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Reviews, Truths and Extortion

As self published authors, we have to do everything ourselves. We have to find people that would be willing to edit our book (for free most of the time). We have to find a cover artist that is willing to work with us for a reasonable price. We also have to find someone to format for us if we don’t get how to do it ourselves. To get our name out there, we recruit people to review our books and help get our ratings up on sites like Goodreads and Amazon. Most people I know are more than glad to accept a free book when all that’s asked of them in return is for them to review a book. Hell, I love doing stuff like that. The last thing we would expect is for someone to accept our free book only to turn around and try to extort us for them to give us a 5 star review.

I recently learned that this happened to a new author. The reviewer messaged the author claiming that their book was full of typos and for the “low price” of $65 the reviewer would gladly give the book a five star review as well as edit the book again for the author. The author, realizing how unethical it would be to literally pay for a five star review, respectfully declined the reviewer’s offer and went about their day. The author didn’t really think much of it after that. As soon as the reviewer got that response, they posted their review.

The review starts out, nice and honest, but at the end, the reviewer goes to town, saying those magical words that turn off any potential reader. “This book was so rife with typos and wrong words that I was repeatedly distracted and taken out of the story.” Now, I am all for an honest review, and I strongly advocate them (as you all have seen), I am not okay with bully reviewers trying to extort authors for a 5 star review. The most fucked up part is that the reviewer still gave the book 4 stars. I have never seen a book get something as high as a 4 star then get thoroughly trashed in the review.

There are books out there that have reviews like this, but they have 1 or 2 stars attached to them. While I have been asked to withhold the most damning piece of evidence, I will tell you this: I have read the book and I completely disagree. If that person were being honest, then like I said, no problem. I just can’t take that review seriously after the original exchange. Let’s be real here for a moment. If you had issues with a book’s editing and wanted to give an honest review, would you go to the author and say “I’ll over look it if you pay me?” I would hope that the answer is no. Hell, I’ve reviewed a book that was full of typos and I was being completely honest, but I didn’t rate that book 4 stars, I rated it 1, as it deserved.  I will leave it at that, and hope that people who come across this book will take the review for what it is.

I just don’t understand why people would behave in such a manner. It’s… Well, it’s disgusting.

What do you guys think? What would you do if a person purposely rated your book lower simply because they wanted money?

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