Regarding Reviews and Ratings

A Book Review

I was blown away!  Staggered!  Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo, who has delighted us all with the wisdom of her good friend Pie, posted a review of my book Evil Under The Circle (second in the G1: The Guardians series) that is truly humbling in its enthusiasm.  With her kind permission, I repeat the review below:

This is an absolutely amazing story. It has all the great elements, unknown monsters, mystery, special sources, wiccans, druids and dragons. Who could ask for anything more.? I love the way the Special Forces are really special with special powers. Even though they work for the government and have all resources at their disposal, it takes the ancient druid and his baby dragon to help them out. The evil is unknown and is about to break out of his prison of many years. I won’t ruin the story for anyone else, but the druid and the Wiccan are a force to be dealt with. This story starts out nicely and ramps up quite quickly. The characters are well developed and described. It gives you a head start on the series that looks truly fascinating from the beginning. The guardians are some forces that need to be checked out. This is a book that will appeal to people who like action stories, sci fi stories, or stories of the supernatural. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

(This review may be found on Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Amazon* or Kandy’s own website.)

I can only express my deepest gratitude to Kandy.

* The review on Amazon doesn’t appear to have gone live as yet.

Regarding Reviews and Ratings

I should reiterate, here, that I am always happy to receive reviews, whatever the opinions expressed, though I do only pay heed to those which are polite even when being critical.  Failing a review, a star rating is fine, though I do have reservations about such.  To me, it is far too easy to hide behind anonymity when awarding star ratings, whether they be high or low.  Getting friends to apply positive ratings has, sadly, become commonplace, and is very unfair to those of us who don’t believe in begging for such artificial support.  Equally, malicious types can happily apply very low ratings knowing that they don’t have to worry about explaining themselves, which would often reveal their maliciousness with bad critiquing and, frequently, the kind of language which most review sites are happy to remove.

In recent times, I have been approached by several individuals and ‘companies’ on the question of reviews.  These offer, in various terms, reviews in return for remuneration from myself.  I can state that they are wasting their time!  Even if I could afford such things, I wouldn’t ever pay for reviews.  It is, without any shadow of a doubt, unethical in the extreme.  How could anybody, the writer or readers, trust such reviews to be honest?  A company willing to pay reviewers out of funds raised in other ways is fine.  That’s no different to other walks of life, such as film critics and restaurant critics.  If those were being paid, directly or indirectly, by the subjects of their critiques, I can just imagine the reaction of the general news media!  Why, then, do these people think that authors should behave any differently to film makers or top end chefs?  Or are they, perhaps, exploiting a certain gullibility?  If you’re a reviewer, and you receive payment from a ‘company’, I beg of you: check on where they get that money from!  Remember, it’s your reputation on the line, too.  If you, as an author, are approached by such a ‘company’ or individual: think before responding!  If all authors refuse to hand over money to these people, I seriously believe that we’ll all be better off!  Perhaps I’m misguided, or just plain wrong, of course.  You can always give me some idea of what you think about paying for reviews in the poll below (no, I’m afraid there’s no prize! LOL).

~ Steve

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About Steve

An author since the age of 13 years, writing again dominates my activities. My "Imagineer-ing" blog is my primary site. Also: Beginner knitter since November 2010. Favourite knitting techniques: cable and lace. Beginner cross stitcher. Beginner jewellery maker. With the promotion of self publication and all the other work that has been going on here, Dad decided around 2am this morning (22/11/2013) that it was time to begin his next adventure. He was seen off earlier the previous evening by myself, my brother, my sister in law, and my sister, as well as his wife (our mum), and an enigmatic being known only as A Lorraine. After this time of story telling, laughing, crying, joking and mickey taking, we saw how tired both mum and dad were, and we decided to leave them under the (sometimes) gentle care of The Lorraine. When Dad found the timetable for his travels, he let Mum know gently, which woke her from her drowsing, then, with the same gentleness he showed in this universe, he boarded his favourite mode of transport, the Interdimensional Steam Train, and set off with a smile and a wave. For those of us closest, that smile was a reminder that his pain has ended, and the wave, an indicator that he will pop in to all those that knew him, from time to time. Usually at the most inconvenient and in opportune moments he can. While we are sad that he is no longer here, we are happy he now has no pain, and is experiencing more extraordinary things that his writers mind will be frantically weaving into a new story. Posted by Son Damien

14 thoughts on “Regarding Reviews and Ratings

  1. There is a bit of a gray area, here, Steve. If it is an honest review, and the author is looking for more exposure, then the cost could be justified as an advertising expense – and what about free books for reviews? I don’t think there is an author alive who hasn’t given away books to kick-start interest in their work.

