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A couple of months ago, I got invited to (what I can only describe as) a ‘Mutual like and review’ party.

Here’s the gist of the invitation:
On sites like Amazon, Goodreads, B&N etc. you give a glowing, 5-star review of the latest book by each of the twenty or so writers taking part. In return, they do the same for you. Everyone’s book ends up with a couple of dozen great reviews (including yours). This not only makes your online sales pages look better, but also raises your book’s profile within each site’s database, apparently making it more likely to include you in all those ‘Folks who read this also bought’ section. The best thing of all (according to the sender), is you don’t even have to read these other folks’ books, just take a name or plot line from the blurb and make something up.

I didn’t accept, didn't even reply, but it left a rotten taste in my mouth which has been bugging me ever since.

I suppose this sort of idea was bound to take root at some point or other. After all, plenty of folks already do the ‘I’ll ‘like’ your Facebook page, if you like mine’ thing, but I have to say, I find this far more disturbing.
Personally, I don’t pay too much attention to a book’s star rating, or how many reviews it has, but some people do. I’m sure they’ve learned to disregard the obvious one-line raves written by well-meaning friends and relatives, but to me, it’s just plain wrong to post a ‘review’ of a book you haven’t read.

Sure, I’d like more reviews on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads and the like, but not from people who haven’t read my work. I really hope this idea doesn’t catch on, but I’ve a nagging suspicion many writers will convince themselves it’s okay to join in the deceit, citing the ‘Everyone else does it.’ excuse, or simply because they don’t care if it’s wrong, so long as they make a sale through it.

How about you?

How do you feel about writers giving rave reviews for books they haven’t read?



Poll #1849478 Fake reviews

How do you feel about writers giving rave reviews for books they haven’t read?

It’s wrong, with a capital ‘Wrrrr”
59(100.0%)
All’s fair in love, war and marketing. Besides, writers need all the help they can get these days.
0(0.0%)
Something else, which I’ll mention in the comments
0(0.0%)




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Comments

( 58 comments — Leave a comment )
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mutive
Jun. 25th, 2012 02:58 pm (UTC)
I'm going to throw in that in addition to this kind of thing feeling wrong, as a reader, I don't care much about generic reviews. I want to read a glowing review that explains *why* someone liked the book, as well as a not so glowing review that explains why they didn't.

My reasoning? Not everyone likes everything. But if the person who liked it cared about stuff that I tend to think is important, I'll probably like the book. Alternately, if the reviewer hated the book for reasons that aren't a big deal to me, I'll probably be fine with it.

Either way, if I saw a bunch of 5 star reviews with really generic praise, I'd probably be turned off. (Mostly because my guess would be that the author begged friends/family/whatever to give generic, glowing reviews. Which leaves a bad taste in my mouth, as well as are reviews that I really don't feel I could trust.)
jongibbs
Jun. 25th, 2012 03:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the input, Julia. I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way :)
(no subject) - wldhrsjen3 - Jun. 25th, 2012 03:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 25th, 2012 03:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mutive - Jun. 25th, 2012 05:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
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reudaly
Jun. 25th, 2012 03:02 pm (UTC)
By reviewing without reading--if somewhere in the middle or back, the book falls apart? That damages the credibility of the person who claimed it was the most brilliant book ever.
jongibbs
Jun. 25th, 2012 03:06 pm (UTC)
Excellent point, Rhonda :)
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Jun. 25th, 2012 04:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
temporus
Jun. 25th, 2012 03:06 pm (UTC)
Wow. Just. Wow. That's disgusting. Rating books you haven't even read? What is wrong with these people. I never rate a book I haven't read. (Or at least picked up and tried to read. I think it's fair to give a bad review if you can't finish the work due to the work itself.)

I get itchy when people ask me to post up reviews, etc, knowing I've actually READ a book. But even then, they have never requested I do it without reading the work in question, nor just asking for all 5 star ratings. This is horrible. I almost wish you would post up the person's name who sent you the email, so we can publicly vilify them. Seriously, this kind of thing should not be tolerated. I'm not foolish enough to believe it doesn't happen, but I don't have to accept it as good.

Any author that accepts this, and does this, should be horribly ashamed of themselves. They should go sit in the corner, and not get any cookies.
jongibbs
Jun. 25th, 2012 03:08 pm (UTC)
'They should go sit in the corner, and not get any cookies.'

I can see you're upset, Ed, but don't you think your suggested punishment sounds a tad extreme ;)

(no subject) - temporus - Jun. 25th, 2012 04:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 25th, 2012 04:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
darke_conteur
Jun. 25th, 2012 03:13 pm (UTC)
Why does it not surprise me that this is going on. A while back a friend of mine was upset at the fact a writer on one of these forums was saying that all self-published authors should give other SP authors a five star rating because they had to stick together against the big, bad Trad. published books.



jongibbs
Jun. 25th, 2012 03:17 pm (UTC)
I guess the reverse is when people give one star reviews because they don't like the author, or the price.
(no subject) - temporus - Jun. 25th, 2012 04:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jun. 25th, 2012 04:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
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david_bridger
Jun. 25th, 2012 03:42 pm (UTC)
As well as being dishonest, it's sad and desperate. I'm sick to the back teeth of writers who've become sweaty internet marketers filling every space I used to enjoy sharing with fellow scribblers.

