This is going to be a very short -- for me -- blog post. I'll expand it later, but you'll have to come to the blog itself to see the rest. And no, I'm not sure when it will be.
Here's my question:
If several self-publishing authors formally associate with each other, whether as an organized "group" on a readers-and-authors website or on their own collective blog or face to face or whatever, and if they proceed to rate and review each other's books without disclosing that they have agreed ahead of time to do so, are they engaging in deception for their own gain? Why would they not identify themselves as friends or colleagues or associates or . . . whatever? Are they ashamed of something?
Let me reiterate: Are they ashamed of what they've done?
I have said all along that reviews by real people should be allowed. Not reviews by 25 sock puppets of the author, 19 sock puppets of her mother, and 769 computer-generated sock puppets. Authors are real people, and there's no reason why they shouldn't be allowed to post reviews of their friends' books if they want to.
But shouldn't they have enough integrity to identify themselves? If not, what are they trying to hide?
Those of you who have been following me at all know that I generally include a disclaimer in my reviews. Not only do I review under my own name, but I let the reader of the review know when and where and how I obtained the book; whether I've had any contact with the author and what kind of contact that is; and that I am an author of historical romances. Personally, I feel that kind of honesty allows the reader to make an informed decision about the validity of my comments.
How is a reader to make that kind of decision when a book has five, or ten, or 20 5-star ratings but not one of the reviewers admits to being a member of an authors' review swapping group?
Again: Are they ashamed of what they've done? And if they're not ashamed of what they've done, why won't they admit it?