Book Review Groups?

Anyone ever participate in Review Groups on Goodreads or elsewhere?  I’ve been following some threads and not sure how I feel about it.

There are obvious flaws in the “review swap” method, though if you request honest reviews and make it clear you will also give an honest review, this can easily be overcome.

The biggest issue for me is getting the book to the reviewer/getting the book from the reviewer.

There are some books I am more than willing to purchase in order to read and provide an honest review.  Many Kindle books are reasonably priced, and it takes away from the possibility of being accused of giving a dishonest review in exchange for a free book.

Then there is the possibility that your book and the book of the person you are swapping with are close enough in price that neither of you minds if you both just purchase each other’s books.

Then there is the potential to mail a paperback, and as long as you both do that, the cost is going to be relatively equivalent.


But what about this scenario:

A group organizes reading review groups.  People who are interested join and send a link to their GR page which includes book information and summary.  After the join period has ended, each person is assigned a certain number of other people in the group whose work they will read and review.  These are not reciprocal, so no one will review the work of someone who is also reviewing their work.  A fantastic idea to keep reviews honest and authentic.  A condition of the group, since prices can vary so much, is that each person much provide a free copy of their book to the reviewer, at minimal a PDF.

My concern would be with the ease of distribution of a PDF.

Mark Coker of Smashwords has a different take.


What do you think?  (I have an opinion, but I’m curious what others think.)


4 comments for “Book Review Groups?

  1. June 7, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Rave Reviews is doing something like that. To me it sort of becomes a bit unethical to swap reviews…but that’s just me. With Rave Reviews Book Club you’re agreeing to read a certain number of participating author books, not necessarily the members who are reading yours. I’m leaving it alone though….somewhere somebody down the line is making money, and it usually isn’t the author. I’m sort of a pay it forward person. I read somebody’s book and write a review. Somebody reads mine and they write a review. I don’t want to set it up to happen though. I would rather have a broader picture of what actual sales bring over the long haul, not produced by gimmicks.

    • June 7, 2014 at 8:05 pm

      I also think the idea of swapping reviews is sketchy at best. HOWEVER, I am perfectly okay with swapping reviews with another person as long as it is clear between both myself and that person that we both intend to write a fully honest review. I am a pay-it-forward person as well, but I also know that I need reviews in order to get more publicity (and I’m not looking for a short-term sudden burst of sales. I’m in this for the long haul and hope to build sales over time!). Kind of a tough place to start out, so I completely understand why swapping exists. I just think people need more ethics.

      I’m also curious as to what people think about the possibility of piracy when it comes to unprotected digital files of their book floating around the Internet.

      • June 7, 2014 at 8:17 pm

        I avoid Goodreads like the plague. Exposure comes faster from promos than reviews. I think. Places like The Fussy Librarian and Ereader News Today. Reviews are great. I love it when readers feel compelled to leave them. I just don’t want them feeling obliged.

        There are a few bit torrents sites that have files of my book. It bothered me at first and I did a couple of posts about it. The general consensus from my audience was: Hey. There will always be pirating for those who are willing to risk infections by ad ware/spy ware and viruses to download a book, but most users of those sites wouldn’t have paid for the book anyway…whether the pirating site existed or not. Most of the readers we want are those willing to invest in us. Most people are honest that way. So I quit worrying about it. Maybe I would worry more if I had a million dollar seller, maybe not.

      • June 7, 2014 at 8:25 pm

        All great thoughts. Thank you for sharing them. I definitely need to learn more about promos – how to launch and market them, for one thing.

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