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Responses to Negative Reviews of My Fitness Books on Amazon
By Gary F. Zeolla
Most of the reviews of my fitness books on Amazon are positive. But there are a few negative reviews. Amazon used to have a system where readers and authors could respond to reviews of books on its website. When they did, I had responded to those negative reviews. But now that Amazon has removed that ability and my responses, I am using this article to once again respond to those negative reviews.
There are usually more ratings than there are reviews, as often people will rate a book but not write a review. The ratings are from one to five stars.
I consider a four- or five-star rating to be a positive rating, while a one- or two-star rating to be a negative rating. A three-star rating would be neutral, neither positive nor negative. I will comment on both the negative and neutral reviews in this article, but not on the positive reviews.
I will comment on reviews of the books listed at Books and eBooks by the Director. But I won’t follow the order in which they are listed there. Instead, I will cover the books in the order in which they were written.
Pictures of me with all of these and my other books can be found at: Me and My Books: 2000-2021.
The subtitles/ book titles are links to the Preview page for that book on my Fitness for One and All website, which are linked to from the preceding page. Links to the page(s) on which the book is found on Amazon is included in the following text. These are advertising links, for which I receive a commission if an item is purchased through one of them.
Finally, this article was written five to six weeks after I had surgery to correct two rotator cuff tears and a biceps subluxation (see Rotator Cuff Injury on my fitness website). As a result, my left arm was still in a sling, and I was typing one-handed. Therefore, please excuse me if there are more typos than usual.
Nutrition and God-given Foods According to the Bible
This book was one of the first books I wrote. It was written back in the summer of 2000. It was inspired by the Paleo Diet, which claims we should eat the way our caveman ancestors ate. That diet is based on the theory of evolution and claims the eating habits of cavemen is how evolution intended us to eat, while there has not been enough time for humans to evolve in accordance with more recent changes in our diets. That dietary plan got me wondering what a diet based on the theory of creation would entail and how it would differ from one based on the theory of evolution.
In answering these questions, I took to the Bible and what it had to say about our original ancestors and what God told them in terms of what foods He had given them to eat from the beginning. I then looked at if science confirmed these food choices as being the healthiest. Along the way, I address various nutrition related issues that were beyond the parameters of just the original human diet. These various purposes are reflected in the title and subtitle of the book.
There are two pages on Amazon for this book, one for the paperback and one for the Kindle ebook. The Kindle page also has a paperback listed. But do not order it from that page, as it is far more expensive than the one listed one the separate page, but it is the same book.
That said, there are no ratings or reviews on the Kindle page, but there are four ratings and three reviews on the paperback page. The average rating of the book on that page is 3.7 out of five stars. For the reviews, the first gives the book a 4-star rating. It reads simply, “very good book.” This is a verified purchase.
To explain that last point, Amazon now has a marker of “Verified Purchase” for items reviewed on its website. This marker tells the potential consumer that the person reviewing the item purchased it from Amazon. In this way, customers know for certain that the reviewer actually bought the item.
Of course, it is possible someone bought an item elsewhere but is reviewing it on Amazon. I in fact encourage readers to do so at the end of my more recent books, to review the book on Amazon and wherever the reader purchased it. That is because, even if someone plans to purchase something elsewhere, Amazon is the go-to palace for reviews on a product.
That said, the next review is also a verified purchase and gives the book a 3-star rating. His main complaint is I do not indicate up front that I follow a vegetarian diet. That is true, but there are two reasons for it.
First, I did not want to make the book about me and my diet but about what the Bible and science says about what foods are best to eat. I only mention my own diet in the final chapter of the book.
Second, I was not following a full vegetarian diet when I began the book. I was in fact still eating a limited amount of meat, though I was not eating any dairy or eggs. It was only as I was finishing up the book that I eliminated that limited amount of meat entirely. It was a last-minute change to the last chapter of the book to indicate that change in my diet. Later, I would regret that last-minute change to the book, as I regretted that change in my diet. I will discuss that shortly when I get to two of my other books.
