Should Authors Pay for Book Reviews?

by | Aug 29, 2012

There’s been a lot of talk about paid book reviews since the New York Times ran an article by David Streitfeld this weekend about Todd Rutherford (a.k.a. “The Publishing Guru”) and the business he started selling reviews to authors.

When he got started, Rutherford was working for a subsidy publisher so he was quite aware of how desperate authors can be to get any attention for their books. So he started a business to sell them what they were looking for.

Rutherford isn’t alone in this business, but he does seem to have used the tools of social media—a large Twitter following and a site to sell the service—to create quite a profitable business.

According to the Times, at his peak he was making over $28,000 a month and hiring other writers to keep up with the demand. When Amazon started removing his reviews, the business was over and is now offline.

The story has continued to develop, and there was a followup today from Publishers Weekly, about Rutherford’s attempts to capitalize on the notoriety from the Times article.

On Salon.com Erin Keane weighed in with a lengthy look at the affair, and social media hasn’t been quiet either. Here’s a tweet from today by author Maureen Johnson for instance:

A Long and Unfortunate History

But more to the point is the question the whole affair has raised: should authors pay for reviews?

There are lots of people now trying to make money from self-publishers, and many of the services being offered are from professionals who know their stuff and will work hard to help you make your book a success.

Then there are the other people.

Even institutions like ForeWord, Kirkus and Publishers Weekly offer programs where you pay to play. Although PW doesn’t guarantee a review, there are lots of other places you can simply buy them.

The reason thousands of authors pay for these reviews is simple—reviews can help sell books. The biggest problem self-publishers face is getting attention for their book. Book reviews will help with that.

Apparently even indie icon John Locke bought over 300 reviews to help push his popularity when it looked like blogging and social media alone wouldn’t sell enough books.

What Should You Do?

I’ve always advised authors not to pay for reviews. I can see doing it as a marketing ploy, but I don’t like it, and here’s why:

  1. It’s dishonest to your readers, who will assume the review is an honest and unsolicited commentary on your work, while you know it’s anything but that.
  2. It cheapens the entire review process, injecting a lot of cynicism at the same time.

There are hundreds of reviewers, both online and offline, who will review your book if you ask them. Of course, you’ll need to have a decent book to begin with, one written and published with your readers in mind.

And you’ll have to do some work, maybe even hire someone to help you manage it.

Going through the process of getting blurbs, testimonials and reviews is one of the best exercises in feet-on-the-ground book marketing any author can have. It will teach you a huge amount about how books actually get sold, and how your book is being received. That’s incredibly valuable learning for any author.

I would hate to think that authors believe they can somehow short-circuit the work required to get book reviews, because it’s not that hard.

You identify good prospects, people who are actually interested in the kinds of books you write. Then you query them and, if they’re interested, you send a book and your marketing materials.

Instead of spending all that money on paid book reviews, think about what Erin Keane wrote near the end of her Salon article:

Being independent should mean that you’re willing to do all the work yourself in exchange for autonomy and all the rewards. Indie authors can fight the reductive “lazy” tag by upholding strict community standards that honor both authors and readers. The readers, remember them? … Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.

Put your energy and income into creating the best book you can, then proudly go out and get your own reviews. Your readers will thank you.

What do you think? Have you paid for reviews? How did that work out for you? Let me know in the comments.

Photo by tracy_olson

tbd advanced publishing starter kit

135 Comments

  1. Firie Mhene

    I am a very newly published author, and I would oay for reviews. I only won’t pay for the quality and content of the review. I would pay and let the reviewer do what they know best, and trust that they will be absolutely honest. That is my 2-cents.

    Reply
  2. Anita Sanders

    I can only speak for myself and actually others that I have recommended to paid book review services and they have been extremely happy. The review service that I have repeatedly have used over the years has been Pacific Book Review. Excellent book review service. They go above and beyond and help get the word out about my book. If they see an issue or problem with my book, they let me know what needs to be done to change it. Pacific Book Review (https://www.pacificbookreview.com) does provide three different book review packages depending on the level of marketing the author needs. I can’t say enough about how they have helped with the promotion of my books and is certainly well worth the money. They also have a book awards contest and do video book trailers. You do have to spend money an order to make money. It’s so simple and yet very true.

