There are many out there who have challenged the number of reviews some books have received (see here). Since those allegations, many authors have come forward and admitted to getting “fake” reviews in order to sell books. Some “reviewers” built businesses based on publishing these reviews. The costs continued to rise but authors paid for them anyway – some of those very successful indie authors, too. But there’s paid for and then there’s paid for… Kirkus Review? Not cheap but should be objective and fair. That’s not what the fuss is all about.
On the other hand, I don’t see anything wrong with soliciting reviews if you, as the author, do not try to influence the reviewer with money, candy, gifts, etc. If someone has read your book and likes it, hopefully they will review it without being asked, but most of us live in the real world. We forget and so do your friends.
“Friend, thanks for reading my book and your nice comments. if you’re comfortable writing a review, that would be great.” Maybe send review copies to bloggers who regularly review books in your genre.
Or do you take the strong-arm approach:
Solicit all your friends on Facebook. Ask all your Twitter friends (even ones who are brand new to you). Send your friends and family e-mail reminders to review your book. Call them at home if they haven’t posted yet…OUCH!
Honestly, I like the first approach. I find nothing wrong with asking. I truly believe reviews are today’s form of “word of mouth”. I certainly read reviews on everything from hotels to appliances to books. And I assume most people are as honest in reviews as I am. I have no interest in making something up to mislead people. That is not to say I have written a review on every book I’ve read. Hardly. But I do try to write them if I’ve read an indie book I liked. I want that book to get read and I want to help that author. Writers are a community. Today – more than ever.
So after all the fuss, Amazon has taken down tons of reviews – some fake and some legitimate. Is it censorship? From a legal standpoint, probably only if they are taking down reviews that do meet their published standards. To be fair, I understand a company trying to protect their credibility but when good reviews are zapped, too? That seems arbitrary. If you wrote a positive review for a struggling writer who deserved it, you might be upset. Or if your reviews suddenly disappeared from your book page, upset might be an understatement. Amazon has given indie writers a wonderful platform to publish and distribute their work. I’m a believer that Amazon will get this one right, too. It just might take a bit.