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Well, actually that’s not quite right. He just decided to remove a link to a five star review of one of his Mr Monk books from his blog. Apparently, the more a writer spends on advertising with Affaire De Coeur, the better their review. What a total scam if that’s true.

I have removed the positive review that MR. MONK GOES TO GERMANY received from Affaire de Coeur from this blog because I don’t want to lend the sham publication the slightest shred of credibility.

I’ve just discovered that their advertising director, Bonny Kirby, co-owns the disgraced Light Sword Publishing company with Linda Daly (a court recently fined Kirby and Daly thousands of dollars for defrauding authors). This explains why Light Sword titles consistently got positive reviews from Affaire De Coeur and why Daly was the subject of a cover story. No reputable magazine would review books published by their advertising director…or feature her partners on the cover. It’s a sleazy, unethical conflict-of-interest.

I also learned that advertisers get positive reviews and articles written about them depending on the amount of page space they purchase. That, too, is sleazy and unethical.

I’m notifying my publisher that I don’t want the review quoted on my covers nor do I want any of my books sent to the magazine. They aren’t a legitimate publication. They are sleaze bags.

Harsh huh? I totally agree with him though. I hate that ADC is a (mostly) romancentric review site, because this will do nothing to improve the image of the genre to outsiders. Not that I particularly care, but I hear there are people out there who actually give a shit.

I wonder how many romance authors would have done something similar? Pulled a link to a glowing review because they weren’t happy with the source?

Whenever I see an author quote Harriet Klausner’s review of their book, I cringe like crazy. I’ve never understood why anybody would proudly put up one of her reviews on their site. As far as I’m concerned, she has no credibility, and if I was an author, the last thing I’d want is to advertise the fact that she reviewed my book. *Shudder*

Good on Goldberg for sticking to his principles.

(Although, the cynic in me thinks it’s pretty easy to be principled when you’re already a successful author. *g*)

UPDATED TO ADD:

Lee has also very rightly taken a pop at Romantic Times for their policy of getting publishers to pay for ads in exchange for reviews. I’ve always thought this was a dodgy way of doing things, conflict of interest and all, but I guess since nobody’s complained, they’ve just carried on.

Goldberg lists some of the codes of ethics from the Society of Professional Journalists that govern the relationship between editorial and advertising content:

Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know. Journalists should:

— Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.

Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
— Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

He goes on to list the guidelines for publications produced by the Mystery Writers of America:

The reporter or author of editorial content in the newsletter must avoid any conflicts of interest, real or perceived, with regard to the subject of his articles. All potential conflicts should be disclosed (eg: an author interviewing his own publisher or editor).

– The reporter or author of editorial content in the newsletter should refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment related to the articles they are writing (eg: free travel and registration at a conference in return for the article).

Editorial impartiality and integrity should never be compromised by the relationship and the chapter should retain editorial control of ALL content. Selection of editorial topics, treatment of issues, interpretation and other editorial decisions must NOT be determined by advertisers.

Advertisers and potential advertisers must never receive favorable editorial treatment because of their economic value to the newsletter.

Lee has included lots more guidelines, but it seems to me that both Affaire De Coeur and Romantic Times are in breach of quite a number of them already.

I wonder how long it will be before there is a demand for RT and ADC to stop taking money in exchange for positive reviews? Or at the very least, disclose the fact that the reviews have been paid for?