    I hope this information is helpful!! If you have any questions just comment and I will reply. I guarantee you if considering a book review service pick this one. Read the testimonial page.

    Reply
  3. Debbie

    How do you chose books for your personal reading? How do you discover books you want to read?

    If you do use reviews in your decision making, how? Does a book with a dozen mixed reviews from people who sound like they read the book have more credibility than a hundred 4-5 star reviews admiring the book but sounding pretty generic? Does a book’s average rating cause you to avoid or choose a book? Does the average rating mattering depend on how many ratings where a book with a handful of five star ratings dated around the release just seem like promotions geared to book release? If a book had an average 1-star rating but only had one review clearly from a troll with an axe to grind do you still consider the average rating?

    It might help to put yourself in a reader’s shoes before deciding on how you want to get reviews.

    If you were a top reviewer on any popular site, just how many authors do you think are contacting you whether or not you even read books in their genre? If you do accept free for review books, just how many do you think you’ll have to get through to catch up to all submissions? (On some book sites you can tell that a reviewer has already tagged, keyword-ed or shelved thousands of books things like TBR, to-be-read, to-read-have-bought where even if they receive yiur book clearly they will not get to yours in a timely fashion.)

    Reply
  4. Ivane

    I am a professional reviewer (free honest reviews), and there are 1600 books on the list with company I work, all in the same genre. I am one of the fastest workers, but even I have my limits. I am reviewing books sent to us in March 2014. So yes, you can get free reviews from people if you just ask, but it can take a while.

    Reply
    • Lenny Coleman

      These are mini tales and stories of life, love, family and unconditional love.
      Stories of hope, dreams lost and dreams found, Bullying, stories of hopelessness and loneliness, stories of love lost and love found, stories
      of self doubt and self esteem, illustrated in the form of animal tales, that
      makes them easy to understand and relate too.

      Reply
  5. Neil

    “There are hundreds of reviewers, both online and offline, who will review your book if you ask them. ”

    No there aren’t. Try actually doing it instead of just writing about doing it and you will discover it is nigh on impossible to get reviews from people simply by asking. The world and his wife are now self publishing. As you rightly state elsewhere, the biggest problem is getting some attention for a self-published book. I’ve been trying to get reviews for my book wothout paying for them for nearly a year. So far I’ve managed to get 7 reviews, and that took a LOT of work. Also, those reviews were all 5-star glowing reviews and have not made the slightest difference to sales.

    Reply
    • Katrina

      I totally agree with what you are saying. I have also tried to attain reviews for both of my books, which have been published within the last year. I noticed that the people that I approached for free reviews, were not courteous at all. Hardly any of them replied with a response, therefore they left me hanging. Even a “no” would have been nice. In saying that, the one that did respond informed me that she would review my first title, though that was over six months ago now and I am still patiently waiting. I admit that due to the problems that I had encountered (the lack of common courtesy of free book reviewers, and the expense attached to paid reviews) I started a competitive, genuine book reviewing business. Not that I am poaching because I am not. I am just stating that recognition for a self published title is hard, and frustrating at times. I suppose the bottom line is, yes a person can ask for free book reviews, but in reality that is no guarantee that the free reviewer is going to commit.

      Reply
      • Joel Friedlander

        Katrina, considering the number of books being published each year, there are two things every writer should be concerned about if they want a large audience: 1) putting in the time to build your author platform, and 2) producing a book that really stands out from the crowd in terms of quality. Do those 2 things and you’ll stand a much better chance of success.

        Reply
      • Ernie Zelinski

        Katrina:

        In regards to getting reviews for a self-published book, I agree with Joel, particularly,

        “producing a book that really stands out from the crowd in terms of quality.”

