The Wall Between Authors and Reviewers

I was appalled last week to learn of self-published authors skyrocketing the bestseller lists after paying for reviews of their books. Not just a few reviews. They were paying for tens to hundreds of reviews via the same person or a service. As the saying goes, it takes ten years to become an overnight success, so if you see an “instant bestseller” you should proceed with caution. These self-published authors should be no exception.

I work very hard for the reviews I write. I read the books. I form opinions– both good and bad– and I frame my opinions so the book hits its target audience. Aside from the love of reading, the joy of interacting with authors, and the occasional review copy, I don’t get paid for  this work. Sometimes I don’t even get acknowledgement from the authors.

The world of online book reviews has changed a lot from when I started in 2008. Back then the biggest scandal was Mrs. Giggles. Now it seems there is a new scandal every week.

Now I hear a group of authors feel they need to band together and sign a petition vowing they will never pay for a review. Is this really necessary? Isn’t it just common sense that it’s unethical to pay for a good review?

The entire book community has changed from when I started. Is asking for a review considered soliciting? Is a review copy considered payment? Do book reviewers have to buy all their own books to be considered legit? I don’t have answers to any of these questions anymore. With more and more examples of reviewers and authors behaving badly it seems like no one else does, either.

But I have noticed a wall has been built between authors and reviewers, made up of the bad behaviour of a few. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Authors and publishers, when you find a good reviewer, please take a moment and thank the reviewer by linking to their site. It’s really all the payment a reviewer needs.

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