Riddle me this!

Hi, everyone,

Another day, another browse through the Amazon’s Top 100 – and I’ve noticed something I can’t explain. Can someone with more experience and insight explain this phenomena?

How can a book that is yet to be released have 1,200 positive reviews? From verified purchases? Have a look atΒ Short Drop by Matthew FitzSimmons.

Ok, I understand the need to create pre-release buzz and actually plan on doing the same with the sequel to Shizzle, Inc – but how could there be reviews? I’d like to believe they are not fake…if so, how does one go about getting reviews on Amazon before the release day?

112 Comments

Filed under Shizzle, Inc.

112 responses to “Riddle me this!

  1. That I do not understand. But it is #1 in paid in Kindle Store, so they must have actually bought it. Maybe the Kindle Version is available for download, but I have no idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Only way I can think of is, the author sent a copy of the pre-release version of the book (while setting up preorders so the book shows up on Amazon) to trusted people or reviewers.

    That way, they can read a version of the book, and then comment/review on the Amazon page devoted to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. tuckerelliot

    The reviews are from a previously self-published version — but the book did well enough that Amazon’s imprint Thomas & Mercer bought it and is releasing it again, but the old reviews stay up.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m not sure. A ton of pre-publication review copies? That’s about the best (non-sneaky) explanation I can come up with.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with TuckerElliot. I’ve seen a book not yet released but had tons of reviews. The other book was self published and was bought by Amazon Publishing and was rereleased and the reviews were from the previous release.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have to go with authors releasing their product to a small group who further encourage reviews under separate accounts. I do not mind throwing out my opinion for an early release of a book — but 1300 people? That’s quite generous.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nancy Glynn

    This is gold from the book Indie Author Survival Guide by Susan Kaye Quinn – You need to upload your pre-order ebook, upload your print book to Createspace, once Createspace approves your print book, approve it for propagation to Amazon, IMMEDIATELY upload a NEW VERSION of your print book to Createspace. DO NOT approve this version (can be exact same file). After 1-2 days, your print book will show up on Amazon. It will say “currently unavailable” because you have not approved the second upload. However, it WILL have reviews enabled! After another 2-3 days, your print and kindle pre-order versions will merge. VIOLA! You now have review capability on your pre-order. Check out her book; it’s amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Nancy Glynn

    You can also find more stuff like this over on Kboards in the Writer’s CafΓ©, love that board, has so much information! Here’s a link of someone talking about Susan’s blog http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,196460.msg2767184.html#msg2767184. Check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My only input is that I have done advance reviews before, and on the same day the book went live I added the review. But the other comments have more viable explanations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Isabella – how did you do an advance review? Was it a copy sent to you by the author?

      Like

      • Exactly. She called it an ARC which I assumed meant Advanced Review Copy. When the book became live Amazon accepted my review just as if i had bought the book. The author asked “please note somewhere in your review that you received the book as an ARC for an honest review.” No idea how she did that, maybe some option from Amazon when you have a future book coming. I don’t publish until I’ve finished the thing so I wouldn’t know.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I need to know!! πŸ™‚ I’m gonna look into this Kindle First thing…maybe that’s how…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nancy Glynn

        Yes, authors have copies to give (as I do) that we send out before the release, if that reader has time. If the author is lucky enough, they’ll post the review on the day of. Ana, I use instafreebies.com to make copies the reviewer can open in whatever file they choose. I also use it as a way to get subscribers, adding it in the welcome e-mail that they get a free copy of 1st in the series for free. Check out that site to set up your free copies!

        Liked by 1 person

      • How cool, thank you Nancy!

        Like

  10. No ned to do any of that fancy stuff. Truth is that Amazon starts selling books and accepting reviews somewhere around two weeks to a month before the release date! I should know, My book gets “released” on the same day as Short Drop! I haven’t attempted to drive any reviews to it yet, but that option is there. If an author has a large following and mailing list, he (or she) could manage a lot of legit reviews in front of the release date. You could download the eBook and post a “verified purchase” review an hour later.

    My book is Journey, A Short Story by Mykl Walsh – look it up and see that it can be purchased and reviewed today, even though the release date is December 1.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you and congrats! The difference is, you currently can’t download Short Drop. Seems reviews were from a previously released self-published version.

