Reviews: honesty

I recently signed up for a new platform on Twitter that’s meant to help authors cross-promote each other. It seems like a pretty good idea, we each will send out automated tweets about our books with authors of similar genres. If nothing else since doing it I’ve gained a few more twitter followers (Hi new twitter followers!) However while I was setting the service up, I had to use quick excerpts from my reviews. While I was doing that I noticed this:

jablumhighlights

I have a 5-star review from J. A. Blum. If you’ve been reading my blog, or go back into my reviews this name might seem familiar. That’s because I reviewed his book: Over the Ocean and to the Links (Review). I’ll admit we exchanged books in return for honest reviews. I gave him an honest review, at 3 stars. His book had some issues I thought and I passed my feedback on to him. I was happy to have gotten 5 stars from him, and that he seemed to have liked my book. If I’m being honest I felt bad about giving him 3 stars when he had given me 5. But still a new 5-star review and I was happy, so I didn’t look to closely at the review he left.

I don’t feel so bad about those 3 stars now. J. A. Blum’s review is fake. I’m not even sure he actually read the book. If he did, I don’t know that he liked it. Maybe he didn’t and didn’t want to give it a bad review, or he was worried that I wouldn’t give him a good one if he did. He didn’t have to worry about that, I was trying to give him an honest review, just as I said I would. I would not have rated him any harsher than I did had he given me a not so great review. In fact, there are some political points at the end of Over the Ocean and to the Links that I do not agree with, I did not dock him stars for that. I was reviewing his book, not his political views.

My point to all of this is that I want honest reviews. One of the most helpful reviews I ever received was on the first iteration of BlackMail by CelticFrog. It caused me to rethink how I wrote the book, and redo it into the version available today. Here is that CelticFrog Reviews: Original Review. and the newer CelticFrog Reviews: Current Review.

The point here is that a faked review doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t help me as an author to grow, it doesn’t help a potential reader. In fact it hurts, I wish I had noticed it earlier, but I was excited at having another review that I didn’t look at it that closely or I might have seen it. I’ll have to ask Amazon to take it down. Anyone who is reading my reviews could, and probably will notice it. It’s likely to make potential readers think I’m faking reviews or paying for them. (Note: I have never paid for a review. Closest would be a review from Mark Schultz, who I did pay for an advertising campaign. I have seen him give low reviews to others who have taken the same package)

To sum it all up, please review. Its important, reviews are great for authors to help them understand what is or is not working. Its important for potential readers to have an idea of what they are considering buying. But just be honest about it. Faking a review helps no one, and can only hurt the author you’re trying to help.

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