Like a creature of habit I regularly check up on how my books are doing, in the sense that any new review is a good review: it makes me realise people are reading my stuff.

There has been some debate lately, though it is pretty much an ongoing concern in the self-publishing arena, about Amazon reviews. I haven’t been the victim of such practices by Amazon, though I have received bogus reviews, like this one, on Forge of Stones. That guy, is either retarded or a very low-quality shill.

Amazon, being the defacto point-of-sale for many things, primarily books, in printed as well as e-book format, affects everyone with the way it runs its business: publishers, authors, and readers alike.

Just like every other day, I browsed for new reviews: lo and behold, Argo had nine reviews instead of eight. At first, I thought a friend who I had been putting pressure on to read and review had done it. But then I scrolled down to the reviews, and I so the new reviews title: “CIA RESCUE”, in capitals, mind you.

The review, verbatim, is as follows:

4.0 out of 5 stars CIA RESCUE April 4, 2013
By Andrea Smith
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
Impressed by how Tony Mendez was able to pull off such a rescue in such a dangerous country, especially for Americans. His story kept me intrigued.

First of all, “Argo”, the scifi novelette I wrote, does not feature the CIA, daring rescues in dangerous countries or Americans. Last, but not least, I’m not Tony Mendez, nor does Mr. Mendez feature in my book.

The point in question is, why did the reviewer, Andrea Smith, review my book, without even seeing the cover, the description, the other reviews and so on?
Was it just a rotten case of being in a real hurry? Was it the befuddled aftermath of a mind-blowing experience? I cannot know for certain.
I do know the sole other review this man has posted is about a book describing the role of the Canadian Embassy and its ambassador in Iran in providing refuge for the Americans during the hostage crisis, in a light that some content is more fair than the way it is pictured in the recent, Oscar-winning film of the same name.
Here is where things start to get weird, as in smelling bad:

My book and Mr. Mendez book share the name of a fictional story. And that’s the end of the similarities.

“Argo”, the novelette, got its name from the constellation Argo Navis, where the exoplanet HD85512b can be found. That’s where I got the name.
There were other books named “Argo” before I published mine, as well. Guess what? It all points back to the story of the Argonauts and Jason, whose ship was named “Argo”.

I can’t help linking this kind of review to a phenomenon that doesn’t seem to be widely known, or advertised, and for good reason: bestseller lists manipulation.

That probably extends into the digital realm, and naturally, Amazon. Who is not to say, someone paid this man to do a review on a book named Argo, and he simply put it in the wrong place?
I’ve paid for reviews myself through Fiverr.com, since it’s almost next to impossible to get reviews without a standing audience or marketing hype, but I’ve always tried to pick people that really do read their review copy, or at least skim through it to get a feeling for it – and I’m glad they seemed to enjoy it.

But for God’s sake, there’s a multi-million dollar budget film out there, that’s won an Oscar to boot. Do you need more hype than that?

In any case, thanks for the four-star review. I guess not making it a five-star one adds to the authenticity.

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