Recently, there have been quite a few revelations about prominent authors either buying reviews, creating fake reviews or disparaging their competitors in reviews. Benjamin X. Wretlind, in a very strongly-worded blog post, links to some of the articles discussing this and, in his post, states unequivocally that he will not game the ratings system. I would like to join him in making that pledge and hope many other authors will do so as well.

These authors have come together for one simple purpose: to state, publicly and proudly, that they are making a choice to only give and receive reviews ethically and based on any given work’s merits.

Simply, we pledge that:

1. We will not pay for reviews.
2. We will not engage in quid pro quo review exchanges with other authors.
3. We will not leave reviews on the works of other authors if we have not read the work in question.

The full explanation behind each of these items follows.

1. It is wrong to pay for a review. Period. Even if the person/agency claims they will write an “honest” review, they are driven by financial concerns to ensure that writers keep coming back to them. This will not happen if many of their reviews are negative.

2. It is, of course, acceptable to write a review for someone you know. Many of the writers I now consider friends I met because either I reviewed their work or they reviewed mine. It is even alright to ask for a review if you know someone has read/is reading/will read your work. But to enter into an agreement with another author in which you exchange reviews is unethical. Even if you both agree to leave honest reviews, the fear that a bad review will be answered with another bad review is always present. If you read and like a book, review it, no matter your relationship with the author. It is as simple as that. Personally, I will not leave a negative review if I do not like a book (and I know many other authors who do the same). This, however, is your choice as long as you pledge that your negative reviews will be as honest as your positive reviews.

3. The desire to help a friend may lead some to leave positive reviews on works they have not read. Conversely, the desire to harm the sales of a “competitor” may lead one to leave negative reviews. I would urge all reviewers, not just writers, to refrain from leaving a review on any work they have not read in full. Those “slow” first few chapters may be setting up the most incredible story you’ve ever read.

The following authors, listed in the order that I received them, have made the above pledge. Readers can trust that they have done what is in their power to ensure that the reviews of their work are as fair and unbiased as possible. Each name will be linked to the author’s website. If you feel as strongly about this issue as Ben and I do and would like to add your name to this list, leave a comment below with your name (or pen name, if you use one) and the website you would like me to link to.

To sign up, visit Michael K. Roses’ blog here: Petition sign up
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