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Ethics

red61544

Is it ethical for an author to ask for a posted review of his work? I can't think of any reason for this that would be ethical. I can imagine the author wants more publicity for his work or wants to bring an older work some new attention, but he shouldn't be using a reviewer to do that! A reviewer should, prior to reading, be impartial about the work he is about to review. I've noticed several request to have someone's work reviewed. In my opinion. that's unethical. Any comments?

richardshagrin

I am a reviewer and have received a few requests. I usually comply. The only reason I wouldn't would be if I didn't like the story and couldn't recommend it to other readers. There are so many stories, it can be difficult to decide which ones to review. If someone who has my email address, which used to mean I had corresponded with them, why shouldn't I review the story they requested be reviewed?

I am not impartial about the stories I review. I almost always like them, why recommend them to others if I don't? Once in a great while reviewers give scores indicating they didn't like the story. Why go to the trouble of writing a review if you didn't like it? Also the bandwidth Lazeez devotes to reviews is designed to help readers find stories they probably will like, and not to irritate authors, whose products are what keeps people signing on to the site. Readers and authors are what keeps the site alive. Reviewers need to keep those points in mind when deciding which stories to post reviews about.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@red61544


I can imagine the author wants more publicity for his work


I do not think "wants more publicity" would make a request unethical, per se.
I think some sort of expectation by the author about what the review will contain is needed before it becomes unethical - but the line between those may be very murky.
The current process seems mostly self-correcting to me - because reviewers are generally protective of their reputations with their readers too.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I think some sort of expectation by the author about what the review will contain is needed before it becomes unethical - but the line between those may be very murky.

I agree with Ross on this one. Asking for a review is is simply requesting assistance in promoting ones work. There are no clear breeches of conduct. The review is free to either accept the challenge, reject it flat out, or even to write a critical review. There's no demand about what the reviewer should write.

If it's not your cup of tea, or if you think enough has already been said on the subject, then bypass the request. However, if you agree with said author, that his work does deserve a second view, then by all means write the damn review. As long as you're fair, I doubt anyone will question your judgement.

Replies:   red61544
red61544

@Crumbly Writer

Asking for a review is is simply requesting assistance in promoting ones work. There are no clear breeches of conduct.


I have to agree with you for stories on SOL or similar sites. However, were you dealing with a dead tree publisher, it would be his job and yours to do all the promotion work for the book. I daresay if you would ask a known reviewer to write a review of your work, he would balk at the very thought of writing a favorable review. At best, he would ignore your request, and others, if he shared your request with them, would refuse to even look at your work.

awnlee jawking

@red61544

I disagree.

When dead tree publishers are pushing a novel, they send free copies to all the top reviewers in the expectation of getting a decent review in return. And it works - how often do you read a review in a newspaper or magazine that says a book is a complete dud?

AJ

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Jim S

@red61544

I've noticed several request to have someone's work reviewed. In my opinion. that's unethical. Any comments?


I'm a reviewer and I would entertain the request from any author. But he/she might not like what I say as my opinion would be honest. I don't see how it is unethical either. What would be unethical is to solicit a positive review. IMHO.

Replies:   Argon
Bondi Beach

@awnlee jawking

how often do you read a review in a newspaper or magazine that says a book is a complete dud?


I don't think I've read a book review in the NYT that said the book was a "complete dud," but I've read several where the reviewer said something along the lines of, "Nice try, but the author missed the point," or "Nice try, and x, why, and z were done really well, but overall it didn't work."

bb

Bondi Beach

@red61544

Is it ethical for an author to ask for a posted review of his work?


No, unless the author asks the reviewer for a positive review, as several others have noted. The request itself isn't unethical, but for the reviewer to publish a positive review based on a prior agreement with the author, whether he believed in it or not, would be unethical.

I've asked others, including at least one person on this board, to review a book, with the explicit understanding the reviewer would write whatever he wanted. And he did.

bb

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Bondi Beach

No,


What you wrote doesn't make sense unless you replace that with 'Yes'.

but for the reviewer to publish a positive review based on a prior agreement with the author


I've noticed on sites like Amazon that more and more reviewers are declaring when they've received a free sample of the product. Something I was researching buying had a mode score of five stars, but the reviewers had all received free samples and hadn't subject the product to its primary function.

AJ

Bondi Beach

@awnlee jawking

What you wrote doesn't make sense unless you replace that with 'Yes'.


