Author Naming And Shaming: A Quick Comment


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*


36 responses to “Author Naming And Shaming: A Quick Comment”

  1. This popped up in my Facebook feed earlier, Chuck. I thought I’d share.

    @@@ KARMA IS A BITCH @@@
    PLEASE READ AND SHARE

    Karma is a b*tch, and the owner of that website is about to find that out. A concerned citizen contacted Fiverr’s legal department and received the following verification of the false accusations. Please share this publicly and stop the hatred! I’ve removed her name to protect her from being attacked as we were. PLEASE if you have time, copy/paste/share

    See, most people ARE good xox

    From: Fiverr Legal
    To: K (Name removed to protect from future attacks)
    Sent: Monday, September 23, 2013 6:56 AM
    Subject: Re: Sharing Private Fiverr Correspondence Online

    Dear K,

    Thank you for reporting this. This blog is a complete fake, including the “employee” who was never employed at Fiverr and the information provided in the blog, thus there is no breach of privacy since it is not real information. We do not promote reviews and never had employees promote reviews for us, and the users mentioned on the blog are not known to us. We do appreciate the fact that you took the time to alert us to this slanderous content.

    Best regards,

    Fiverr Legal Department

    On Mon, Sep 23, 2013 at 3:25 PM, K wrote:
    Hello- I just wanted to alert you to the fact that this person is sharing private correspondence that he obtain while employed with your company on his blog. I believe this is against your privacy policy and may even be illegal.

    (FULL ACTIVE LINK REMOVED TO KEEP FROM DRIVING TRAFFIC TO THEIR SITE) Zon Alert WordPress

    • Yes and no. Naming and shaming is still something of a dick move, with uncertain result and often troubling motivation behind it.

      Should authors pay for fake reviews? Yeah, no.

      Should they be called out and dragged over coals? Enhhhh.

      — c.

  2. How enterprising to contact Ffiver’s legal department. I looked at the list of authors, recognized some I knew personally, and concluded the list had to be made up. What a pile of bilge and a waste of band width (or whatever we’re wasting now instead of paper…probably my time and energy reading that manure)

  3. That site is full of opportunities to pay for false reviews. I can’t believe this is actually happening! (As naive as that sounds….

    • LMAO so true! And just think, kidnapping someone is excellent research for your next book. Forcing them to write excellent reviews on various websites is just icing on the delicious felony cake. Although my current research project has not successfully convinced his extended friends and family to write reviews, so I believe they’ll be getting a finger in the mail. Them’s the brakes, I guess.

  4. … well said, that man.. sure, we all like HONEST reviews, good and bad, it’s all part of the glorious mix… I’m even inviting people to pre-read my next novel soon before i launch it on Kindle.. purpose is to get ‘some’ reviews on early in the marketing process… but paying for them? hey, I’m Scottish! are ye kidding? pay? shhessh !! 🙂 great post…

  5. Sort of on topic.

    When I tell people that i’m writing a book (or books, half way through number three, and I actually edited the first part of number two, high five me Chuck), they immediately say that they will post a positive review for me. I tell them no, please do not do that. They always say they’re going to do it anyway. What is wrong with these people? I’m almost frightened to let them know when I do self publish my stories. At this point I’m considering not telling these overly helpful friends until at least six months after the fact.

    The idea of my Mother arguing with readers who for what ever reason don’t like my book, or aspects of it, fills me with unbearable embarrassment.

    I wouldn’t have even told anyone if you hadn’t written that it wasn’t important to share our writing experience with our loved ones and friends. Thanks Mr. Wendig.

    What do we do with well meaning friends?

    I wish that there were professional reviewers that new authors could pay for impartial fair minded reviews, with the understanding that you have to accept whatever opinion they offer for your book. That’s probably too complicated.

    You know what else I wish for? That Amazon and Goodreads would delete reviews that begin, I only read this because Amazon/Goodreads gave me an advance copy. That’s never a good thing.

