I have been catchin up on the blog posts of adult urban fantasy author, Stacia Kane, and her last series of posts (Something in the Water? / Freedom of Speech / I'm Not a Reader) are about authors responding to negative reviews, how people review, and author reviews. The posts actually go a lot deeper than how I've summarised them and say a lot more, but at the very, very basic, that's what they're about. I highly recommend you go and check them out because they're so fascinating and interesting! I just love when authors write posts like this, it's such an eye opener.
Anyway, in one way or another, the idea that authors getting friends and family to review/rate their books on Amazon and Goodreads is wrong crops up a few times. Of course it is, I'm not disputing that whatsoever, but it got me thinking about a few things that are only slightly related, and I wanted to ask what people's views on them were. And so here we have a discussion!
Imagine these situations:
There are two book bloggers. Over time, among others, these bloggers comment on each other's posts. Along with others, they chat on Twitter. They may bump into each other at author/publishing events, or go along to blogger meet-ups and they chat. About books; characters, authors, recommendations, etc etc. They're not the bestest of buddies, but they know each other, they have conversations, and they get on. Skip to several months/years down the line, and one of those bloggers has a book published. The other blogger receives a review copy from the publisher.
A blogger hears about a debut novel that will be released several months down the line that they like the sound of. They look it up to find out a bit more about it and come across the author's website. Deciding that this is a book they think they will enjoy, and therefore also think they will enjoy what the author has to say, they follow the author on Twitter, after finding the author's username on their website. This author tends to be pretty active on Twitter about various things, and blogger responds to some tweets. The author replies. After a while, the author and the blogger respond to each others tweets quite a bit. They're not the bestest of buddies, but the author knows of and talks to the blogger. Then the blogger received the author's review copy from the publisher.
At an event, be it an author, publisher, or blogger organised event, a blogger meets an author (not the author who's event it is) who's debut will be released in a fair few months time. Blogger and yet-to-be-published author, along with others that are at the event, chat books and everything to do with them. They may chat a little bit online after the event, on Twitter via reviewer & author blogs. As in Situation A, they know each other, they have conversations, and they get on, but aren't the bestest of buddies. When the book is close to being published, the blogger is sent a review copy.
For each situation, with the assumption that the blogger is an honest one and would write based on their actual views of what they've read rather than anything else, is it ok for the blogger to review the book? Obviously, the blogger could have thought the book sounded good and have bought it once it was published, but for this discussion I'm saying the blogger was sent a review copy because then there is the hope for a review from the publisher (where as there's not necessarily any need for a review for a bought book). In each case, the author hasn't asked for a review, it's come straight from the publisher, so it's not the author asking a friend for a review. But would they be considered "friends" anyway? That's my point, would the possible review be seen as wrong in some way because there was some sort of relationship/prior interaction (however you wish to class it) before the book was published?
In what situations other than I've mentioned would it be frowned upon by... readers/other bloggers/authors, whoever, if the blogger reviewed a book? Is there a line? Do bloggers have to watch how they interact with authors? What are your thoughts specifically or generally on what's mentioned in this post?
ETA: It seems there has been a little confusing with what exactly it is I'm asking, so I'm going to put it slightly differently. If the reader of the possible review is aware of the blogger's "relationship" with the author, should you review if there's the possibility that the reader will doubt your honesty if the review is positive?
Comments from bloggers, readers, authors - anyone! - welcome!