I recently read a book, disliked it, and left a comment in my review space on Goodreads saying as much. This morning I woke up to a slew of comments underneath it – the first one being from the author herself, and the rest being from her fangirls. Funnily enough, what she was upset about was that I mentioned her “Street Team”, and lo and behold, that very “team” came en masse to complain. I wish I hadn’t deleted the earlier comments…
What’s a “Street Team”, you say? Well, mostly I encounter them in the New Adult genre. Self-published and small press authors employ a legion of readers to spam the internet with promotion for the author’s books, and in return they get free copies of the books (no surprise, they then leave glowing five star reviews everywhere, most of them almost identical in wording).
I’m certainly not alone in disliking this practice. And yes, I see it as unethical. Glowing reviews from fangirls with a vested interest in keeping the author happy are not honest reviews. Having one person do this is misleading enough, but to have an army of people doing it – this is an ethical issue.
Now, all of this would have stayed under the radar had the author had the self-control to #1 not read reviews of her own books, and #2 leave it be. My negative comment in a sea of fangirl five stars wasn’t going to ruin her career.
In fact, I hadn’t planned to give the book a star rating at all. It wasn’t a good book (a hint: if you find what you think is a dead body, being sexually attracted to it is odd, not romantic), but I wasn’t going to bother making a fuss.
But when you sic your fans on someone, leaving comments like this:
You’re just proving my point about how unethical “Street Teams” are.
I consider myself a fair reviewer. If I don’t like a book, I say why. There is absolutely no point in reviewing books if I say I love everything; that would make me Harriet Klausner. I love as many books as I hate, and most fall somewhere in between.
Heaven save me from butthurt authors and their trolling fangirls.