Fake reviews, Amazon and life

I usually fall for two type of traps.

Buying something cheap, or buying something expensive. Shocking right?

I’ve spent the best part of September in California, the last week of that in San Francisco on a conference. I’m some sort of a geek we could say.

Conferences are surprisingly good opportunities to buy books for cheap. Books you would never buy under normal circumstances, but hey: self-economics.

Found this fascinating title that delved right into my professional area, but it was a very expensive, even with the major discount.

I was upset, so I figured I should see if the Kindle version is any cheaper. Was not (traditional publishing still hasn’t caught up in this sense).

But I’ve found something else I fancied.

Author and title removed, as I’m such a nice person

Bought it, read it. Took more than a week to read it, not because it’s long, but because I only had the mornings during breakfast.

The editing wasn’t very good. Or the content. And that is okay. As silly as it sounds, bad not so good books have their place.

I decided the give a review and things started to go south from there. Found 14 reviews, with a ~ 4.5 average on Amazon, which even with the occasionally occurring valuable information was way too much I thought. Checked the two 1 star reviews and they seemed to mention something interesting.

One mentioned, that the book is basically a collection of Wikipedia snippets. Next stop: let’s see what other books are out there from this author. Actually a lot.

They all have extremely generous reviews, which is great for the author I guess.

The issue is that as I started to check out those reviews, I noticed a worrying trend of repeating names. Basically a huge portion of those reviews were made by the same group of people.

Loyal fans of course I presume.

To put you into context, said read was about Software Quality Assurance. This is a moderately specific software development topic, and it’s not far fetched to assume the audience has a special interest. One review suggested the following valuable detail about the book (paraphrasing but the content is extremely close to the real one):

Working with computers is difficult, but I read this book and it’s not so difficult after all.


At this point I was laughing. David, my colleague told me, that when he wanted to review my book (after buying, and finishing the exercises from it) Amazon said: sorry, but you are clearly involved. So we figured that’s actually correct, and maybe it would not be fair after all.

On various self publishing podcasts you would hear about how people tried to trick amazon by purchasing fake reviews from fiverr, but the system caught them! Well I guess not this bunch.

Book cover design: Time goes by

While I was on the way to my regular hike in the hill next to us, an idea came to my mind for a cover design project.

Fast forward a bit, pixabay.com helped me out again by providing some base material for the project.

Head over to pixabay to check more royalty free pictures by clicking here.

So the concept was quite simple, in contrast to some of my earlier covers, I wanted to have the clock somehow out of center. I decided to put it to the bottom left.

I imagined this cover could be used for a novel, so I went “literally” again with Pistilli. For the author’s name Franchise Bold did the job.

The author name is from www.fakenamegenerator.com



The Door – book cover

There’s nothing more relaxing than a nap after lunch…

Not much to do between the holidays so I headed to bed right after lunch. While I could not sleep, I did not mind because I was thinking about ideas for an ebook cover.

I had an idea for a novella, something a bit mysterious, but not necessarily scary. Hence I wanted to give a drawn feeling to the cover.

Got up, and searched on the net for images about doors. Hmm… this sounds very, very strange 🙂

Anyway, I ran into this site: http://superawesomevectors.deviantart.com.

I have found an image and decided to give it a go. Let’s see the result!


For the title I used a thick font, that stands out well if it’s seen in stamp size. For the (fake) author name I went with something more literal.

As a final touch, to stress the mystery part, I added a spider web.


Space book cover design

Since I enjoy creating ebook cover designs very much, I decided to build up a portfolio on my site.

The original idea came from an existing book. I ran into the cover of Raymond L. Weil, for his fantastic book, the Moon Wreck.

Here is the original (maybe self made, didn’t ask) cover, as of today:

Originally I wanted to offer the cover as a gesture to Raymond, but it seems he could not find the time to get back to me about it.

The goal was to keep most of the elements, so the message stays the same for the readers. Since it turned out it is not going to be used as such, I simply replaced the text with something made up. Here we go!


Would you be interested in using this cover for your next Kindle crusher? You can get this cover, or a personalized version of it on a budget! Head over to our contact form and tell me what you need!


Book cover updated! Yeah!

I wanted to play around a bit with the cover of the Learn Gimp book. So I decided I should ask my friends to choose the next cover.

Using Google Docs I’ve created a poll, and asked everyone who participated to ask two questions about the following images:


1st: Which cover design is the most appealing to you?

While I was very much fond of the first design (regardless of the fact that the text is not totally see through…) the results showed different. Here marked as orange, as many as 59% of the voters choose the third design.


Knowing that it is one thing to like a cover and that it is different to think it’s relevant to the topic, I had a second question.


A stunning 81% thought that the 3rd cover makes sense for the topic.

As these covers were only for proofing the ideas I sat down today to finish the 3rd cover. I wanted to make something nice out of the filter effect I started with the flowers. So I removed every layers that affected the middle parts of the cover and I realized, that I like the cover as it is.

So here we go:


Now it’s time for split testing! I will leave this cover on for 2 weeks and make sure my sales either stay or increase. If this cover (for whatever reason) turns away my readers, I need to take actions.