A site called “Just Publishing” offers what looks like good advice to new authors especially with self-published books, especially POD.
“Why did Amazon delete my book reviews? Because there was a problem with how you got the reviews”, link.
I can certainly understand that paying for reviews is unethical (although you would wonder if people pay for Yelp and Angie's List, which both companies adamantly say you cannot).
I can understand that family is off limits. But the article also implies social media friends is a no-no. That’s getting difficult, and I hadn’t heard that before. People who network enough to sell their books the old fashioned way probably would attract quality Facebook friends and Instagram and twitter followers. Such a policy would sound a bit self-defeating.
It is true that there are industry statistics on the expected reasonable ratio of books sold to reviews – it’s high.
I’ve noticed something else about the POD business. POD companies often mark the list prices high, which will be only slightly discounted on the Amazon and BN sites, and perhaps some others. Then they encourage authors to try copies themselves by buying hundreds of copies at maybe 50% off or so. An author who really wants to operate her own wholesale (with bookstores) and retail (with consumers) could mark them up to about 60% or so and make a profit. But that would be so time consuming that the author wouldn’t have time for new material.
It’s frankly very difficult to sell books, or sell advertising on a blog, unless you have built a reputation first in some niche that relates to something people will pay for. Fiction sometimes provides an exception, but even then it is often niche-like. Hopefully it’s legitimate (not porn). Given the “gofundme” culture online today (which has become much more prominent than it was two decades ago when I got into this) there is probably opportunity to “sell” in the special needs area – but I have my own psychological and perhaps moral qualms about this.