But here, the point is, since I was not following a full vegetarian diet as I wrote the bulk of the book, I of course would not have called myself a vegetarian up front, as the reviewer says I should have done.
The reviewer also says he found the book repetitive and boring. That could be because I cover each issue in depth in various ways. I did so as many find repetition helps with comprehension of difficult or controversial issues.
But it was good that the reviewer ended his review by saying it caused him to go back to the Bible “to ascertain what God intended our menu to be.” If any of my books leads someone to read the Bible, to me, that is a good thing.
The final review gives the book just 1-star. Her main complaint is I criticize the “Hallelujah Diet” in the book. The Hallelujah Diet is a raw foods vegan diet. That is about as restrictive as you can get on a dietary plan.
I explain my concerns with such a diet in the book. First, it is based one just one verse of the Bible (Genesis 1:29), not all that the Bible says on the subject. Second, it is not nutritionally sound based on what science says about the nutritional needs of humans. Third, there are potential psychological problems with trying to follow such a restrictive diet. However, the reviewer may not have read any of that explanation, as she is not a verified purchase. As such, there is no way to know if she actually bought the book or not.
Admittedly, I do not go into too much detail on these three points in this book. But I remembered this negative review when I would later work on a Second Edition of this book and would expand on all three of these points. But that book would come much later, so I will cover it later in this article.
Overcoming Back Pain: A Mind-Body Solution
This book was originally written in the spring of 2001, one year after I had overcome six years of crippling low back pain. An updated Second Edition was published in March of 2007.
This book is more of a booklet, being only 48 pages long in the paperback format. But only the Kindle format is available on Amazon. Well, actually, Amazon does list a paperback version. But it is ridiculously expensive. If you want this booklet in paperback, order it from Lulu Publishing for a more reasonable price.
That said, on the page on Amazon are three ratings with a 3.8-star average. There are also three reviews, all verified purchases. Two are 5-star reviews. The first is titled, “Great book” and the second, “brilliant.”
The lone negative review gives the book 2-stars. It is titled, “ok book.” To me, an “ok book” should be three-stars, neutral, not negative. The reviewer does not give a reason for his low rating. He only says to “also check CBT for back pain.”
I assume by CBT he means “Cognitive behavioral therapy.” If that is the case, then he seems to agree with me that the fundamental cause of and treatment for back pain is psychological. Thus, I do not understand his reasoning for the 2-star rating.
God-given Foods Eating Plan
For Life-long Health, Optimization of Hormones, Improved Athletic Performance
This book was written over the winter of 2006-07. I took the title from the subtitle of my Creationist Diet book. I did so, as this book was intended as an update to that book. But I wanted to address the Biblical and nutritional issues in a different manner, so I did not want to call this a Second Edition of that book. Rather than trying to discern God’s original intended diet for humans, this book looked more at all that the Bible had to say on this subject, even more so than my Creationist Diet book.
The reason for this change is due to what I mentioned in my comments on my Creationist Diet book. I said that I regretted switching to a full vegetarian or more correctly vegan diet. What happened is I felt very good initially, which was the time when that book was published. However, within a few weeks of following that more restrictive diet, my health began to decay. Over the succeeding months, it became very poor and that set me on a long path of trying to find solutions to my increasing health difficulties. Along the way, I began to realize I had erred in switching to a vegan diet and thinking the Bible and science supported such.
On the Bible part, that was due to an overemphasis on the first three chapters of Genesis and not enough attention being paid to the many passages later in the Bible that address the issue of food. The Bible says, “All Scripture [is] God-breathed and [is] beneficial” (2 Timothy 3:16), not “Some Scripture is beneficial.” My original book and any others on nutrition and the Bible that claim the Bible advocates a vegetarian or vegan diet suffers from this deficiency of only considering some Scripture and not all Scripture.
It is also a misreading of nutritional science that leads some to claim science supports a vegetarian or vegan diet as being the healthiest type of eating plan. I discovered that as I did extensive research of scientific studies in this regard. I also researched many other nutritional issues, looking at scientific research on each topic. All of this research is presented in this book.
