How to Rate the Reliability-Odds of an Amazon Book Reviewer

How reliable are Amazon book reviewers?

Because most are anonymous and some are Trolls with a goal to only spew negative reviews—because Trolls are Internet bullies—finding an answer to this question may not seem possible.

However, while reading the reviews of another author’s first novel, I thought, there must be a way to rate the reliability of Amazon reviewers and I conducted an experiment that I think works. With no computer program to do the work for me, it took time to gather the data—all easily available on Amazon—and use a hand-held calculator to compute the odds.

I focused on one Amazon review of a book I have never read. In fact, I have never read any of Mirella Sichirollo Patzer’s novels, and she has published five. Before today, I was unaware of this author or her work.

Patzer’s first novel was The Blighted Troth: A Novel of New France, and the Amazon reviewer that I focused on wrote the only one-star review of the 19 reviews for this novel. There was no two-star review. There were 6 five-star; 9 four-star, and 3 three-star reviews. The average of those 19 reviews was 4 of 5 stars—a good average.

I have to thank Kindlefan (an anonymous name for this Amazon reviewer), because he or she inadvertently gave me the idea for this post. Click here to see Kindlefan’s profile on Amazon.

My dad was a gambler. He loved to play the horses and knew how to compute the odds in his favor long before there were computers.  In fact, one time, my dad picked eight winners out of eight races at Santa Anita in Arcadia, California. Then later in life, I became a card counter in Vegas and tried that out for a few years before giving it up. I discovered that it was hard work with long hours, and it was not stress free.

What I did was handicap—as my dad taught me—the odds of Kindlefan being a reliable reviewer for the tastes of the average reading public. To do that, I focused on only his or her one and two-star reviews and compared them to the four and five-star reviews of fifteen of the thirty-five books reviewed by this one anonymous Amazon reviewer.

Kindlefan’s reviews:

  • 10 one-star
  • 5 two-star
  • 7 three-star
  • 4 four-star
  • 9 five-star

Of course, it would be impossible to rate someone with only a few reviews on Amazon. In fact, alleged Trolls often only leave one/two poor reviews and then never review again, and I think that these reviewers cannot be considered reliable. In addition, anyone that only leaves mostly one/two star reviews cannot be trusted, but Kindlefan’s balance between 1 and 5 star reviews reveals an alleged non-biased reader expressing his or her own opinions.

Of the fifteen books that Kindlefan rated with one-or-two stars, there were a total of 421 reviews spread between 1, 2, 4 and 5-star reviews. Sixty were 1 or 2 star reviews and three-hundred-and-sixty-one (361) were 4 or 5 star reviews. I did not count the three-star reviews.

With that said, Kindlefan’s reliability rating as a reviewer compared with average reading tastes earned a 14% rating out of 100% (once I crunched the numbers). On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, Kindlefan scored a 1.4—pretty low.

That doesn’t mean Kindlefan’s reviews are invalid but that they only apply to a small minority of the reading audience telling us that his or her reading tastes do not match the average reader. We also learn that “The Blighted Troth” would probably appeal to 84% of readers that enjoy this genre.

If a reader still has doubts, there is always the free Amazon preview of a book to read first. If a reader likes what he or she sees, then he or she may buy the book—or not.

In fact, maybe Amazon might consider using a similar method to automatically rate a reviewer’s reliability as an average reader. If Amazon averages the reviews of an author’s work, why not rate the reliability of reviewers based on his or her reviews compared to reviews for the same books reviewed?

Amazon provides links to all the information needed to rate an Amazon book reviewer. Each reviewer has a link to all of his or her reviews and each review has a link to the books reviewed where it is easy to discover how many reviews there were for each book as I did. If you try this and have trouble finding the links, leave me a comment and I’ll see if I can help.

Discover Authors Finding Readers

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

An Author’s Bane – the negative review

If you are one of the millions of indie self-published authors or a traditionally published author struggling to promote his or her work via the Internet, you may want to read what Joshilyn Jackson has to say about Publicity on Southern Authors.com on what not to do (her opinion).

It appears that Joshilyn Jackson knows what she is writing about. Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of four novels.

Jackson says, “I have heard I should register and blog and interact on places like Good Reads and Library Thing and Amazon for the sake of this very P word [publicity]. I am told writers must ‘Be a presence’ there. I hear this both from folks in my industry and from reader mail.”

However, Jackson doesn’t quite agree with all of this advice.

“Really?” she asks. “A novelist being a presence on a site where REVIEWS of their own books happen seems weird and counter-intuitive. Like pouring olive oil and aged balsamic onto a perfectly good strawberry shortcake.”

If you are a published author (it doesn’t matter how) that has been told to promote his or her work, I recommend clicking on Southern Authors.com (see link in first paragraph) and read the rest of Jackson’s post on this topic before responding to any reviews of your own work.


The difference between a negative review and a rant explained and why negative reviews are necessary.

One comment from The Readables video said that a negative review points out the bad elements of a book, but does so in a more courteous manner. A rant basically trashes a book, often overstating some things and are quite a bit more emotional than they really should be.

Just so you know, The Readables has more than 15,000 subscribers, which means it should be a good site for a courteous review of an author’s work—pro or con.

Meanwhile, you may want to think twice before responding to a rant of your work on Amazon, Good Reads or any site that reviews books.

However, if all the reviews (not written by friends or family members) are negative and/or rants, maybe some serious revisions and editing are called for—sometimes a courteous and negative review may help an author improve his or her work.

To discover my response to a rant of my first novel, click My Mother Would have Burned this Book

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”