Buying book reviews is stupid

buying book reviews
Buying book reviews seems to be on the increase and that can be bad news for all you indie authors out there.

Okay, I’m only going to say this once…

If you’re an indie author and your Amazon page has 142 five star reviews and 10 one star reviews…you know what? I’m gonna think you’re a lying sack of doodah and that you bought those five star reviews in the vain and stupid hope that someone would actually think you were a good writer.

WAKE UP CALL: You’re not.

You’re a dick and, what’s more, you’re making the indie market look bad.

Okay, I can see your point of view, this could be completely innocent. I mean, there could be a couple of things going on here:

  1. You’re a good/decent writer and you’ve written a good/decent book. You just want to give yourself a helping hand and figure…well, why the fuck not, everyone else is doing it.
  2. You’re a shit writer (and let’s face, most of you who do this are) and you just want to try and sell a few more books.

Here’s the thing. I’ve come across a few of these so-called marvellous tomes of literary genius and didn’t quite believe the hype. So I downloaded the free pages.

You know you can do that, right? You who think no one will actually notice that your book is the biggest pile of kack since Mr Kack wrote This Book is Fucking KACK!

None of the books that had fifty or more 5 star reviews were good. NONE OF THEM!!! They were shit.

Now, you either know that they were shit or you’ve deluded yourself into thinking they were non-shit.

Either way you’re a dick.


If you have to lie about how good your book is, then you shouldn’t be writing anyway.

Look, I know you want to be a writer. You desperately want to be known as a writer. But that doesn’t mean you should be allowed to lie and cheat about it. In the end, you’re only cheating yourself.

Here endeth my rant on buying book reviews.

Please forgive the multiple exclamation marks. In my defence, I have partaken of Mr Scotch. Please feel free to add your own rants in the comments section below.

8 thoughts on “Buying book reviews is stupid

  1. I wrote a blog post on this topic a while ago. I won’t pay for reviews, but it *is* a long-standing practice in the traditional publishing realm. Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus (est. 1933) will gladly take your money for a review (although it might not be a 5-star).So yeah, it’s dickish. But it can also be seen as a marketing expense. (And what does that say about marketing? heehee)

  2. That’s a fair point Larry but it will end up doing a lot of damage to the indie market. All these guys are doing is putting a spin on bad writing. I’m not even sure it’s worth while. I tend to look at the ‘jacket’ blurb before I buy or have a look at a book. The reviews don’t really do it for me.

    1. The jacket copy is helpful for telling what the book is about, but might not reflect the quality (or lack thereof) of the story. I occasionally use reviews to make a decision about a book, but I do it a little different: I’ll look at the 3-star reviews.All too often, 5-star reviews are either too uncritical or bought (although the longer reviews are often useful, and I’ve received some very good 5-star reviews for White Pickups). Many 1-star reviews are written by someone with an agenda that has nothing to do with the quality of the story being reviewed (doesn’t like the genre, has a personal grudge against the author, hates the political slant of the story, etc). It’s the 3-star reviews that detail valid criticisms while pointing out what’s good about the story. If the objections don’t worry me too much, I’ll give it a shot.But Chuck Wendig agrees with your primary objection. “This is going to reflect more harshly on the self-published people, right?” Which is why I won’t do it. There are other ways to do marketing, and some of them aren’t (quite!) so dickish.

  3. Ziggy, you write the best rants. 5 stars, gratis.But yeah, to Larry’s point, this isn’t a new thing or even an indie author thing. The main difference seems to be that since they’ve been doing it longer, they can pull it off with somewhat more elegance.So maybe it isn’t so much that Mr. Kack Writer is paying for reviews as that he’s doing it wrong. The illusion of critical objectivity must be preserved. It’s more alluring to open the kimono just a bit.

  4. I know it’s not new, but…if indie writers are to be taken seriously, then they can’t afford to lie. Let’s say that you wrote a really good book. Let’s say that Dear Reader had decided to dip into indie writers based on the reviews…saw that it was crap and decided not to do it again. Suppose he comes across your book but decides you’re an indie writer and not to bother. This kind of thing just perpetuates the idea that inde/self-published authors are just too crap to find a proper publisher. It makes us look bad and we shouldn’t be doing it. End of the day, it works for publishers, it doesn’t work for us. And we should be doing what works for us.This just makes us look bad.

  5. Chuck is right. It makes us look like idiots. And that’s the point. We have to convince people to take us seriously, we can’t do that while some people are taking the piss. And what’s the point? I can’t be bothered to put in the work to make myself a better writer or have enough confidence in myself to employ a good editor? For the self-publising/indie industry it’s a real bad move.

  6. look the other thing is this: if you’re presenting yourself as a 5 star author and you’re not, people are going to figure it out pretty quickly. You’re going to be worth shit and you’ll have to change your name.

  7. I’ve never bought a review, but after reading this I’d be terrified to, lest I incur such wrath! Well done Ziggy, improving behaviour though intoxicated blogging. Good stuff!

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