Hello Everyone,

As some of you already know, I am a very new indie author and am learning more each day.  Today, I came across an interesting proposition from the publisher that I worked with to produce a children's book that I wrote with my son (The Magic Seeds).

With a straight face, the marketing person tried to sell me a package of 3 guaranteed reviews for $3,000.  Then proceeded to get a 'special' price for me and came down to $1,500.  What I did get out of this experience is the names of the reviewers this publisher is utilizing for these "credible" book reviews. 

They are:

  • ForeWord/Clarion
  • BlueInk
  • Kirkus Indie

When I checked each site, the prices were cheaper to deal directly with each review site but the cost is still quite high.  Kirkus Indie wants $425 for a review that will be ready in 7-9 weeks.  BlueInk wants $395; same turnaround time. And ForeWord/Clarion wants $335 for a 6-8 week turnaround. 

So, being new, I went digging for what indie insiders & others in the publishing industry say.  I found Lynn Osterkamp, Ph.D.'s article and it was not favorable towards paid reviews, no matter the review site's credibility.  Read the post here.

But what is the consensus here on BB?  I saw a post that was going on in Dec 2011 and there were mixed reviews.  Please help me understand this complex topic.  We need reviews for our indie books but we shouldn't pay for it because it's not honest.  Yet, I've found in the last few weeks of trying to get reviews that many good bloggers and sites are at their capacity and are not reviewing books right now.  And, if they are, the review turnaround time is months away (summertime).

Please help me understand.  Am I missing something here?

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The whole paying for reviews thing sounds pretty fishy. I think that, as an author, you should look for honest reviews from everyday people. The idea of a review "company" is quite intriguing, but I would recommend connecting with bloggers instead. From a blogger's prospective, I can confirm that we often have a large number of books waiting to be read and reviewed. Keep in mind that most of us have other jobs and commitments, so we have a limited amount of time to devote to reading and posting reviews. Another option might be for you to use social reading sites (GoodReads, LibraryThing etc.) to promote. Hope this helps with your question. 



Hi Ethan,

Thanks for your comments.  All this morning I've been doing more research and it seems it is a pretty clear cut bias against the 'high profile' reviews.

When I heard Kirkus and Clarion, I thought, "That can't be bad to get a review from them..." but a paid review is a PAID review.

I visited your blog and am now following you would love if you dropped by my blog as well.

Thanks again!

It depends on your ROI. Obviously people pay those prices.

Maybe you should contact an author who did that and see what they have to say.


Thanks Man.

It is true.  It did cost a bit to get my son's book published and that was my initial concern; to get back some sort of return for my money.  But ultimately, through the publishing of that book, my son grew to love reading and the work that goes into creating a good book.  He now reads readily things that he's interested in.  I guess that is the best ROI I could imagine.

I'm following you too!

I understand the want for high profile reviews, but as a reader I would always be wary of a review that was paid for.  And it's a federal law that any review that was paid for has to disclaim that fact.  Which thus goes against the point of getting the reviews if they aren't as credible in the end.  I would submit it to bloggers, magazines, contests, etc. for reviews.  It might take longer to get noticed, but at least you would get all real, honest and reliable reviews.  

Of course, this is coming from a reviewer and a not-yet published author, so take it as you will.

Clean Romance Reviews

Thanks Jennifer!

Like I said to Ethan, paid is PAID.  I get it.  It just takes time and effort.  This wasn't something that was explained to me by the publisher.  I understand now that they made it appear easy to hook me in.  Now that I'm here, WOW.  I spend more time in front of my computer, Kindle and phone (checking email) than I ever have in my LIFE. 

You remember the move, The Matrix?  That's how I feel -- jacked in!  This rabbit hole goes so deep but I am learning a lot and it's fun meeting people who are as passionate as I am about writing, blogging and the creative Life.

I'm following you too now! Great blog!!

Funny you should say that.  I feel exactly the same way.  I have become a button-pushing monkey.  This whole business is like a magician that pulls out colored scarves out of his sleeve.  Everything you do is attached to something else that leads to another step and another person and another website.  It's amazing what you can do without ever leaving your house. 



You guys are going to love this.  So, this topic is about the concern of paying for reviews, right? In my inquiries for a book review for the children's book my son and I wrote, a nonprofit org sends me an email saying they have a huge backlog and they will only review the book if I become a featured showcase author

So, I go and see what that entails -- $50, or if you want a 30-day banner on their site, $100.

Not exactly asking for one to pay for the review; the package is actually book promotions and their volunteers do 10 hrs of work/wk, etc., etc.

What think all of you about this??  Is this a paid review, or book promotion?

Rochelle, I think you will find that Kirkus has an excellent reputation even though they charge to review. They are a very tough reviewer but their reviews are read by publishers, book store owners, libraries etc. We had a very good experience with them and the review was very professional. Not so with Blue Ink. The review from them was poorly written. It's not that they said negative things about the book, but it was so poorly written that we didn't want to put it on our website. I agree, go direct. If you published with the same Indie publisher we did-and it sounds like you did (does the name start with an X?), we have not found ANY of their marketing propostions to be worth the investment. I always get the impression that the marketing person I am talking to hasn't the foggest idea what our novel is about. Just for your information, you can go to our website: www.thelongroadtoparis.com (By the way, I also have a very hard time getting them to update the website within any reasonable time frame. The book looks great but beyond that we haven't been at all pleased.

We just did a radio streamed internet interview and now will see if this is a worthwhile marketing tool. It was fun.

Janet Howle


Your blog looks GREAT! Love the dark-bluesy feel and the contained excitement!  Love it!!

Yeah, Kirkus is a big name.  However, Kirkus Indie; does it have the same pull and credibility of the original?  Or, do you just not mention the Indie part if you were to use them? 

I did read about Blue Ink.  The woman who started it came from a traditional reviewer where they did not review indie books and now, it's her life-line business.  It is sad that the review quality was poor.

However, for now, I think I am going to go with the tried-n-true method of seeking out reviewers by contacting them directly and asking them to review my books.  While I would love a Kirkus review, I feel at this point in my fledgling career, that is too lofty a goal.  Maybe later on, and at that point, maybe I will get a Kirkus review forthrightly! <smile>

Janet, how can I follow you? I don't see a GFC or Linky on your site...

I don't think you should ever pay for a review, especially from a large company, instead of a small/individual blogger group.

It also seems too much like paying for a yes-man, a lie, because quite honestly, if someone was paying me 400 bucks for something, i'd be sure to do a great job, so it's garunteed love, it seems like.

My personal stance is that you should just email a few bloggers, i'm sure they'd love to review it, and if you send an ebook copy, a review comes with no cost from you.

Definitely going with the nay crowd right along with you Emily! I sent out 3 separate book review requests for The Magic Seeds today - total of 5 books.  It cost me money to have the books created, money to mail it out, but hey, I'm not in this for the money or else I'd go play the lotto!  LOL.


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