Yesterday I received a bulk email from an acquaintance about a book his son had recently self-published. The well-crafted, perfectly appropriate message explained that the son had asked his father to forward a note, written by the son, about the book. The father, conscious of spamming his friends, threw in a line about how any parent would do the same for his kid. He also said that his son was a lot funnier than he was.
Who could blame the man for helping out his son? I certainly couldn’t. He also used blind copy in the email, a nice touch in my opinion.
The forwarded note from the son, however, raised the hair on the back of my neck. In it he explicitly asks people to post a review of his book on Amazon, regardless of whether or not they had or planned to read it.
I cringed when I read this. How would you feel if you bought a book because of its positive reviews, only to find out they had been written by friends of the author who hadn’t even read it? If you liked the book, you might not care—but what if you didn’t like the book? What then?
Here’s my stance on Amazon reviews: If someone you know reads your book and proactively tells you that he/she loved it, then by all means, ask him/her to write a review. Otherwise, don’t go there. It’s not illegal to request reviews from friends and family, but to me it borders on unethical. Plus good or bad, you’ll feel like a real author knowing your reviews are from legitimate readers.
This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2016 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.