Writing Ethics 3: Reviews

This post is a follow-up to my last two posts and continues a conversation at Grow Your Writing Business.

Amy Derby said she had seen ads for writers to post reviews on Amazon.com. That led me to share David’s experience. He read in John Kremer’s Book Marketing newsletter about a way to get more reviews on Amazon.com.

Following this advice, David issued a news release that he would give a free autographed book to any reader (not professional reviewer, who, of course, could get a review copy for free) who posted a review on Amazon.com. He said he wanted an honest review of his book and would use the feedback to improve the second book in the series, which he’s working on now. He was hoping that people who had already the book would write reviews or other people would be enticed to read the book. If they didn’t already have a copy, they could borrow one, get it from the library, or order the e-book online.

However, the press release got picked up and posted on several “freebie” sites, and a lot of people posted the review in the comments of David’s blog. A couple of dozen people actually posted reviews at Amazon.com. Many had obviously read the book and commented on specific aspects. But some just posted glowing words about it being a wonderful book. That was not the original intention – David was seeking honest reviews from people who had read the book. He was hoping to get a few more reviews from readers. He still thinks it was a good idea to do this and may do it again with future books. How can you require reviewers to actually read the book?

Of course, it’s common for people to write good reviews for their friends. I don’t see anything wrong with this, IF the review is honest. I am always candid when I write a review (which I don’t do often). However, like my mother always told me, if I can’t say something nice about a book, I don’t say anything. I don’t write negative reviews. If I don’t like a book, I don’t write a review.

What do you think about paid reviews, enticing readers to write reviews as David did, and asking friends to write reviews?

The next post will cover the ethics of ways to improve Amazon ranking.

Related Posts:
Writing Ethics 1: Fake Testimonials
Writing Ethics 2: Voting in Readers’ Choice Contests

[tags]writing ethics, book reviews[/tags]

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