Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Buying Book Reviews? Say it isn't so!

I don't know if you've noticed or not, but lately I've been seeing a lot of stories about authors - and just businesses in general - buying positive customers reviews by the hundreds to boost their sales. What's so bad about buying reviews, you ask? Because it's akin to bribery, and if somebody is being paid to write a glowing review about a book, product, restaurant, or hotel, then the review isn't true. It's fictionalized, and therefore a lie. It's wrong. It's unethical. And nobody should do it. 

Here's the other thing I wanted to bring up. If people can buy good reviews by the hundreds, who's to say that there isn't an opposite to this? Everybody knows that there are mean people who "troll" products or pages on the Internet (you haven't quite lost all hope for the future of society until you've read through the comments on a YouTube video...), and these people leave negative feedback no matter where they go. But if there's a sleazy market for buying fake good reviews, you can bet there's a market for buying fake bad reviews, too. 

I know, I know. It sounds so silly. But I'm a publicist, and I spend a lot of time studying market trends, and there are certain things that stick out to me. And the balance between good and negative reviews is one of those certain things. I look at books and rankings every day, and one of the things I really like to study are customer reviews.
You have to wonder what's true and what's not. Read reviews and take them with a grain of salt. I will buy a book regardless of how high or low a book is starred on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I will judge for myself if it's a good read or not, because honestly, you just don't know who to trust these days! 

That's not to say an honest customer review isn't awesome! What I'm saying is this: look for an inundation of positive or negative reviews and ask yourself if the feedback sounds valid or not. Scammers and spammers are everywhere these days, and you have to keep your eyes open for them. There's a reason GoodReads recently updated their review policy, you know. Because there was a lot of crazy reviewing stuff going on!

And I'm not talking about book review blogs, by the way. I'm talking about the public comment/review sections in places like Amazon or GoodReads. 

What are your thoughts on the subject?
Let me know!


  1. Summer, I'm in total agreement! Not only is it unethical, it smacks of desperation and deceit IMHO. If I get a less-than-stellar review, I think, "at least they know it's real." If you have to pay someone to read and rave about your novel, what's wrong with this picture? Reading a book should be a joy, not a chore. Great post!

  2. Thanks for stopping by, E! Yep, it's a sticky situation, and it's too bad it's becoming such a problem. :(

  3. I have seen actual offers to do good reviews for money using multiple accounts, so I know the practice exists. Sad really.


Get fictional - it's fun! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you again soon!