Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Scandal in the romance genre involving one of our top reviewers!

Oh my, quite a tempest in a tea pot as you can see from reading this article on Dear Author on Highland Press and later this one demanding changes on Amazon's reviewing system. There's also been quite a lively discussion going on about this same topic at Amazon's Romance Discussions under the topic: Help! My negative reviews are being deleted.

It appears that the Romance field is quite a hot bed of competition, and some of it quite nasty, and that Top Reviewer and author Deborah MacGillvray is right smack in the middle of the scandal.


Stanley H Nemeth said...

I added the following comment to the list of letters to Jeff Besos. It's not clear to me that anyone has ever complained directly to the CEO. Here's hoping it'll do some good.

Mr. Besos:
I think it will be better for business in the long run if you omit the easy opportunities for gaming your system which currently exist. The “does not contribute to the discussion” tab as well as the “unhelpful” one on reviews would not be missed, since they’re so easily open to group abuse, as the letter here indicates. It would be a good idea as well to limit votes only to persons with actual Amazon accounts, rather than to leave them open to anybody who sets up fraudulent hotmail accounts and then votes repeatedly. Very likely using this method, one of your top reviewers, the notorious Grady Harp, amasses surreal vote totals within seconds of his reviews being posted and similarly covers over any negative criticism of them with improbable numbers of what are likely mostly his own “does not contribute to the discussion” votes. Reviewers of quality have left the site owing to Amazon’s failure to monitor the pretty openly fraudulent behavior of the Harpster in his Captain Ahab like obsession with becoming Amazon’s # 1 Reviewer. Your attention to the problems set forth here would be much appreciated.

Barbara Delaney said...

I had a run in with Debbie Dearest on a Klausner review over a year ago. I'd point you to it but for some inexplicable reason it's no longer there.

Another example of the rot that has set in at Amazom.

Cathy said...

This is probably the most blatant abuse I've seen thus far -- as it affects the honest reviewers expressing their opinion on a book. I lurk on the romance discussions on occasion and I'd heard hints of the misuse of the report abuse button and leaving nasty comments on negative reviews, but I had no idea it was conducted on such a high scale, nor by a prominent reviewer. These people should be ashamed of themselves.

If you're willing to publish a book, you have to accept the good with the bad -- not everyone is going to like your book.

Barbara Delaney said...

My God! What is Amazon thinking? This woman is nothing but a cheap thug! Did you see this?

"Posted by: "DeborahAnne MacGillivray" scotladywriter
Date: Tue Aug 21, 2007 10:17 pm ((PDT))
Well, thanks to XXXXXX our PI , we now have her name, her husband's
name, her chidrens' names, her grannies and great grannies name. Her
address phone number and email
lol...quite interesting"

So she had one of her equally dishonest friends obtain personal information about one of her critics and is chuckling about what she plans to do with her address and phone number, her children's names(!). What kind of sick puppy is Deborah Anne MacGillivray? And who are these other nutty women in her coven? I've never read a romance novel in my life. I could never get past the moronic covers. Who knew behind the cheesy bodice-ripping lurked an insane mind like this? Amazon has a lot to answer for in this mess. They should throw her off once and for all.

Barbara Delaney said...

Here's a quote from Deborah MacGillivray:

"The whole set up is open to everyone who has a problem with something to vent and Amazon plays ostrich to cyber stalking and cyber bullying, and in the case of the top reviewer it became a cyber lynch mob. I am not defending if a person can read 45 books a week or not. No matter, take it to Amazon management, do not attack people in public."

So, she's not defending Harriet Klausner's claims to read forty-five books per week? It certainly sounds to me as if she's doing exactly that. And now we are being called a "cyber lynch mob"? This from a woman who has threatened readers who dared give her books three star reviews? From what people have said on the romance discussion board Deborah MacGillivray has been very busy using the "report abuse" button as a way of silencing her critics. And yet she says Amazon ignores cyber bullying on its site. Did it ever occur to her that if they did take action she would be one of the first to be removed? (Right after Marie M "MEM" and her multiple negative votes).

Cathy said...

This whole thing is just unbelievable. Already one poster has been banned and all of her comments deleted by Amazon, and if I follow the threads correctly she was the one who was threatened in the email. Things are getting quite lively in the Romance Discussions at Amazon and I suspect there will be a major backlash, both to Amazon (if they don't do something soon) and MacGillivray. I admit to liking to read a romance on occasion, but I stay far far away from the newer stuff -- partly for this very reason.

Clearly, this author and her "group" are blatantly abusing the report abuse buttons on comments and negative reviews. I've never seen an author so thin skinned.

Cathy said...

Interesting when one googles her, she's all over the place with a webpage and a blog or two. She also claims on her webpage she's a member of RIO Reviewers Internation Organization. I wonder if they're aware of this bit of scandle going on. Where's D Hern when we need her?

Google results,

I'm wondering why some of the commenters at the HR discussions don't take it to the DB's, and also why the DB's haven't picked up this topic.

Malleus said...

I'm afraid this sort of puke has become rather typical, it's just that the common Joe is never exposed to the real workings of this "industry". I couldn't find the original, but if this thuggish message was actually posted, I think it's a legal matter. Whenever you see a message like that, you should save the page (because the poster will very likely delete it later on, which doesn't eliminate the effect).

Mark said...

>>I'm wondering why some of the commenters at the HR discussions don't take it to the DB's, and also why the DB's haven't picked up this topic.>>

The last time she came up on the Amazon Discussion Boards (several years ago), she got one person temporarily banned. Anyone who was on the board back then probably doesn't want to run that risk.

Cathy said...

Mark, that's pretty scary. They're usually a pretty tough bunch and not afraid of controversy. How some little fair-middling romance author obtained so much power with not only the publisher but a loop of authors to conduct her dirty deeds is truly frightening.

Barbara Delaney said...

Also from the Dear Author blog:

"Is this the type of reviewer that you, Amazon, is supporting? And what about Donald Mitchell, who is an Amazon top reviewer, also member of the Vine program who received $20,000.00 for reviewing books on Amazon over a seven year period?'

So how come we are always accused of being insane when we question just exactly WHY Harriet Klausner pursues the top reviewer spot so relentlessly? If I've had one person say to me "it's not like there's any money in being number one" I've had a hundred. And I would always think , "How do you know there is not money involved?"

There has been such a lack of transparency at Amazon, who knows whether Harriet Klausner has received money or how much?

But I'd be willing to bet if Donald Mitchell got twenty grand then Harriet received considerably more.