Back in the old days, newspapers and magazines were the only place to read reviews about books. Publishers would send their upcoming releases to these publications and their paid reviewers would critique them.
These days, very few papers around the country even print book reviews. And why should they? Plenty of people are willing to write reviews for free: on blogs, on Goodreads, B&N.com and Amazon.
But how many of those reviews are actually “free?”
Everybody knows that friends of the author are going to write some of the reviews. But some authors, even big name, best selling authors, are finding elaborate ways to get good reviews for their books. For example:
- For every 25 reviews posted to Amazon or B&N, J. Thomas Shaw, author of The Rx Factor, will give away a $25 gift card to the “person judged to have written the best review.”
- Last year Karen Kingsbury gave away airfare and hotel accommodations for two for a two-night, three-day visit to Portland, OR to the person who wrote the best review of her book, Leaving.
- Then there are websites like Readers Favorite that provide reviews and awards for authors. You too can “Become an Award Winning Author.”
I get that people want, okay, need, good reviews of their books. But it makes me highly suspect of any positive review. At least in a newspaper, you know that the writer was paid to give their opinion. These other tactics feel like scams because as a reader, you don’t know up front which reviews are honest. Unless they only have one or two stars. I’m pretty sure no one pays for those.
What do you think? Does it make sense to run contests to bump up your positive reviews?