    Having said that, I do get your point that many of the so-called “reviewers” are just preying on the naive to make a quick buck. I’ll do the free book thing, discriminately but, personally, I would never pay for a review.

    • True, but how do you guarantee an honest review? And yes, I give away review copies but always accompanied with a very clear statement that I ONLY want an honest review! Of course, if my books were higher priced, then I might change that but I doubt saving a few pennies would really make somebody beholden to me 😀 And if I found out that somebody habitually sought free copies of books and wrote only good reviews (4 or 5 stars), then I’d remove any review of their’s I may have quoted and they’d not get another ‘freebie’!

  2. ” A company willing to pay reviewers out of funds raised in other ways is fine. That’s no different to other walks of life, such as film critics and restaurant critics. If those were being paid, directly or indirectly, by the subjects of their critiques, I can just imagine the reaction of the general news media!”

    As mentioned above this is a gray area as while traditional publishers, movie makers and restaurants may not pay for the actual review, what they do often pay for is advertising which helps fund the reviewers. You just have to look at the one page ads in the newspapers or in Publisher’s Weekly etc to see how much is spent in this way. Is that not indirectly funding the reveiw? Recently the NYT ran a review of Khaled Hosseini’s ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ on the front page of their Arts section. Guess what was on the back page? A full cover ad for the very same book. A coincidence?
    The costs for these ads are astronomical – way beyond the means of most indie authors so why shouldn’t they be able to pay a reputable organisation for a review. I’m not talking about the people who have jumped on the indie bandwagon with offers of reviews for $10 or 50 for $100 or whatever deal they come up with to push books sales, but the established reviewers who will offer an honest critique and whose income is not dependent on keeping in the writer’s favor.
    I recently paid for a Kirkus Review on my latest novel, not purely in the hope that it would boost book sales, but to get an unbaised opinion from an expert reviewer. Since then, I have been receiving weekly emails with their latest reviews on other books and I can tell you, they certainly don’t give positive reviews to everyone. (Fortunately, I was quite pleased with mine. phew!)

    • Thanks Mel. There’s always the opportunity for the unethical to gain from such things, sadly. There are crooks all around us, in every walk of life. Equally, there are those who are deeply, almost violently, ethical, who can indeed be trusted to deliver only an honest critique, paid or not. The problem lies in knowing which is which 😦 Even if you were to consult a listing of those who have always given the appearance of being utterly ethical, the chances are that somebody has evidence to the contrary on at least the odd one or two. Ultimately, it’s a minefield and I, for one, lack a mine detector. I guess I’m saying that all we can really do is hope that we get the honesty we desire, whether we pay for reviews or not…

  3. Having voted definitely unethical – I have to agree with your other commenters – it can be a bit grey. I recently paid to do a blog tour. With that tour I am to get 3 reviews – part of the pkg. Is this paying for a review? I’m hoping that since the blog tour organizers got the money and not the individual blogs, the reviews may be less suspect. But who knows, right? Always shades of grey.

    • Thanks Francis 🙂 Indeed yes. There are times when I think the grey area is bigger than any other. I’m still unsure of Blog Tours, I will admit. Having participated in a couple recently, I’m not entirely happy with how they worked. But that’s another story… 😀

  4. When I first started promoting my book, Pie, I paid 20.oo for a promotion and a review. Not knowing any better I thought that was good idea. Wow! What a can of worms that opened. It took awhile to recover from that, if for no other reason, a bruised ego. I was scolded by multiple bloggers and was told I was unethical and should just give it all up. Since I had just started, I almost did. There are some really mean people out there. That was the only one I guess I paid for, I will no longer do any promotions that involve a review. I do not want to end up back in that boat again! Live and learn. Pie has been a really rough ride for me, but he is worth it.

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