So, today was a not bad day: I sold the “Ten Least Successful Christmas Specials” piece — twice! — and then, just before I went to pick up Athena, the Fed Ex guy showed up with my author copy of Old Man’s War, which you can see Krissy grooving to in the picture above (she got to the part with the sex, I’d guess). As I’ve noted elsewhere, the fact that one of these is in my possession means that very soon other copies will be in the possession of Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Borders, Powell’s and your small independent local bookstore which you really ought to support, damn you.
On the flip side, I’m still going bald. So altogether, the day is a wash, I suppose.
Incidentally, help me with an ethical question. Two people who have read Old Man’s War have already gone and left reader reviews on Amazon, which I appreciate greatly (no less so because they are positive reviews). I’d like to get a few more in there in advance of the actual release of the book, and so have given some thought to handing over a small number of electronic copies of the book to readers on the condition that if they like the book, they post a review of it on Amazon (and perhaps BN.com). If they don’t like the book, I wouldn’t tell them to go out of their way to post a review, but if they wanted to, then that would be part of the risk I’d take. I wouldn’t want people to post positive reviews if they didn’t like the book — I’d want the reviews to be actually useful to people thinking of picking up the book.
The question: Is it ethical to make a “books for reviews” deal like this — even if I note that they should only post a positive review if they actually like the book? Clearly, doling out advance copies is what publishers do all the time to paid reviewers and established magazines/newspapers/Web sites. Would this be just another iteration of that? Or does the equation change because the people getting the books aren’t “pro”? Note additionally that the “sample” of readers would be from my own personal pool of readers (as I’d be making the offer on the Whatever), so there is likely to be at least some inclination in my favor.
I have my own thoughts on the matter, but I’d like to hear some of yours. I haven’t made a decision to do this yet; at the moment it’s just a thought. I’m actually inclining slightly against doing it, but as I said, I’m looking for some thoughtful opinion from all y’all about it.