I find it alarming that a few authors would sink to use sockpuppets (false online identities) to fake reviews of their own books and publish negative reviews of their competitors’ works. Talk about unethical!
It is true that the emergence of eBooks has created competition but that is good for the consumer. Unfortunately some authors are not willing to rely on the quality of their own work to compete but feel they must use such unethical practices.
Then there is the practice of “swapping” reviews. That is a practice where authors artificially "pump up" books for each other online in order to gain an artificial advantage. That seems to me to be unethical as well. I think only those who pay for a book or who are impartial third party “professional” reviewers not paid by an author should be posting reviews.
What do you think?
Clearly, this stuff is unethical, but just to put it in perspective, there have always been authors who gamed whatever system existed at the time to advance their careers. Decades ago, when I first joined writer's organizations, I was approached with some frequency by colleagues who wanted to swap award nominations with me. If I'd recommend their stuff for the organization's awards, they'd recommend mine. Ultimately, there's not much an individual writer with principles can do about such shenanigans except refuse to participate and get on with writing the next story.
If we went with traditional publishing, we would have our publishing companies and lit agents "encouraging" other authors under their care to write testimonials for us. It's hard for a self-published author to get anyone to read his/her book, let alone take the time to review it so I understand the author review swap. I wouldn't personally advise anyone to buy a book that I didn't enjoy, but I probably would play up the positive for a friend or peer. I'm sure Stephen King or Toni Morrison or any other "legit" writer would do the same. We all need allies in this business!
I am saving my pennies for the ultra-expensive but respected Kirkus Reviews. Anybody gone this route?
While I have to agree that fake reviews is unethical, I have to fess-up and admit I've been guilty on one account. At one point, I had been getting great emails and feedback from readers, but no reviews. I joined a reciprocal review group and thought I'd get involved.
Well the review I got was ok, but more like a graded paper than a review. The reviewer (author) went as far as to point out mistakes in subject matter, or better yet, told me I'd made a mistake, but in reality, I hadn't. I stayed quiet, of course, and can only hope that people who read the review will take the review with a grain of salt.
I learned my lesson. I'll live with the trickle of reviews. lol
I personally feel Kirkus is way overpriced and there is over 100 threads on Linkedin that received book reviews from them that were not worth a penny. You might try a new site I created where you get to pick your own reviewer that reads your genre of book and is part of your true audience. Create Space and Kirkus in my view rob authors from funds they truly need to market their books at a different angle. Check it out - quality reviews are turning out and 5 star reviews are never guaranteed. http://www.review-worm.com
Have you been living under a rock? From your photograph you look like a grown man. Where have you been all your life? The same "unethical" things you complain about in the book world are going on around you all the time, in all walks of life: politics, advertising, the medical profession, academia, the military, the music and motion picture industries, the art world. It's called: "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours." Surely your question was a joke. I don't say that this type of activity is "right," but that is just the way world is and always has been.
Sorry to disillusion you,
The post was no joke. I wanted to provoke others to share their thoughts and opinions. It is called learning and being open minded. I learn a lot about the subjects I post about and the way others think about things. I also sometimes learn about the people responding.
I've written about reviews by "friends" here: http://phantomimic.weebly.com/2/post/2012/09/are-book-reviews-by-fr...
These friends are often fellow writers, but not all of them are. In a nutshell I argue that writers should promote to their target audience and that friends are the best target audience a writer can have and it would be nonsensical to not seek book reviews from friends. In the end whether this practice is ethical will depend on the individual writer and how she/he goes about doing it.
I totally agree - which is what we do at http://www.review-worm.com
Interesting take !
HI Michael. Good post and a topic that many of us have thought or talked about. I have written reviews for books I've read by authors I don't know and some that I do know. I will have to say that the reviews I've written for authors I know have been unsolicited.
What we're talking about is similiar to reviews that I see on sites reviewing hotels. It is inevitable that providers of services will find a way to promote thier product or service in a positive light. That is where the "informed" consumer comes in. I feel that if people want to post reviews, no matter the reason or goal, that is up to them and a right. For me, I seek out reviewers that have zero investment in my work. Therefore, I feel confident that I'm getting a honest review.
I agree with RYCJ, it's not hard to tell the "real" reviewers from those that are just posting whatever for an online presence and/or promoting friends and family. As with anything, the utilization of reviews by a reader should just be one of the tools used in determining if a book is right for that individual personally, as a gift, for a book club, etc.
Engelina, you nailed it. It is about helping someone decide. Step away from all the BS and focus on the purpose.
Kudos for posting that.
Thanks Johnny. When these things come up I remember a slew of things my parents would always tell me and still do. Words of wisdom I'm sure all of us have heard.
That life isn't fair.
Roll with the punches and create your own opportunities.
Stop worrying about what others are doing or not doing.
You can't control what happens but you can control how you react to it.