In my early twenties I took a pledge to eat chocolate every day. I’m not kidding, and I’m not even sure exactly why I did it. But I couldn’t keep it up and that failure still haunts me to this day. On the bright side, I don’t weight 300 lbs.
I’m not big on pledges (a statement belied by three divorces, which goes to show that you should never believe a writer of fiction) but today I took another one.
I came across the True Review Pledge site and was immediately convinced that it was a good thing. I’m new to the whole review thing, having only just begun to receive some for Silent Symmetry. But apparently there are a lot of fake reviews floating around on Amazon and elsewhere. This article in the New York Times outlines the scope of a problem that affects not only book retailers but other industries that rely on reviews, such as hotels, restaurants and tech products.
To help combat this scourge the folks at the True Review Pledge have created a site where authors can take a pledge to keep reviews of their work honest. Here’s how the pledge is explained on their site:
It is a great time to be a writer – and a reader. The last couple of years has seen a surge of new titles hit the market, especially in digital format.
What many readers (and some authors) do not know is there has also been a scourge afflicting the publishing industry in the form of fake reviews. Some of these have been purchased by authors or representatives in order to boost sales; others are negative ones posted by authors or their fans to decrease sales of their competitors.
Unfortunately, it is often difficult to prove which reviews are fake and which ones are the result of genuine enthusiasm or critique.
We want to help combat this problem and also help restore reader confidence in the publishing industry. One way to do this is to have authors, publishers, and readers pledge that they will not participate in these unethical practices.
I signed up immediately. I’m proud that my reviews have come from strangers. The alternative is like cheating on an exam. Or on your chocolate pledge, which may be even worse.
(You can see the pledge badge near the bottom of the column on the right.)