On one of the many forums on writing I peruse, there are constant threads about reviews and how they should be handled. There are confirmed reports of "Review Swapping," where authors will trade reviews with other authors in order to help gain their books some exposure.
"Why is that a bad thing?" you may ask. Well, it wouldn't be if everybody played fair and square. If everybody could be honest with their reviews, there wouldn't be an issue. However, some authors have gotten it in their head that if they swap perfect reviews, more people will download their book.
What happens when a book, that is honestly a piece of garbage, receives great reviews from people? It discredits the reviewing system, the author, and the reviewers. Say I write a book and everybody loves it. Know matter how many perfect reviews it gets, there will still be people leery of how many of those people are my friends, family, or even somebody I paid for reviews (yes, you can buy reviews).
I have well over two hundred reviews on my stories, web-wide. Most of them are on Barnes and Noble, the rest scattered around. I have gotten my fair share of reviews, good and bad. All of them have been honest. Now, some of these reviews haven't made a whole lot of sense to me (good or bad), but those are the values these people have chosen for all eternity to associate with my stories and I have to respect that.
So, as far as reviewers go, be honest. A review is your opinion, but make it fair. Don't give an author one star because his scary story was too scary (happened), don't give an author two stars because his short story was too short (happened), and never, under any circumstances, give an author a bad review because he is your/your friends competition (happened, but not to me personally).
As far as authors, I only have one bit of advice. Write the best story you can and live with what people have to say about it. Laugh at the ridiculous, learn from the critical, and never take a review so seriously that you become discouraged.
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