’s comments to her reviewer, I was shocked, especially in light of all that’s been exposed lately with DAM’s behavior. It boggles me that these people have written books that were bought by NY publishers, and yet they don’t have enough common sense to moderate their own behavior and stop themselves from committing career suicide.

  121. Nonny
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 12:15:48

    Heather: There have always (unfortunately) been authors who would snap at reviewers with nasty comments. What’s different about DAM’s case is that she is urging not only friends but authors at her publishing house and other groups to join in.

  122. Nora Roberts
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 12:48:45

    Good God.

    I think the review was harsh. If I’d gotten it for one of my books I’d have probably scowled at it, muttered darkly. I might have brooded over it for a few minutes.

    Respond? No.

    But over and above all that, who speaks to ANYONE the way this VL spoke to that reader? When has it gotten to be all right in anyone’s mind to insult, demean and smirk at someone who is–at the core–a customer with an opinion?

    If I’d stumbled across that review, I’d have thought, hmm, I don’t like this reviewer’s style, and moved onto the others. But reading the author’s comments, all I can think is I dislike her style a great deal more.

  123. Amber Green
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 13:40:19

    DevonM on April 20th, 2008 at 11:12 am:

    I will continue to save my comments and be on the lookout for other authors who feel they have the right to harrass reviewers!

    This is right in line with something that's been on my mind lately. There are sites where you can find out about publishers and agents behaving badly and unethically. Now I'm wondering how far away are we from a similar reference to authors who behave badly. And the next question would be, where would the line be drawn between acceptable and not acceptable? When I read Ms. Laurie's comments to her reviewer, I was shocked, especially in light of all that's been exposed lately with DAM's behavior. It boggles me that these people have written books that were bought by NY publishers, and yet they don't have enough common sense to moderate their own behavior and stop themselves from committing career suicide.

    Bear in mind that committing career suicide is a self-limiting action. Also, for all we know this author is having terrible problems with her day job, a kid with earache, constipation, vertigo, intractable migraines, and/or spousal hemmorhoids. She has not shown an overarching behavioral pattern. Isolate her, give her time to think things through, and see what happens. I have, here and there, said things I deeply regret. Most of us probably have. It’s just the nature of the Internet that nowadays such comments have unlimited broadcast potential.

  124. Susiq2
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 15:15:06

    I have been trying to “fight the good fight” at Amazon by revealing the details of what has happened to Reba Belle. The back lash has become so intense that I have essentially abandoned ship. Why is there such dissension on what I perceive to be a simple matter? Author harassed reviewer, had said reviewers review deleted repeatedly, posted numerous vicious verbal assaults against said reviewer, and when all else failed, threatened said re-viewer’s family, even their very lives. Why are so many people who post at The Amazon Romance Forum not “getting” this situation? I have just abandoned the romance site. People are becoming enraged, and, at this point, I do not even recognize most of the commentators! People are coming “out of the woodwork”, voicing strong opinions, but seem not willing to look at the real issues surrounding Reba’s banning. This is so much more than the banning of a reviewer for spanning(FGS). This issue goes to the heart of Amazon’s review system. When we were purchasing from Amazon, I would eagerly look forward to my new books arriving, then while reading my new books, I would often return to the books description to re-read the reviews. I truly thought that I had ordered or received the wrong book. Amazon has taken the easy way out, IMHO. If by removing Reba, and waiting for things to settle down at the romance forums, by applying the tincture of time, and I think, sending in hard hitters( New people who are really angry about our support of Reba, and are zealously publishing their thoughts against our stance in support), Amazon may win by default. I no longer care what Amazon does in any regard except re-instating Reba. At this point, I would wonder why anyone would want to be a part of Amazon.

  125. Robin
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 17:05:58

    Why is there such dissension on what I perceive to be a simple matter?

    A question for the ages, Susiq2.

    All I can say is that I’ve seen this kind of thing time and time again. It happened when the Cassie Edwards plagiarism accusations came out — authors and readers saying that what Edwards did was okay, lambasting Nora Roberts for speaking out, trashing the bloggers who ran the stories. It happened to Nora Roberts when she was plagiarized by Janet Dailey. It happened when a group of authors went after an aspiring author who dared to publish a less than positive review on Amazon (the author whose book was criticized and some of her buddies went after the reviewer, outing her real name and other stuff, and blasting her publicly — soooooooo ugly, OMG; I don’t think I’ll ever forget that). It’s happening right now on another blog where an author and her fans have taken great offense to the way people here have responded to comments the author/blogger made about DAM (and the irony of how ugly it is over there is so thick you can use it as a blanket at this point). I don’t know whether it’s the “underdog” syndrome, or whether it’s an author – reader thing, or something else, but it’s a common dynamic, even though it’s mightily frustrating.

