I'm a little late talking about this issue. I've been sitting back and taking it all in, because to be honest, I wasn't aware there were businesses out there that offered authors the chance to pay for positive reviews. But I've done my research now and I think it's safe to say it's not something I want to do.
It's a touchy area. I mean, reviewers get perks. They get free product, often before anybody else. Advertising companies always talk-up the product and its manufacturer, so this seems like a natural progression. Okay, so a free copy of a $6 ebook in exchange for writing one review isn't in the same league as $1,000 for 300 positive reviews from a series of dummy Amazon accounts. But it's easy to see how the concept of "I give you this book, you review it for me," escalated to what we've seen.
I know there's a lot of outrage over this. But I don't share it. Not because I condone the activity, but because the Internet is changing the nature of self-promotion so fast that it's easy to make a mistake. That, and I have the utmost respect for anyone who can hold up their hand and admit they slipped up.
Last Thursday I asked for people who could review my book or offer an author endorsement blurb. I'm not asking for anything people are unwilling or unable to give. If someone doesn't like my book, I would never want them to say they did. I mean, really, how can I become a better writer if I don't find out where my weak points are?
That's what it all boils down to, for me. If I get good reviews, that means I've done something right and I've earned them. If I get bad reviews, that means I have something I need to improve. If I get no reviews, it just means I have to make more of an impression next time, one way or the other. No matter what we do in life, we must never stop learning. Once you assume you know everything you need, you close yourself off from the greater world and any hope of reaching something higher than where you are.
In my relatively brief experience with the publishing industry, I've found it to be full of the most supportive and enthusiastic people I've ever met. Not one person has tried to put me down or stop me achieving my goals. That's an amazing thing. So many industries are full of people who want to get ahead by preventing others from competing with them instead of improving their own product. We shouldn't let publishing turn into that. We should embrace the fact that we're in an industry that loves to teach and learn.
I hope for good reviews. But I'm ready to learn from bad. Of course, I intend to follow the advice of many wiser people than me and not respond to any negative review, but I want people to be honest. So in November, when you're reading Locked Within, whether you love it or hate it, tell the world, and keep reviews honest.