        I have never paid for a review. Yet one of my self-published books released over 10 years ago now has 388 reviews on Amazon. Why? This self-published book beats out all the hundreds of books in its category in Amazon sales ranking including those published by the major traditional publishers and many written by celebrity authors with a platform. In other words, the book “stands out from the crowd in terms of quality.”

        To be sure, not all of the Amazon reviews for this book are 5-star. Indeed, only 249 are 5-star reviews. But this is another sign of a successful book: The negative people of this world will criticize it.

        Incidentally , I have now earned over $2 million in pretax profits from my books, most of them self-published. Here are some of my favorite quotations that have given me inspiration over the years:

        “Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.”
        — Norman Vincent Peale

        “You are never given a wish without the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”
        — Richard Bach

        “It’s better to do a sub-par job working on the right project than a great job working on the wrong project.”
        — Robert J. Ringer

        “The great creative individual . . . is capable of more wisdom and virtue than collective man ever can be.”
        — John Stuart Mill

        “If you see in any given situation only what everybody else can see, you can be said to be so much a representative of your culture that you are a victim of it.”
        — S. I. Hayakawa

        “Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.’
        — Erica Jong

        “If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches.”
        — Rainer Maria Rilke

        I do want to add that you are right when you declare, “a person can ask for free book reviews, but in reality that is no guarantee that the free reviewer is going to commit.” Indeed, I have had readers send me lengthy letters and emails about how much my books have drastically changed their lives for the better. However, when I have asked these readers to transfer their comments from the letters and emails to a review on Amazon, only about 30 to 40 percent have done this.

        For sure, there is no “guarantee” that the free reviewer is going to commit. But as Clint Eastwood said, “If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.”

        Trust Joel and me, nonetheless, that if you write a great book, and put in some true creative effort in marketing it every day for several years (not only weeks or months), that the free reviews will come with most of these reviews being 4-star and 5-star.

        Ernie J. Zelinski
        The Prosperity Guy
        “Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free”
        Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
        (Over 225,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
        and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working’
        (Over 275,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

        Reply
        • Neil

          Ernie, you make some good points and provide a lot of great quotes.

          But I looked at your books and I can see that you found a particular furrow to plough and have done a great job at it, but it seems that like Joel you got established a while back. Things are very different now. Especially if you are starting out with no contacts, trying to make your own luck and maybe writing a different kind of book (I write fiction). The market is swamped, and getting reviews by simply asking, as an unknown author with nothing to offer but an unknown book, is very very hard, verging on impossible.

          Reply
    • Joel Friedlander

      Neil, sorry to hear you’re having difficulty getting reviews, but please keep in mind that’s not necessarily the result that everyone else is getting. As far as doing it, I’ve been publishing books since the 1980s, worked in traditional publishing, owned my own publishing business, and every year help hundreds of authors get their books to market. So yeah, I don’t think I’m “just writing about doing it.” Good luck with your book.

      Reply
      • Neil

        Joel, thanks for your reply. You say you started out in the 1980s. That’s kind of my point. I’m sure you know how much publishing has changed since then. Try starting out as a writer now, from scratch, with no contacts.

        So far I haven’t paid a penny for a review but I think these days that’s a bit like being a tiger in a jungle full of tigers and refusing to eat meat.

        If you can give me a list of a hundred people who will review my book simply by being asked, I’ll eat my knee caps.

        Reply
        • Larry

          I offer free reviews for books I’m interested in, but I have to admit there have been quite a few I’ve turned down. Want free reviews? http://www.TheIndieReview.com

          Do you like your kneecaps grilled or broiled? :-P

          Reply
  6. SS

    Yeah it can be bad ethics to make fake reviews. But at the same time, it takes a LOT of work to write a book, and if you have it edited, a lot of money too.

    There are trolls out there that get off on just writing bad reviews no matter how the book is. Just trying to make their skid mark on the world. In an effort to counter balance that *H** I think it should be ok to do what you have to do, and I don’t mean glowing ridiculous 5 stars.

