Here’s a particularly nasty abuse of the Amazon review system that brilliant science fiction and thriller writer and all-round superior human being Nick Mamatas tipped me off to. Some nice person is advertising on the San Fran Bay Craigslist for Amazon account holders to post one-star reviews.
Just in case this gets taken down, here’s the original text.
Amazon Reviewer Wanted!
If you have an account on Amazon, then please contact me.
I am willing to pay $10 for you to post a negative, 1 star review of a product on Amazon.
1) Please send me a link to your Amazon user profile.
2) I will send you a hyperlink to the product and what to write.
3) You will post the review.
3) Once I can confirm the review has been posted, I will pay you $10 via paypal immediately.
That’s it! Easy money really.
Now, there’s nothing to indicate that the target in question is a book. But there are certainly plenty of reports of books being targeted on Amazon – some true, some spurious. Look, for instance, at the claims by Roger Stone that his book about the Clintons was flooded with one-star reviews by the Clinton presidential campaign’s war room. And there are many other cases where less controversial and partisan writers might be targeted simply because they’ve upset a Rabid Puppy or other curmudgeony online low-life.
Needless to say, there’s no indication in that ad that a greedy would-be sock puppet has any certainty of being paid for their work. But that wouldn’t matter: Flood Craigslist with ads like that, sign up a bunch of gullible reviewers, set them loose on your target of choice, refuse to pay them – mission accomplished. Target trashed at zero cost to you.
Amazon has in the past cracked down on such abuses. But their record for curatorial care of the Kindle Store doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence. Writers, be ready to complain to Amazon when necessary.