This pisses me off, because “buying” reviews got the movie studios in trouble back in the 1990s, I think, and it was as despicably shitty then as it is now.
I am a struggling author. Although last year my sales accounted for 1/3 of my annual income, the fact is that I am working a just-over-minimum-wage job and struggling to survive, so that extra 1/3 isn’t exactly paving the way for more than subsistence living.
The idea that the only way to get good reviews is to buy them offends me, personally. A few years ago, (and there are still “authors” who follow this practice) a bunch of eBook authors decided the best way to boost their sales was to get their friends and family to write glowing reviews, and then to go find the books that they saw as “competition” and have those same people slag the books with really shitty reviews, often full of outright lies.
Looking over my own negative reviews, I can pick out the ones that are from people who actually read the books, and those who are from shitty writers who can only boost their sales by dragging down other people’s hard work.
I’ve never asked friends or family to review my books; I never would. I ask them to recommend me to their Genre fan friends, but beyond that the only time a friend has ever reviewed something I wrote is when they bought the book and read it and liked it. Even then, I was embarrassed by the glowing review.
I’ve also never gone out and slagged other author’s eBooks, because I believe that a writer should succeed or fail based on their own merits. So when I see an eBook like “Captain Spiff Spaceman and the Starship That’s Totally NOT The Enterprise” or “The Plucky Not Star Wars Rebels Fighting Against The Overwhelming Forces of Not the Star Wars Empire” getting hundreds of 4 and 5 star reviews, and the description of the book is so poorly written that even the SyFy would say, “Yeah, no…we’ll pass. We have to do Sharknado 17, Shark Harder anyway”, it fucking IRKS me.
And anyone who’s browsed the titles out there in SF eBooks knows there is a lot of chaff among the wheat. Finding good eBooks are kind of like finding a diamond in a pile of human excrement, these days: you have to look hard, and you have to be prepared to wade through a lot of shit to find something worthwhile.
But I am still personally insulted by offers of “1000s of Twitter Followers!!!!11” and “GUARANTEED!! Five-star REVIEWS!!” that appear in my “New Followers” feed on Twitter. It’s more annoying than all the Viagra, SEO optimization (a tautology, by the way, as the “O” in “SEO” stands for “Optimization”) and Cialis spam comments I get in this site’s “Pending Comments” box. Motherfuckers like that are the reason I moderate all my comments, personally. The “Follower” and “5-Star Rating” pimps are nothing more than cynical exploiters of writers with more money than talent.
I am offended by weak writers who resort to this in order to cut the throats of their competition. I’m outraged by all the good writers wallowing in obscurity. I don’t necessarily count myself among them. As good as I think The Omniverse series is, the fact is, I would rather see the series fail than to use a bunch of fucking liars and cheats to sell my books.
If your book is so shit that you need to use these aggregators to boost their rating, or your own Twitter visibility, guess what? YOU AREN’T A REAL WRITER. A real writer blogs, interacts on social media without spamming their books, engages their audience, and does all kinds of hard work to get their books out there. If you’re looking for shortcuts to success, you won’t find them.
Real writers with that kind of money spend it on having their fucking books EDITED (Including stuff like removing run-on sentences, continuity errors and multiple spellings of the same character names) and getting someone who’s ADEPT at CG to do a decent book cover. Real writers don’t just work hard on their little pet project manuscript and throw it at Kindle and Smashwords; they rewrite, revise, rework, and make an effort in post-writing to make the book appealing to readers by doing all the hard things, like ACTUAL social media marketing, engaging their readers and looking for new readers without spamming or harassing or talking about their works unsolicited, in places they shouldn’t.
But that’s just my two cents. Neither penny of which will ever go towards paying liars and cheats.