    I agree with you about the time issue, but, hey, everyone thought that publishers weren’t going to do anything about the Cassie Edwards copying, either, and Signet/Penguin announced that they will no longer publish her books, past or present. And there are a lot of people who are not willing to let Amazon just wait this thing out, so we’ll just have to see what happens. I have the feeling that the DAM situation is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the manipulation of Amazon reviews and forums, and IMO eventually all those examples will become known.

  126. Peter Durward Harris
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 17:30:45

    Maybe I should have mentioned this earlier, but there was a case, perhaps four or five years ago, where an author sued an Amazon reviewer over a 1-star review. On that occasion, Amazon supported the reviewer and the author lost his case. He ended up paying the legal costs and the 1-star review remained. That was in the days before Amazon introduced the “Report this” abuse option with its consequent automatically disappearing reviews.

  127. Montanawyse
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 20:55:29

    I just stumbled across this situation at Amazon, and after 2 hours of following links, I couldn’t possibly be more disgusted. Don’t give up Susiq2, your persistance made sure I saw it, and I in turn forwarded it on to my entire address book that included 3 authors. I signed the petition, and am writing a letter to send to Amazon as well.
    Reba, hang in there, you have my support. I hope DAM gets what’s coming to her. How DARE she treat the person(s) who are essentially paying her bills like that!?
    I had read her books, and I just threw them into my 450 degree woodstove too.

  128. Just A Reader
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 21:55:20

    Tess Gerritsen really disgusted me with the comments she posted on her blog regarding the DAM mess. Although, I suppose one should be glad she said it on her blog. Apparently the only people with valid opinions are professional reviewers. And I hate to inform her of this, but that basically means writers. This attitude makes me wonder – who the hell are they writing the books for?
    Readers aren’t entitled to an opinion apparently. At least not one they should be free to publically share. But I doubt the same could be said of a public ass kissing. I doubt Ms. Gerritsen would call anyone an “illiterate slut” for posting one of those on Amazon. And of course stalking and harassing a reader is only inexcusable if you get caught. Well that’s good to know.
    *sigh* Another one for my don’t buy ever list (& Laurie too). I think their books should come with little “You’re probably too stupid to ‘get’ it” warning stickers:P

  129. Reba Belle
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 21:58:04

    Good Evening,

    Susiq2–I saw that you and many others are taking a serious beating over on Amazon’s discussion boards. God Bless you all for standing up on my behalf and this issue. I want everyone to know the people on Amazon that are standing up to this injustice are like many of you here–strangers who came out of the woodwork to help right a wrong.

    And I thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

    ********
    I believe Amazon will be setting a precedent here and people ARE watching. How they handle this is going to set the tone for what both authors and reviewers are going to do on Amazon.

    If Amazon decides to “let it go” and does nothing about DAM abusing the “vote no” and “report abuse” then get ready because they are in effect saying that is okay behavior. I can see the floodgates opening on that. Terrible.

    I think that review for Victoria Laurie’s book that people are talking about was tacky and uncalled for. Sounded to me like a personal “nasty graham.” But, the comments from the author were just as hateful. Does that mean, one wrong makes another wrong? Ugh! Hand out the mud balls and start throwing?

    Pretty sad.

    ****
    And I’d like to say to the people who have read and enjoyed DAM’s books or her “supporters.”
    - There is a difference in liking a person or their work and empowering them to further victimize people. If you like her books, then read them, but don’t be part of her “bully squad.”

    My two cents….

    Reba

  130. Karen Scott
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 02:28:37

    729 comments and counting. That has to be a Romanceland record Ja(y)nes.

    Apparently the only people with valid opinions are professional reviewers.

    This isn’t a new school of thought. Mary Janice Davidson caused quite a blogfest a couple years ago, when she suggested the same thing. I’m pretty sure she called readers asshats too.

    Not her finest hour either.

  131. Karen Scott
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 05:01:42

    Andy at Galleycat has another post up. He’s included the link to the petition as well.

  132. Lesa
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 05:04:28

    I have been following these posts for a few days now and I have to say that Amazon appears to be screening DAMS reviews ALOT less carefully. She can now be found under the topic of over rated lolol or boring. It gave me quite a chuckle to see the honesty working its way into the system. Even if Amazon doesn’t admit its role here… some how, some way it seems to be letting the light shine through.

