I see this all the time. “Who wants to do a review swap?” on Facebook or Twitter or writing groups and it boils down to a waste of time for everyone.
Best scenario, you and someone else in the same genre with the same type of fans review each others books and each have 1 more review. That one review is biased based on the fact that you can’t give them a bad review because they are giving you a review and you wont want them to give you a bad review. If you do this 100 times you might be getting somewhere, but then what do your also reads look like? Probably decent. But that’s not how this is working.
More likely what happens is you and someone in another genre get together and swap books (hopefully at the same price or free) and then you both review each others work, only saying good things. Giving readers a false impression… because marketing. Then you both have messed up also reads on Amazon because you just got a review from someone who primarily reads a different genre.
You also are lying to you readers. You’re starting a relationship out with a lie. If your five star book is full of spelling and grammar errors but is being hailed as some great thing, you won’t get more sales. People read the book preview before buying quite often. It’s scary how often you see 1 star reviews that talk about how all the other reviews were lies.
What’s hurting the self publishing industry more than page read farmers and scammers is all these fake reviews that are making the public distrust authors. By doing review exchanges you are becoming those shady sales guys we all hate (I’ve worked in sales for years). When someone gets burned by a salesmen they don’t trust other salesmen. if someone gets burned by your indie book because of fake reviews you are not just hurting yourself. You are hurting every other indie author. You are creating a layer of fear around books.
Personally when I read an indie book I am usually shocked at how many have lies in the reviews. Respect your work, respect yourself. If you make a good product reviews will come. Be patient.
I love writing and reading. That’s what this whole blog is about (and a little bit of horror). If you’d like to see some of my writing I have some available here.