words about words

‘Friend’ of the author aka “I’m with the band”.

This post poses a great question for reviewers and authors:  Are you obligated to mention that you know the author in your review? Does that connection invalidate your opinion? And what degree of acquaintance counts as “knowing the author?” Does it apply to someone you’ve socialized with X number of times? Someone you met once? Someone you follow on Twitter?

What do you think?

4 thoughts on “‘Friend’ of the author aka “I’m with the band”

  1. Gred says:

    Amazon is full of poorly written indy books with glowing 5 star reviews written by friends and family of the author (some of whom haven’t even read the book but just know it will be wonderful!) This really pisses me off. As a buyer, I don’t want to waste my money (or my time) on a lousy book.

    I know not are reviews are non-biased, but I would like to know if it’s the author’s mom or BFF writing the review. Knowing the author doesn’t invalidate the review, but the closer you are to the author, the less weight I’ll give it.

    I believe Amazon’s policy says something about not allowing anyone associated with the seller / author or who might profit from the book / item being sold, being allowed to promote or review the item. (family member, business associates…..) I haven’t read the rules personally but it is mentioned frequently in the Amazon forums. There are also lots of discussions and examples of friends and family 5 star reviews for poorly written books in the forums.

  2. trixie360 says:

    Do you think that people who only know the author as an online persona can be unbiased? Or have met them once or twice briefly? I understand that close family probably can’t write a ‘bad’ review (though my own husband gave my last book four stars), but what about the casual acquaintance? I met Martin Amis once at a book signing. Do I KNOW him now? Is he my friend? Can I review his books objectively?

  3. Gred says:

    As I said, “knowing the author doesn’t invalidate the review” but I know MY mom or BFF would not be able to write an unbiased review. I can personally admit to some bias in some reviews I’ve written. Maybe adding some extra adjectives here or there. (This IS anonymous???!!!)
    I think most casual acquaintances SHOULD be able to write an unbiased review. Will they? Do they want to suck up to a famous author? (or authoress?) Hope to get an invite to a book launch or a party? A free signed copy? I don’t know – never been in that situation.

  4. trixie360 says:

    I guess I would rather people write a review and disclose their acquaintance with the author than not review the book at all. But I would hope they would give enough context “I’m the author’s cousin,” or “I am Facebook friends with the author but have never met her” so that potential buyers can weigh the level of probable bias. That seems like a fair compromise… doesn’t it? I ask this of all readers, not just you, Gred 🙂

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