Authors have been behaving badly lately, have you noticed? They’ve been caught creating fake online identities to praise themselves and trash others. Some have been busted for buying positive reviews for their books while one-starring and bad-mouthing the competition. One jilted author attacked an agent, IRL, and that is no laughing matter, that is plain scary.
Unfortunately, this sort of behavior is nothing new, and it certainly isn’t restricted to writers. Through the ages, politicians, reporters, artists, academics, companies, whole governments have deployed immoral and unethical tactics to promote themselves, demote others, conceal the truth, bend it or rewrite it. Words carry immense power, as anyone ever moved, enraged, galvanized or consoled by them will tell you. They are a vehicle for truth, lies, change and unrest. And rarely something you can overlook when they are aimed straight at you.
When my debut with Ellora’s Cave released, I had no idea what sort of reviews it would garner, if any. EC has a rating system for registered users. And what was the first rating Alex Rising received and fast? An anonymous two stars out of five, meaning, Could be better. No explanation as to what exactly Ms./Mr. Anonymous objected to. Fair enough, I thought. It wasn’t to their taste but hey, at least they gave it a try. Plus leaving a rating without elaborating is not very helpful to other readers, so maybe it wouldn’t hurt the book.
Sabotage, my friends screamed, but how would that work? It might discourage someone from buying my book but not make readers buy yours unless you had a sock puppet recommend, “For a great ménage, read Author X instead.” But I’m not going to lie. I felt bad that was all that stood there for the longest time until a reader voiced their opinion, then a review site, then more readers.
All I could hope for was that most readers felt like I do. I’ve disagreed with reviews so many times, I’ve stopped paying too much attention to them, unless all of them state the book is seriously flawed on some elemental level, e.g. so poorly edited it’s distracting. Taste is a subjective issue. Online reviews are for the most part someone’s personal opinion. But in the light of all that has been revealed lately, are professional, seemingly more objective sites and reviewers any more trustworthy than the anonymous rave or rant?
Bottom line: Do reviews matter? Do you trust them or question them? What influences your decision to buy a book, especially if it’s a new to you author? Is it the
Word of mouth/Recommendations
A new to just about everyone author would love to know, so please have your say in comments.
P.S. If there is one thing I would like to ask of everyone posting reviews, it’s this: Pls pls pls no spoilers, m’kay? No. Spoilers. At least alert your fellow readers to the fact you’re about to dish out, m’kay? M’kay. Smexy Sunday. And thanks for playing.