Friday, July 11, 2008

Should authors review their own books?

I love perusing blogs, message boards, and Amazon in search of new books to read. At times my love affair with amazon has gotten me burned, when I buy a highly praised book only to be disappointed with it and wonder where all the five stars came from. I'm a little ashamed to admit that this happening multiple times hasn't stopped me from going there.

Just today I came across an author recommendation and, of course, I went to Amazon to see what the reviews for this author were like. Her books have solid 4 1/2 star ratings. Like always, I scrolled down to see what types of discussions are going on about the author's work and see a thread titled 'Don't trust these reviews'. Basically, a reader was warning future buyers that the author often times reviews her own books on Amazon under different names, and gets friends to do it for her as well.
Don't by into the so called "reviews" This author is notorious for writing her own reviews and getting her friends to write reviews of her books. There's even a discussion in paranormal romance called "reviews as weapons" where the author and her friends pat each other on the back for their fraudulent marketing tactics.

The author responded with this:
Troll farts troll farts--run away run away!!!

Her reaction piqued my interest and I went looking to see if she really reviewed her own books, and yes, she does review them, just under different names. I wouldn't have known this was true if she had bothered to hide her identity under the different names. She will post under a name other than her author pen name letting everyone know that she is the author. She has even started threads under one name then switched up halfway through discussions using her author pen name. One of the names that she began a discussion under is used in reviewing two of her own books, giving a four star review of one book, and a five star of the other.

Finding this out made me automatically believe the buyer beware poster. Now I'm not even wanting to read the author any longer, even with the praise that came from readers not affiliated with her. But I wonder if I'm being too critical? Maybe it's not that bad that an author reviews their own work. What do you think?
Is it fair for authors to review their own books?

15 comments:

  1. I think it's not only unfair - I find it appalling!!! The idea of a review is to be as objective as possible and how can an author - or her friends - be objective??? To me it's a clear case of cheating.
    Of course at the risk of offending those who do review at Amazon with only the truest of purpose, the reviews there have zero, zilch, nada effect on whether I buy a book or not.
    Now I'm really wanting to know which book and author you are referring to so I can avoid helping pad the bank account of a cheater.
    *crossing fingers it's not one I like cause even if it is, I WILL stop reading her books - I can't tolerate cheaters*

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  2. Hi Kristie, I see you feel as I do. I find it wrong and it makes me wonder how many other authors might do this. I left the authors name out of it because I didn't want it to seem like I was calling her out, but if you would like to know then I will share it.

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  3. Okay, what I can't believe is that not only would she give her own book a review, but in one of the reviews she only gave herself 4 stars? Why not 5? I mean, if you're going to review your own book...

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  4. But just so that you don't get me wrong, I think it's absolutely wrong to give yourself a review.

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  5. Personally, I think authors shouldn't review their own books... I think they shouldn't even participate to discussion concerning their own books and so on. I know it's hard for them to not get involved in discussion, but seriously... you're just demining your status as an author when you review your own books or start fighting with readers.

    As for family member, if I have proof that they read and review books normally... then I can give them benefit of doubt that they are objectives... if they've never review books... then I say it's totally biased.

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  6. No way should an author review their own book! They would be biased! Just wrong.

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  7. Not only is it wrong, it's totally unethical. The purpose of a review is to give a potential reader information to make a sound buying decision. How is an author reviewing her own book going to do this? Is she ever going to say the plot stinks if it does? Is she ever going to mention the book really needed an editor if it did?

    Of course not; she's going to say what she needs to say to get that reader to buy her book. Then the reader who invests her hard earned cash ends up with a book that might not be what she expected it to be.

    The most appalling fact is that she finds it funny and these people compliment themselves for doing something so unethical. And if enough people find out about this, I bet it will begin to impact sales in a negative way, so why would any author who takes the time and effort to write a book, toss all that away by writing her own reviews and risking alienating potential readers?

    Cheryl

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  8. CJ, I thought the four star was funny as well, but the book is self published and judging from the reviews there seem to be a lot of typos in the first book. Maybe that's why she gave the first book a four star review. Because she knew it wasn't five star work.

    Nath, I don't mind author discussion just as long as it doesn't come off as defense for the book. I feel that once the book is out there for all to read and critique, the author should step away. I'm sure it's not easy to stand back and let people pick your work apart, but that comes with being published.

    Katie, my sentiments exactly.

    Hi Cheryl, thanks for stopping by. Funny you should mention the plotting. The authors four star review of her first book states:

    "Although the plotting could use some tightening, and [xxx's] supernatural world is not as fleshed out as, say, Laurell K. Hamilton's..."

    I guess she was attempting to be fair?

    Whatever, I still think it's wrong.

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. I deleted my previous post.

    Suffice to say this isn't the entire story.

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  11. Hi Zeek, I take it you know who the author is then. And I wasn't in any way trying to call the author out. I came across this while looking up her books which were recommended to me through a friend. I didn't particularly like that she reviewed her own books.

    I never brought the authors name into it and I'm not trying to start a flame war. I just shared a recent experience with those who visit my blog and asked them their take on it.

    You're right, I don't know the whole story, just what I came across while reading the discussions on Amazon. But I take issue only with the reviews not anything else.

    I'm sorry if it came off as any thing other than that.

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  12. No no Brie- it is newsworthy I suppose. I just know the author feels awful about how it's being perceived.

    Her response to the reviewer in the comments was after alot of slamming on discussions boards, btw- and we talked her off the ledge after that.

    She admits to the reviews saying she did it as way to get more out about the book. Though it looks like that it was a silly thing to do now. (She admits to it that too.)

    If you notice that negative reviewer's other reviews in the system, you'll see that they are just there to stir the pot.

    I just thought people should no there's more to the story. (I suppose to some that won't excuse her initial actions, but there you have it.)

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  13. That's really weird. REALLY weird. Is it a big name author? That kind of unprofessional behavior turns me off. :(

    In general I don't read amazon reviews anyway. I don't have a trust relationship with the reviewers. (and often they come across as idiots.) But with you and other book bloggers, I've built up trust. So when you recommend a book it goes straight to the top of the TBR list.

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  14. Zeek, thanks for enlightening me to the other side of the story. It's appreciated. :)

    Ciara, I mostly to stick to blogs of readers I trust. But I do sometimes venture out to Amazon. I really need to break that habit.

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  15. btw, she would yank them if she could but she can't get into those id's anymore. Quote from her: "If you look at the discussion you'll see why they were posted and that I would yank them if I could."

    It just goes to show you- even if you think you're an unknown- to watch what you do online. Stuff never ever goes away online.

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