Um, well, you're entirely right. Thanks.

bb

Bondi Beach

@awnlee jawking

I've noticed on sites like Amazon that more and more reviewers are declaring when they've received a free sample of the product.


I read here or somewhere else that Amazon has started removing reviews written when the reviewer was offered a free copy on condition of writing a review?

That's different from sending a free copy to the NYT in the hope of getting it reviewed, but on Amazon I think I'd like to know the reviewer had received a free copy.

bb

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Argon

@Jim S

Then again, negative reviews are discouraged here, so asking for a review is asking for a positive review, or at least a positive sounding review. Still, I would not see it as unethical per se. There may be good reasons for such a request, such as low download counts and little or no feedback, and the author wanting to know what he/she did wrong. Plus, a review may incite some (new) interest in a story already buried on page 7 of the New Stories.

Replies:   Jim S  Crumbly Writer
Jim S
Updated:

@Argon


Then again, negative reviews are discouraged here


A few of my reviews are negative. I'm uncomfortable posting any so tend to avoid it. I don't believe Lazeez discourages a negative review as long as it doesn't turn into personal abuse. At least that's been my experience thus far.

When I applied to be a Reviewer, I remember asking Lazeez about his policy of "blunt" criticism, or words to that effect. I remember his answer as being as long as it is justified or something like that, and that it doesn't get personal. As I said above, that has been my experience thus far.

Crumbly Writer

@red61544

I daresay if you would ask a known reviewer to write a review of your work, he would balk at the very thought of writing a favorable review.

Few authors 'request a glowing request' (other than on Fiverr), instead, they simply suggest reviews consider their works, to evaluate as they desire (no expectations as to their choice in the matter).

The key is to curtail the 'buy 5-star reviews' (using the Amazon system), but retain the honest reviewer positions (and encourage authors sending out 'sample copies' of their works).

Hell, a large number of used book sold consist of 'reviewers copies'.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I've noticed on sites like Amazon that more and more reviewers are declaring when they've received a free sample of the product. Something I was researching buying had a mode score of five stars, but the reviewers had all received free samples and hadn't subject the product to its primary function.

Many of these are goodreads.com book giveaways, where random readers join a contest for a limited number of books, with the expectation they'll write a review. Unfortunately, few will pan a bad book, simply ignoring it entirely, while raving about the few great books they receive. However, I've never known any to bite their tongues and write anything they don't believe.

P.S. I've only had one 'reviewer' request my books specifically so they could be 'reviewed', though I have offered to send advance copies to one SOL reviewer, understanding he'd write whatever he wanted (hint: he liked my other stories).

Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

That's different from sending a free copy to the NYT in the hope of getting it reviewed, but on Amazon I think I'd like to know the reviewer had received a free copy.

Amazon reports anytime a review is based upon "an actual purchase", though reviewers "Selling 5-star ratings" typically request you send them the money for them to purchase the book so it was be listed as being "actually purchased by the reviewer" (clearly a scam).

Crumbly Writer

@Argon

Still, I would not see it as unethical per se. There may be good reasons for such a request, such as low download counts and little or no feedback, and the author wanting to know what he/she did wrong. Plus, a review may incite some (new) interest in a story already buried on page 7 of the New Stories.

Or, an author may want an honest opinion of their work. While few reviewers will actually trash a book, they often reserve negative feedback to private emails, just between them and the author.

awnlee jawking

@red61544

Scrolling back many pages, I found that most of the early reviews on SOL were by Celeste. I may be confusing two different reviewers, but wasn't that the reviewer who asked authors posting to ASSM to put a bracketed asterisk after the title if they wanted their story reviewed?

AJ

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@awnlee jawking

I was not an active reader of ASSM way back then although I am old enough to have been. I am pretty sure it is the same Celeste, who sets the bar fairly high for new reviewers here, or anywhere. One reason her reviews are so good is all the practice she got reviewing a wide variety of stories. As far as I know (and its not very far) she reviewed almost everything published on ASSM. People bragged when she reviewed something favorably, and I am pretty sure not every story she reviewed got the equivalent of "five stars". It is a good idea to read some of her old reviews, when you are at a loss for some new story to read. There are silver and bronze as well as golden oldies among the stories she reviewed. Next time you want to select among the 37,000 plus stories on SOL, let a reviewer like Celeste guide you to one you will probably like.

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