    Now hopefully the bugs will scatter and we can all get back to sharing which are the books we WANT to see more of and less attention will be placed on the few bad apples. Her behavior is/was and always will be the pits, but part of me thinks she is just psycho enough to enjoy attention any way she can garner it. Best revenge… move on, don’t make her money and let her fade away into the sunset.

    Life is too short to waste this much energy on such little talent and someone who is obviously no deeper than a rain puddle in Arizona… in July. Am glad folks have stood up to her, now bury her and let’s find something more interesting to talk about?

  133. Pixikins
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 09:59:42

    This isn't a new school of thought. Mary Janice Davidson caused quite a blogfest a couple years ago, when she suggested the same thing. I'm pretty sure she called readers asshats too.

    Not her finest hour either.

    How many writers out there think us lowly readers, aka the people that fuel their career, aren’t good enough to form opinions about what WE read

    I guess I’m way behind on book news, and it’s my own fault for not being more informed but is this class of loathing readers that don’t worship the authors work a large one?

    So far I’ve come across three on this thread that have a less than steller outlook on the everyday reader like me….and it really sickens me

    Stupid lil me thought every author was a sweetheart like Charlaine Harris when I happened upon her at a local bookstore signing, never read her work before, but after simply talking to her for 10 or so minutes I had to check her books out because she was such a darling…

  134. Susiq2
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 10:08:09

    Lesa says: Life is too short to waste this much energy on such little talent and someone who is obviously no deeper than a rain puddle in Arizona… in July. Am glad folks have stood up to her, now bury her and let's find something more interesting to talk about?

    Susiq2 says: Lesa, We are “still” talking about this problem because Nothing has been done to rectify it. Reba is still banned, DAM, and her friends called “Ladies in Waiting”, are still happily tearing apart any defense for Reba, which also helps to invalidate/negate any complaints about the Amazon review system. I hope to be able to continue discussing this until a resolution is achieved. I would encourage you to look at different topics, and find something else that may be of interest to you. I do realize that this has been going on for a long time. I wonder how long this must seem to Reba, who has been struggling alone for months to deal with these issues? How long has it been since Reba’s family was threatened, and Reba was kicked off of Amazon? Time length may depend on your involvement with this issue. Thanks, Lesa, for posting your thoughts……..

  135. Peter Durward Harris
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 10:40:18

    I do realize that this has been going on for a long time. I wonder how long this must seem to Reba, who has been struggling alone for months to deal with these issues? How long has it been since Reba's family was threatened, and Reba was kicked off of Amazon? Time length may depend on your involvement with this issue.

    I’d also like to devote more time to other stuff. There are things that I could be doing instead, that I’ve delayed because of this case. I don’t know anything about Reba Belle or her family, except for knowing that she has suffered a massive injustice in this case so far. Amazon’s initial banning of Reba from posting comments was understandable, but their refusal to overturn the ban upon further reflection was not.

    I got involved in this case partly for reasons of self-interest, but once I realized the gravity of the situation, I realized that I have to stay with the case until a satisfactory conclusion is reached, or until it becomes clear that I am of no further use and / or not welcome.

    Susiq2 – the longer that you and others keep fighting the cause, the better your chances will be. Past performance shows that if a bad story doesn’t fade away quickly, that’s when Amazon realize that they have to do something. So don’t let the bu**ers get you down.

  136. L
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 10:49:13

    I’m with Susiq. I’m another regular poster of the romance forum at Amazon and I’ve lost my desire to post there. I think we’ve all been pretty good about not resorting to nasty name-calling and such, but we’ve been pretty passionate and those who are dissenters have said we are being “mob-like” or “hysterical” and “spiteful”. That it was a romance forum, and we shouldn’t be hogging all the space.argh. I think those of us supporting Reba were annoyed and upset that we were looked upon as trivial or trying to “get back” at this author. I can’t sit back and allow injustice like this to occur. To sit back and do nothing is wrong. What’s that saying? All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. So I won’t stand by and watch from the sidelines and allow what could have happened to any reader and reviewer.

    Yah, just thinking about it is getting me upset again.LOL.

    Of course, I will continue to post in the MacGillivray-related thread there just to keep it active so people who are new and have no idea will know what’s going on!