    Reply
    • Jazz

      I got a 1 star review on a book because of a single typo. That was her only complaint. Nothing about the rest of the book, which gets otherwise great reviews. Just that I’m a moron who needs to go back to school to learn to spell. Who knew that 3 beta readers, AutoCrit, and an editor missing a single typo could render 350+ pages is completely irrelevant. Then you get idiots who give you a 1 star because they couldn’t figure out how to download it, or they didn’t read the description that clearly stated it was about living in France and then got mad because the book wasn’t about cowboys. That old saying about how a satisfied customer tells one person while an unhappy one tells one hundred is totally true. People who enjoy the book might leave a review, but most likely won’t. If they don’t like it? Bet your booty they’ll log on just to trash it. Authors who talk about 500 good reviews, well honey how many copies did you sell to get those? Pretty sure it’s a whole lot more than 525. For some unknown to publish, it’s a struggle to be noticed, and even harder to get those first reviews in. I’m blessed with a wonderful publisher who works hard to get my stuff out there, but getting reviews is still a struggle. One of my books had sold almost 10,000 copies before it got its 10th review. Those aren’t great odds. So yeah, I don’t blame indie writers for getting frustrated and buying reviews.

      Reply
  7. Cate Baum

    I still think that writers misunderstand what a professional review offers.

    It’s easy to see what a free review will offer, but a professional review is not supposed to be used in the same way, and that’s where the bad rap comes in.

    Of course paying for consumer reviews is bad practice, but we at Self-Publishing Review offer professional, starred reviews for self-published and indie books at a reasonable rate (from $59) and this gets the author a well-written editorial review that they can use on their author profile on Amazon, B&N and Smashwords, for example. We are a trusted brand, so readers can trust that if we have starred the book with 4 or 5 stars, that the book has some promise, and this can help immensely when shown in the author profile.

    A good quality paid review also offers copy for back of book, promos and press releases that a free consumer review probably won’t offer, plus when you buy the review you are buying the rights to the editorial copy. You cannot use free consumer reviews for this purpose without seeking permission.

    We also promote the book to 37,000 followers from across the world, and tweet multiple times about the book.

    Free reviews are good for promoting your book in several ways, but to seriously promote your work if you are not a good marketer — and many writers are not — you need professional writers to write good marketing copy, in the same way Joel offers professional templates and covers here on this site.

    If we did not charge for the service, we would not be able to offer such services as they would have to be completed by untrained and unpaid staff, and there would be no quality control – or for that matter, control over where and when the article is published online. We work full time, and this is my only job. We write and edit professionally.

    I have actually thought about changing the word “review” on our packages to something like “promotional editorial” because really, that is the service offered. These kinds of posts seem to be really pushing the idea that all paid reviews are unethical, and it’s simply not the case. We never give a five star review automatically, and authors must agree at purchase that their review will be completely impartial.

    We at SPR support indie books all the way, and have all lived through writing and marketing our own.

    I have written extensively about these misunderstandings and the way that professional editorial companies are getting mixed in with the “5 star” hacks on our site. If you would like to learn about the main paid review sites and what is offered, we did a study here:

    https://www.selfpublishingreview.com/2014/08/top-5-paid-indie-book-review-services-compared/

    So please let’s stop the witch hunt of professional review services, and the disinformation, and start separating the chafe from the wheat. It will be incredibly beneficial to the industry, and helpful to us who dedicate our lives to discovering quality books for others to read.

    Reply
    • W James Chan

      +1. I chose the (very carefully filtered) paid review path because I know what I have self published is very difficult to sell in the existing market expectations of my chosen genre. I feel I am not paying for the reviewer’s endorsement or adulation, only for their time which seems perfectly fair to me.

      Conversely, when I looked at free reviews, mostly I found people just trying to get free books and, for lack of a better word, something of an unofficial circle jerk. My work deserves better than that.

      I remain very wary of any sort of self pub related scam online, but believe that if you are going the self pub route, you’ve already committed to the idea of being your own marketer and publicist. And I don’t imagine either are cheap to maintain.

