How To Help An Author: Lie?



I’ve seen this image, along with other variations of it plastered all of Facebook as of late. It makes sense, of course. It encourages people to support authors in various ways. Definitely not a bad thing. However, the last bullet is what really gets me.

“Posting positive reviews on their book’s Amazon page, their website, blog, FB page…”

Freeze. Only post positive reviews? I love a positive review as much as the next writer, but let’s face it; No one ONLY gets positive reviews. I’m sure a writer made this image with good intentions. However, I feel like that last bullet is almost a subliminal message. What I take away from it is that readers should only post a review if it’s a positive one, giving praise to the book. Therefore, if a reader has negative things to say about a book, they shouldn’t post the review.

I understand that no one wants to receive a negative review. Negative reviews persuade potential readers against buying an author’s book. And personally I think the star rating system of books is flawed, but I’ll discuss that another time. Books aren’t perfect. I challenge you to find a book that has a large number of ratings, all of them at least four stars, with not a single bad thing to say about it. I’m willing to  bet that’s impossible.

That leaves me with these questions: Is this image asking readers to lie in their reviews? Should they only say good things about the books they read?

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8 thoughts on “How To Help An Author: Lie?

  1. The other one that concerns me somewhat is being involved in FB giveaways, where the end result is potentially winning a book. How hard would it be to write a negative review for a won book?

    • That is also true, Stephen. However, I think the author knows that they may receive a negative review by the winner. Chances are the author isn’t asking the winner to only write a positive review.

  2. I generally write positive reviews, but I include whatever criticism I have as well. I like to frame anything negative between two positive points, then I can still be honest and fair without feeling, well, mean.

  3. You know, having support is great. A group of people encouraging you on in your endeavors is wonderful and fortunate. I feel that it is the author’s job to promote the book. Hopefully, it will find readers and reach them so that they feel compelled to take some form of action. Even if they did not like the work. I would rather have someone give their honest opinion of the work. There are two principles at work here. 1. (Word of Mouth Marketing) When you do not like something you are apt to tell more people than when you do like something. So from a marketing stand point your book will be spread to more people. Granted it is in a negative light, but I think people usually get drawn to investigate for themselves. Look at the various works in the past that have received criticism and in turn sold more copies than before (Da Vinci Code, The Golden Compass both got sales bumps from people wanting to see what all the fuss was about.)
    2. (People can make a better decision, when informed) With an honest opinion, people can get a better idea of what the risk is if they purchase your book. I tend to look at the negative reviews of a product first, to see what potential pitfalls there may be.

    I do not like the notion of trying to ‘game the system’ just to sell a few more copies. Nor do I like the notion of other people being responsible for potentially mis-representing my work in an all positive, sugar coated light. I would rather my readers/supports be direct and honest about the work, allowing it to stand for itself. I do not want a customer/reader upset because they feel that they were mis-lead by forced positive reviews and gushing blog posts.

    What I want is an honest, open relationship with the reader. I want them to appreciate the work, warts and all.

  4. I’m not sure if there’s a subliminal message here or not, but I think you can interpret it that way if you want to. I agree that it’s not right to leave a positive review if you don’t like a book.

    However, I only leave positive reviews when reviewing books of smaller/indie authors. Those reviews are big for people who don’t have a lot of followers/fans, and it’s my small way of helping (especially if I was sent the book for free).

    But, with that being said, if I didn’t like the book or thought it was just bad in general, I won’t leave a review at all. I think that’s fair – I’m not hurting them and I’m not helping them either. I don’t like being negative, but I don’t like lying either.

  5. It can be hard, but I do my best to be honest in my reviews. For a published work, I don’t tend to find it necessary to point out typos and such that I might if I were critiquing prior to the work being published. That will affect my reading experience, though. If it does so significantly, then, yes, I might make a sweeping comment on it, but I try not to be picky. Try…
    I also make sure to inform any potential future readers whether or not the book is my usual genre. If not, and I didn’t *love* the book, that may be why. However, if it’s not and I *did* love the book, perhaps that says something really special…
    I try to write the kind of review I would want to read before purchasing/reading a book. And guess what I’ve noticed: When I’m looking at reviews on Goodreads, I tend to skip over the 5-stars – technically, they should all say the same thing: “it was amazing!”. So, I read a 4 or two, and I read the 3’s and the 2’s… If the negative comments are things I think I can handle, and the book still sounds good to me, then it goes on my to-read list…
    So, truth be known, the 5-star reviews are pretty much invisible to me. Sure, I do look at a book’s average rating… but I also take into account how many reviews it’s had. 10-20 5-star reviews don’t tell me much… Varied reviews tells me it’s been read by more than friends of the author…
    I’ve reviewed work by my author friends and given 3- & 4-star reviews… and I’ve said *why* I didn’t give five (i.e. I say what I look for in a book in order for me to consider it “awesome”).

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