There’s a post going around naming-and-shaming authors who have reportedly bought favorable fake reviews from the likes of Fiverr.com — I’d encourage you to note that the post has no evidence of tomfoolery and also zero comments. I tried leaving a comment but, along with others, am apparently held fast in permanent moderation.
(No, I’m not going to link to it. No point in generating traffic for these folks, which for all I know is exactly what they want in the first place.)
I can believe that some authors do pay for reviews of that ilk (which to be clear is wholly separate from paying for legitimate reviews from the likes of Kirkus or Publishers Weekly, which invites an entirely separate conversation), but this post has no evidence to support it and feels ultimately like a hit piece. Plus, some of the names? Throwing stones at giants.
I’m not saying authors don’t sometimes behave badly (they do!), but you also can’t just SAY STUFF and have that be MAGICALLY TRUE (or, also, legal).
For the record, all my reviews — while occasionally solicited in the form of me flailing my arms to the general public and saying “I’d sure like some reviews!” — were not paid for by me, my publishers, my beard, or any other human or non-human proxy. All my reviews are free-range, grass-fed, zero-antibiotic, with no high-fructose corn syrup. No animals were harmed in the making of my book reviews, except for that one llama, AND HE KNOWS WHAT HE DID.
Semi-related — whenever there’s a kerfuffle I get people emailing me or tweeting at me for my comment. So, on the whole Goodreads thing where now they’re clamping down on (read: deleting) reviews that talk about authors but not books, I’ll just say this: that’s the right of Goodreads (or Amazon, now), since they own the space and can dictate the nature and tenor of the reviews left there. It’s not censorship (though it will be called this) because censorship is a whole different animal. It’s Goodreads’ lawn, and they can dictate what you do on it. Your concern over any changes is reasonable and understood and such concern should be met with finding (or, best case scenario, forming) a new place for book and author review.
I have occasionally found Goodreads to be a toxic place for authors, but I have also, far more often, found it to be interesting and enlightening, so hopefully all this will shake out in a pleasing way and we can all hold hands and do the maypole dance once more. Or something.
Now I go back to my edit-cave, where I am sinking beneath the tides on my edits of Blightborn, Book Two of the Heartland Trilogy. Wish me luck. *kersploosh*