When I wrote my first book(which is now in its 6th edition), I had to find a publisher to publish it. Terms like self-publishing or print-on-demand didn’t exist back then. The downside was that it was a lot of work to write manuscripts, then send them to publishers and possibly get a rejection. The advantage for readers was that a publisher is interested in distributing high-quality books. A publisher examines a manuscript and checks very carefully whether the author is qualified to write a cookbook or non-fiction book. And it is an advantage for the author that a publisher provides the necessary marketing.
I was lucky back then and soon a publisher agreed to publish my book on lactose, histamine and fructose intolerance. The joy was great and the first edition was sold out after six months. I didn’t make much money with it, because if you get about 1-2 euros per book, you can imagine how much you earn with a print run of 1000 books. Before taxes.
The evil Amazon
But then came Amazon and self-publishing. Publishers were no longer needed because marketing became obsolete – they only sold on Amazon anyway – and more profit could be made by selling the book via print-on-demand. Print-on-demand means that instead of printing 1000 books in the first edition, no books are printed at all. Only when an order comes in is a single book printed. This allows the author to generate a profit increase of approx. 700% per book sold. The disadvantage is not only for the publishers, who no longer need them, but also for the readers. This is because the control over whether a book has high-quality content suddenly disappeared. Amazon self-publishes everything. You can also sell 300 pages of any combination of characters. It doesn’t matter at all. The only remaining corrective was and is the reviews. Because readers quickly notice whether a book is good or bad. Or so you might think…
Purchased reviews increase sales
Because things turned out differently. Two things need to be looked at more closely. Firstly, there are always envious people and people who have something to criticize. No matter what you do, someone always thinks it’s bad. And if that very person writes a negative review, then the author is left holding the bag. Because a single bad review on Amazon ruins the business. I have experienced this myself. If 20 5-star reviews are followed by a single 1-star review, sales plummet by 90%. The only thing that helps is 60 or more 5-star reviews. But you don’t get them that quickly. Especially not if you have a single bad review.
And here we come to the second aspect: Purchased reviews. Because soon the business with purchased reviews flourished or is flourishing. These can be purchased via platforms such as Lutendo and similar. Most of these companies are not based in the EU but in Belarus, Georgia or other distant countries, for example. The reviews are already available quite cheaply there. And it pays off, because a book with 120 good reviews quickly becomes a bestseller on Amazon. No matter how good the content is. And the few honest bad reviews no longer carry any weight.
A good deal for rip-off artists
There are currently several such cases. There is now even a “publishing house” that specializes in precisely this. Almost every month, one or two authors publish cookbooks about intolerances. I bought a few of them. They are horrible. After just a few weeks, they already have 60 or more 5-star reviews. When I think how long it takes me to write a new book, research it, develop the recipes, cook them, test them, improve them, I take my hat off to people who publish ten books in four months. A rogue who thinks evil.
Don’t get me wrong, print-on-demand has now become the norm. Publishers, including my MZK Verlag, rely on this. But what must never be missing is the control. Otherwise we will be inundated with books that make us intolerance sufferers sick to our stomachs, that spread false information and thus contribute to suffering and illness instead of alleviating it. And if marketing is then carried out using unfair means such as bought reviews, the readers are the ones who suffer. Because they are deceived and instead of buying a good book with one bad review and 15 good reviews, they buy a falsely highly praised book with 100 positive reviews and 5 genuinely negative reviews, some of which contain complete nonsense.
Tips for buying books
In this respect, when buying, please pay attention to whether the many positive reviews appear too quickly, how many books the authors write within a short time, whether the reviewers perhaps all review the same books over and over again? This is quite striking if you take a closer look at a few of the reviewers. And don’t be afraid of one or two bad reviews. They are always there. You can usually quickly tell from the arguments formulated there whether the writer simply wants to complain or is writing a serious criticism.
I will continue to work on a book for at least half a year, deliver high quality and not buy reviews. And if someone complains, I have to live with it and hope that quality wins out in the end.