    About the whole idea of authors thinking less of reader reviews. I wonder if some of these authors that think this realize that the reviews written by readers are for other readers! I think it’s crazy. Without readers there would be no authors…

    Oh, about the Victoria Laurie situation. Ack! That is just, wow, couldn’t believe it.LOL. I took screenshots of what she wrote, just in case a person tries to go back and erase what was written and denies having wrote it.

  137. Shiloh Walker
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 10:55:55

    I guess I'm way behind on book news, and it's my own fault for not being more informed but is this class of loathing readers that don't worship the authors work a large one?

    No, it’s not a large group but too often, those who act like asses draw the attention.

    Most writers I know are grateful for their readers-as it should be. I know I’m grateful for mine-if they didn’t buy my books, I wouldn’t be able to write for a living. Definitely grateful for that.

    I’d ask that you don’t let the ones with negative attitudes color how you see all writers. Because it’s not indicative of writers as a whole.

    A lot of authors still don’t interact online.

    Many writers see things like this come up and they make the choice to stay away. (for a variety of reasons, I imagine, but one is probably that you can get so caught up in blogs, it’s easy to lose focus of writing.)

    Then there are mouthy ones like me who can’t quiet when they have opinions ;). Even when they have deadlines looming…procrastinate, me?

    Writers are just like any other group of people. You have wonderful individuals, and others that aren’t so wonderful. Sadly, the not-so-wonderful ones often overshadow the others, but that’s just the nature of our society, I think.

  138. Steve Hedge
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 11:10:19

    I’m with PD Harris with his last comment. I comment on this topic because it is just so morally right to do so, but I only add something when I feel I have something significant to contribute. I do not like to intrude where I am not welcome or of any use. I offer my support, comments, intellect and facts wherever they may be helpful. I don’t pretend to have the answers, I even make mistakes on facts at times (we are all human), and, like anyone else, I can lose control of my emotions on things but my heart, I like to think, is always in the right place. I get very passionate about what I believe. I believe here, that Reba’s been done wrong and this author has been caught committing unscrupulous behavior to say the least.

    I’m still in Reba’s corner on this and just because Amazon is a big company doesn’t mean that they do everything right or just as Mr. Hunter on Reba’s review seems to allude to. I felt I had to respond to her latest tirade over there. I tried to be rational and systematic in addressing her, but having no leg to stand on, she simply asked me if I was British?

    I’m completely clueless on how or why that question would come up. One thing is certain, she is saying an awful lot by not being able to say anything regarding the items I brought up. I’m sure she may down the road, but it will have the same credibility as her claim to have “no knowledge of Ms MacGillivray.”

  139. Pixikins
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 11:27:35

    L:
    I totally agree with you, when I do deciede to contribute a post, it’s because I want to share my reading experience of the book with other readers, I’m not there to tell the author how to conduct their brain child or to warn people off…

    In fact I have never left a bad review and I never will, because the way I see it, just because I put a book down 50 pages into the story doesn’t mean someone else won’t eat it up. I don’t have the patience to read a book I can’t get into, and maybe I’m missing out on a lot of good books that pick up after a while…

    I do however leave good reviews if I liked a book, and glowing reviews if I really really enjoyed a book, in fact if I really loved a book my husband can’t shut me up for a while because of my enjoyment while reading or after having finished it

    But that’s just me, everyone’s different

    Shiloh Walker:

    Yes readers buy books and enable authors to make their living doing what they love, and I respect most all of you because it’s a very fine line ya’ll have to walk…

    Author “A” gets published for a reason, their idea/writing is a marketable one, and Author “A”‘s books continue to sell because of their talent and sales

    But said author can’t let reviews/comments from fans/critics get to them in a way that it affects their own work, or else it would be every joe’s work who seemed to think the story should go this way and that.

    While also that same author can’t go around alienating the very people who feed that author’s sales by calling them asshats and the like.

    I don’t envy authors one little bit for all the ungodly pressure ya’ll must suffer just on those bits alone, lord knows with deadlines and marketing and the such. Though the bottom line is, in ANY line of work, no matter how high up you get on the food line, it’s best not to bite the hand that more or less feeds you.

    So no, I don’t think I can let the bad apple authors ruin my pleasure in reading, especially when there are ones out there like you that do care, and do want to get out there and let people know not all authors dive off the deep end. By the way, most of all the authors on this thread have gained a new reader, at least to see what your books are like, because hell, if I can respect/emjoy your opinions here I might enjoy your books as well! Though I’m not buying through amazon *snickers*

    And as for the authors that stay out of it, that’s cool too because honestly it takes a lot out of people to get tangled up in an issue like this, and it’s understandable not to want to sacrifice that part of yourself.

