There’s a discussion over at Dear Author about the practice of purchasing Amazon reviews. Apparently, there’s a service called Fiverr that offers to post 5-star reviews for books–at a price. In a word, ugh!
But that’s not really what I want to talk about. In the thread, Courtney Milan pointed out that some authors are more assertive than others about soliciting reviews from readers, and that this might in some cases account for a high number of reviews relative to sales for some books. The strategies authors employ to accomplish this include offering a free copy of the next book in exchange for a review or even just suggesting that, if the reader liked the book, she should consider reviewing it.
Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this practice (although the free next book in exchange for a review thing makes me squeamish for reasons I can’t quite articulate). But, I don’t do it and I don’t have any intention to. And part of the reason for that is…what about the readers who didn’t like the book? I think they are just as deserving of encouragement to register their opinions as the ones who do like the book.
I don’t want to be seen as soliciting only those expressions of opinions that serve me. By the same token, I’m not sure that adding a note at the back of the book that said, “Whether you loved this book or not, please consider reviewing it” feels a great deal more comfortable. I figure readers can decide for themselves whether they feel strongly enough, one way or the other, to review my book.
I also never, ever answer fan mail with a suggestion that the reader consider reviewing my books. That might seem like a perfect opportunity, since the person obviously liked the book(s) enough to take the time to personally contact me, but it just feels icky to me to do that.
What do you think? If an author asks you to review a book, are you more likely to do so? Does it seems presumptuous to you?