Reading and Reviewing Complimentary Copies from Authors

I’ve been thinking a lot here lately about reviewing books that are gifted from authors. When I started blogging and reviewing on Goodreads, I started getting a good amount of free copies of books from authors. Not only that, I read for Netgalley, and I’m consistently reviewing books that were gifted in one way or another.

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I noticed last year on Amazon that reviews were being removed if they had any mention of a book or product being given in exchange for a review. You can read about it here.

Many times on Goodreads you will see this on book reviews,

“Thank you to Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.” 

-or something like what I use-

“I’d like to thank the author for sharing a complimentary copy of this book with me.” 

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So, my question today is simple. Is adding a “Thanks” to the author and stating that you got a book for free a negative thing to do on a book review and do you think that it makes the review seem less legit? 

Some people will say “yes” and tell you that it looks bad because in their mind they are thinking that somehow it’s skewed the review into the more positive range. Other people say that it’s a requirement – that you should always thank the author or publisher and be courteous.

I’ve noticed recently that when an author reads another author’s book, they don’t commonly thank the author at all. Could it be that they feel this looks bad? Is that why they don’t include that information on their review?

What are your thoughts on this? Please feel free to comment below…

17 thoughts on “Reading and Reviewing Complimentary Copies from Authors

  1. It’s a great question. I post reviews on B&N and Amazon, and sometimes make a note if I received it from a publisher or as an ARC. Nothing that I’m aware of has been removed, but I’m sure it happens.

    It seems there is a level of untrustworthy thoughts in the publishing industry when it comes to reviews, but I’m not sure how to get around it. Not even sure how it’s any different than going to a restaurant of a chef or owner you know, and then putting a review on Yelp or OpenTable. People should just be honest but we can’t make that happen.

    If / When I’m published, I’m happy for anyone to review it for any reason, as long as it’s a fair review!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, James. I have noticed here recently that if I post a review on Amazon and it states that I received the copy for free-it never gets published. I get an email from Amazon that states my review didn’t meet the guidelines. It never used to be this way, but now I just remove that portion of the review. It makes me feel bad in a way because I can’t thank the author for the copy on Amazon, but can on Goodreads.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! This is definitely a tricky topic. Personally, I believe in always including a note of thanks to the author and/or publisher (and netgalley/edelweiss if obtained that way). It’s common courtesy, for one, but in a way I also think it makes you look more credible. If someone’s hiding the fact that they received a book from the author, to me that sets off a bigger red flag than seeing a review with a “thanks to the author” note. Putting that information out there in a visible way also lets readers decide how they want to approach your review: if people want to take ARC reviews with a grain of salt, that’s their prerogative, and including a note on how the book was obtained helps those readers parse through and see which reviews they want to read. I mean, personally, all of my reviews are honest regardless of whether it’s an ARC or not, and I like to imagine that others write their reviews with the same honesty, but I’m also aware that it’s much more difficult to give a critical review when you have a personal connection to the author, so I wouldn’t be offended if someone told me they prefer to read reviews that aren’t written of ARCs. I completely understand that line of thinking.

    Anyway, tl;dr: I think the more information that’s in your review, the better, and to me that includes author/pub thank you notes. It’s a fact that authors and publishers give out ARCs in order to generate interest in the book before it’s published, and pretending that that doesn’t happen in order to ‘legitimize’ positive reviews seems to me more dishonest than the alternative.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I post everywhere like a lot of us and I don’t usually put where I got the book from. I guess because I think the dialogue between the source (author, publisher etc…) and myself is confidential. I always thank the author via email. That’s me though. Maybe I should be? 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is interesting. I think thanking the author is important, but I’m not sure why everyone else needs to know that you got the copy for free. I don’t post when I read a library book, or get a free ebook, etc. Why do people need to know when you get a book for free? Thanks for commenting R&R. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not entirely sure it’s a negative thing, some people might see it that way and some (bloggers and readers) get jealous of free copies. I guess there’s different ways to word it too but if you receive a free copy you are supposed to state it in some way that you got it for free in exchange for an honest review. I guess it depends on what people think too, most bloggers are honest even with free copies, I know that I am so getting it for free is irrelevant as we spend time reading and then writing a review, that would have covered the actual cost of buying the book anyway.

    Lots to my reviews start on Amazon with ‘I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review’ and none have been removed though I have read its happened to lots of people.

    Rambling, sorry! To answer your question, no I don’t think it makes the review less legit, it shouldn’t do anyway as my reviews aren’t any less legitimate for getting a free book, if I didn’t like it then I’d say.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. H Balikov

    I like the question and discussion. When I read that preamble it doesn’t set off any warnings. I just think of it as a fair acknowledgement of how/why the reviewer began the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When I review a book given to me as complimentary gesture, I give my thanks and appreciation to the gift-giver. By doing so, I’m informing others that my review is honest, despite the freebie. A gift should not equate an unbiased or a blind review. I know this behavior happens, but I like to stand away from that crowd.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Very glad to find a blogger who raised this issue. I am an author and I personally dislike it when a reviewer states they received a copy of my book in exchange for an honest review. I now make a point to request that reviewers do not state this in their review, Sadly – and I don’t believe I am the only writer who feels this way – as well as Amazon’s new policy which at times results in the review not even showing up, there is a certain amount of stigma attached to books handed out for free, and some in the industry feels the author may be “cheating” in some way in order to receive an honest review – ridiculous as it is. I have also noticed that major marketing companies are likely to bypass books which have lots of complimentary reviews. Hence, I personally feel that it is best that a reviewer leaves out the disclaimer as it can result in greater benefits for the author.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing! It’s amazing the different views on this. I think if I were an author, I wouldn’t care whether it was mentioned or not that I gave one of my books. A thank you would be nice, but I wouldn’t get upset about it not being mention on the review 🙂

      Like

  8. The FTC requires by law that reviewers disclose if they received a product for free. There has been a ton of drama on Amazon over the past year, because there were “review clubs” (not affiliated with Amazon) that would ship people free stuff and then have them leave 5-star reviews for the products. It was misleading to real paying shoppers who then purchased these items and realized they were garbage. Amazon started getting a lot of negative feedback from customers, so they decided to ban the practice of reviewing free or discounted items (they also purged thousands of reviewers…)–except in the case of books. You are still allowed to review books you get for free from publishers, authors, or giveaways, but you are required to disclose that you got the book for free.

    You can see some of Amazon’s thoughts of this here:

    https://www.amazon.com/p/feature/abpto3jt7fhb5oc

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-3?ie=UTF8&nodeId=201929730&qid=1494868408&sr=1-3

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=202094170

    Liked by 1 person

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