  140. Shiloh Walker
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 11:46:41

    Man, I’m signing off after this…if I don’t get some work done, somebody is going to get me.

    ;)

    But said author can't let reviews/comments from fans/critics get to them in a way that it affects their own work, or else it would be every joe's work who seemed to think the story should go this way and that.

    The author can’t let it affect them. It’s a job-it’s a job that for most writers is a labor of love, but it’s still a job. If you do your best, you know you’ve done your best, that’s all you can do.

    It would be like a chef cooking his unique dish for a particular customer. That customer hates it-not necessarily because it was burnt/bland/undercooked or any fault of the chef’s-the dish just didn’t work for that customer.

    If it’s working for others, that is the best you can hope for.

    While also that same author can't go around alienating the very people who feed that author's sales by calling them asshats and the like.

    Ditto. I’ve stopped reading some authors I used to love because of the way I’ve seen them act, either online or in person. Time’s short and I prefer to spend my time on a book where I can get lost. If the author is a moron, it’s too often going to interfere with my pleasure of the book.

    I don't envy authors one little bit for all the ungodly pressure ya'll must suffer just on those bits alone, lord knows with deadlines and marketing and the such. Though the bottom line is, in ANY line of work, no matter how high up you get on the food line, it's best not to bite the hand that more or less feeds you.

    There’s pressure in every line of work. Writers are no different in that aspect. If you do anything that puts you in the public eye, how you act is going reflect back on you and it can hurt you or it can help you. I prefer not to shoot myself in the foot.

    And I’m gone…work, must work.

  141. RenaRuadh
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 11:48:10

    L, Steve – I couldn’t agree with you more. What is wrong is wrong and we are neither hysterical nor spiteful. We are simply concerned, very much concerned, about an incredible injustice that is happening and if nobody cries out, will continue to happen.

    Shiloh – of course we don’t consider all authors the same as DAM. Only the ones that act like her, such as Victoria Laurie, I guess. No conviction without a fair trial and lots of evidence, I guess, ha ha.

  142. Just A Reader
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 12:23:03

    I think we've all been pretty good about not resorting to nasty name-calling and such, but we've been pretty passionate and those who are dissenters have said we are being “mob-like” or “hysterical” and “spiteful”. That it was a romance forum, and we shouldn't be hogging all the space.argh. I think those of us supporting Reba were annoyed and upset that we were looked upon as trivial or trying to “get back” at this author. I can't sit back and allow injustice like this to occur. To sit back and do nothing is wrong.

    I haven’t seen anyone behaving badly here either. They’re simply stating their opinions. And it’s ironic to see the expression of so many varied and well considered opinions likened a “mob-like” mentality, by people whose behavior defines the expression.
    And just out of curiosity – because I can’t find it – where did DA call Tess Gerritsen a flying monkey? I looked at her blog again this morning and I was a little flabbergasted – although that comment appears to have been edited out now.

    She also says:

    I do regret and apologize for the tongue-in-cheek post about hyper-sensitive authors that started this off. I wish I could retract it, although I don't feel it's right to take it down now because, as they say on Galaxy Quest, it's an “historical document.” It will explain exactly what happened here. Bad humor? Certainly. Worthy of hounding and animosity? I guess a lot of people think so.

    I didn’t see any hounding and animosity to it. Did she get tons of hate mail for her DAM comments? She said what she said on her blog – not in the process of stalking an Amazon reviewer. Others said what they had to say about her comments – mostly on their blogs & some on this one in open discussion. I personally found her comments arrogant and condescending, so I won’t buy her books. End of story.
    I don’t see any reason to make herself out to be a martyr over it. She’s free to express herself, and we the illiterate and unwashed masses are free to not buy her books.
    That’s a pretty non-confrontational scenario there, so I certainly hope nobody is “hounding” her in the sense that reba was hounded, and I have nothing but condemnation for it if they are.
    She should be no less accountable for the things she says than anyone else, but nobody should be stalking her for expressing her opinions.
    And at least she apologized. That’s usually an animosity killer for me, so I can’t say that I have any for her. However, I don’t think her rather snobby attitude regarding what I can only describe as “unqualified” book reviewing is something that’s likely to have changed, just because she got a little egg on her face. I still think it’s elitist crap, so I still won’t buy her books. That’s my perogative, and there’s nothing mindless to it. She’s a fairly well known writer, and IMO, that means you have to be a little more careful than Joe Blow when publically stating your opinions. I think if you’re going to be vocal, at least be inherently right:P
    And as for Victoria Laurie – what an idiot.

