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  • David Vass


You’ve gotta read it to believe it!

The algorithms of online bookstores are driven by star ratings and reviews as the primary statistics used for the placement of their products in listings – in this case, books. Especially Amazon, which is the primary sales source for indie authors. I have used throughout my narrative, stories about celebrities and not all of them positive (a few of them were genuine jerks). Some of their ‘fanatical’ tribute online sites attack my work because I tell the brutal truth, from my perspective, as I do everything in my tell-all mash-up memoir. I am graphic about the gay sex scene of the pre-AIDs 70s; there are prudes and homophobes who didn’t bother to read my three pages of disclaimers at the beginning of ‘LIAR, ALLEGED’ and 1-star me.  Why? Uh, I am, was and write exactly what I disclaimed. But this is no longer a mystery to me, because…

Time to share something with you I didn’t know until a few days ago – you don’t have to even read or purchase a book to give it stars and/or review it on Amazon. Just spend $50 within a 12-month period (by signing in under your email account on file) and you can cut an honest author’s star ratings to shreds! Here are some stats: for every 30 readers who purchase a book, two will star-rate it, which means 94% won’t, and although there are several online bookstores, Amazon sells approximately 70% of all books, paper, audio and Kindle. Those stars a reader may leave? Well, Amazon eats them for breakfast. As Issac Mizrahi (love him) says on QVC all the time, “darlings, this look is everything!” My reader darlings, “your star ratings are everything (to me)”, so if you have not rated my book, please will you do so?  No time like the present, right?

 I really need your support.  Here’s the kicker, and a repeat of what I just gleaned – a person doesn’t even have to buy or read a book to rate it on Amazon! Isn’t that sick? This info is known and shared by various fan clubs, tribute sites and homophobic and other creepy online platforms. A fast primer: ratings control placements; if you get podcasts; if media is interested in you; if agencies considering buying the narrative of your memoir for a streaming video service by getting turned on to your narrative via their algorithms searching Amazon’s ratings. Readers of this post with a moral compass might think, “well that’s not fair, that’s cheating!” Yup. It’s a racket, a literary ratings version of a shell game. Let’s face it, there are some who don’t like my scorched earth candor around certain celebrities or my pre-AIDs sexually lewd picturesque prose, or both. Maybe that I robbed my mother in drag – that could factor in. Whatever. They’re coming after me via this loophole – I need superheroes!

Chances are you’ve actually read my tell-all or you probably wouldn’t be reading my blog.  But even if you haven’t read it (yet), please will you consider righting the playing field with those who opt to one-star me because I use my First Amendment right to express myself with any words I choose. This peculiar defect in Amazon’s rating system exists!  It’s free, it’s easy, and because it’s free and easy, it can hurt or help. That means you can, if you choose, use your superpower and here’s how; it is so fucking easy, and legal!

1.     Go to the Amazon website

2.     Click on books

3.     Under ‘search’ type in Liar Alleged

4.     Click on my memoir cover or title

5.     Scroll down to write a product review in the ‘Customer Reviews’ section

6.     Select a Star Rating

7.     Select Submit.  Click it

I’m guessing, as you are reading my blog, that you read my book, hopefully enjoyed it, and like 94% of those just like you, have not rated it. My fingers and toes are crossed (or as they say in the UK and Australia, ‘thumbs touched’) that you believe it to be worthy of five stars. But that’s your decision. This is not a strong-arm technique. It is an alert that this star ratings system is being manipulated by those who haven’t done the due diligence you have. So, please will you help me in leveling the playing field?  Will you be my superhero?

This star-rating thing is anonymous – which is to say what shows on the author’s book page screen for all the world to see is the amount of star ratings and where their placement falls, via a graph. That’s it. No names, no initials, no identifiers.

There are loads of us, not just authors, but also butchers, bakers, candlestick makers, who have written Amazon to protest this unfair ability to rate a product untried, unread, untasted, unpurchased. Having written Amazon once a month, faithfully, for the past nine months (and I know lots of colleagues from The Authors Guild and other organizations that have written to protest this oddity as well), no response at all. Humph.

Readers of ‘LIAR, ALLEGED’ who have communicated with me (see below), you know I am generous by nature. It’s in my DNA I suppose. It’s hard for me to ask you to help combat this star debacle – it may seem so trite. It’s not. It is the essence of how indie books can become successful. Or not. How indie authors can revenue enough on a book to make a living. Or not. So, I ask you to please consider gifting me an act of generosity and rating ‘LIAR, ALLEGED’ asap.  BTW, there are other indie authors who would appreciate this superpower you possess being used on them, too. Thanks!

 To communicate with me:

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