I signed up for BookBub, which sends me email every day with their latest steals for ebooks. Today's email included a book for which they said, "Over 500 5-star reviews on Amazon." The author was someone I'd never heard of before.
So I went out to the book. 1600 reviews total, and yes, over 500 5-star reviews. I looked at some of the 1-star reviews, and they complained about the cliché complaints of indie publishers: bad grammar, lots of errors, etc, etc.
How does any book get 1600 reviews but I've never heard of them? My best books have sold 2000 to 3000 copies for which I get fewer than 40 reviews (much fewer, typically). If the review rate is the same, that mean this person has sold 40 times as many as my best books. As many of my books have made it to the #1 slot within the genre, well... Sure, someone could be selling that many. Okay, my results may not be enough to go by.
So I went to Jacqueline Carey's books. She's a fairly well-known fantasy author. She has fewer than 500 reviews on her best-known book.
Anne McCaffrey, the Dragonriders of Pern books: a few hundred reviews. (I'm feeling pretty good about getting 40.)
The Mercy Thompson books by P. Briggs: 500-1500 per book, with the newer books receiving far more reviews.
Kim Harrison is getting about 300 to about 1000 per book, again with newer books having more reviews.
I went to Tom Clancy. Yes, Tom Clancy. He gets about 300 reviews on most of his older books, although I see 1600 on Rainbow Six. I have no idea why that book has 1600 reviews but Patriot Games (for which there's a movie out) has 307. But then there are books by people writing using his characters with as many as 2800 reviews.
I cry foul.
I don't know how the first author is doing it, but I do not believe an author selling poorly-edited books is selling so many that he's getting 3-5 times the reviews as an author like J. Carey or 3-5 times as many reviews as Tom Clancy's older works.
And I don't trust the number or reviews Mr. Greaney gets for his Tom Clancy spinoffs, but that at least *could* be legitimate.
But that guy I didn't know? No way. Just... No bleeping way. He (or his publisher) is cheating.
For the record, every review for every single one of my books is from a legitimate reader. To the best of my knowledge, I have never personally met a single one of my reviewers. Some of my reviews are from my beta readers, but I haven't met them through more than email, either. Similarly, some of the reviews are from people who reviewed after sending me fan mail. (I tend to write back and say, if you can review, please do.)
If there is going to be such *obvious* cheating, what are the readers going to believe? Does anyone REALLY think some author who they have never heard of has 5 times as many reviews as some of the most famous authors in America? Seriously?