    Shiloh

    I'd ask that you don't let the ones with negative attitudes color how you see all writers. Because it's not indicative of writers as a whole.

    Not gonna happen. There are too many out there, like Nora Roberts for example, to throw the same blanket over all of you. Aside from which, I love reading too much to do that anyway. As much as it kills my soul to admit it, I’ve never read her books – ok, start throwing the rotten tomatoes now…:P
    But I have to say, she personifies everything I admire in a writer & a public personality. She has a wonderful, open & engaging personality, and a lot of class. I can’t claim to be a fan in the strictest sense – for obvious reasons – but I am definitely an admirer.

  143. Steve Hedge
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 12:49:37

    To those reading this site and think those here are making a big deal out of nothing or that the issue is “old” and we should move on, I offer these words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “An injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.”

    We just can’t and shouldn’t sit and do nothing when an injustice occurs and/or because it is happening to someone else. That invites that same injustice to occur to us and I would certainly want people to support me should I be faced with such a situation.

  144. Ann Seleck
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 12:57:00

    Amen.

  145. L
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 13:05:01

    In fact I have never left a bad review and I never will, because the way I see it, just because I put a book down 50 pages into the story doesn't mean someone else won't eat it up. I don't have the patience to read a book I can't get into, and maybe I'm missing out on a lot of good books that pick up after a while…

    I write both good and bad reviews and some in-between. =) But, a book I find bad another may find very good so it’s all subjective. I know books I loved, others couldn’t stand them. I dunno, each book strikes each reader a bit differently and each reader takes something different from what they read.

    We all view the world a little differently, our experiences, emotions, thoughts, etc all coloring how we view it. It’s only natural for it to affect our reading tastes.

    Then, of course, there are the books that everyone can agree are really bad. I’ve only come across a few books that I couldn’t finish reading and put it down in disgust.

    To those reading this site and think those here are making a big deal out of nothing or that the issue is “old” and we should move on, I offer these words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “An injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.”

    We just can't and shouldn't sit and do nothing when an injustice occurs and/or because it is happening to someone else. That invites that same injustice to occur to us and I would certainly want people to support me should I be faced with such a situation.

    Good post. I totally agree.

  146. Sulli
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 13:12:55

    It has been a few days since I posted on this blog. I just thought I’d tell you that I told HP that I wanted to pull my submission. LB was very nice. Said she hoped that my novel finds a good home and that I would be more than welcome to submit to them anytime with another project. She said she did not know my reason for pulling out but wished me well. Very professional, like walking on glass. I did admit I questioned my decision after her sweeeeeeeeet email but my gut knows that she knows the real reason for my decision. I will wait for better things to come my way. I sent out several queries this week. I feel so free now that this is over.Thanks to the wonderful people blogging here, my decision was made easier.

  147. Nonny
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 13:24:29

    Pixiekins said: “In fact I have never left a bad review and I never will, because the way I see it, just because I put a book down 50 pages into the story doesn't mean someone else won't eat it up. I don't have the patience to read a book I can't get into, and maybe I'm missing out on a lot of good books that pick up after a while…”

    I’ve left negative reviews before, but I always try to be fair (even if I can be snarky about the things that annoy me). There are certain things that push my buttons, and someone that doesn’t mind those might like the book — and I’ll mention as such. There’s actually only been one book I’ve given a negative review that I don’t understand how someone could like, because of the way the hero treated the heroine. It was close to downright abusive, and it was plain at the end that he did not trust her to remain faithful (even though she had given him no reason for this distrust). Without trust, what relationship is there? But I digress.

    I don’t write negative reviews of books that I can’t get into, because I have issues with slow beginnings. I know for a fact that I’m missing out on some books that have been very highly praised… but I still can’t get past the hundred or more pages of nothing happening. It’s why I still haven’t managed to read Tolkien. LOL.

  148. Susiq2
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 14:03:44

    Sulli, Will you let us know when your book is published? I would love to purchase and read it! Thanks…

    To the Blogger who mentioned that they have never read Nora Roberts, I reply, You are missing out on a LOT of Fabulous stories. At least check something out of the library. Everything is good, so take your pick!:>)

    I have read and enjoyed the authors who post here. Thank you…..Susiq2

    I am trying to work up my courage to return to Amazon romance forums, and continue to keep this problem current. I really wish that Amazon would take a stand on something! Working within a vacuum is difficult.