      Like

      • I rechecked and see that you are correct about the downloads – . But the print books (mine and his) have been available for purchase and review for several weeks ahead of the “official” release date – so the main point is that, in answer to your original question – it is possible to get lots of Amazon reviews Before the release date.

        You’d have to be a pretty big author (or giveaway a TON of review copies) to generate 1,200 reviews though.

        I don’t get the “previous version” connection though – it would have to be set up with a different ISBN and those ratings wouldn’t normally carry over.

        If someone has a link to this “previous version”, we can compare the number of reviews and the reviewers to see if they match,

        Like

      • I think it’s Kindle First plus some hefty advertising…one day I will stage a $1,000 marketing campaign πŸ™‚

        Like

    • I thought we decided the release date?

      Like

  11. That’s so strange! Over 1,000 positive reviews on a book they haven’t even read yet… I seriously don’t understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Manufacturing reviews has become a small industry. How can a reader tell if a review was manufactured by someone who hadn’t read the book?

    Liked by 1 person

    • True, but what puzzles me is that these are “verified purchase” reviews? How??

      Like

      • The verified purchases must have come from the print edition which has been available for sale for several weeks in front of the “official” release date.

        (I know I mentioned this elsewhere, but in case anyone is skimming over the comments section, they might miss the other mention)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Here’s a way the “verified purchases” might have happened.

        If you look at the Amazon page for One Drop you see that it can be downloaded Now (before the release date) by using the Kindle First option.

        “Kindle First” is a program that offers customers early access to new Kindle books across popular genres from Amazon Publishing.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think that’s it – I will post confirming that, although Amazon did not bother replying. All the reviews were during November, which further confirms that hypothesis.

        Like

  13. Ana, I don’t know for a fact if this is true (since I’m new to the whole receiving books from authors/publishers for review), but I was specifically told by a few authors that if they gifted me the book through Amazon, it would count as a verified purchase review. I think it’s because the author is eating up the cost?

    But 12,000 reviews before it’s available for sale? That’s a ton of free books. Sounds like a hack of some kind. But now I’m curious. I hope you’ll post an update when you find out how they managed this.

    Question: If you preorder it, can you post a review before it’s released?

    Like

    • It’s 1,200 (not 12,000) so still a Lot of reviews, but doable.

      If you look at the Amazon page for One Drop you see that it can be downloaded Now (before the release date) by using the Kindle First option.

      “Kindle First” is a program that offers customers early access to new Kindle books across popular genres from Amazon Publishing.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Great information here. Proves I know nothing. ‘Pre-release plan’? So far mine has been: ‘write book, publish on Amazon and write next one’. Not a sniff of a plan of any kind — didn’t even tell anyone about its existence. This so does not work (unless you’re after instant and ongoing invisibility). Holding back publishing latest one until I know what I’m doing.

    Like

    • Good idea, actually – I did pretty much the same, and now trying to learn some tricks to orchestrate an explosive release of the sequel. Thank you for appreciating my hard work πŸ™‚

      Like

  15. I think we need to to know a bit more about this…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Reblogged this on Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie and commented:
    ?????????????

    Like

  17. Amazing! This mystery needs to be resolved. What I take from this discussion so far is that either a) the reviews are from a previously self-published novel of which all traces vanished when it was taken over by Thomas & Mercer, or b) he somehow gained access to well over 1,000 well-disposed readers to whom he distributed free copies of the book before publication.

    Either way it is extraordinary. This appears to be a first novel by a previously unknown author. Can he walk on water too? There is something seriously weird here. Thanks Ana for raising this. Like everyone I’d love to know the full answer.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. The mystery deepens. I’ve just looked up Matthew Fitzimmons on Goodreads. He has a grand total of 6 friends, and 26 followers there. So how ????

    Liked by 1 person

  19. exiledprospero

    He [Matthew FitzSimmons ] now lives in Washington, D.C., where he taught English literature and theater at a private high school for over a decade. He cohabitates with a pair of old boots, collects bourbon and classic soul LPs, and wonders if he will ever write anything half as good as the first sentence of James Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss.