  6. I have mixed feelings about paying for reviews, but I do think the most important thing is the quality of your reviews, not the total quantity. To me, the concept of paying for hundreds of Fiverr reviews seems equally as pointless as paying another person there to recruit thousands of Twitter or Facebook followers. These are not real readers, they certainly are not loyal fans, and they’re not really interested in me or my books. So what is the use of having them around? It artificially increases my numbers, making me look more popular, but that’s about it. Will it result in more sales? I find that very doubtful, and I would certainly like to see any factual evidence to the contrary if it does exist.

  7. Originally, I had thought it looked really promising (in terms of scary info). The more I look at it, the more the information seems fishy. Pretty sure now it’s nonsense, regardless of what the Fiverr people are saying. It’s kinda weird, really…

  8. Based on my personal experience with many authors on the list I can say that this person is posting information that I believe to be totally false. Most of these authors are wildly successful and have no need to buy reviews. Yes there has been one or two who have admitted to doing such things but the vast majority of those being called out for buying review has never done this – not even once.

  9. I didn’t so much glean from the article I read,(maybe not the same one) about buying reviews. It seemed to focus on the publicity and horn-blowing about getting spurious seeming awards.. A person has this stuff all over my face book page and the name is so prevalent it seems impossible to block. I honestly feel like it is too bad that those whose careers are more generously underwritten have such success. I know that is purely jealousy on my part, but it seems something more should be part of the equation.

  10. I’ve said it in other places, but I’ll put it here, too.

    I certainly respect the notion of authors making a declaration of having never paid for reviews.That being said, I’ve decided that I will reserve the right to break any rule as the need arises. Review systems are constantly being assailed, so if I ever felt that the decision had to be made to do something less
    than ethical to preserve my “”career””, I wouldn’t want a well-meaning past pledge to get in the way of that.

    I guess that makes me sound like I have no integrity, but to me, writing the book and making it as honest as I can is what matters. My Amazon rating of 3.4 for Book One of my current series is very sad indeed and costs me sales and promotion opportunities; I’m not sure I’m in a position to say I’d never be tempted. When ratings affect the bottom line as much as they do, I have trouble faulting down-in-the-ranks authors who’ve taken a naughtier path.

  11. Personally, I hope the new Goodreads policy puts an end to the author/reviewer drama mongering. I have always thought those lists, shelves and reviews talking about the author were nonsense. Unfortunately, I think I’m one of the only bloggers I know that isn’t up in arms about the policy change, which is discouraging. So many people hate it when you don’t agree with them, which sometimes causes awful toady demons to come out.

    It’s like someone saying they won’t listen to music or watch a movie because the artist shows their ass about or actor throws crazy cussing fits at innocent stage hands. It it’s about the book and reading experience. Ok I get it that some people don’t want to read something by someone they think poorly of as a person. That is totally their prerogative. But I also think it’s rather extreme, to a point. Not entirely but to the extent which some carry it is. Everyone can be a bastard at some point or other. Authors just have more eyes on them.

  12. As for paying for positive reviews, what a horrid thought. I’m sure it happens but I can’t even…ahh my brain just goes on overload and foam comes our of my ears. I didn’t realize Kirkus and PW took payment for their reviews. But hey I dint think that’s bad because they are an official organization geared towards informing readers.

    As a blogger my payment is the read. Sometimes I get thru the book and feel like a millionaire…others I feel like I’ve been stolen from and think I deserve a cookie for even getting thru the book.

    I would hope readers that actually use reviews as a basis for deciding on whether to pick up the book read both ends of the review spectrum before deciding. Me? I read what I fracking want. A review can convince me to read a book, but it won’t convince me not to read it… unless I was already not that interested to begin with anyway.

  13. The closest I’ve come to paying for a review was trading someone a cider for mentioning my book on twitter. The tweet was along the lines of, “I’ve been talking to this author about her book. It sounds interesting.”

    I feel so much better no that weight of guilt is lifted from my conscience.

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