Sockpuppets

There’s been a lot of talk in the media lately about sockpuppets. It appears some writers are buying fake reviews to bolster their sales while others are creating fake personas to give themselves glowing reviews. Even worse, some are creating sockpuppets to attack their rivals.

While I’m not signing any petitions or sanctimoniously staking claim to some sort of unique piety, I figured this is as good a time as any to let folks know how I operate when it comes to reviews and my peers.

First off, I don’t solicit reviews. Not that I haven’t considered it, but when I did it just seemed like a bad idea. I figured solicited reviews would come off as sounding faked and I want the review system to carry at least some weight.

That’s not to say people I know haven’t reviewed my work. They have, I just never asked them to. So if another writer leaves a good review for any of my work, I’m going to assume they enjoyed it. And I do have some two and three star reviews out there that I hope will help to give folks a well-rounded view of my work. Not everyone likes what I write and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I’ve never bought a review for the same reasons I’ve never asked a friend to review my work. If I’m paying someone they’ll likely feel biased and it’ll come off as sounding faked. Besides, I’m too cheap to pay $300 for a review, good or bad. Reviews will grow naturally over time, I’ve found. The trick is to be patient.

Another thing I don’t do is trade reviews. If I review a book it’s because I truly liked it and want others to know why. I’ve read some books I didn’t like, but I keep my mouth shut on those. I really don’t want to burn bridges. Besides, there are enough readers out there to leave their own bad reviews. I won’t leave a good review for a book I didn’t like; I just won’t say anything at all.

The worst behavior in all this is attacking rivals. To be clear, I have no rivals. I’ve said before that artists, including writers, shouldn’t be competing with each other. This isn’t a competitive sport; it’s art. So what if you’re selling that art? It’s still not a competition. It’s not a zero sum game. It seems to me that envy drives artists to attack other artists. That’s an ugly thing. I have never, and will never, attack another writer. I’m not saying I won’t criticize a work, but I’ll keep it above board and do it with my own name. I won’t hide in the shadows and throw stones.

So instead joining the shaming crowd and lambasting others I’m simply stating my own personal code of ethics and behavior. This way folks will know what standards I hold myself to and they’ll know what to expect from me.

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