      A few well written, fair pro reviews have given me the confidence I needed to push even further. I’m a self published author with traditionally published peers. I’ll always feel a bit like a fraud, but services such as guaranteed professional consideration, unbiased and thorough, go a long way to helping folks like me find our place in the brutal world of publication.

      Reply
  8. Katrina Sardis

    I published my first book almost one year ago and published my second book last month. Although, the sales are satisfactory I have received no reviews. I invite good and bad reviews as both will hopefully help me become a better writer (as one never stops learning). I want to be the best that I can be.
    During the publication of my first and second book I began searching for reviewers and found people who would review books for free. I wrote to these people and out of everyone I asked to review my book, I received one response where I was told a review of my book would be carried out (that was approx. 5 months ago. I am still waiting. I carried out another search for paid reviews thinking that if I paid someone to review my book then I would certainly be contacted sooner than 5 months. Nevertheless, paid reviews I found were too expensive.
    On discovering the hurtles I was and continue to face I began my own home based Paid Book Reviewing business. I thought that if I could offer reviews to struggling writers who are in the same boat as me then I would be providing a great affordable service to the writing community.
    I agree paid reviews can be misleading, however, I do not write anything that I do not mean. I stay true to myself, the book and the customer.
    The bottom line is that not all paid book reviewers write solely to pat the writer on the back (that’s what parents are for).
    I hope that reviewers will one day see the mess they have created by posting misleading reviews for the sake of money. I hope that paid reviews will one day be seen in the same light as free reviews.

    Reply
    • J Heileman

      I am a book reviewer who is advertised on several sites. I think being paid to review books is a respectable practice, but the issue is that anyone thinks they can review a book. I have a few published for online publications that I was not paid for, and I did them to show my work and gain more. I believe that people should get paid for the work they do. If anyone wants a review I would be happy to write one. I do not guarantee a positive or negative review, but a fair comprehensive and attentive review. I usually charge between $5-$60 depending on size and genre. Query can be sent to [email protected] or find me on writergazette.com under book reviewers.

      Reply
  9. Writing A Book Chapter

    After I initially commented I seem to have clicked
    on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get 4 emails with
    the same comment. Perhaps there is an easy method you are able to remove me from that service?
    Cheers!

    Reply
  10. Carolyn

    One thing that gets lost in the heat of this subject is how difficult and time-consuming it is to write a review. First, of course, you have to invest the hours required read the whole book — which can be a trial if it’s not well done. Then you must evaluate it intelligently in several contexts: the writing, the story, the character development, the verisimilitude, how it compares against the author’s other works if relevant, how it compares to other works in the genre if relevant (plus/minus other features if the book is nonfiction). Then you must compose a concise summary of all these elements in a coherent way, balancing the work’s strengths and weaknesses — also balancing your own emotional reaction to the book against the fact that other people will respond to it differently. All this is professional-level work which many people feel reviewers don’t deserve to be paid for. At the same time, the whole reason they want a review is to get a good one that will help them sell books and get something back for their own investment of time and labor!

    Reply
  11. Renee Paule

    That’s okay Jennifer … it happens. Yes, both are true :)

    It makes good literature hard to find … hmmm

    Reply
    • Linton Robinson

      Excuse me, but… having MORE literature available makes it harder to find?????
      If you manufacture more cares, is it harder to find a good one?????

      This makes no sense. It’s not the “publishing industry” that has become “buyer beware”. It is BUYING books. And it’s always been so. The idea that “professional reviewers” somehow tell you the right thing to buy is peculiar to me. I almost never see reviews in the NYT that sound like anything I’d want to read, and wouldn’t beleive them if they did, frankly. Just not me. And I’m the one who’s buying the books to suit my own taste. Anybody who lets reviewers make their decisions for them is kind of, really… pathetic, when you think about it.
      Over the past year I have read a couple of dozen free books off amazon that are just tremendous. I have never read one that sucked. I hear people whining about reading bad books and just can’t understand why they would want to do that, or why they never developed the ability to ferret out the stuff they like reading from all the stuff available.
      This idea I see wannabe writers yapping about–that having more books available somehow makes books worse–is REALLY peculiar to me, seems like a sort of admission of incompetence at one’s own life skills.
      The idea that we’re not better off with people being able to publish without “permission” from Manhattan or whereever is, really, pretty insulting to both writers and readers alike.

