Wednesday, July 14, 2010

If you give a reviewer a free copy of your product, are they obligated to give you a good review?

I think reviews are important, but in the same breath, I really hat giving out free copies of product to review. It is an uneven relationship. If you get something for free are they or should there be strings attached? As a reviewer what is your responsibility to be fair and even in a review, even though you got a free copy of the product? Will you get more free copies in the future if you do a bad review? Better yet, is your review a little tweaked because you have taken free product to review? So are you pimping yourself out to get free products or are you keeping it real no matter what happens? What kind of person are you really when nobody is watching you or better yet when everyone IS watching you? Talk to you later…


  1. Honestly, if you give me a product for review I try to be as straight as I can. I've been writing reviews of books, movies, music, games, RPG stuff, etc. for the last couple of years. And though I may tend to focus on the things I like vs. the things I don't, if a product is crap I let my readers know. It comes down to a matter of principles.

    And I've been blasted a few times by readers when I'm too critical, but I've never had that affect my relationship with the PR firms or companies I'm doing the reviews for. They'd rather a review was honest than not I think.

  2. I do reviews for WotC, Black Library, Harper Collins and several other publishers. I get Advance review copies or often just free books to review. All of the above have had stellar and dismal reviews of their books. That said, each is detailed and respectful. No bashing, no hating. Just a "fair and balanced" review. I try and be very clear about my own tastes in my reviews to differentiate what I consider great and not-so-great.

    All of my reviews go on my blog, but only the stellar ones I really spam out to every corner of the globe (Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, Publishers site, webzines etc.) This way I can keep my integrity intact (and what good is a review(er) that is totally just a marketing tool) and still be helpful to the publisher as a pimp for their wares.

    I've actually written my review contacts at publishers about this. I had a poor review of a product and I wanted their opinion on what I should do. Should I skip it? Should I just go ahead and post it? I didn't want to break the relationship between reviewer and publisher. They told me that it was perfectly ok to write a less-than stellar review as long as it wasn't a total bash: keep it fairly respectful and its not a problem at all.

  3. I recently received my first free gaming PDF from a creator. I plan on giving it a thorough read and doing an honest review. I do reviews on my YouTube channel. I reviewed a beta document this person wrote and thought it was good but flawed. I look forward to reading her more complete and polished work.

  4. Back when DriveThruRPG used to give a product away about once a month, I did a couple of bad reviews on a free product. I don't like to, but I would. On another note, I will also explain if the review is less than stellar due to personal tastes, rather than perceived problems with the product.

  5. I have recently begun to review rpg pdf products and I must say that giving a true, straight foreward, unbiased review is my primary goal.

    I only review stuff that I have a true interest in and I like to think that I provide input that is useful to both the potential purchaser and the product's creator(s).

    I dont think that, just because I got a free product, that I am expected to give a glowing review.

    I do realize that most products are a labor of love and that people can be very touchy about their creations. But polite, CONSTRUCTIVE criticism can be a great thing. I dont believe a reviewer should be a troll! Even if he hates the product.

    And I honestly feel that if I was in a position to lose my reviewing 'privelages', due to a negative review, then so be it. I will live. I am an avid rpg'er who has purchased waaay to many hardbound and pdf products in the past and I will continue to do so in the future!

  6. I've been doing reviews for several products in the last couple of months and some of them, I got for free. However, I don't think that free books or pdfs for reviewing purposes somewhat detract from the reviewers objectivity. At least, it does not detract from mine.

    I've been hard in several of my reviews, but I always try to give CONSTRUCTIVE criticism to each and every product I review and also talk/discuss with the publishers about the perceived flaws.

    If a publisher who gave me a free book should one day be not happy with my review and threaten to revoke my priviledge, I'll just shrug and move on. I'm not dependent on alms and think that one never should sacrifice one's integrity.