Amazon Publishing to Authors: ‘Review’ Our Books and We Will Promote You

86435448 Amazon Publishing to Authors: ‘Review’ Our Books and We Will Promote You

What would James Joyce do?

Amazon Publishing has already shown little interest in industry traditions, and The Observer has now learned how Amazon is looking to revolutionize the process of getting author blurbs: provide a review for a book on an Amazon imprint and Amazon will give the reviewer — and his or her book — extra promotion as a thank you.

While it’s easy to be cynical about old publishing’s faux-gentlemanly approach to getting promotional quotes (send advanced reading copies to an author’s MFA supervisor or writer friends with handwritten requests on nice letterhead for “thoughts”) Amazon Publishing dispenses with the niceties altogether.

Exhibit A is an email that was sent in January to Elyse Cheney, a New York literary agent, asking for a quote from one of Ms. Cheney’s authors for a book called Stalina, “by an exciting author named Emily Rubin.” The book was coming out on AmazonEncore, the Amazon imprint that republishes successfully self-published books.

I’m interested in knowing whether [name redacted] would be willing to take a look at Stalina and if he likes it, provide a guest review in which we’d also  promote [name redacted] and his works, including any upcoming projects.

“They referred to her as a man!” said Ms. Cheney with disdain. The client in question is a woman.

The email went on to detail its promotional efforts:

The review would be prominently featured on Amazon.com in customer emails, rotating campaigns in the Amazon.com Books and Kindle stores, and on the Stalina detail page (to which our marketing and PR efforts will be driving significant traffic).  This would be a great way to get added exposure on Amazon for [name redacted]’s backlist or upcoming releases.

“It’s completely unethical,” said Ms. Cheney. “That’s just not how blurbs are done.”

Another agent, however, saw no problems with the approach. The exclusive review that ultimately ran on Stalina’s page came from the novelist Daphne Kalotay, author of Russian Winter.

“Amazon did contact us, as they were fans of Russian Winter and felt Daphne would be appropriate given the overlapping interest in Russia,” wrote her agent, WME’s Dorian Karchmar, in an email to The Observer. Ms. Karchmar said there were no stipulations about what Ms. Kalatoy could write and added that they weren’t “aware of any exchange in terms of featured placement.”

“There are a number of publishers, including Amazon Publishing, that try to secure guest reviews for their books,” said Sarah Gelman, PR manager for Amazon Publishing. “The guest reviewer often receives some on-site promotion as an added incentive to write the review.” Of course, most publishers are not also retailers.

Comments

  1. Guest says:

    As opposed to the current, and widespread practice of authors blurbing books they never read.  

    Good for Amazon.

  2. PHrbacek says:

    I post reviews of paperback books I read on Amazon and B&N all the time.  I think it is a service to both the author and reader.  I also have two ebooks to promote.  How do I get in on this?

    1. Nancy O. says:

      It looks like this applies to published authors only, not self published ebook authors.

  3. James says:

    A specious practice. As dubious as publishers paying for featured shelf space at B&N. It’s not publishing. It’s just marketing. Creepy as it is.

  4. Anonymous says:

    For the record, none of the reviews received for “The Shenandoah Spy”  were solicited.  We send review copies on request, even three years after initial publication because the book will remain in print indefinitely and there are also e-book editions.  Conversely, any reviews I’ve posted are there because I read and liked the book.  I used to be a paid reviewer for the Los Angeles Daily News.   In this context I don’t do favors for friends and I actually read the book.

    People who want to receive review copies of my next Civil War novel “The Queen of Washington”  should send me an e-mail at francishamit (at)@earthlink:disqus .net and tell me which publication or blog the review will be for  and give me a mailing address or, of they want an electronic galley,the e-mail address that it should be sent to.   

  5. Would not mind at all to see my books reviewed.

  6. C.S.Poulsen says:

    so, I’ll show Amazon mine, if they show me theirs! No  harm, no foul.  It’s on Kindle anyway and coming out in paperback if I can organize myself with creataspace.  So, here I am Amazon, THE INSIDERS by C.S.Poulsen

  7. Raymond King says:

    It worked for me, I left a review of author RAYMONI LOVE’S book: WHEN A BLACK WOMAN CRIES……and I was promoted.  I think the service is great. I am now reading Author RAYMOND STURGIS books, and the promoted was once again offered to me. 

  8. Amazon handles my title called “Silas Marner in Modern Language,” intended to make Silas Marner, an old classic novel, more accessible to modern readers.  If Amazon were to make me such an offer about reviewing one of their books, I wouldn’t see anything wrong with it.  It doesn’t seem unethical so long as the company doesn’t tell the reviewer what he/she has to say

  9. Guest says:

    So, this turns out to be a ploy to sell books to authors in exchange for a reciprocal review. How much money do we need to spend in order to make this possible? one book, two, three, more?
    It looks to me like Amazon would like to promote its own books, and this piggyback tactic looks more to me like the tale of the frog and the scorpion. Since Amazon never bothered to promote my books in order to sell them, why should I now give them all the benefits? I had to get others to review my books and in exchange Amazon removed them. My books are now resting on the bottom of the pile again with a sales ranking BELOW what they started out with. Sorry, I am not going to promote the scorpion. Amazon will have to do better than that.

  10. Guest says:

    It’s great for writers, either way. Especially those who don’t have industry contacts! 

    1. Chiro5435lynn says:

      Amazon is not doing this for all authors selling books on their site. This is something they are doing to promote books that they themselves have published, so that they can increase Amazon profits. This comes at the expense of other writers. 

  11. As dubious as publishers paying for featured shelf space at B&N. It’s not publishing. It’s just marketing.

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