Sep 18, 2012

Paid Reviews Scandal

A quick announcement before my main post. The Kindle edition of Locked Within will be available in October, a month before the release of the paperback edition! It will start at the special introductory price of $1.99 so if you prefer your Kindle to a paperback, or want to get the book early, this is the time to get it.

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.


  1. And by November, what you mean is October. an early release of the Kindle edition is a really cool idea.

  2. I know I'll be buying both a digital and a physical copy.


    Regarding reviews, when you first mentioned it on your blog post I was undecided for many reasons, from wondering if my reviewing ability would be good enough to worries on personal bias.

    This was resolved when I asked myself two things:

    If the book was written by Joe Random Bloggs or Ann Nonymous, would I still enjoy it as much?

    If I was looking at the book undecided, what kind of things would be important to me in the review?

    The first would only be solved by reading it, and the second by thinking on what I enjoy in an Urban Fantasy book and would like some clarification on before purchasing.

    And that would be strong characters, a compelling story that draws the reader in to the world, good writing, and the 'can't put down' factor which can be hard to quantify.

    So I said yes, and going into reading the ARC with those two questions in mind not only helped me appreciate the text more, but made several points for the review jump off the page and beat me around the head.

  3. I agree with every word here. My feelings exactly. I'm learning about some of the uglier part of marketing and advertising. I want honest reviews because I want to grow as a writer.
    My novel Vada Faith is moving slowly along. The best thing I've done for the book is to join Kindle Direct Publishing - which is the three month agreement to not sell anywhere else and with that amazon gives you five "free" days. When I offer my book for free, this past week end I gave away 8,600 kindle books free, then my books starts to sell better.
    Good luck with yours and you'll learn that honestly will take us both far!

    1. Thank you!

      I love that there are so many options for writers now. I hope your book continues to sell well!

  4. Excellent post on reviews. I really agree with you but it's a touchy subject. And thanks for the heads up on your book price.