Social networking sites have been abuzz with the news that some authors have been paying for reviews of their books. British crime writer RJ Ellory has admitted that he faked his own reviews and gave other authors low ratings. See the full article here. This has been labelled “sock puppeting” and has caused an outcry from writers and readers.
I’m sure that the number of authors paying for reviews or writing their own ones is small compared to the ones who rely on their talents and readers to promote and sell their book, it potentially damages the reputation of the industry. The minority tarnishing the majority. I actually don’t see the point in paying for reviews especially on Amazon. I’ve never brought a book or film or album based solely on a positive Amazon review. Most of them tell you nothing about the product but just give it a rating and you know nothing about the reviewer or their tastes to know if you can trust them. Now we’ve heard about the sock puppeteers, it makes it even harder to use such reviews to help you make purchasing decisions.
Another way authors promote themselves is selling their book in blog comments or Tweeting direct messages or sending a Facebook asking you to buy their book. Again, I can’t believe people actually make buying decisions receiving these. In fact, it does the opposite for me. It puts me off the writer. I’d rather get to know them. I want them to entertain me with interesting tweets and then I’d check out their book.
For me, I buy books because someone I know and trust the opinion of has recommended it e.g. book bloggers or friends, or I’ve read other books by the author and have liked them, or Amazon has suggested it based on other books I’ve brought and I’ve read the synopsis and opening pages and liked it, or occasionally an advert or someone reading it in public has led to me investigating it.
I’ve never read a book because an author I don’t know has told me to.
I totally understand how hard it is to make a splash in the market especially if you’re self-published but successful authors will tell you the best promotion is word of mouth, and not bugging people on social networking sites. And definitely not tarnishing your reputation by faking reviews and faking fans.
What do you guys think?