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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Amazon is right to stop bogus reviews

We all know the whole world of publishing has been on its head for some time. Gone are the years of toiling in obscurity before finally being published. It used to be writers competed for publishing spots on a list the way football players try for the pros. Many try and most fail. But this gave the few the incentive to keep at it when everyone else had quit. The word craft was part of the lexicon of any serious writer. That was then. Enter the digital age.

Now. You want to publish a book then go ahead. Bam. Done. Here is my book. Pay a little and there you have your instant book. Upload to Amazon and there is your ebook .Craft went back to kindergarten classes. And the writers who toiled in obscurity looked up as an avalanche of self published books buried the market. Then came the reviews. I remember getting my first review. I sat on pins and needles as the Library Journal reviewed my novel, Ripples. It was a good one and I shot straight up to the heavens. A starred review on my second novel from Publishers Weekly literally changed my life and resulted in an auction with ten publishers for the rights.

That was then. Now people get reviewed the way someone buys a candy bar. You just pay enough money or know enough people and your self published book is insured a literary fate just beyond the guy who burns CDs in his basement and waits for that one hit wonder fairy. But some people make a science of it and their books ended up with hundreds of bought reviews or reviews by friends and family. This only destroyed the already moribund authority of a literary world in decline.

So now Amazon has said enough is enough. Good for them. They are zapping bogus reviews. I think it is a welcome first step toward veracity. You should not be rewarded for taking short cuts. This goes for all the writers out there. You should pay your dues. You should learn your craft. That is what writing is all about. Not everyone gets a ribbon for just trying. Writers should know this.

There are things worse than obscurity and that is this: the obscurity of a bogus  book.

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Books by William Hazelgrove