Pay For Reviews…You’re No Friend Of Mine





The title above maybe a little harsh. Then again, maybe it’s not

Last week’s big news – at least in the self-publishing world – was how a few big time authors were paying for reviews. The most notable was John Locke. That’s right, self publishing’s very own poster child.

I maybe a little late to the party, but I’m writing this now, instead of last week, to re-open some wounds. I don’t want this issue to go away!


If You Pay For Reviews You’re No Friend Of Mine

First of all, let me link to a few others posts on this subject:

Secondly, let me explain my stance. The following distaste is to those who buy reviews that go on Amazon et al. There are many services that require payment for reviews, and many come from reputable sources like Kirkus, Blue Ink & Foreword Reviews.

However, the latter do so – at least, to my knowledge – in an honest manner. You pay for your book to be reviewed, and if it’s bad, you get a negative review. It’s like paying for an advert in a magazine or sponsoring an event (if this is wrong, I stand corrected).

I’m not saying I like this type of review system (because I don’t), but it doesn’t make you a scumbag. Paying for Amazon reviews…that’s a different matter all together.


Three Reasons Why This Is Wrong

There are many reasons why this is wrong, but in my opinion it sticks the middle finger to:

  1. Writers
  2. Readers
  3. The Self Publishing Industry


The Writers

This is first on my list because it affects me directly. Let me share my recent activities:

  • Searching hour on end for book review sites
  • Going through them, reading their guidelines, and seeing if my book aligns
  • Emailing dozens and dozens of strangers
  • Not to share my book, but to say hello
  • To see if they might review my book in the future

Hour-after-hour has been spent on this, and guess what, I’m only half-way through.

I’m nobody special. People shouldn’t listen to me above anyone else, and by no means do I expect reviewers to be clamouring over my book. But I’m trying to get noticed in a busy world, and doing so in a reputable manner. 

Those who pay for Amazon reviews are punching me in the face.

For this, I say screw you!


The Readers

The worst part of all this is that readers – the fans of people like John Locke – are being screwed over. I personally don’t buy many books based on reviews, but I do buy other products based on this. To know I may have bought products based on false reviews makes me feel sick.

These readers, the ones spending their hard earned money on John, have done so based on what other people have recommended. They haven’t just been punched in the face, but kicked to the floor and beaten.

For this, I say screw you!


The Self-Publishing Industry

This industry is growing, but it faces an uphill battle. The perception, in general, is poor. Authority is non-existent and exposure is few and far between.

Now we face the embarrassment of one of the industries biggest success stories being a fraud. Also, who says it stops there. What if we find out other big shot self-publishers have done the same?

Will Self-Publishing ever fully recover?

For this, I say screw you!


To Summarise My Anger!

Hmmmm, the words SCREW YOU come to mind.

In my opinion, buying reviews is the same as buying a million emails and pressing send every morning. It’s the same as spamming and calling someone at home as they start to eat their dinner.

It’s old school nonsense. It’s a thing of the past. Yet here it is, in our present, and no doubt, our future, too.

I don’t know if I’ll be a successful writer, but I intend to try. HOWEVER, I will only do so in a way that allows me to sleep at night.

I want people to write honest reviews of my work, even if that means I have to read one-star reviews and scathing reports. It will make me much more humble, and in the long run, a much better writer.

I fully intend to create a launch group – made up of select friends and readers – where people can read and review my book before everyone else. Simply put, it makes good marketing sense – to start with some momentum.

HOWEVER, this terrifies me. I want honest reviews and I know certain people will be biased. I will insist on honesty, but the thought of swayed bias makes me re-consider my launch plan. As such, I have no idea how a writer who buys reviews can sleep at night.

Shame on those who have done this. Shame on those who have made money selling these reviews. And double shame to those who have seen success because of it. You may have millions in the bank, but you have little else.

Turndog Millionaire – @turndog_million

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