Amazon Stalking?

Update: Gender misidentification corrected.
Wierd confession on MediaBistro by first time novelist Allison Burnett. Burnett apprently got caught up in his Amazon ratings and sales traffic to the point he aggrevated a reviewer and created a backlash:

Whether the Blitzkrieg that followed was the work of Jack alone, using a host of aliases, or of a coalition of the willing, I’ll never know. What I do know is that no one involved was a signatory to the Geneva Conventions. Their one-star bombs were nasty and relentless—landing at a rate of five a day. My characters were undeveloped, my structure sloppy, my prose trite. There were complaints of money and time wasted and of friends never again to be trusted. Some hated the book so much they were forced to put it down. One argued that Christopher was, in fact, “too dull to hate.” And each review was headlined in bold capital letters—things like “SUCH A DISAPPOINTMENT” and “YAWN!” And, to make matters worse, above each bad review was a landslide of endorsements: “18 of 18 people found the following review helpful.” And above the old, positive reviews the numbers had changed overnight: “20 of 68 people found the following review helpful.” Within a few days Christopher’s review average had fallen to a mediocre three stars.

Burnett, author of Christopher, ended up writing to Amazon to complain and they eventually removed some of the offending posts. His reaction seems slightly petty but to be fair the reviews were not from people who had likley read the book and they did skew the votes. Plus, it is hard not to take it personally when your reputation and income are on the line. Still, it seems wise to simply stay away from direct involvement in these kind of forums – the risk is greater than the potential reward.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).


  1. You know, you have to sign in as an Amazon customer to post
    one of these. Have they no protection against repeat voters?

  2. Thank you, Amanda. I am indeed male. Something that becomes readily apparent to anyone who has seem me naked for more than an hour. As for my stalker, it seems he was recently caught. Not only was he trashing books by unknown writers that were getting good reviews, but he was offering rave reviews to bestsellers, then saying that they were the best book he had read since his own book! (Which he had self-published.) I have heard from writers all over the country who have been stalked just as I was. So it’s more widespread that I would ever have imagined.

  3. I am shocked. I reviewed the book online myself, mainly because I think it is a remarkable and brilliant work. Why would these people be so incensed? I imagine the culprits are people who have not read the book and are either waging war on account of a personal vendetta, or because maybe they are failed writers themselves, punishing the seemingly huge literary and critical success of CHRISTOPHER. Obviously, also, since homosexuality is a theme in the book, these rogues must be homophobes or worse, gay people of the self-hating variety.

Comments are closed.