I have been on the indie author circuit for a good while now, and during this time it has come to my attention that it's largely frowned upon for the author's family and friends to give reviews. This argument may seem logical on the surface but if you start to think about the issue in depth it can become rather blurred.
A review from the author's spouse or best friend may well be biased if it's all praise. Some people are really against this and argue that it's immoral. But what if the book is really good? Does the book really deserve a bad rating just because someone close to the author is writing the review? It seems that no one really questions poor ratings given by the authors friends and family. A family member or friend can give a review just so long as they make it a poor one.
So it seems like complete strangers are the best people to place reviews. Then there's no issue of writing a biased review because you're in love with the author, or have been friends with them since they were aged four. But reviews from complete strangers are extremely hard to come by. I have a few, positive and negative, but most of my reviews have come from people I have networked with over the year. And this again brings up the issue of friendship as I now consider some of my cyber friends closer friends than some of my 'real life' friends.
Can someone slate the author if they have networked with them for over a year? I really don't know but the answer seems unlikely. Requests to swap reviews is also frowned upon, for similar reasons this blog has already mentioned. People don't like to give a bad review to someone if they've already received a glowing review from them. The issue of scratching each other's backs can be rather awkward.
To reach a conclusion I asked other writers this question and I have received a huge response. But the answers really surprised me. The response didn't weigh in favour to any particular side. Instead it was a real mix of thoughts. A lot of writers argued that it doesn't really matter where the review comes from as long as it's well balanced and thought out. And some even said that if the reviewer was a close friend or family member, then they should state that in the review.
So that has helped me reach my final answer. Whoever the reviewer is they should do their very best to write a thoughtful, balanced review.
Please share your thoughts in the comment box.