September 20th, 2012

Books

Paying for Reviews?

I finally feel like I'm really on the mend. I took the cough syrup at about 7, as soon as I got home from children's choir and dinner, watched the Phineas & Ferb movie on the Disney Channel, then was in bed shortly after nine. Then I slept the clock around and woke up feeling better than I have in ages. I'm barely even coughing today. Of course, as soon as I wrote that, I coughed. But still, no coughing fits, and I can breathe deeply without coughing. It's amazing what twelve hours of sleep can do for you.

One of the big controversies going on in the book world lately has been about paid reviews. There was apparently a service that would provide a certain number of Amazon "reader" reviews for a title, since supposedly you move up in the rankings or get more exposure with more reviews. Then there were the revelations about authors making up fake names to leave positive reviews for their own books and negative reviews about their competitors. In the wake of that, people are now claiming that they won't believe any five-star reviews, and if a book just has positive reviews, then they'll know they were all bought and it's probably a terrible book.

To that I have to say, whoa, chill. I didn't even realize you could buy reviews, wouldn't know where to turn to buy them, and am too cheap to spend money on reviews. And yet the reviews for Much Ado About Magic are positive enough that I suppose to some people they might look bought. The most I've done to solicit reviews has been to make a general suggestion that you leave a review if you've read the book. It seems kind of silly to just assume that any book with a lot of reviews must be a bad book that had to pay for reviews. It might just be a good book. In my case, this late in the series and with this book not having massive exposure, only the diehard fans are probably reading it, so of course the reviews are going to be good, unless I totally mess up the book in a way that the fans hate.

I'm not sure how to figure out which is which, though. I would imagine that reviews written by real readers might have more specifics about what they liked or didn't like. The people who wrote the paid reviews generally hadn't read the book and were just making up something based on the cover copy. You could also track other reviews by those reviewers and see which books they reviewed and how those reviews sound.

And now I'm off to deal with a busy convention weekend.