Seriously, once businesses like Amazon proved consumer-reviews drove revenue, they made the free public platform fair game for:
Now, the fact that a few authors did this dance with two left feet and a punch to the guts is ... unfortunate. Maybe they watched a few episodes of Dancing With The Stars and fancied themselves one of Hough siblings. Alas, their choice of partners wasn't great. They brought mules to the dance floor. All that braying and kicking called undue attention. The audience booed. These amateurs trampled on the sleek feet of promotion professionals and got called on it.
The dancing analogy not working for you? No?
Aiiight. Moving along. Think of the business of paying for reviews as kind of like a ... uhm ... mob hit.
Really, that last part shouldn't be remotely surprising. Authors spend all day making up monologues for fictitious people. Sometimes those people are villains. Sometimes authors spend a little too much time living in their villains' heads.
That leads to the unfortunate real-world disease known as Epic Douchebaggery (ED).
People who suffer from this disease proactively locate and flame/defame/pan a competitor and/or their work. (Yes, most politicians and all campaign managers have the chronic strain of this highly offensive disease.) While sane, healthy authors are busy writing the next book, folks plagued by ED are trolling public review sites for other authors in their genre and posting negative reviews.
The cure for ED involves a tornado, a bucket of water, a pair of striped socks, and possibly some fabulous ruby shoes.
Oh, there will be flying monkeys.
All kidding and bad allegory aside, the expense of seeding viral marketing is steep. The best thing an author can do to promote their current book is stay off the review sites and write the next book.
The best thing a reader can do to support their favorite author is to buy the next book. Heck, go all out. Buy two. One for you and one for a friend.