UPDATE AT END. 10 Oct 2014
This is follow up to my blog post of a few weeks ago
about a book publicist, one Kelsey McBride, who was posting reviews of her clients' books on Goodreads, apparently in violation of their stated policies.
At the end of that post I added an update to report that Ms. McBride's account had been removed from Goodreads, but I later learned that was not the case. Well, it may have been removed and was then reinstated, or else it was never removed at all. I don't know. What I do know is that it was live as of Monday, 6 October 2014, with all the old reviews and ratings still in place.
Ms. McBride, whose Goodreads profile states she is the owner of Book Publicity Services, posted a comment to that blog:
Of course, I have no way of knowing what Ms. McBride considers an "honest" review.
Her Amazon review of Bill Edgar's book under her account name "CountryGirl" is gone, but of course I have no way of knowing whether she removed it or Amazon did. She maintains an account on Amazon under the name "WeLoveBooks" and she has used that account to leave glowing reviews of her other clients' books.
This is what she calls "solid ethics"??
Or how about this:
This is the Goodreads book page for Work Women Want by Jennifer Forest.
Ms. Forest is a client of Kelsey McBride's Book Publicity Services company. From the company's website http://bookpublicityservices.com/ comes this testimonial:
As you probably would have guessed, the book has a glowing 5-star review on Amazon from "WeLoveBooks":
I hope you noticed that there is no disclosure of any relationship between Ms. McBride, her company, and Ms. Forest. Not even the mention of a free copy of the book.
But what's even more solidly ethical is this, taken from the same Goodreads book page:
Yes, two ratings from two accounts. The logo for the "Kelsey McBride" account is, as you can clearly see, the same logo used for the bookpublicityservices post on Booklikes two days ago.
And here's the Goodreads profile page for "Kelsey McBride":
Even though this profile claims the account was "last active" in December 2013, the reviews and ratings it posted still remain in place.
Ms. McBride apparently has a very different notion of "solid ethics" than I do.
And these are just the things I know about, the things I can post evidence of. Goodreads has a stated policy of not allowing "commercial" reviews. Ms. McBride cannot plead ignorance of that, since it was the whole point of my previous blog post.
But let's add some clarification, just in case she -- or you -- still has any doubts:
Here's the link to the Goodreads discussion thread I started when I first discovered Ms. McBride's reviews of her client Bill Edgar's book:
In my post #52, dated 15 September 2014, I voiced my frustration at not receiving any response from Goodreads staff. Taking their silence as approval, I suggested that perhaps it was perfectly fine for paid publicists to post reviews of their clients' books.
After a little more discussion, I reiterated that point the next day:
And that prompted my blog post here on Booklikes.
However, it also prompted a response -- finally! -- from Goodreads Staff:
Well, Aaron, it answered my questions at the time, but now I've got more. I just posted again in that Feedback thread, asking about book publicists who have more than one account and rate their clients' books multiple times from different accounts. We'll see what happens.
Of course -- there's always an of course -- knowing that Ms. McBride's ethics don't prevent her from having two accounts and basically stuffing the ballot box like an old-time Richard J. Daley style Chicago politician, I have to wonder how many of the other reviews on her clients' books are solidly ethical and how many are from sock puppet accounts at her PR firm's office.
Shall we look further?
Here's a review by GR member Jadzia, in which she states she received the book from the publicist for review:
Looks fair and honest. Merely two stars, and a lot of critical comments.
The review was "liked" by
Now it doesn't look too suspicious at this point, does it. Well, it does if you've seen that name "Danielle" before in conjunction with Ms. McBride's clients and reviews.
Because if you take a look at the books on Danielle's booklist, nearly every single one of them is written by one of Ms. McBride's known clients, or by someone whose books she has reviewed.
And of course, of course, "Danielle" is reviewing the same books on Amazon:
If this is what Kelsey McBride calls "solid ethics," I tremble to see what she calls UNethical.
Goodreads has been apprised. We'll see what happens. I'm not holding my breath.
Now, aren't you glad you decided to follow my reviews, Ms. McBride? You're a California girl, so I'm assuming you know about the Streisand Effect. . . .
UPDATE 10 October 2014
And this time I have screen shots.
The "old" Kelsey Mcbride Goodreads account has been removed. I don't know by whom or why, but it and its half dozen or so ratings are gone. At approximately 10:25 a.m. local time, I took the following screen shot of that account's book list:
Where yesterday it showed 7 titles, this morning it showed only 3.
Just a moment later, I took another screen shot of the ratings for Work Women Want, which had been on that list:
It's not unusual for the caching process to hold things in limbo for a while, so even though the book was removed from the account's list, the account and its rating still showed on the book's page.
Less than 20 minutes later, however, even that much was gone.
My intent is not to put Ms. McBride out of business or to harm her clients. If she gets Bill Edgar interviewed on the Channel 9 News, more power to her. That's fine. But let's be really ethical about it, okay? Let's not violate the terms of service of a social media website. Let's not employ sock puppets and buy reviews from fiverr and do all the other slimy things that end up making you and your clients look bad.
If their books are good, they will sell. If the books aren't good, you're not going to be able to cram them down people's throats with deception and sock puppets.
Then again, maybe you don't care. Maybe it's all about the money after all.