I also wanted to get away from using the word “diet” in the title. That is because that word is usually associated with losing weight, whereas this book is more about eating for health. It does address weight loss, but only as one of the many issues addressed.
That said, there is one page on Amazon for both the paperback and Kindle versions. There are eight ratings with a 4.7-star average. There are six reviews. Four are 5-star and two are 4-star. Since there are no negative or even neutral reviews, I have nothing to comment on. But I will say, I was especially pleased by the 5-star review that said, “It is by far the best book on nutrition that I have ever read… This information has increased my belief that there is a God!”
Starting and Progressing in Powerlifting
A Comprehensive Guide to the World’s Strongest Sport
This book was written in the spring of 2009. I finished it just before entering a contest in June of that year. The meet director displayed it and announced about it at the contest. After I won Best Lifter at the contest, someone said that made sense given I literally wrote the book on powerlifting.
This book only took me three months to write, while the preceding and following books took 6-12 months. That is because I engaged in much research while writing those books, but most of this book was written off of the top of my head based on my many years of experience in the sport of powerlifting and previous research I had done in developing my own training plans.
The only chapter that took current research is the one on the over 20 powerlifting federations. After twelve years, that is also the only chapter that might be a bit out of date. Some of the federations I mention no longer exist, some new ones have popped up, and some have made slight rules changes, especially in regard to gear divisions and the types of gear allowed.
But otherwise, the training, dietary, and supplement advice is timeless. The same training methods that worked twelve years ago still work today and will still work twelve years from now. The same goes for the nutrition methods and supplements discussed.
That said, there is a separate page on Amazon for the paperback and Kindle versions. The page for the paperback has two ratings with a 5-star average. There is one review. It is a verified purchase and also gives the book a 5-star rating. That review says it is an “Excellent book” and “Gives one an indepth knowledge on all aspects of powerlifting.” That is very pleasing, as it is what I intended.
On the Kindle page, there are three ratings with a 3.9-star average. There are also three reviews. Two are verified purchases. One of those gives it a 5-star rating and the other a 4-star rating. The 5-star review is titled, “A perfect book for anyone who just started or is involved in powerlifting!” That again is a pleasing comment, as it is what I intended for this book.
The third review is not a verified purchase. It gives the book just 1-star. The title reads, “Waste of time unless you weigh 114 lbs.” That is a silly comment. The same training methods that work for a lightweight would work for a heavyweight. Similarly, the same training methods work for a variety of lifters.
I know that is true, as the training methods I follow and present in this book are based on years of research of the training methods of a wide variety of powerlifters: men and women, lightweights and heavyweights, younger and older, less experienced and more experienced. Some modifications might be needed for each of these groups, but they are slight, by no means making the general advice “a waste of time.”
The biggest difference would be for when a lifter passes from being a beginner to being an intermediate lifter and then wanting to progress on to becoming an elite lifter. And that point seems to be the reviewer’s biggest complaint, that my book would not aid a lifter in this later position when he says my book does not present a method that “builds absolute strength.”
However, my book is not intended for such a lifter. The book specifically says, “This book is geared towards the beginner to intermediate powerlifter, along with the person just thinking about getting into the sport.” It never claims to be for the lifter looking to progress from the intermediate to elite stage. And it is not just that sentence but the entire tone of the book would indicate that purpose, with it starting with describing what happens at a powerlifting contest. If the reviewer had actually read the book, he would have known that. But not being a verified purchase, he apparently did not.
Creationist Diet: Second Edition
A Comprehensive Guide to Bible and Science Based Nutrition
Even though my God-given Foods Eating Plan book was intended as an update for my Creationist Diet book, I still felt a direct update of the later was necessary. That is because I would feel bad if the tone of that book led someone to follow a vegan diet and that led to a decay in that person’s health as it did for me.
