The topic of paid book reviews can be a controversial one. If you’ve been considering paying for a book review, know that you’re not alone. But there are some common pitfalls to be aware of, as well as often unmentioned benefits to paying for a review. So let’s unpack some of the common beliefs around paid book reviews.
Paid book reviews save you time and energy.
Indie authors in particular can find it tricky to get their books in front of readers. Rather than having a publisher to do your marketing, you may find yourself doing the rounds with your book.
While some people thrive on this, others may find the constant messaging and emailing of reviewers who don’t seem that interested (or who accept the book but never post a review) tedious.
Many authors find it a better use of their time to utilise review services, to guarantee that their book will actually be given a proper review. It’s hard to get your book in front of readers, in a crowded marketplace. A good review can go a long way to influencing other readers to pick up your book.
This is why review services have arisen that specialise in reviewing indie (non-traditionally published) books. One of my favourite companies that does this is Independent Book Review. I’ve been reviewing books for them for around two years now. The entire team is made up of professionals in the book industry. They’re reasonably priced too which helps!
Paid book reviews are bias.
Professional book reviewers should always declare when they’ve been provided a book for review. But, this doesn’t mean they’re automatically bias.
A professional reviewer should always be able to outline both the strengths and weaknesses of a book. They’re paid for their time, as well as professionalism. Many review companies have strict guidelines that reviewers must adhere to, to ensure the book is given a fair review.
Speaking from personal experience, reviewers will try to be honest, but never cruel in their negative feedback. Fairness is prized.
Because a negative review can be detrimental to the success of a book, many paid book review companies will provide the author with a copy of the review, prior to it being published. If it is not favourable, many will not post it to their websites, but leave it in the hands of the author. This can be a great way to ‘test the waters’ with a book launch and not be taken by surprise right out of the gate with a bad review.
Book reviewers should do it for the love of reading.
This attitude is one which I come across regularly. I think it is because there are many reviewers who are willing to review for no fee. Which of course, there is nothing wrong with that and in many cases is an excellent way to support authors (and for authors to end up with a bargain).
However, it should also be noted that book reviewing takes a lot of time and effort on the part of the reviewer. There’s reading the book, then considering, writing the review, and lastly posting it to the relevant sites.
It’s not something that is done without effort.
Similarly, with a good review contributing significantly to the marketability (and therefore financial return) of a book, it doesn’t make sense that we cast a dark cloud over paid reviews. Book reviewers are tiny, but significant players in an authors success.
Oftentimes, once a person begins working in the book industry, and publicising this, they can become inundated with requests to review books. This is what happened to me. As a book editor, and content writer in the book industry, it became necessary to begin charging for my book reviews. I simply wasn’t able to financially sustain reviewing for free.
By charging for reviews, myself and other book reviewers are able to take the time to not rush a review. I have the professional space to carefully consider, compare and write a review that contributes thoughtfully to the conversation about a book. As a book editor, thoughtful critique is my bread and butter.
Paid book reviews are costly with little return.
Unfortunately, there are some out there who will take advantage of authors launching their books. Whether they’re unscrupulous types who will take and republish your book elsewhere online or an overpriced review service with limited social reach—both can be disheartening.
Before paying for a book review, it’s important to do your homework. Research the company, or reviewer. Ask them questions about their reach, and consider if their pricing fits into your marketing budget.
A paid book review doesn’t have to be something you’re ashamed of. You’re not any less of an author if you pay for one. Sometimes, they’re absolutely necessary and can mean you get a timely, considered and well-written review.
What do you think about paid book reviews?
Leave a comment on this page, I’d love to read your thoughts on this topic!