First a bit of news: the return of CHASTITY FLAME! I know, I know. Some of you have been waiting a while for this. Here’s the skinny: the fabulous Tirgearr, home of my books Man City and Swan Prince, will re-release the first novel on September 20th with new art and a big fanfare. The sequel, Lush Situation, will be out in January and then the third book will be out in the spring. No, I don’t have a title chosen yet. Still hemming and hawing.
Now back to the topic: there’s a been a lot of brouhaha on Twitter and to a lesser extent on Facebook and other outlets about the madness that is sock puppets, i.e. fake accounts to review your own books, slag off your competition and mostly be jerky. Now obviously, as someone who uses a nom de plume (actually two) I can understand having multiple accounts (I do not use them to puff up my reviews!). I know lots of people who are active in pagan life in dangerously closed minded areas or who are political activists who need to shield their real life details.
We’re really talking about something far more nefarious here; and it’s only part of the problem. Paying for positive reviews is one of the latest new phenomena that just amazes me. As a writer who pines for more reviews (please!) I can understand the desire for them, but you know, I’d like to be able to earn mine.
As the Guardian says,
Undeniably, they represent the latest stimulating chapter in the rather agonised history of book reviewing (read Orwell on the subject, and Edmund Wilson, and Cyril Connolly, and James Wood …) The ones most to be trusted, however, are perhaps more likely to be found on smaller, more specialised sites than Amazon – Goodreads and Librarything, for example (and hopefully among the Guardian’s reader reviews too). Yes, online anonymity will always raise problems, and no one can ensure, with this kind of reviewing, that what the New York Times calls “the sacred arm’s-length relationship between reviewer and author” is being preserved. But there are book communities and book communities, and it surely pays to choose carefully where you read and write your reviews.
I don’t know; there’s still ten billion reviews for best sellers and few for the rest of us small press folks. It seems more difficult than ever to get the ear of the reading public. And the weight of horrid, ill-informed and just nasty reviews seems deadening. Do you read reviews? Do you write reviews? Why or why not?