I especially regretted the late-minute change indicating my change to a full vegan diet, without an update indicating it did not work out. Consequently, I began work on this book in the spring of 2016 and published it in May 2017. During that year of writing, I did much research as to what both the Bible and science indicate is the healthiest diet plan to follow.
The results of that extensive research is presented in this book. I also made a point to explain in more detail why I come down so hard on restrictive diets like a raw foods diet. That is how this book ended up being 553 pages long, my longest fitness book.
That said, there is one page on Amazon for both the paperback and Kindle versions. There are two ratings and two reviews for a 3.3-star average. One of the reviews gives the book a 5-stsar rating, while the other gives it 1-star. Importantly, the 5-star review is a verified purchase while the 1-star review is not. The 5-star review uses the word “excellent” in both the title and the very short review itself.
The 1-star review is quite lengthy. The most important part is when the reviewer says (referring to both editions), “Not having read either of these books yet.” I have no idea why anyone would continue to read a review that states such.
The reviewer’s lack of knowledge of the book can be seen in the title and beginning of the review. The title is, “Misleading Title. This book is against the diet of the Creation.” He then writes in the review, “The creation ended in Genesis 2:2 but this author says: ‘Genesis chapters 1 - 11 will receive the most emphasis in developing a Creationist Diet.’”
I state in the book that it is based on Creation theory. And yes indeed, the theory of Creation is based on Genesis 1-11, not just the creation narrative in Geneses 1-2. That is because the catastrophic flood of Noah (Genesis 6-9) and the Tower of Babel incident (Genesis 11) are integral in Creation theory. I explain all of this in the book; but again, the reviewer didn’t actually read the book, so he misunderstands the basis for the book.
His lack of knowledge of the contents of this book is also seen in what he says later:
But he [me, the author] draws the line for everyone based on his experience and not on long researches and statistics from medical tests in different parts of the world, and the experiences of others who are doctors and specialists in nutrition and health.
If the reviewer had actually read the book, he would know I only mention myself in the introductory page “Background to Second Edition” and in the final chapter of the book. In between is almost 500 pages filled with the Biblical and scientific research that went into developing the type of diet I recommend. It is not based on my experience, as the reviewer assumes without having read the book. I in fact changed my diet in accordance with the research, not the other way around as the reviewer assumes.
That Biblical and scientific evidence also refute the idea that the Bible advocates a vegan diet and claims that a vegan diet is the healthiest eating plan. It is in fact unhealthy for the vast majority of people who try such a diet. But the reviewer assumes otherwise, without refuting any of the evidence I present, which he cannot, since again, he never read any of it; and I doubt he could if he did, as it is very overwhelming.
Let me add it is very frustrating as an author to have the rating star average dragged down by negative ratings and reviews by people who never actually read the book they are rating or reviewing. I am sure the same would go for sellers of other products; they would be frustrated to have their average star rating reduced by people who never used their product. That is why I think Amazon should only include “Verified Purchase” reviews in its star average. That would keep those who have not actually used a product or read a book from having their reviews counted in the average.
Overall, I am very pleased with the ratings for my fitness books. The relatively few negative reviews are mostly by people who never actually read the book they are reviewing. As such, there is little I would change about the nature of my books.
What I wish I could change would be the number of sales of my books. Not only do I need the money, but a lot of time and effort went into writing every one of these books. It is disheartening to pour my heart and soul into a book and to have few read it. But it is heartening that most all of the few who do read my books find them beneficial. For that I am thankful. It makes the time and effort spent in writing these books somewhat worthwhile.
But still, the paucity of sales of my fitness books, as indicated by the limited number of ratings and reviews of each book, is why I haven't written another one in 4-1/2 years. I instead switched to writing politics books.
All Scripture references from Analytical-Literal Translation of the Bible. © 1999-2021 by Gary F. Zeolla.
The links to my books on Amazon are advertising links, for which I receive a commission if an item is purchased through one of them.
Reviews of My Fitness Books on Amazon. Copyright © 2021 by Gary F. Zeolla.
The above article was posted on this website October 1, 2021.
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