Saturday, September 1, 2012

Some Thoughts on Reviews

After my initial joy regarding the five-star review I got on Amazon, I read this article in the NY Times about the fake five-star reviews some authors were paying to get. My first thought was, “they’re PAYING for reviews!?! Isn’t that cheating?” Yes, but not exactly.

The cheating part was that the reviewer wasn’t even reading the books. He was just charging someone to write nice things about something they’d written. Personally, I’d rather know the truth of how someone felt about my book. If I wanted to hear hollow, gushing praise for fifteen dollars, I’d buy a bucket and yell into it. It would mean about as much as a fake review and I could reuse the bucket.

Within days of the NY Times article, I received an email from an online writer’s magazine about getting reviews for your independently-published book. They had several suggestions, all of which for were companies that asked for some kind of payment; anywhere from seventy-five dollars, all the way up to over four hundred dollars. After doing some research I found that unless the review is written by a friend, no reviews are done for free. If the author doesn’t pay for the service directly, then his publisher pays for it. Now that I think about it, perhaps it is easier to ask friends to post a review than it is to pay for one.

The article named several creditable companies that will review independently published authors: Goodreads, Digital Book Today, Kirkus Indie, to name a few. These are big names in the publishing industry; names that can spell success or disaster for an author. The difference between a legitimate paid review and the reviewer mentioned in the NY Times article is whether or not said reviewer actually reads the book and gives an honest opinion.

My five-star was free. At least it was for me; the reviewer had to buy the book. To be honest, it was not easy for me to ask for the review, even if she is a friend. It felt like I was imposing on her. I was thrilled, and quite nervous, when she said ‘yes.’ She’s an honest woman, and I knew she would write what she felt about the book. Needless to say, what she wrote pleased me.

That said, I’ve decided that from now on I’m going to make sure I post a review of the books I read, especially books written by independently published authors. I’ll even do it for free and I’ll write the truth.

It’s the least I can do for my fellow writers. Won’t you join me?

Edited to say: Oh, how lovely. I forgot to delete the stuff I didn't want. Nothing like a little first-draft smutch to be stuck to the bottom of a post. *sigh* It's gone now.


  1. (from the reviewer in question). You're absolutely correct. I would never post what I didn't believe. Nor would I review what I had not read. I could have gone further in my posting - I enjoyed it enough to stay up most of a night... haven't done that in a very long time. Your writing style made it easy to suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride. And I do read... a lot. I am in the middle of a WELL KNOWN author's sci-fi novel I can't finish because I can't suspend disbelief, nor get into the main characters. You have genuine talent.

    But you're right - we all need to make an effort to give reviews without being asked. Yes it takes time... but we're investing in our own futures. Wouldn't you want to know that the majority of the reviews you are reading are not rigged?

  2. You don't even have to ask me. I've just added your book to my Kindle and I will review it after I've read it. (It may take me a little while; I have a lot on my plate at the moment in addition to my two beautiful children.)

    Some time ago I made it my policy not to bother reviewing the "big" authors I was reading and instead to focus on reviewing as many of the "unknowns" or "lesser knowns" I was reading as possible. I figured there were millions of reviews of Harry Potter, but once people are done reading HP they go looking for something else to read, and that's what they'll find on my site.

    Now to get back to work ;-)

  3. Thank you, Elle. I'm really excited about this. (and yes, ma'am!) :)

  4. Well, you know I'm going to review it, Karen. I love a good review. And I think it's important to cultivate legit reviews. Sounds like the book is being very well received!

  5. Thank you, Selma. I look forward to your thoughts on it.