    Poisonfeather (The Gibson Vaughn Series Book 2) is due out Sep 6, 2016. Presumably there is a Book 1!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. exiledprospero

    The Short Drop is the first Gibson Vaughn novel. Now I get it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. exiledprospero

    From an interview with the author.
    – Did you expect that your book would be on the top of the Kindle bestseller list? What did that moment feel like?
    – I had great faith in Thomas & Mercer so I knew that the book would get a great boost from Kindle First, but I had no idea that it would do so well, so quickly. Honestly, it is more than a little surreal to see oneself among such writing luminaries. Wonderful, but surreal.

    So he says it’s all Thomas & Mercer.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. This is a Kindle Scout program book, I bet. So all the folks who voted for it got early copies to write reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. This is very puzzling, I agree, Ana, and I’ll be waiting to see if you get a reply from Amazon about it. The verified purchases don’t make sense if the book can only be pre-ordered.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Fascinating ‘who dunnit’ will be riveted for more clues and the big reveal!?!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. If it’s in pre-order and somebody pre-orders it, it would count as a sale. I agree it’s probably a Kindle Scout book, and Amazon has different deals with publishers. I’ve got quite a few traditionally published books prior to their release through Net Galley but although I could post the review there and some other places I couldn’t through Amazon until after publication as I’m not in the program. It’s also true that sometimes the paper version is available before the digital one is (I saw paperbacks and hardbacks seemed to be available) and then those reviews would also appear in all the formats.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Reviewers on Goodreads say they had read it through ‘Amazon’s Kindle First Program’. What is that and how does it work?

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Ok, here we go. I answer my own question. You learn something every day. Wish I’d known about this before.
    https://kindlescout.amazon.com/submit
    http://www.geekwire.com/2013/kindle-first-amazon-books-early-access-program/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Tim! I thought of this one, but it appears that you have to be selected by their editors and it’s a month – so how did the first timer by selected, and how did he get 1,200 reviews in a month?

      Like

  28. Might be Kindle’s Vine program. https://www.amazon.com/gp/vine/help I first heard about it through Anne Rice’s “battle with the book bullies” because people were abusing their rights as Vine members by ganging up on authors they hated, posting 1-star reviews for books they received, but didn’t like, before the book was even published.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Could be that people got ARCs or something

    Liked by 1 person

  30. xmasmoonpride

    I’m there on WattPad and Fiction Press and there are a lot of people who’ve published their books on those sites. They have a lot of followers and they have an entire fandom. So when they decide to get published for real, they tell their followers about it and the fans post reviews on goodreads and Amazon because they’ve already read it.

    At least that’s how I’ve seen it happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Pingback: Mystery solved (I think) and a quick update on the marketing blitz | AnaSpoke.com

  32. Liz

    A book I currently have on pre-order for 12/15 already has its paperback copy available and open for reviews, and it’s even linked with the ebook version. It’s pretty cool, though now I just need those reviews LOL (But I have 17 days, or 16!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awesome! Have you tried a Goodreads giveaway?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Liz

        Yes, I have. And I just signed up to do another one tonight for the new title that goes live on 12/15.

        The first one I gave away 3 books and opened it up to international and all 3 winners were international so it was expensive, and this next one, I’m only giving 1 copy and keeping it in the US, Canada, GB and Australia (the first countries on their list before it goes alphabetical and I get cross-eyed). If your goal is to have people add it to your library, then giving away 1 book at a time can help with that than 5 books at a time like I see some people do.

        As far as reviews, the first three winners should have gotten the books by now, but I’ve yet to see a review posted.

        Liked by 1 person

      • How cool! Is it possible to register with other countries’ Amazon sites and buy a copy from them and sort of “send local”?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Liz

        I thought about it, but 3 different countries and registering with each one with a credit card gave me a headache when I had a box full of books bought at author’s cost and shipping would be a business expense.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s true! I just keep having expenses and little income to offset it πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Liz

        It honestly was the most beautiful thing to see it linked today – the paperback next to the pre-order ebook. Don’t know why but I guess it’s only something authors understand πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      • Milestones…it’s a beautiful thing πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  33. Pingback: Matthew FitzSimmons himself stops by to explain the mystery of Short Drop reviews! | AnaSpoke.com

  34. Pingback: AnaSpoke.com

  35. Pingback: Interview with Matthew FitzSimmons, #1 bestselling author of thriller Short Drop! | AnaSpoke.com

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