I was thinking that it might be nice to hook up with the Awesome Indies people. They're basically a collective--the idea is that your work is reviewed, and if the reviewer likes it, you're featured on their Web site and get some extra visibility.
OK, that's fine--you can't ever tell if a given gatekeeper is going to like you or not, but I figured it was worth a shot. So I went down the list of reviewers, and...hey! This one wants to sell you marketing services! And that one wants to sell you editing services! And that other one will review your book (or product!) in exchange for "A ‘fair’ [sic] donation to support the work of my blog (see Donate button on sidebar) that reflects time required to complete the review or achieve your goal."
Holy shit. Way to raise the bar there, folks.
This is something I do not like about this brave new world we're in. Accepting any consideration in exchange for a review is a serious ethical violation in the old-skool world of print journalism.
How serious? Well, I worked at a newspaper where it turned out that the music reviewer had a secret side business managing bands. So he was reviewing bands that he was also managing--a classic conflict of interest.
When this was discovered (if I'm recalling correctly, someone sent something to the newspaper on the wrong letterhead), he was given 10 minutes to clean out his desk and leave the building.
If you're pushing quality, you can't have gatekeepers who will give something four or five stars in exchange for "A ‘fair’ donation." But it's not like the once-respectable sources of book reviews are being any less sleazy nowadays.
And this is what REALLY bothers me--people are doing this because either 1. they don't know any better, or 2. they know that they're dealing with a bunch of newbies who don't know any better. It's why pretty much all the contests for indie writers have entry fees, when a few years ago that was once something that no respectable writing contest did.