The other day as I was trawling through sites of fellow eBook authors, I came across a blog with some very disturbing information about fake book reviews.

As these reviews undermine the efforts of all genuine reviewers and hard-working writers, I feel this is a very loud conversation all self-published eBook authors need to have.

In the absence of a famous author brand name and/or advertising undertaken by the traditional publishers, genuine reviews by enthusiastic readers are gold for self-published eBook authors.

However, it seems multiple paid reviews (some of them astoundingly inarticulate) are the strategy some authors use to make their books swiftly climb up the ranking scales and even hit the best-seller lists.

I do understand ePublishing is still the Wild West and as the industry takes shape, it will have its fair share of unscrupulous opportunists with no systems or clear rules in place to weed these villains out.  So, how do we, as genuine hard-working authors, deal with this lazy and dishonest practice?

I’d also like to throw another idea out there – are paid reviews any more or less ethical than paid advertising or those extravagant PR campaigns undertaken by the big publishing houses to market a chosen few authors? Are we being unrealistic in expecting word-of-mouth to be our sole method of spreading the word about our books?

In the midst of all the eNoise, when you are an unknown author, without an advertising and PR budget, how do you gather a following? Mark Coker of Smashwords points out you must write a book that touches people’s souls. I agree with this, but how do you reach people in the first place to tell them their souls just might be touched by your book?

Let’s also remember writing a genuine, insightful review that is constructive and helpful for both readers and authors is no small task. A reader must be sufficiently moved by a book to write something. They must be confident of their writing skills and also understand the importance of good reviews in this recently formed eBook universe. And they must do this all willingly for no financial compensation.

With that in mind, I’d also like to point out an uncomfortable truth. Amazon KDP is in the business of selling books. And, as authors, we are supplying the products. Business after all, is business and our mesmerizing writing and rollicking plots, our soulful characters and the wrenching moral dilemmas they face may not be enough to draw in the volume of readers we would like.

In this new world where so many of us are competing to be heard, the pragmatic me can see the future of reviews changing. Professional and paid reviews by people who have genuinely read the books may become the new norm. Then another issue will rear its ugly head. Will only reviewers who generously dish out five stars get the most work? Ah, what a dilemma!

I’d be very interested in knowing how other eBook authors and reviewers feel about this.

As a first time author, I’m new at this whole business, but I’d like to say my two five star reviews for my recently published book The Infidel’s Garden were unsolicited and unpaid. My sincerest thanks to you both! And without I hope sounding too greedy, here’s hoping for more.

I’ll say no more on this, as there’s an excellent discussion thread on this topic here.


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