So, it has come out that the indie phenom John Locke paid for some of his 5-star reviews (see link below for the article). He wasn’t the only one but he was the best known. John Locke was the first indie author to sell 1 million ebooks. He even wrote a book about how he did it (the whole buying 5-star reviews bit wasn’t in it).

There’s already been a lot of debate about whether this was right or wrong or whether it made a difference in his sales. Some are defending him. Many are attacking him. It seems everyone has an opinion on it. So, here’s mine:

This may seem strange coming from a guy who makes things up for a living but I value honesty a great deal. I also believe in the value of hard work. Some are defending Locke for being bold and taking an opportunity when he saw it. Fine, they can think that.

But outside of the stories I put in my fiction, I don’t want to tell any untruths to the people willing to read my books. I don’t want to betray their trust. I appreciate everyone that has given me a chance by picking up one of my books or stories and I’m not about to abuse that.

Yes, even if I knew I could become the next John Locke by paying for a bunch of 5-star reviews I simply wouldn’t. It wouldn’t be right. I’d love his level of success, but I’m not about to compromise who I am to get it. It seems he has no issues with it as he defends it in the article. Maybe he’s the same guy who shoved hundreds under the board while playing Monopoly and felt it was okay because it just meant he was smarter than everyone. Maybe manipulation it’s just the way the world works. But, I want no part of it. I’m pretty cynical but I still believe there is good in the world.

I will never buy reviews. I’m not even comfortable asking for them. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting nice reviews and they do help tremendously, but I never want to pressure anyone into putting one up. I want to earn every review that I get and I will be grateful for it.

Now his actions have made it that much harder for indies. He’s given us all a black eye. Any marketer or business man can rationalize all day what he did. Readers I don’t think will be so forgiving.

Maybe I’m a sucker for thinking this way. Maybe the world is going to walk all over me for being so gullible to believe that hard work and honesty can get you places. I’m okay with that, because I’ll still be able to sleep at night knowing that I did right by  everyone that did right by me.

What are your thoughts on the matter?


I want to give you an audiobook.

It's a collection of short stories about time travel, alien invasions, selling homes in alternate dimensions, giant combiner robots, post-apocalyptic beagles and much more. And it's all read by the amazing Phil Thron.

It's yours when you sign up for my newsletter. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!