If you're even on the fringes of the book world, you've heard the fuss the last few weeks about sock puppet reviews. There was a guy in Bixby, OK -- home to my favorite chiropractor and one of my favorite hamburger places -- who made darn good money selling phony 5-star reviews to authors. The phony reviewers would post their phony reviews on Amazon, and readers would get suckered into buying the books.
I rarely pay attention to reviews, for anyone else's books or mine. A good review is great, a so-so one can take the shininess off your day, and a bad one sticks around forever. Best to avoid them, in my opinion.
I always wondered about those hundreds of 5-star reviews for books I'd never heard of from authors I'd never heard of. Not that I claim to know every writer out there, but when people are raving deliriously about a book on Amazon and there's no buzz anywhere else, I have to wonder. Especially when the gist of the reviews was pretty much the same.
Now writers feel the need to announce, "I've never paid for reviews," and Amazon reviewers are prefacing their comments with, "I didn't receive payment for this review." It's a sad thing when it comes to that, but I'm not surprised. The publishing market has shrunk over the past ten years, and with the advent of indie publishing, where anyone who wants to publish anything can, there's a huge drive to take every advantage possible, even resorting to fraudulent reviews and fake praise.
I understand the guy in Bixby has gone out of business. A good thing, in my opinion. Readers deserve so much better.