Since the FTC has decided to have review bloggers disclose their freebies; what do all of you think of paid reviews?

I mean, I’m really happy to get book reviews for free, but I think that many of us would be happy to pay in order to get a review in a timely manner. And I don’t think that means the review has to be positive—believe me, I used to give people bad news about their taxes, but they got a bill from me either way! So what do you think of paid reviews??

Indie Book Reviewer List

(I edited this discussion on 10/30-- since it was woefully out of date. I also added the indie book reviewer questionnaire so that book reviewers who want to be in the Indie Reviewer "Yellow Pages" can send it to me and be included in the listing)

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I love doing reviews of books. For me, the book is payment enough for me if they send it to me. Sure, extra money is great, but I am in it just to find more great reads and spreading the word of great new finds!
Spoken like a true book reviewer, Amy! I don't know any genuine reviewer who charges for reviews. The most they want are autographed books, LOL! That's the payment many of them like.

Best Wishes!
I am so going to ditto both of you. Getting the book and getting to "Know" the author is HUGE for me. Honestly. Since I started being a book reviewing blogger, I have been the happiest I have been in quite some time. I feel like I am rubbing elbows with the coolest of the cool. (Seriously authors are awesome. LOL, I told Michelle Moran, the author of Nerfertiti, that I am starstruck. I am not impressed by the celebutards of Hollywood but by the brains and creativity of authors). I don't need a dime to review a book. An autograph? Even more kick ass! However, if they wanted a book reviewed in a really short amount of time (say in a week), I would take payment for my Just kidding.

Seriously, if a newspaper or magazine wants to buy my reviews. Awesome!
I agree with this the most. The book is enough for me. If I start getting paid for this, it becomes a job, then it starts becoming a chore. :)
I agree with you. Don't forget, people read newspaper and magazine reviews, which sells advertising for those publications. So, it's not as if those reviewers operate in a vacuum. If you truly believe in your own work, you will not feel it necessary to pay for reviews. I have read many mediocre reviews of some outstanding authors, and it doesn't appear that those reviews (along with the very positive ones) hurt their book sales very much. Perhaps we fellow authors do each other a disservice by swapping agreed-upon-in-advance favorable views. Bottom line: if your books are up to snuff, they'll speak for themselves.
Hi Christy,

First let me say that I respect your opinion for what you believe about paid reviews. But think of it like this, how does it look to your readers and other reviewers? The public frowns on paid reviews because if you got a positive review, they will automatically assume it was because you paid for it. Also, other reviewers lose respect for authors who go through these venues and it can damage an author's reputation. You only have to pay for ONE review and then you will be seen as someone who always pays, even if it's not the case. Your fellow authors frown upon this also and it's not an effective way of promotion.

I've known of many instances where new authors were TAKEN by people who charged for book reviews. The authors paid and guess what, they never got a review! Don't believe that just because you pay that your book will be reviewed, it's just a way to get your money.

No real, honorable review is worth your money. A real reviewer who takes their job seriously does not charge authors because they know that a review paid for means about as much as an old grocery list. There are millions of places that will give you a review and it's free.

If you have problems where you're not getting your book reviewed and it's been set up (contact that reviewer), you have every right to do this. But please understand that most reviewers will review books that authors send in. It might take some a long time because they have many other books, but they get to them. One lady took months to review my book but she had it on her blog that she was behind schedule. She finally reviewed it and apologized to me for how long it took. Was I angry or upset? Not at all. Part of this industry is patience in every part of it. That not only included pre-publication patience, but patience afterwards. If you feel you are being shifted to the side by a reviewer who has AGREED to read your work, contact them. But don't let one situation make you go to pay reviews. No one has any respect for them, believe me.

I would be very put off if I read a good review of a book and found out the author paid for it. I would also have a funny feeling about the author because the practice of paid reviews is not ethical. Forget what I think as an author, as a reader, if I read a positive review of a book especially and saw the author paid I'd be like, "Oh please! She paid for this. I can't take this review seriously." And it would leave a bad taste in my mouth for the reviewer and the author.

One thing authors can do is email reviewers FIRST, asking them if they will review your book. This puts you in their mind and sets you apart from the stack if you have a fear that your book will be looked over. Contact ahead of time is what gets you through the slush pile, not paying. Most times the reviewer is very eager to get a book if they've spoken to the author first. Most of them review very quickly. They really love it when authors agree to send autographed copies. This will get your book read before others most times.

