American Housewife: Stories

28172350American Housewife: Stories
by Helen Ellis

This is ridiculous. This book has 48 ratings and 19 reviews. It isn’t published until Feb. 2016 so all these reviewers are receiving ARCS, but most are not declaring this.

Doubleday the publisher is providing these books and Doubleday the GR member is then liking the reviews. Doubleday the member has rated a lot of books, only the ones published by them and all 5 star of course. They publish reviews that are written by their marketing department (they do declare this some of the time, but not all) and so are not reviews at all but advertising, in other words a PR release. Spin.

The majority of the ARC reviewers do not declare it is a freebie either explicitly or at all do not declare any of their books to be freebies in exchange for an almost invariably good review. It is easy to check them by looking at the review date and book publication date. Some put it on a shelf called ARC which is certainly meaningless to the majority of readers. I asked every customer who came in to my bookshop for three days this week if they knew what an ARC was. Not a single one did.

People occasionally think it’s a bit much when authors ‘like’ every single good review members write, I think it’s more than a bit much when the publisher supplies the book in exchange for a review and then likes the review having also 5* and ‘reviewed’ the book themselves.

If you look at Doubleday the member you can see that this is what the profile exists for – marketing their books, posting advertising as reviews and promoting freebie reviews. That is fair enough for a publishing company, but not as a reader, since it obviously isn’t. I think publishers as members ought to have a different status, perhaps publisher pages, like author pages.

My own declaration: I worked for Doubleday for quite a long time years ago, Great company. Pay well and promote fast. So well in fact I was able to go sailing around the world and never went back to work. So it’s nothing personal.

But I’m a reader and bookseller now and books do not make much money. I make money from repeat customers so when I promote books I have to tell them the truth and not just 5* advertising. I rely on advance reviews to get sales of new hardback books and when a publisher and a load of reviews are playing fast and loose like this I can’t trust their reviews.

I gave up ever again ordering self-published authors’ books because so many of the reviews reflected the desire of the reviewer to get more free books and not at all the content of the book meaning a lot of disappointed customers who would complain the book had been crap. I don’t want the traditional publishers to go this way too.

A note: I have friends who review only or mostly ARCS. They always declare that and they write really good reviews but not necessarily positive ones and they are in the minority.

Comment:  This review was deleted by Goodreads.  It is apparently against their ToS  which is then fair enough, I contravened the rules. But what rule?  It seems more likely Doubleday complained as it had more likes than any other review of this book and so appeared at the top of the reviews list. I’m not particularly upset about it, but I am a bit put out that I lost a long, 65 comment, discussion afterwards. 

The book now has over 140 and all freebies, every one. It has an average of over 4.  I appreciate that this is to create a buzz for the book, and it might help sell them, but it is damn fake.  If everyone had to declare it was a freebie in the first sentence and Doubleday had a publisher page, everything would be transparent, but the way it is done, it looks like a cynical marketing campaign endorsed by Goodreads.  

I do really want to read the book, and I will order it at the earliest opportunity, I’m not put off the author by the marketing tactics of the publisher.




5 Responses to “American Housewife: Stories”

  1. Susan Allan Says:

    I have thought for a long time that all reviews by folk who have been given a free copy in exchange for ‘an honest review’ should be clearly marked as such. Some do but as you point out, many do not and unless you are bright enough to compare publication and review dates, the average reader (I.e. me!) would not know. I am horrified to read that your review and subsequent comments were deleted. Sadly it seems that the giant corporations have power but no ethics! So what is an ARC by the way?
    I’ m guessing – A…. review copy?


  2. Petra X Says:

    ARC = Advance Readers Copy. Quite a lot of people are honest enough to mark their reviews properly. The problem is that if a reviewer continually gives low ratings no one is going to want to give them books to review, so their average ratings need to be pretty gushing.

    Then there a lot of reviewers who have book blogs. They get money by advertising. The content is reviews of new, free books and they need a constant stream of them every week.

    Goodreads have threatened to throw me off the Feedback group if I essentially mention Fiverr one more time. Fiverr are paid-for reviews and likes. I had incontravertible proof that some authors were doing this. (A GR friend sent me screen shots). GR was not happy although Amazon, it’s owner had come down heavy on them, GR was fine with it.

    Lastly there are author circle-jerks. Where authors ‘read’ each others’ books and give them glowing reviews. One of the groups says that if you aren’t going to give the book a 4/5 star rating then not to post the review at all.

    If it was about reading it wouldn’t really matter, you just put the book down. But it’s not, like most scams it’s aim is to make money. That’s why I get pissed off about it.

    Btw I have an indie bookstore myself.


  3. Petra X Says:

    I can’t see your blog because i would have to login with Facebook and I don’t do Facebook.


    • Susan Allan Says:

      Don’t have a blog, just signed in using Facebook to access your blog. Got details from Goodreads, after following your responses to the haughty Elizabeth from Alaska! Just been reading the saga of the banned review and the responses to Rebecca and Katy! Quelle horreur! I am relatively new to Goodreads and just finding out about other groups. I am in the Mary Stewart and Georgette Heyer groups at the moment – Susan – (there are several Susans which is confusing but I live in Scotland, retired from Education. Next time we are inScotland, I must try and get to your bookshop! Neat!


  4. Petra X Says:

    Friend me on GR! I am in the Caribbean mostly, sometimes London. Elaksa as I call her, is GR’s no. 1 cheerleader. She thinks she needs to give her opinion and advice on everything. I wonder if she does this in real life? And who to?


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