Self-published authors have to resort to paid reviews in order to sell books. If that is the case then the traditional publishers should stop paying national newspapers and magazines to review their latest product. Self-published authors do not have the privilege of being accepted by a critic for a national newspaper. If the media supported self-published authors then maybe there would be no reason for paid reviews but are paid reviews as bad as people make it out to be?
Paying for reviews is not particularly an unethical thing unless you are buying your stars or rating. I do not find it bad or unethical to pay for reviews as long as they are unbiased and you are ready to be bashed. The fact is that published authors have the backing of their publishers and their editors along with their agents who must pay critics in some form to review their books. So there is no difference in ethics.
What needs to change is the attitude of the critic. The critic needs to accept all art if they are going to be given the status of a critic. Infact, nowadays with indie films that come out, movie critics end up reviewing them. So should book critics be the same with self-published authors? The only problem here is how to define what is a good book or a bad book and that will be something that can be debated all night and day for years on end. If a book has come from a publishing house then the critics are sure that the book will be half-decent (not always the case). So how can self-published authors get recognition and receive reviews from the traditional critics? Well…like every publishing house does, every self-published author is allowed to send their synopsis and then the critic picks whether they would give it a review. This could be proposed or we ask for more critics to be on the field.
I am more than happy to get paid reviews as long as they are unbiased. One review for my book said they did not understand some of my poems and that was a fair point and I expected that from some people. They named certain poems and that shows me that they have read the book. I am happy to give a free book to anyone who wants to write me a review on amazon or on their blog. In fact, they have took out time to read it and are not obliged to be favourable to the book. It depends on your outlook.
I am against people wanting 5 star reviews and this is misleading not only other people but yourself. Your book should be marked for its credit and if paid reviews help sales then why not pay for some reviews? A review has to be a risk, an investment because remember that you may be paying them but you are costing them time. Time will always be more valuable than money itself.
Critics need to realise that the power is not in their hands but it is in the pockets and hands of the reader. If the critic objects to a book being a bestseller due to unreliable reviews then they should read the book and let that speak for itself.
The fact remains is that a book is a form of art. No one can judge art correctly but the only criteria is that the story must connect with the reader and if it does that then no matter what the critic says, the book has made an impact.
So all this so-called controversy is a silly game. Paid reviews are fine until mainstream critics accept self-published work. They can start off with mine!
P.S. John Locke – you have my support!