You worked hard to write your book, Christy. You deserve a review that's based on the reviewer's opinion and their passion for reviewing instead of your money. Also, how would you feel if you got a negative review after paying? Paying doesn't mean you'll get a good review either. I'd be pissed if I paid money AND got a terrible review.

At the end of the day it's all up to you. Think about this, how would you know the reviewer meant what they said if you paid for it? I want a reviewer to like my book because they liked it, not because I paid them. That would mean squat to me and even less to my readers.

Best Wishes!
"Contact ahead of time is what gets you through the slush pile, not paying. Most times the reviewer is very eager to get a book if they've spoken to the author first. Most of them review very quickly. They really love it when authors agree to send autographed copies. This will get your book read before others most times."

I agree with this completely. If I have contact with someone with an interest in the book (author, publicist, etc.), I read it well in advance of others. If a certain timeframe is requested, I will honor that request.

I won't accept payment from someone associated with the book. Now if someone from the Times gets wind of my reviews and wants to pay for the privilege of reprinting one, that's another story!
Christy you said...

"Example: by trade, I’m a tax accountant. When I met with a client, I charge $100+ per hour. I think that it is unreasonable to expect someone else to spend their precious time reading my book without any type of compensation."

Christy, that's very different. Tax accountants are doing a JOB. It's not like promotion at all. Book reviewing is, for most reviewers not a job. Most book reviewers are not even in the writing field and the ones who are are freelance writers, novelists, etc. They get paid from their jobs and other forms of writing but book reviewing is not seen as most reviewers as a job in the same sense as an accountant is. Book reviewers don't go to school or college for the art of reviewing books. They mostly do it because they love to read and because they have some knowledge about books as a whole. I wouldn't expect anyone not to pay a tax accountant, LOL.

Believe me if authors and pubs had to start paying for reviewers, (if reviewers started charging), then there would soon be no more book reviewers. People wouldn't have a need for them if this happened.

Remember, different rules are for different types of careers. What about agents? It's unethical for agents to charge writers reading fees. It's the same for book reviewers to do it. It's not so much the rules, it's a matter of honesty and trust. Readers and book buyers grow trust for reviewers. Some of them are faithful to the same reviewers and they value their opinion. They want an unbiased, honest opinion. They don't appreciate paid reviews and it only does the author a disservice.

If a reviewer is accepting payment then I consider them a hack and will question that they are even reading the books that are sent in. Which I doubt they do. I bet any charging reviewer gets your check, types up or cuts and pastes a standard review that they use for ALL the books they get and that's it. I bet you they don't even open the cover of your book. Why? Because they are not unethical and their motivation is the money, not the literature. The same for agents again. If agents were allowed to charge writers reading fees than EVERY author on the planet would have an agent. No matter how horrible they were. That definitely wouldn't be a good thing.

Best Wishes!
Hi Stacy;

Wow! What a response! I admit that I have paid for some reviews. But I don't expect the review to be positive. I just wanted the review FAST, so I could go on to my next project. I guess that's the tax accountant in me-- everything needs to happen ASAP because tax law just becomes moot after 12 months.

And here's the kicker-- I don't mind paying for reviews, but I HATE it when reviewers post the used books on Amazon for sale. I would much rather pay for a review than have the reviewer sell the book and undercut my own sales-- which has already happened. I sent a copy out for review, (I know who it is, by the way), and I DIDN'T get a book review, but the reviewer turned around and posted the book on Amazon as a used copy. I didn't stamp my review copies for this recent book, but I'm about to start because it just makes me so mad. I would NEVER sell a book that someone sent me for review. Even if I hated the book, I would just donate it.

Anyway, I paid for Kirkus this year because I heard that it will stimulate library orders. I've heard from more than one POD author that said that, so I was just looking at it as an investment.

The Publishing Maven
Hi Christy,

Let me give you some inside info about Kirkus. Kirkus always comes up when new authors mention paid reviews. But do you know that Kirkus doesn't charge everyone for reviews? No, they only charge self-published authors because in their minds I guess they see SP authors as desperate. This is not fair at all. This is one of my points. Some review places that charge have different rules for different people. Most of them charge authors who are self-published but do not charge authors coming from houses, especially big houses. I learned this because my book was reviewed by a reviewer (who I didn't know charged for reviews) for free. I found out after the fact. I contacted them for a review because they were popular, they reviewed the book and that's it.

