This morning, a writer friends IM’d me to show me a five-star review of a book on Amazon–posted by the author herself. I’m not going to tell you the title of the book or the name of the author, because it’s not relevant to the question and I don’t want to cause trouble for the author. But it did make me ask the question that is the title of the post. Becuse as much as I have a knee-jerk reaction and think rating/reviewing your own book is a bad practice, I’m not sure it’s an objective or reasonable reaction.
The thing is, authors are expected to promote their books. Promoting your book with commitment and enthusiasm presumes that you think it’s a good book, that it’s worth buying and reading. Is adding a positive rating for that book on Amazon or GoodReads or LibraryThing really so different from going onto a blog and touting your book’s merits there? I suppose you could argue that because it’s a given that an author loves her own book, giving it a five-star rating is a little redundant, but is it really so an issue? Especially assuming the author posts the rating/review in her own name, thereby allowing anyone who reads it to discount it as an indictor of how well readers liked it.
In fact, I’d argue that posting a review of your own book under an assumed identity is far, far worse than doing so openly because it doesn’t allow readers to consider the source. The problem is that, short of the author inadvertently outing the alternative identity of the sockpuppet, it’s prctically impossible to know whether an author is engaged in this behavior or not. Which is all the more reason I wonder if we are making the ratings system less honest rather than moreso by discouraging authors from rating their own books. We wouldn’t discourage politicians from voting for themselves in elections, so why do we think authors shouldn’t “vote for themselves” in the court of public opinion?
All of that said, I’m not exactly in favor of authors rating and reviewing their own books. It just seems desperate and even a little pathetic. I’m just not sure why it SHOULD. Maybe it’s really just honesty.
Am I wrong? Tell me why…