The topic discussed the growing trend on social networking for people to give inflated reviews. This has become a growing issue as self-published authors try to work their way to the top of Amazon lists. The conversation started with some reviewers discussing the backlash that can happen when readers give negative reviews. It also discussed the difficulties that can arise when people do a review swap. Self-published authors can be reluctant to give negative reviews for fear that they may receive one in return. I must admit - it is a fear I have had. But, it comes down to a matter of integrity. My reviews should be honest. If there is a backlash because of this... such is life. After all - as I tell my classes often as they whine about unfair teachers or too much homework - life is not always fair.
The other interesting point that has been made by a few people is that reviews are not for authors - they are for other readers. As a self-published author, I admit that this was something that I hadn't really considered before. To my surprise I realised that my perspective had become skewed since releasing my novel. As an author, I check my Goodreads and Amazon pages regularly (I try not to do it more than twice a day, but sometimes I can't help myself). I hadn't realised that I had become so self-absorbed. I understand just how important a good review can be for an author, and how crushing a bad review can make them feel. But, I realised, the point was true. The purpose of reviews is not to help authors, but to help readers. I will try and remind myself of this now.
For this reason, I am also reconsidering doing review swaps. I think perhaps I will continue to review books by self-published authors and hope that others will do the same for me. At least this way, I know that the reviews I do will be honest.