Reviews, reviews, and what...paid reviews?
This seems to have caught the attention of many writers these past few days, so in case you missed it, have a read. This article appeared in the Globe & Mail earlier this week and it's about paid reviews. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/brand-writer-is-a-brand-not-a-writer/article4508474/
Thought-provoking, isn't it?
What are your thoughts on the subject? Are paid reviews fair play? How can the reader be assured these reviews are accurate and not biased because money has changed hands? You can't. Well, then should these reviews be labeled as such? Like the "Paid Advertisement" page in a newspaper or magazine? I like this idea.
Of course, regardless of the reviews, it all comes down to the individual reader. All tastes are different and while an extremely well-written book might deserve a fabulous review, if few readers find it to their taste, does it matter?
I used to avidly read an arts reviewer in a local newspaper, knowing that if he liked a performance, I wouldn't. And visa versa. I was usually spot on with my assessment of his reviews.
What about the business of cajoling family and friends, particularly those on Facebook or Twitter, to "Like" an author page or vote for your book for some prize or other? This is happening all over the internet these days and my feeling is that readers are becoming jaded. They know that a five-star rating on Amazon could be the result of friends of authors signing in and hitting the "Like" or star icons.
So how will this all end? Will readers, knowing all these efforts in the background, start judging books on a popularity basis -- look at how many stars or likes, therefore this is a well-liked person, so I'll read his/her book? They might. But I think as in all things, if that book doesn't make it to their personal "Best Reads" list, there's little chance they'll read anything else by that author. so, merit will out in the end.
Back to the reviews...I'll be posting one for this weekend. To be up front, I don't review books I have a hard time reading or dislike for whatever reason. And, my opinion is one as a reader, not a literary critic. As such, I don't bad-mouth an author but try to give enough information about the content of the book and its strong points so that other readers can make up their own minds about whether to read it or not. And, I can categorically state...I don't get paid! Hmmmm....
Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A KILLER READ
Berkley Prime Crime, now available
READ & BURIED, coming Dec., 2012; available for pre-order