  149. the left room » Amazon, MacGillivray, Tess Gerritsen, etc
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 14:18:53

    [...] who gave her a three-star review on Amazon. This not only includes sending her a slightly bizarre email, but also badgering to get her review taken down (by asking other individuals to complain about [...]

  150. Shiloh Walker
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 15:11:19

    Just A Reader & Rena,

    :) I know most readers aren’t going to do that. But I hate to think that people who might be new to blogland might wonder if most authors ..eh, well, we’ll just let people fill in the blank.

    I don’t want another’s actions reflecting back on me, for both professional and personal reasons-and yep, I’m honest enough admit some selfish self-interest there. :)

    But it also can’t be much fun for the new blog reader to stumble into a mess like this, ya know? Blogland often seems like the twilight zone to me and I’ve been hanging around a while now. What’s it like to the newbies? :-O

  151. M Porter's Deja Vu
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 15:19:41

    Steve Hedge

    I tried to be rational and systematic in addressing her, but having no leg to stand on, she simply asked me if I was British?

    Here in East Texas that is what we call an assbackwards compliment, meaning insult.

    If you read the entire post she brushed you off and made reference to Gone with the Wind. In the movie Leslie Howard, a British actor, played the vacillating, weak kneed, lily-livered, infantile Ashley Wilks.

  152. Reba Belle
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 17:12:21

    In reply to an earlier post on April 21, 2008 8:28 AM PDT
    Caitrina Hunter says:
    Since I’ve developed such a following here, you can watch for me to post a review on Gone with the Wind, the book. It has amazing similarities to today’s world. Sadly there are no Rhett Butlers and way too many Miss Pittypats and Prissys.

    BTW Steve, do you speak with a British accent?

    Steve, I think she asked if you are British because she thinks you are Peter Harris who is posting here as well and he is British and there’s abit of history there.

    99.9% sure Caitrina is DAM

    And it is against Amazon’s policies for author’s to post reviews for their own books.

  153. Reba Belle
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 17:19:22

    Thought I’d put this here in case it disappears… posted under my book review for “In Her Bed” page 6 in the comments section.

    In reply to an earlier post on April 20, 2008 9:01 PM PDT
    Last edited by the author 17 hours ago
    Caitrina Hunter says:

    Sugar,

    I don’t know Ms. MacGillivray and I don’t know you, but if I had to be stranded on an island with one of you, I’d choose her. At least I’d know where I stood with her.

    I don’t want your pity so keep it to yourself, I’ve had enough of phony pity and concern to last two lifetimes. I found my own way back to the land of living after I lost my husband and my daughter to a drunk driver. The doctors refused to tell me they died while I was in ICU but I knew. I learned about people pretending to care to make themselves feel better. I learned to be skeptical.

    We’re on two different paths. You and your friends are going to teach big bad Amazon and the big bad writer and right the wrong. I see try to see the entire picture and analyze what happened and why.

    I don’t see Ms. Belle as a victim like you do. This incident happened nine months ago. Not yesterday, not last week, last year. Nine months ago. She reported it to Amazon. Not satisfied with their response, Ms. Belle posted her displeasure in defiance of Amazon rules. Amazon banned her for breaking the rules, being a vigilante, if you will.

    The only reason Ms. Belle is bringing this up is someone went hunting for dirt on Ms. MacGillivray and trotted her out for their own sick reasons.

    When one doesn’t question motives and wears their heart on their sleeve then they become the victim and that is truly sad.

    I don’t play pile on games. I refuse to be a victim. I’m not a vigilante. And I won’t be led around by the nose.

  154. Reba Belle
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 17:27:59

    From Page 5 of the “Comments Section” of my book review for “In Her Bed”

    In reply to an earlier post on April 19, 2008 12:19 AM PDT
    Caitrina Hunter says:

    Very cheeky, arent’ we? Your venom for this writer is showing in your flagrant abusive conduct. Amazon banned Reba Belle for a reason but you know oh so much more than Amazon, the owner of the site. I offer an observation. Of course if the emails you post are accurate then you are stealing copyrighted material that belongs to someone else. If they aren’t accurate then you’re a liar. Thief or liar. Which is it? DW

    Same page:

    In reply to an earlier post on April 19, 2008 6:32 PM PDT
    Last edited by the author on April 19, 2008 6:59 PM PDT
    Caitrina Hunter says:

    The copyright owner of an email is not the recipient. The copyright lies with the creator or sender. I doubt the alleged sender gave permission.

    Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered “fair,” such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair: the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; the nature of the copyrighted work; amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    I see no fair use in the emails, assuming they are from the alleged author–fair use does not include subjecting the alleged author to humiliation, embarassment, and harassment. Your definition of fair use has a very chilling affect on free speech. Of course in your and DW’s worlds maybe there is no freedom of speech, only speech which you approve. You rationalize every infringement of another’s right as presenting the truth and your truth trumps right. Got it.

    So DW, and Reba Belle by extension, is either a thief or a liar and I stand by my statement.

  155. Reba Belle
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 17:53:36

    From my review for “In Her Bed” Page 2: Caitrina has been involved from the beginning.

    In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2007 3:58 AM PDT
    Caitrina Hunter says:
    [Deleted by the author on Aug 24, 2007 4:44 AM PDT]

    Same page of review:

    In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2007 5:00 AM PDT
    Caitrina Hunter says:

    Reba

    How can you do this to yourself? I don’t know if you have a family but instead of spending time trying to win a battle, try not to lose the war. I know you have a husband and animals, you mention them in your bio.

    This is the voice of experience speaking. Spend as much time with those you love as you possibly can. You don’t know how long you have with them. And you don’t know what they mean to you until they are gone.

    I’ll never see my daughter go to the prom, graduate from college, get married or have children. My husband will never hold me in his arms again and tell me everything will be all right. Nothing will be ever be all right again.

    We were on our way to pick up my son when a drunk driver crossed the center line on the interstate and hit us. For the rest of my life I will remember them covered in blood dying in front of me. I prayed to die with them. Instead my son and I left to take care of each other and he got the short end of the stick. Both my legs were broken in multiple places, half my ribs were broke, and I had internal injuries.

    Is this worth one minute of your time with your husband? Your family? Can being “right” replace them?

    From the Amazon Discussion in the Romance Section “Deletion of Reviews to Raise Star Ratings

    First Post by Caitrina Hunter:

    In reply to an earlier post on Aug 23, 2007 7:12 PM PDT
    Caitrina Hunter says:

    Ladies, would you like cheese with you whine?

    Second Post by Caitrina Hunter: (Same Forum)

    In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2007 2:09 AM PDT
    Last edited by the author on Aug 24, 2007 5:04 AM PDT
    Caitrina Hunter says:

    How can you do this to yourself? I don’t know if you have a family Reba but instead of spending time trying to win a battle, try not to lose the war. I know you have a husband and animals, you mention them in your bio.

    This is the voice of experience speaking. Spend as much time with those you love as you possibly can. You don’t know how long you have with them. And you don’t know what they mean to you until they are gone.

    I’ll never see my daughter go to the prom, graduate from college, get married or have children. My husband will never hold me in his arms again and tell me everything will be all right. Nothing will be ever be all right again.

    We were on our way to pick up my son when a drunk driver crossed the center line on the interstate and hit us. For the rest of my life I will remember them covered in blood dying in front of me. I prayed to die with them. Instead my son and I left to take care of each other and he got the short end of the stick. Both my legs were broken in multiple places, half my ribs were broke, and I had internal injuries.

    Is this worth one minute of your time with your husband? Your family? Can being “right” replace them?

    Find what is important in your life and nuture it, not this.

    Third Post by Caitrina Hunter: (Same Forum)

    In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2007 5:44 AM PDT
    Caitrina Hunter says:

    So no one thinks Avines lost her mind, I posted and didn’t like it. So immature and whiney me edited it to what I should have said.

    I’ll take my leave you all now. Since I obviously have nothing to contribute other than being immature and whiney.

  156. Just A Reader
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 22:11:22

    Is she on drugs? If not, maybe she should be.
    What a viper.

  157. Susiq2
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 22:19:51

    Is she on drugs? If not, maybe she should be.
    Susiq2 says: As a former psychiatric nurse, I agree. The medicine she needs is called Thorazine. It is used for people who are “out of touch with reality”.
    I am not familiar with anything that treats “Viper-ism”. I can alert the AMA to introduce search criteria, and medical definitions to diagnose Viper-esque disorders. I can also consult my hubby, a pathologist, for his opinion. Hmm, he may not be willing to waste his valuable time. Too bad, it would be an interesting case study! :>)!!

  158. Just A Reader
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 23:11:41

    Lol – Susi:P
    I would think whatever they use for snakebite should do the trick.
    Cobra maybe? Or what’s that nasty Australian one that chases people?
    Probably a big whopping dose of that stuff, like every four hours, might mellow her out a bit:P

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