      Reply
  12. Renee Paule

    I’ve read most of the above entries and they’ve been helpful to me. What I’m finding particularly difficult is finding reviewers for my genre (self-help, philosophy, motivational). I’ve received some great reviews already … genuine, but one to get that book out there and known is difficult to say the least.

    The ‘paid review’ industry will grow because of the sheer volume of self-published books; the market is inundated with them and judging by the standard of some I’ve seen, they could well have been written and published within just one week. The demand for reviews is huge and where there’s demand, there’s someone to make money out of it; we (Humanity) have that down to a fine art.

    I’ve saved money through this blog because I was thinking about subscribing to PW. Thank you so much for all the info.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Douglas

      Renee are you a member of Spiritual Networks
      ( http://www.spiritualnetworks.com ). I am a member and you will find lots of like minded people on there who may be willing to write you a review.

      I would be more than willing to write you a review as I cover the genre your work sits in but I am one of those who of those paid reviewers the market is inundated with. You pay for what you get. A free review does not guarantee a review and 99% of the time it is no where near professional. When I review I critique and check for errors as part of the process, this is an important part of helping an author grow.

      Good luck with your book!

      Reply
      • Renee Paule

        Thanks for your reply Jennifer.

        I would like to point out that I said the market is inundated with ‘self-published books’, not the paid-reviewers. :)

        I’ll take a look at the website.

        Thanks again.

        Reply
        • Jennifer Douglas

          Sorry for my misinterpretation of what you had written Renee but in truth both are right. The industry is becoming inundated with paid reviewers and like the publishing industry it is becoming buyer beware. I have heard some terrible stories of those who have paid for a review and never seen it.

          Reply
  13. Lynne McAnulty-Street

    I review books, for no fee, for one book distribution business (https://booksellersnz.co.nz), and for author colleagues (Virginnia de Part’e being my favourite). If I offer to review a book for a writer other than those above, I tag the review at my blog as “unsolicited”.
    I’ve been asked to review, even offered a payment; read the book, and as it was utter rubbish, contacted the author and declined to review it as “I could not in all clear conscience offer you a marketable review”.
    When as a writer I may want a review, I will seek a review via the publisher’s usual crew, and maybe a couple of writing colleagues whose expertise I respect.
    But in no way would I pay for a review; that, to me, would make the review utterly worthless and useless.
    I’d want my potential readers to feel they’re getting unbiased, agenda-less help in selecting my book, not being asked to jump in response to a paid announcement:
    “But wait, there’s more! Buy this book and the author will include a free dust-jacket! But it doesn’t stop there …buy in the next twenty-four hours and receive – free – the promo-sheet for the author’s next novel!”

    Reply
  14. Rebekah

    I do book reviews in my free time and it saddens me how well-researched non-fiction books like “Living Buddhas (the self-mummified monks of Yamagata, Japan)” have no Amazon reviews while others that I wouldn’t read even if they were for free have lots of reviews.
    This has nothing to do with free/paid reviews – it’s just that commercial broad-interest books sell better!

    Reply
  15. Betty Jay

    Great article,

    I think that purchased reviews, are in most cases generic “amazing book” blah blah blah, and people don’t buy that any more. Pretty much in mist cases you can tell which one is purchased and which one is not. Probably the only benefit that you might get from purchased reviews is the sales rank increase – in the cases where the reviewers actually purchase the ebooks. Other than that…don’t see much help – it’s money that could be used in other more beneficial advertising.

    Just expressing my opinion.

