This was a discussion that started in my Facebook feed last week and I’ve been thinking about it, ever since. Not surprisingly, I suppose, there were many varying views on this question.
The original post went something like this, “If you are given a free book, you are obligated to post a review.”
As an author, I certainly agree with the spirit of the statement. All writers hope to get reviews, positive ones, but even negative reviews are helpful. And it is a difficult task to get reviews. I don’t know if there are any statistics on it but it seems that a very small percentage of readers actually post reviews on anything they read.
However, the question for me is if I give away one of my books freely is the receiver obligated to write a review?
In my case, no. I make no assumption that giving away one of my books will result in a review. I would certainly be happy if that were the case, but it isn’t something I expect. Just as I wouldn’t expect my buddy Zelda to buy me a latte this week because I treated her to one last week.
Why do authors give away books anyway?
There are many reasons authors give away books, certainly the hope of getting reviews would be one of them. Probably because they’ve been told by a marketing ‘expert’ that giving away books results in getting reviews, will skyrocket them to the top 100 list, make them super visible to potential readers, somehow make them a best-selling author, etc. I know plenty of authors who would disagree with that ‘conventional wisdom.’
But an author may also give away a book to:
- Entice you to sign up for their mailing list
- Get you acquainted with their writing and become a fan
- Increase their rankings in various bookstores within Amazon and on other online book retailers
- Encourage you to buy and read their other books
- Otherwise increase their sales stats
- And probably some reasons that none of us would think of
However, regardless of the reason that an author may give you a free book, does that obligate you to give them something in return?
I don’t think it does. And if it does, perhaps it should be called a trade rather than a freebie?
What about you? Do you believe that if an author gives you a free book that you are obligated to review it? Do you typically review the books you read? If not, how come? Is the offer of a free book intriguing to you or a sign of desperation? What do you think about free books? Feel free to share your views in the comments below.