The world of book reviews – those little snippets people scan when determining if a novel is one they might like – has turned nasty. I have never considered novelists to be in competition with each other since readers who become engaged with a book tend to read more – both from that author and from others. Unfortunately, not everyone sees it this way, and the competition for stellar ratings and boastful reviews has resulted in authors paying readers to write reviews and trashing other authors through pseudonymous reviews.
Readers deserve better.
They deserve honesty and integrity. I expect it when I am searching for a new novel, and I am angered when I pick up a book and waste hours of my life on a dreadful piece of fan fiction that no one, not even the author’s mother, would have legitimately raved about in a review. Therefore, to the readers out there, I make this pledge:
- I will never request or encourage reviews from anyone who has not read the novel, nor will I post a review of a novel I have not read.
- I will not make deals with people as to the rating or review I give a novel or that they will give mine. Ratings and reviews need to be honest.
- I will not pay for reader reviews. This destroys any integrity in the review system. This doesn’t mean I won’t beg for reviews.
- The only compensation to reviewers will be the standard payment to professional review companies, such as the Kirkus Review, or complimentary review copies, but neither ensures a positive review.
- I will encourage all readers to leave reviews of my novels – whether they enjoyed them or not. Negative reviews, assuming they explain why the book was not enjoyed, can be very useful to the next person in determining whether they will like the book.
- I will not publicly trash or retaliate against a reviewer for leaving a negative review.
Unfortunately, given the burgeoning ugliness surrounding reviews, I must also take a step to protect myself, even though it means depriving future readers of a bit of information. To avoid the potential backlash from other authors, I will not post reviews of any novel that I cannot recommend as a decent read – meaning at least three stars. I may or may not give them a rating on Goodreads, but not a review. Hopefully, this will avoid disgruntled authors and their friends posting negative reviews of my novels without bothering to read them.
I cannot stop other authors from trying to trick readers with false reviews. All I can do is to ensure the integrity of the small piece I control and hope, that in some small way, it makes a difference.