I was shocked – shocked, I tell you – when I read a recent article written by Brent Sampson titled Top 5 Book Selling Tips. Now, I don’t know Brent personally. He’s got many years of publishing experience under his belt, and I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but one of his tips is the single worst tip I have ever seen posted by someone who should know better. Here is his tip:
TIP # 1 Online reviews are paramount in importance when it comes to drawing attention to your book. And the best part is, you’re in control of your own destiny! If you haven’t yet submitted your own review on sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, what are you waiting for? This should be one of the first steps for every published author.
In case you missed it, his advice is to review your own book on sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He is correct in that online reviews can help you sell books, but he couldn’t be more wrong by encouraging you to review your own book. Never review your own book! I don’t care how desperate you are to sell books. It is never okay to review your own book. It’s completely unethical. If you identify yourself as the author, it is useless because consumers will see it as tacky. If you hide your identity (which I should point out, Sampson isn’t encouraging you to do), it’s seen as dishonest and could sink your publishing career if your secret gets out.
He goes on to advise you to ask family and friends to review your book on these sites, as well. I don’t have a problem with this if they actually read your book. They have just as much right to review your book as a stranger. Granted, they aren’t going to be as critical as someone you don’t know, but reviews are opinions and opinions are based on a lot of factors. If eating all your peas when you were four-years-old matters to your mom when evaluating your book, then so be it. As long as you’re soliciting honest reviews and not positive reviews, I’m okay with this practice. The mind of the reviewer is out of your purview no matter how close you are to them. Accept every review graciously.
So, what aren’t you going to do today… or any day if you’re an author?
BTW – Here’s a story from 2004 about authors who were caught reviewing their own books: Amazon Glitch Outs Authors Reviewing Own Books
*Note – Again, I’m not suggesting that Sampson is encouraging you to surreptitiously review your own book, but still it’s horrible advice.