Thursday, July 19, 2012

Trust


I don’t normally post about all the drama going on in the blogosphere, but this one kept getting under my skin. 

A few days ago, author MichelleGorman tweeted an honest question-what do we all think about paid reviews? She had asked a blog [btw I’m not linking to the blog because it’s “coming soon” i.e. they’ve taken it down temporarily. If you really want to know who it is, the Dear Author post tells you and so does Ms. Gorman’s post] to review her book, and the blogger sent back a letter saying  (read letter here on MG blog) that after a careful selection process she had decided Ms. Gorman’s book met their criteria-they felt just by looking at it that it would be a 4 or 5 star review (they only post 4 or 5 star reviews on their site) and they would charge her $95 for the review.

That bothers me. I read a book a few months back that just by reading the back of the book, I absolutely thought I’d love it. I hated it. I gave it a 1, and was so angry I wanted to stab something. You can’t automatically know if you’ll love or hate a book. I don’t purposely pick out books to read that I go in thinking I’ll hate. I pick books I want to read, ones that sound good to me.

But my frustration level with the paid reviews rose and rose until I couldn't help myself. I had to comment. There's a trust issue, here. When I review a book, the author trusts that she will receive an honest review from me-my followers trust my judgment, and therefore they need to know I'm giving an honest review.

How can I trust a review an author paid to have posted?

Many feel we can’t.

As a reviewer, I do have 1 or 2 star reviews. But, the point is-they are there.  They exist. I feel they make my 4 and 5 star reviews hold more weight. My readers also know my taste. They know that some things that didn't work for me might work for them. I've bought books based on 1 and 2 star reviews.

As an author, I’d like to point out that the 1 and 2 star reviews do sell books. One I’ve seen says my book is nothing like Hannah Howell’s writing-well that’s awesome because there are readers out there who don’t want to read a sweet Historical Romance like Hannah Howell writes. Mine isn’t that. So if my book had only 5 star glowing reviews, who would really believe them? There’s no contrast.

 Now, when I tell an author that I will review her work, I take time away from writing, from my children, and from my husband to do this (as do most bloggers). Why? Because it's something I enjoy. I love to read. I love to tell people about the books I read. And that means, the good, the bad, and the "meh." Lately, I've noticed many of the publicists I've been dealing with send me a link to netgalley.com for the eARC. I have a Nook so I only have 55 days to read that book before it disappears from my device, so when I see people say we accept books compensation for the reviews, which somehow cheapens what we do- I want to yell that I don't.  I don't even get to keep the book because it's expired from my Nook.

 I’m not getting anything from my hard work except for the joy of sharing books and seeing people comment on my reviews. That’s seriously a great thing to see. 

I didn't write this to start drama, or to re-start the drama, I guess it would be. I wanted authors out there to see that there are many blogs that review books for free. Please don't pay for reviews-you don't have to. Many blogs support indie and self-pub authors only, many read on paranormal romance, and so on. So you see? There are tons of blogs out there and you don't have to pay to have your book reviewed.

10 comments:

Midnyte Reader said...

I think this is a great post and there is nothing offensive here. You are right, it's a trust issue and I can't see how readers as well as authors wouldn't understand that.

Sally Bibrary said...

A great post with some fair comments, hon.

As soon as you pay for a reader's opinion, it stops being an honest review and starts becoming artificial marketing. You are paying for the reader to praise your novel, and whether its declared or assumed, there's an expectation/obligation created with the reader.

The saddest part is, I'm not necessarily sure that's even money well spent. I stopped paying attention to those inside-the-cover blurbs a long time ago, so they have no impact on me.

If I want an honest opinion, I'll go with a reviewer I know and trust, somebody who isn't afraid to toss out a 1 or 2 star review where warranted.

Michele Gorman said...

Thanks for highlighting the issue to your readers. The more that bloggers speak up to remind writers that paying for reviews is unnecessary and, indeed, detrimental to their book because of the lack of trust paid-for reviews engender amongst readers, the better off we'll all be.

HighlandHussy said...

thank you guys. I appreciate it:)

Michele, you're welcome, I'm glad you didn't pay them anything. I was really surprised at the way they behaved toward you. They were so quick to jump down your throat, and threaten you with their internet lawyers, it shocked me. Why not just apologize afterwards and say they overreacted? Instead this whole thing blew up in their faces, and now their blog is down.

Bonnie Edwards said...

Clearly I've been living under a rock...or my writing desk. I have totally missed all this drama. I believe that's just as well.

I wouldn't dream of paying for a review and if I were asked by a site for payment I'd consider them suspect.

BTW, HH...I always agree with your taste in books. The good the bad the "MEH" is a wonderful way to look at it.

Cheers
Bonnie

Book Savvy Babe said...

I'm glad you wrote up your opinion, since you are both an author and a reviewer, you definitely understand both sides. my entire purpose in starting my blog was because I likes sharing my thoughts and opinions about books with other readers, and I love reading, simple as that. I think it's sad that expectations and greed have become so rampant in the book blogging community. for authors and other readers: there are blogs who simply love to read, and no they don't charge for reviews, they are just happy they got to read a book :) Book Savvy Babe

Tina B said...

I agree with you, HH. Like you said, everyone has different tastes, so I would assume it would be natural for a blogger to have reviews of books that did not score too high. I, personally, like to see a variety, but also like to read about what they liked and disliked about the book. That shows honesty and I, too, don't think I would trust someone who was being paid for their opinion. It seems like most people on the same page about this issue. If I was a reviewer, I would absolutely do it for free. One to help the author and two to share my love of books! :)
Thank you for sharing. I read the post on Michele's sight, but didn't comment. The email that she received was something else. I was just shaking my head.

pamerd said...

Thank you for your post. I agree with you. I have done reviews for GR, Amazon and a little blog I have. Recently I started writing reviews for the newspaper I work for - but like you I do it because I want to share the books I read and enjoy with others.

Thanks again!

Pam

BLHmistress said...

When I first read about this on Michele's blog I was furious not just for her but for all us bloggers that would never dream of charging an author to read a book

I admit I am lenient sometimes but I do have 2 star reviews myself. Doesn't happen often but it has.

The main thing that ticked me off the most was threatening her with a lawsuit, for just speaking the truth.

Jackie Burris said...

Laurie you know not everyone does want to read a "sweet" romance, yours are down and dirty and just as real as life which makes them much more entertaining to readers.

As to all the hooey going on am aware but staying away from it as much as possible, when read posts like yours though have to say that I agree that the issue of being able to "trust" is indeed at stake.

It pains me that there are so many authors out there who are probably now unsure as to just how "honest" book bloggers really are. It really upsets me even more to know that a few "greedy" people are causing such an upheaval in what is actually a fairly straightforward process.

I am like BSB, love to read and love to share the books and authors I enjoy with others. For me that is a wonderful reward just in itself, maybe with some more than others but still gives me a lot of joy if only one person finds something to read from my recommendation and they then tell others and so on and so on!

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