It’s been an interesting weekend thanks to this article in the NYT - in a nutshell it details how people, usually self-published authors, can and do purchase reviews so that they end up with a stack of glowing five-star reviews on Amazon.com. The biggest revelation is that John Locke, long considered to be one of the biggest self-pub successes, not only admits to using this service to obtain over 300+ positive reviews but shows no alarm or concern that he did.
Frankly I’m not sure what to make of this. I was raised in what I think was a pretty ethical home and while I’ve done and said things that I regret later (it’s a Catholic thang) I can’t say I’ve ever entertained the idea of paying someone to review my books. It’s just not on my moral compass to do so. I’ve given books away on Goodreads and know that they’re expected to give a review back but that doesn’t guarantee a good review, just a review.
At the moment I have five books on Amazon – the three Blaze of Glory superhero books, my steampunk romance Wild Cards and the first in the Blood of the Pride series along with a few self-pubbed short stories. Most of them have reviews but not all – and while it’d be nice to have *more* reviews I can’t bring myself to consider paying out money for an unknown person to vomit five stars on my books to encourage others to buy it – because to me it’s under false pretenses. If you like my books you’ll hopefully leave a review – but if you buy my books based on a paid reviewer leaving glowing praise because he/she was paid to say it…
And I’m seeing plenty of denouncements of Locke’s methods I see almost as many writers pointing out that, well, the Big Six do it and why can’t *they* do it? After all, if we’re all breaking the rules then it’s all okay, right?
I don’t get it.
Maybe I’m just too naive to be a writer in this Brave New World where everyone’s expected to break the rules in order to sell their books. I’d much rather have only a few reviews from honest people who liked my books than pay money for drumming up false reviews and thus generating sales that may be putting money in my pocket but selling snake-oil stories to unsuspecting readers who might not even consider my books if it weren’t for the glowing reviews.
But that’s just me. And if you’ve left a review of one of my works on Amazon or on GR I thank you. Because I know they’re legitimate and honest and while I may not be making millions like John Locke at least I can sleep at night.
Although I wouldn’t mind having my pillowcase stuffed with ones…