having a contest for reviews

Solicit Reviews Through Your Blog? Another WTF Post…

I saw something interesting this morning and I’m wondering how other authors…and readers and reviewers…feel about this. You see, there’s this new author out there soliciting reviews for his new release on his own blog. But more than that, he’s doing this as a contest, and the person who writes the best review gets a signed copy of the book and a monetary bonus. He claims he’s selecting the winner at random…but somehow I doubt “This S*^t Sux,” is going to win first prize.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong here, but aren’t book reviews designed to help readers make purchases? This is why all reviews aren’t wonderful. When I shop around for books, I’m looking for the good reviews and the bad reviews. And if an author starts having review contests, where the best reviewer wins a prize, it stands to reasons that I’m going to question the validity of all the reviews he solicited in this contest.

I’m tempted to add links here. I really am. But I’m not going to do that because it might spark a flame war. And I’m not certain the author knows whether or not he’s making a mistake. This one should know better, but I’m still not sure. And while it’s questionable in an ethical and moral sense, I guess it’s legal to solicit good book reviews and hold contests for good book reviews.

And what about book reviewers? If I were an online book reviewer and I saw an author do something like this, I’d be f**king livid. Like them or not, most of the book reviewers I read seem to take pride in their blogs and they don’t screw around. I also followed an amazon comment thread for a long time and learned that most amazon reviewers take pride in what they do.

Feel free to disagree with me, but soliciting good book reviews by having a contest on your blog is downright tacky. And I can only promise my readers one thing. I’d never do this. I’ll take the good with the bad, from professional reviewers and reader reviews, and hope I learn something from all the reviews.

Who knows? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe a bad review will win the contest and it will be randomly selected. But I still have to wonder about any author who is willing to solicit reviews, through a contest, on his blog. Forget about authors, I don’t even want to think about what would happen if a romance publisher started soliciting reviews and offering prizes through contests. The blogsphere would explode.

Update to this post: Evidently, the author I mentioned above has changed the rules. No more monetary prize in the contest. But I still can’t help wondering about the basic concept.