I can't even offer a solution to what seems like a very shady operation by one of the most widely respected review sites over the years. Books have always been submitted for reviews to major reviewers and then the reviewers volunteered or were assigned books to review. Some of these reviewers made a name for themselves and expanded into newspapers and magazines and then websites. Many independent reviewers reviewed on blogs in return for the opportunity to read for free. One review site sells advertising and reviews entirely different books. There's a wide variety out there.
Ads are one thing. Reviews are different. Their website isn’t a magazine. Prices for online ‘now you see it now you don’t’ content is different from a paper magazine sitting in a doctor’s office picking up new Readers every 15 minutes. Ads are pointedly paid for material ... that’s understood. A review is not supposed to have strings. Now, based on the very large fees being charged for reviews, I'd love to read the books and write reviews ... but honestly, I can't believe the fee wouldn't be an influence on me. Perhaps I'd word my review with more care, hoping the author would submit again next year.
Since reviews are linked to Amazon rankings, which weighs heavily in book visibility, this "pay to play" system is looking ever more shady. Amazon claims they take down reviews from people with too close a relationship. Friends, relatives, FB buddies. That describes my life. I tell everyone I know about my books. How else am I going to have sales with no additional capital investment? So when Amazon takes down these reviews, it kills me. My husband didn't write one and neither did my mother, but other authors I know did, authors whose opinions I respect, and they weren't always generous with the stars. That wouldn't help the readers or me. I believe they were honest with their opinions. Those who couldn't give me at least a three stars and a positive review probably just didn't comment at all. That works for me as a reader and an author. I've had trolls who I believe didn't even read my books review them as if that was going to help their friend's book rank higher. I don't know. Maybe it will, but when all is done, I'll be on the high road heading up looking at them heading down the low road. I hope they can handle the heat.
I'd be naive to believe money doesn't play a large part in everything we do. Advertizing is king, right. So exposure costs either time or money. I read the reviews on Amazon. And I usually read the bad ones first. Why didn't this guy like the computer? Keyboard. Another one star keyboard problem? And another. Guess what? If the keyboard matters to me...those reviews make a bigger difference than all the advertising in the world. So I don't want to find out they are receiving the computer for free and getting paid to use it and review it. I'm not sure I'd trust one of those reviews because the reviewer's future depends on how many "this review was helpful" checks they receive.
Can't we all just be kind but honest? Can't we put ourselves in the other person's shoes and walk for a mile or two then write the review for the shoes? "I couldn't get the first ten feet because the backs dug into my heels, but they looked fantastic. I'm only going to wear them when I sit. I was given these shoes in exchange for an honest review. No one paid me $425-$500 to try them, but it would have helped, and if you want to enter these shoes in a contest, you'll need something for your blisters. I highly recommend..."
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Hair of the Were will be my next book and the first in the ongoing series about Delia Belaquoit. I'm loving it so much I hope you'll at least give it a try and recommend it to your friends when it comes out. Start looking for the first book in AS THE CHAIR TURNS, DeWolf’s Salon and Spa late 2017. Sign up and keep your eyes open if you want to volunteer to be one of the first BETA READERS for us. Subscribe to DeWolf's Newsletter for updates.