Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

What to do with an Amazon review containing spoilers

I set out the other day to start a blog post on an entirely different subject when I noticed this review out on Amazon for The Five Elements:

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No one likes getting 1 star reviews, though I'm finding so many are of the "dump and run" type that it's easy to ignore them. Given that this person chose to give me a 1 star review solely because he didn't like the novel's ending further discredits the review, IMO. Also, this review is so short, indicating the reviewer gave very little consideration to it, and written with maybe the grammar level of a 1st grader (am I insulting 1st graders with that snipe?), that it would have been easy to put it out of my mind if the person didn't also GIVE AWAY A HUGE PART OF THE ENDING IN THE REVIEW.

As you can see, I blocked out the spoiler. If you really want to see it, jump out to Amazon and check it out. My immediate reaction was to contact Amazon about either removing the review or, at the very least, editing it to remove the spoiler. Long story short, after a brief exchange over email, I heard from an Amazon "senior" customer service rep who basically told me the review was not in violation of their guidelines and that they therefore would not do anything about the situation.

Funny thing is, including spoilers in a review without indicating that the review contains spoilers is a violation of their guidelines. But only if you look at the right set of guidelines.

Turns out Amazon has two sets:

General Review-Creation Guidelines

General Review Creation Guidelines

Those listed under "General Review-Creation Guidelines" look like this:

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The ones under "General Review Creation Guidelines" look like this:

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There's a subtle but oh-so-important difference: the second set of guidelines points out as its very first bullet point under "Inappropriate content":

Inappropriate content:
Crucial plot elements (unless you offer a clear "spoiler alert")

Seems pretty clear to me. I presented this information to Amazon and they basically ignored it. So much for that. The review—and the spoiler—remain. My options are limited. I suppose I could unpublish the eBook and maybe re-publish under a different name/ASIN. I'm not ready for that extreme of a step, though. Not to mention, what's to stop someone else from just doing the same thing? Amazon clearly takes a very hands-off approach inasmuch as customer reviews are concerned, going so far as to ignore their own guidelines.

It's nice to know, however, that I wasn't the only one put off by this person's lapse in judgment. Numerous people posted comments against the person's review saying hey, no spoilers. Unfortunately, I doubt the reviewer will ever see those comments or bother to take action because of them. Also, the review has been so slammed by people marking it as 'unhelpful' that it's been pushed to the bottom of the 11 reviews out there right now. I can only hope people do not walk away knowing too much because of it.

So, basically I'm left with a bad review (which I can handle) that contains a major spoiler (which I remain annoyed about). It's a disservice to me and to potential readers which apparently is going to remain unresolved. I've posted my own comments out there as well, pointing out to the reviewer the error of his ways. Again, I doubt he has enough sense to take action and correct his lapse in judgment.

Sadly, I've spoken with other authors who have had similar reviews and similar inaction taken on Amazon's part.

I'll continue to stew a bit, but life will go on. I'll keep writing, too.

5 out of 5 stars for The Five Elements

Continuing down the path of narcissism, I give you another stellar review for The Five Elements, this one from a very nice Goodreads member who won a copy of the novel via a Goodreads giveaway I ran not too long ago.

Here's the review:

I loved this book! Read it through in one night! The characters take you along for quite an adventure! The characters are very believable in some unbelievable situations but they display very real and sometimes raw emotions. Very well written. An exciting plot and subplots which weave a fantastic adventure. If you like The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, you will definitely enjoy this book. I personally hope to see more from Scott Marlowe! Well done! – Phoenix Carvelli

I'm stunned she read it through in one night. I'm also stunned—and appreciative—that she seemed to have liked it so much.

Thanks, Phoenix!

My Free eBooks This Week

I'm rounding out the remainder of my KDP Select free promotion days for both The Five Elements and The Hall of the Wood this week. If you're one of my two blog readers, then get your trigger finger ready, cause it's almost time to download.

Unlike some other promotional runs, I'm not going to go crazy promoting this one. This post will go up, then get syndicated over to Amazon and Goodreads and that's it. Alright, so I'll put it up on Twitter, too, but that's really it. This promotional stuff wears you out after a while. I'm also trying to keep my focus on the next book in The Alchemancer series which follows The Five Elements. It's going to be good, and that's all I'll say.

As for the free promotions, here's how it's going to go down:

4/10 – 4/11 (Tue-Wed): The Hall of the Wood goes free.

4/12 (Thur): For 1 day only, The Five Elements goes free.

The Five Elements for whatever reason always does well with these things. Thousands of downloads which then translate into hundreds of sales for so many days afterwards. The Hall of the Wood gets a fair amount of downloads—in the hundreds—but then never really does much after that. I guess it's the content. The Hall of the Wood is Tolkien-like, traditional fantasy, which just ain't in style anymore. The Five Elements is most definitely not traditional fantasy. Come Thursday, download it, read it, review it. That's all I ask.

Free Today: The Hall of the Wood

The Hall of the Wood is free today on Amazon.

The novel is straightforward, classic fantasy: goblins, witches, rangers, sorcerers, knights, and murky woods. It's a bit of a mystery story with elements of suspense and plenty of action and adventure. There's some magic, too. Readers have complemented me on the development of the characters, which is more than they expect given the nature of the story.

Here's the "official" blurb:

All is not right in the Simarron Woods.

The King's Patrol has vanished. Their Hall stands empty. Goblins prowl the fringes of the forest and folk whisper of a sitheri witch brewing evil from the darkest hollows.

Once a patroller of the Hall, Jerrick is duty-bound to investigate. He is joined by Kayra Weslin, knight errant, and her chronicler, Holly, who go to answer a plea for help from nearby Homewood. Along with Murik Alon Rin'kres, an eslar sorcerer who harbors a secret purpose all his own, the four attempt to unravel the mystery of the missing patrollers. They soon find tales of their disappearance frighteningly untrue.

If you've been on the fence on this one, now you can get it for free. Hard to argue with free.

And, while you're over on Amazon, why not pick up a copy of The Five Elements? It's an unrelated story that begins the tale of the alchemancer, a character I plan on taking through a story arc of 4-5 books when all is said and done. This first novel is a self-contained story, though, and many readers have said some very nice things about the characters, writing, and the story.