    Thanks again for sharing

    Reply
  16. Peter Pollak

    Susan: Your method sounds very fair as is, and if you want to charge for editorial assistance (rather than for writing a positive review), then I don’t think anyone would find that questionable.

    The only question I do have is whether it does the writer any good for you or me or any other blogger to review his/her book? Unless someone can establish a direct link between one’s review and a sale, I think all we (and I include myself) are doing when we review books on our blogs or even for review websites, is exercising our mental faculties (and perhaps helping the writer learn something from the review).

    When it comes to sales, Linton Robinson is correct. The only reviews that matter are those posted to Amazon and there the issue is quantity rather than quality. The more reviews you get, including negative ones, the better.

    Reply
  17. Susan Hawthore

    I review books for self-published authors and you can find some of those reviews on my website. At this point, I don’t charge to do this but I’m thinking about it.
    I am also an author and I understand how hard it is to get your book published and then get the word out that it’s a book worth reading.
    There are honest reviewers out here.
    My way of doing this is: I tell the author to send me the first chapter of their book and if I like it, I will read the rest and put a review out for them.
    If I don’t like it, I don’t continue to read and don’t review the book.
    If I like the book but find problems with it (constant spelling/grammer/sentence structure, etc I can ignore typos or a booboo here or there, you can find them in any book, but constant errors tell me the author needs to hone their skills) I tell them what I find and why I can’t review- no it’s not an intense critique nor an edit – but I feel, as a fellow author, they would want to know. I tell them these are my suggestions and suggest they get into a critique group where they can get more in-depth help, and I do not accept the book for review.
    In doing my reviews in this manner, I don’t give bad public reviews, I give the author a service by suggesting to them how they could improve, and I only give reviews that are honest.
    Do you feel that is a problem?

    Reply
  18. J Griffin

    My daughter started to write a Nobel when she was 17. No one knew any thing about writtin a book in our family. She got it published at age 21. However I did understand that the hard work was in front of us all. It is amazing to me how many new authors think they can just write a book and sit back and expect it to make money.

    While working a book fair one author walking the fair said To my daughter ” I don’t believe in promoting my own work”? I have found out my statement at the beginning was correct. The hard work was after writing the book. My entire family is the work force. Headed up by my Wife and daughter. Together they set up teen activities at libraries, schools, fairs, book stores, and continue looking. We found a weekly spot to promote the book twice a week and everyone works the booth even my teenage boys.

    During all this my daughter has written and secured a contract from her publisher for book 2 and is half way finished writing book 3.

    The answer is no we are not watching the money roll in. We have only had the first book for one year however my Wife and daughter have been booking out their schedule weeks in advance. I expect this year will require more dedication and hard work from all. This is a truly a business built from the ground up.

    Reply
  19. Carolyn Haley

    Linton wrote: “Even if you believe there is such a thing as an ‘impartial review’ …”

    There is no such thing as an impartial review. That’s the point of getting reviews. Writers (and publishers) hope to gain positive reviews, or at least reviews that influence potential readers to buy, or read and talk about, a book.

    Writing is an art. All art is reacted to subjectively. That’s *its* point. What is — or should be — impartial is the presentation of reaction. A reviewer needs to manage his/her emotional bias intellectually. It’s totally OK to like or dislike a work; in fact, it’s impossible not to have an emotional reaction.

    But then, when you express your opinion, you need to identify what you’re reacting to in an educated and mature fashion. The “reputable review sources” mentioned by Tracy generally understand this. And most of them compose their reviews without using the word “I” in order to signal their intention to opine analytically.

    Regardless of all this, whether to pay for any sort of book review is the writer’s choice. There’s no need to insist that EVERYONE not pay for a review or that ALL reviewers are dishonest, etc. What writers must do is take responsibility for their own work and choices, and understand that not everyone will love them. Or hate them. Once you put a book out into the world, it’s fair game. You’ve got to take your kudos and your thrown tomatoes, your fame and invisibility, whatever comes your way, without whining. Do whatever you’ve got to do to find your audience, and recognize that not everyone need follow the same path.