Grump.
jongibbs
Jun. 25th, 2012 04:38 pm (UTC)
I have to admit, it made me quite cranky too.
eglantine_br
Jun. 25th, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC)
It is not like it is that hard to read a book in the first place.
jongibbs
Jun. 25th, 2012 04:39 pm (UTC)
Good point! :)
msstacy13
Jun. 25th, 2012 04:41 pm (UTC)
As you may recall,
I can hardly give my books away,
and people won't even give me one star if I pay them.

So I don't think I'm qualified to give an opinion in this instance.
jongibbs
Jun. 25th, 2012 04:50 pm (UTC)
It's tough trying to get reviews, but I don't think it's an excuse for cheating, however tempting it may be.

I've seen a few 'Let's all read, then review eachother's books requests. Nothing wrong with those, but there are still potential problems. Life will get in the way, causing some folks not to post their promised reviews. others might give an honest, negative review, which I imagine could cause bad feeling.
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Jun. 25th, 2012 05:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
roninangel
Jun. 25th, 2012 05:25 pm (UTC)
i don't personally pay much attention to reviews, BUT i do look in the "people who bought this also bought" section - and usually i can hop around and get fifteen books added to my to-read list from just one browsing session - what draws me in are when i'm able to read a handful of pages from the book - i want to know that the writing style appeals to me - i can't get through tolkien-like blocks of description; i like it short and simple - i like my dialogue clear with enough action cues so i know it's not just two people standing in a vacuum - if a book's page on amazon doesn't let me read a few pages, i am less likely to put that book on my list - that's kind of the deciding factor for me, not the reviews (which people can and do pay for)
jongibbs
Jun. 25th, 2012 05:36 pm (UTC)
I think that's the plan these folks have in mind ie: raise their profile with fake reviews, thereby getting themselves more visible on the 'People who bought this, also bought' lists.
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Jun. 26th, 2012 05:08 pm (UTC)
'People who claim this sort of thing is good marketing make me want to bang my head against hard objects.

You've mellowed over the years, Barbara. I remember when this sort of thing would have you wanting to bang other people's heads against sharp objects ;)
(Deleted comment)
smeddley
Jun. 25th, 2012 07:44 pm (UTC)
I used to post reviews (obviously, only of things I read!) B
but then I got immersed in all the "Harriet Klausner" controversy. Then reviewing kinda lost all meaning, and I stopped.

I do still look at some reviews, though if they don't have very specific and substantial claims to back up the rating I will dismiss it out of hand. Because sometimes something someone loves about a book would drive you mad, and viceversa.
jongibbs
Jun. 26th, 2012 05:09 pm (UTC)
'...sometimes something someone loves about a book would drive you mad, and viceversa. '

Very true :)
martyn44
Jun. 25th, 2012 08:42 pm (UTC)
I have spent a lot of time reading books for review. Some have been written by friends, some by people I was keen to read, some by writers I hadn't heard of before and haven't since. Some were great, Some were execrable. Most were just plain good. I've never written anything but an honest review. That is important, to me. I owe it to my readers. Anything else is worthless, and worse. Sometimes it has been really hard work to finish a book, but reading it (at least once) is what I owe myself and the author. You cannot review something you haven't read, and if you think you can maybe you should take a long look at yourself in the mirror, just so you know what a dishonest fool looks like.
Rant over.
jongibbs
Jun. 26th, 2012 05:10 pm (UTC)
Sadly, these folks see it as 'marketing' rather than 'reviewing'
bodgei
Jun. 25th, 2012 08:48 pm (UTC)
I've had people say I should do this, but I can't bring myself to. I don't see how this is good for anyone.

I don't really read reviews anymore, but I was realy happy when one of my stories came up in the "if you liked this you may also like" section when I was looking at hyena toys.
jongibbs
Jun. 26th, 2012 05:11 pm (UTC)
'was realy happy when one of my stories came up in the "if you liked this you may also like" section when I was looking at hyena toys.'

Sounds like a great 'Savor the moment' moment :)
(no subject) - bodgei - Jun. 27th, 2012 11:25 am (UTC) - Expand
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sallymn
Jun. 25th, 2012 09:39 pm (UTC)
Oh ugh. I actually read reviews to find out more about what's in the book rather than the reviewer's opinion, so generic or even just vague ones turn me off anyway.

I would also say, a glowing review by one writer of another writer's pure crap would turn me off reading either of them ever again, so there's a definite danger there of losing potential readers for your own work.

jongibbs
Jun. 26th, 2012 05:11 pm (UTC)
I agree. Thanks, Sally :)
bogwitch64
Jun. 26th, 2012 12:16 am (UTC)
It's not just wrong, it's LAME. Wow. Really lame.
jongibbs
Jun. 26th, 2012 05:12 pm (UTC)
True dat :)
darkspires
Jun. 26th, 2012 02:16 am (UTC)
If a person is lame enough to go this route, and hypes up a book they haven't read, it is defeating the object of the exercise. Not only that, they are putting their own street creds in jeopady.

I always read a sample of Kindle books before I buy. I don't look at what everyone else has chosen to say as their taste might not be mine. However, I am now going to look at who hyped the book I didn't chose to purchase. If it is clear that the person didn't read the book, then this person is going into my disrespect black book.

Edited at 2012-06-26 02:17 am (UTC)
jongibbs
Jun. 26th, 2012 05:12 pm (UTC)
A disrespect black book. You could be onto something big there, Elizabeth :)
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