Next thing I know, I find out they charge authors for reviews. I did some digging and it seemed that they were only targeting authors they felt were really hungry for reviews. Mostly Indie authors struggling to get mainstream readership. It's not fair is it? The point is, they knew I've been out for a while AND I was traditionally published with a big house. They knew not to DARE come to me with a price because I would have known, (you don't pay for reviews), but a lot of new authors think they HAVE to. See, they showed me respect because they knew where I came from and that I know the business. But they don't show that same respect to Indie writers or writers who "don't know" you don't pay or else they wouldn't be charging them. To me, an author who pays doesn't seem to have faith in their books and act like any review is better than no review, paid for or not.

See, it's an inside game, Christy. These paid reviewers know that authors from houses, especially big pubs have many doors open to them concerning reviews. So, they prey and rely on the fact that a lot of indie authors can't get reviews. So they make it look like they are doing you a favor. Nope, you shouldn't ever feel like someone giving you a review is a favor. It's a two-way street.

The author receives promotion and in return the reviewer receives pleasure and promotion for reading the book. That is what drives reviewers to review, they enjoy doing it. How many reviewers do you read that say, "I do this for the money" or "If I hadn't gotten paid, I wouldn't have read this book?" Not a one because most reviewers love to review. Even big time reviewers for big magazines and sites like to review or they wouldn't be reviewing. They love to read books and most of them are book addicts, LOL.

About the reviewers selling your books, I feel ya. But there is nothing we can do about that. I've had my books sold from reviewers and I've also had some placed on ebay. I knew they were review copies. They had to be. I used to be very upset about it but I visit a lot of reviewers' blogs and sites and most of them don't have the space for all the books they review. So, I can kind of understand them selling it. But I can take that more than I can someone who just bought my book USED and I didn't see a dime from it. At least the reviewer gave me something in return.

My publisher would send out copies and I'd send out some. When I sent them out, guess what? I autographed them and the reviewers loved it! I also figured that would cut down on them selling them. It did. Most will not sell a copy that's autographed.

The point is that you shouldn't feel that paying is an option. You don't "owe" a book reviewer money for reading your book just like they don't owe you a positive review when they read it. You should build a relationship with reviewers and you'll have a place to send books in the future as well.

I wouldn't even visit a review site if I knew they charged authors for reviews. And I LOVE reading book reviews, but not enough to entertain a "fake" reviewer. To me if an author pays a reviewer, it's no better than him or her rating their own book on Amazon. It's still a level of trust between the authors' readers and the author that's being damaged. The readers will feel dishonesty towards that author if they find their methods of obtaining reviews questionable or unethical.

You deserve better and there are so many free sites that paying shouldn't even be last resort.

Best Wishes!
Hey Stacy;
Thanks for the input-- but here's my dilemma (and it's the same for lots of other non-fiction writers). What happens when your book is a non-fiction niche product? Getting reviews is really, really tough. Now, don't get me wrong, I make a good living, but that is because MOST of my books are priced for a professional accounting market ($50 list price and up). So I might only sell 1,000 copies a year of each title. But at $50 each, that's $50,000 gross sales a year, and I sell multiple titles. But no traditional publisher is going to pick me up for only 1,000 unit sales. And I'm totally fine with that. But getting reviews is a problem. So why not just pay for them?

Last year, I WAS desperate to get some reviews for my tax books. My goal was to get 5 reviews within 30 days, because the books went out of print in 12 months. I didn't succeed. This year, I am going to pay for reviews; maybe not cash, but a gift card as a "thank you" once I get the review is what I was thinking.

Now, my self-publishing book doesn’t have the same “time crunch” issues as the tax books. I’ve sent out about 50 review copies so far, we’ll just have to see what happens.

The Publishing Maven
Christy, are you sure the Kirkus Discoveries reviews (as opposed to the main Kirkus Reviews) actually get seen by anyone?

I can see them as a way for small publishers to get professional feedback on how they're doing, and possibly to get some material for a backcover blurb.

But I don't think trade buyers, or any other buyers for that matter, actually see the Kirkus Discoveries reviews.


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