I once received an email newsletter from an indie author in which he essentially begged for people to review his book on Amazon. I empathized with him because I know how difficult it can be to get reviews, especially for self-published books. But then the author did something that made my jaw drop, and not in a good way. In his plea he encouraged us to give his book a positive review–even if we hadn’t read it!
I won’t be reading, or reviewing, the book in question. As both a fellow author and an avid reader, I’m disturbed–appalled, actually–by the man’s lack of integrity. Reader reviews are supposed to mean something. If they’re all just fakes to pump up a friend’s book, what is the point? The review system is based on an honor code that should be respected. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I don’t care because I’m also right.
I began my career as a self-published author, and I worked my tail off to find people willing to read and review my first novel–legitimately. Not once did I ask someone who hadn’t read the book to review it. The thought never even crossed my mind. I equate soliciting fake reviews to cheating, and I don’t cheat.
If a stranger, or even a friend, proactively tells you that he or she enjoyed your book, then by all means, ask that person to write an honest review. In fact, I encourage you to do so! There’s also nothing wrong with asking for reviews in a newsletter. But there’s a clear line between supporters and readers. If you cross that line and ask supporters who aren’t readers to post fake reviews, you’re sullying the author honor code.