In a recent Clarion Writer’s Craft blog, I talked about writer’s groups, and one of the comments brought up the issue of the “dilemma of conscience when support is defined as ‘tagging, liking, and reviewing (even if unread)’ each others’ work.” Hardly a week goes by but some writing acquaintance emails a group I belong to with an appeal to “like” her page, or to participate in a “tagging party” (“Would you help me by going to Amazon and agreeing with the tags on my book?”).
I confess I’ve done this, mostly because I felt a sense of obligation. I might someday be sending out the same appeal to try to boost the signal on something of mine. One hand washes the other, right?
But this reader’s comment gave me pause. Maybe I should be questioning whether this doesn’t just cheapen the process, increasing the noise level. Shouldn’t the “likes”, the reviews, the tags, be reserved for those who have actually read the work of the author in question and become infused with enthusiasm for it? (In which case, she would not have to urge you to support her; you’d do it spontaneously as a fan.) I wonder if this sort of thing only reduces the process to a popularity contest, where the author with the biggest friend and contact base gets the boost, regardless of the worthiness of her work.
Some authors do add the caveat, “Vote for me, if you think I deserve it,” or “If you’ve read my work and enjoyed it, please consider showing your support.” But I get the distinct impression that some of these mutual hand washing parties are all nods and winks. Of course I can choose not to participate, but what about all the rest who are gleefully trading reviews and endorsements? Is this just what one does, part of the promotional process, or should one’s conscience be pricked?