Cross-reviews and Cross-promotions can be very beneficial for those that participate, however what is not alright is gratuitous reviews based upon an agreed upon exchange without having read the work being reviewed. That's fraudulent to the reading public, relying upon reviews to make an informed decision to purchase an unknown author based upon that review. It is also against Amazon policy and might get you unlisted.
A workable solution to that is offering an Ebook of the work to another author to read before reviewing. Most POD publishing platforms allow the author to purchase their book for print cost, thereby making it viable to give away a few copies for reviewers. Also Kindle Select offers promotional offers for Ebooks, either reduced price tiers (author’s choice) for seven days or for free for five days, and that makes it easy for a potential reviewer to download your book free for reading. By this means when another author leaves a review of your book, they are leaving an honest review, as any other reader of your book(s).
As I wrote in an earlier post, I have done cross-reviews with other authors in the past year. The books read were an eclectic mix of non-fiction and fiction. Reviewing the non-fiction entailed focusing on the content and ease of understanding new concepts. Reviews on the fictional books, mostly Fantasy Fiction, were focused on character development, storyline, historical relevance, writing style and the use of metaphor. For doing this, my books were read by the reciprocal authors, and reviews were left on the listing pages of the books read.
The end result of these exchanges was beneficial to the authors involved. Potential readers that make it to the listing page of an author’s book will certainly see the book’s rating at the top of the page, based upon the review & rating left by the reader . That will be very influential for a prospective reader in deciding whether to take a chance on reading an author unknown to them. Numerous ratings of 4 & 5 Stars makes a book look rather inviting. There could just as well be lower ratings and/or biting reviews of one’s book as well. Something that might be very informative or revealing to an emerging author. I will be speaking to this in a later post.
I don’t know that I would go so far as to encourage authors to do cross-review exchanges unless they feel very comfortable with the quality of their book(s), and don’t take offense to potential critiquing and criticisms. This process demands armored skin. This practice is also tends to be time consuming, especially when reading novels. If you read anyway, and find an author of your chosen genre, it can be a win-win situation. Make the process enjoyable and keep the process honest and it can be a very rewarding experience.