    Reply
  20. Linton Robinson

    Writers seem to have a weird capacity for chewing on each other, instead of supporting the overall art/market.
    Writers tell SP writers they aren’t “Real Authors”. Writers squawk and tremble that all those crappy writers out there are damaging their own wonderful works just by being there. Those no-good cheating writers are screwing everything up by buying reviews, instead of just give free books to friends for reviews or swapping “logrolling” reviews with others the way we good people do. There are too many writers out there now.
    It’s damned weird.

    Reply
  21. Linton Robinson

    Actually, I kind of like the 6th graders on that one. Maybe we need them to teach us why an old painting isn’t worth what you could feed a town in Africa on.

    Even if you believe there is such a thing as an “impartial review” (which I don’t, for a minute) what difference does it make?

    Like you said, it’s all in perception of the buyer.
    There’s just not really much point in buying reviews. Outside of the artificial “Amazon Hunger Games” I’m seriously wondering if reviews are even worth soliciting at all. Epecially any other review than a purchase-point review.
    Paying money for them just makes zero sense.
    And that’s even if you don’t get caught

    Reply
    • Tracy R. Atkins

      Linton,

      To be honest, I had to look up the “most expensive painting” and was surprised it was two dudes playing poker. I would have thought that the dogs playing poker would be more valuable. But, I am slightly uncouth. HA!

      Avoiding that point of sale rating is critical if you have no rating, or a bad one. That means you need channels that appeal to your audience that engage them prior to browsing/buying. In many cases, that means reviews, advertising, and word of mouth.

      You are right about the point-of-sale. Compare it to another POS item like music, where iTunes is the analogue of Amazon. When you shop for music, what are your buying habits? Do user-generated reviews matter to you? Do you hit the preview button and ignore others because tastes are subjective? Do you only shop for an album because you heard the sound on the radio or do browse for music based upon tastes?

      Heck.. Do people even complain about independent or garage bands having their albums on iTunes?

      Is it just me, or are writers the only artists that are hated for just doing their thing?

      (Sorry for the meandering reply)

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. eBook Marketing: Is Buying a Great Book Review Your Cup of Tea? | Self-Publishing Review - […] great blog discussion on the book review topic is: Should Authors Pay for Book Reviews? by Joel Friedlander on August 29,…
  2. Do Authors Obsess Too Much About Book Reviews? - Anne R. Allen's Blog... with Ruth Harris - […] Or they pay to get reviewed at Kirkus ($400-$550) or Publisher’s Weekly ($149). (These are not illegal like paid…
  3. Le scandale des faux commentaires Amazon - Guy Morant - […] D’autres, plus moraux, posent le question, puis répondent par la négative. […]
  4. KISS My Book Review: Four Reasons Why YOU Should Write Reviews - Anne Parrett - […] paid book reviews, here are links to click on or copy/paste into the address line of your browser. https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2012/08/should-authors-pay-for-book-reviews/…
  5. Pay For Reviews…You're No Friend Of Mine - [...] Joel Friedlander [...]
  6. The Turndog Tales: the weeks best news - [...] The Book Designer [...]
  7. eBook Marketing: Is Buying a Great Book Review Your Cup of Tea? | James Moushon - [...] great blog discussion on the book review topic is: Should Authors Pay for Book Reviews? by Joel Friedlander on August 29,…
  8. eBook Marketing: Is Buying a Great Book Review Your Cup of Tea? | Self-Publishing Review - [...] Goodreads, Nookboards and LibraryThing.A great blog discussion on the book review topic is: Should Authors Pay for Book Reviews?…
  9. Book Reviews in the Age of Self-Publishing « Write or Wrong Blog - [...] Although it was not the first salvo in the unveiling of the fiasco that is author-purchased book reviews, David…
  10. Book Reviews in the Age of Self-Publishing - petergpollak.com | petergpollak.com - [...] Posted by admin on Sep 5, 2012 Although it was not the first salvo in the unveiling of the…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.