Saturday, December 27, 2014

To Pay or Not to Pay… Should you pay for book reviews?


Should you pay for book reviews?

James Ventrillo is the president of, the fastest growing book review and book award contest on the internet:

"I have read and heard many arguments regarding paid reviews, most of which revolve around the honesty of the review. But that argument does not belong in this debate. Paying or not paying for a review is about turnaround time and name recognition, integrity is not relevant to the discussion. Why, you ask? Because you should not be dealing with a disreputable review company in the first place. If you can’t definitively say the company is reputable then there is no point in getting any review from them, paid or otherwise. So once you pass this hurdle then paying for a review is no longer about the integrity of the review, just its cost/value ratio: how much you are paying for the review vs. the value it will have to you and your marketing.
"Remember, negative reviews can be just as beneficial to an author as a positive one, as long as they are not posted publicly. So before you request any review, make sure you can decide if it will be made public, or at the very least, whether the reviewer will post negative reviews. Reputable review companies who offer review services for a fee fall into two categories: companies that provide free reviews but offer to expedite those reviews for a fee, and companies who only provide their reviews for a fee. With the first company you are not paying for a review, you are paying to expedite it (although some companies offer added features for expedited reviews). In most cases, the same reviewer who would be reviewing your book for free will also be the one reviewing it for a fee, only faster. So your only decision should be if you really need the review back quickly. 
"I always recommend you try for free reviews whenever possible. For those instances when you must have reviews back quickly for a launch or book cover, etc, then the issue is simply the cost/value ratio. 
"In regards to companies that only have fee-based reviews, you are essentially paying a premium for their name. The best example is Kirkus, in my opinion the big Kahuna of book review names. I say names, because although Kirkus writes good reviews, their highly recognizable name is what really commands their $400 price tag. Due to that high cost I recommend you DO NOT go straight to Kirkus, no matter how much confidence you have in your book. Instead, you should get as many reviews as you can first (free if possible). If all of your reviews come back great, then you can be reasonably sure your Kirkus review will be positive as well. Used correctly, a positive Kirkus review should be worth far more than its $400 cost. I am often asked why I recommend Kirkus or other competing review and book contest companies. 
"The simple answer is that book reviews and book award contests should not be a competitive industry. You should be getting as many reviews and entering as many contests as you can, ours is just one potential stop on that journey. I hope this article is of some help to you in your pursuit of reviews and whether to include paid reviews in your marketing budget."
James Ventrillo,

Dear readers,

It is so difficult for Indie writers to get those important first reviews! When I wrote Relative Malice I used Book Rooster and paid them to submit my reviews to thier reviewers. I got at least ten reviews in the following month and was happy with their service. My latest book, Trespass, was not so fortunate. This time, for my fee of $67, I only got one review from Book Rooster, and they would not compensate me because they do not promise you reviews, just promise to submit your book to their reviewers. So be careful when you pay. Be sure you know exactly what you are paying for.

Be aware that Amazon does not allow professional review companies to post to the Customer Reviews section on their site. Instead, they have created an Editorial Reviews section in your Amazon Author Central account where you can post excerpts from your professional reviews. This section appears before all your other reviews because they are considered more valuable. In addition, you can control what part of the review you post.

Readers Favorites, will, for a fee, guarantee you a defined number of expedited reviews and if you aren't in a hurry, free reviews. I have found them to have excellent service. Check out the website, they have a lot of services for authors.

Mr. Ventrillo has great advice about paid reviews. Hope you found his words helpful!

Have a wonderful and successful new year!


  1. WOW! Fantastic information. Thanks for all the great advice. I have also found that by just asking, and offering to review other author's work, one can get a lot of reviews.

    Diana Zimmerman

    1. Hi Diana,
      I'm so happy you found it helpful. I always like to pass on things I learn about publishing and marketing that are news to me! Also glad to hear you have found a way to get the reviews you need. Stay warm,

  2. As both a reviewer and reader, I do not put much faith in 'paid for' reviews. If I see a recommendation or quote from Kirkus on a review, I tend to ignore it........

    1. Hi Sandy,
      Well, Kirkus does not guarantee a good review. If you pay the hundreds of dollars fee, you may be doing it for nothing! What they will do is not publish it. So a Kirkus review is really not a bad thing. Dangerous for the writer, though!
      I've used sites that for a fee will guarantee you reviews, but once more, those also are not guaranteed to be good ones.
      What I find troublesome is the number of reviewers who give every book they read five stars! I don't leave many reviews below a three myself, but that is because I won't read a book that I don't enjoy.
      Thanks for stopping in and for your comment. Have a nice Sunday,

  3. Hi Marla. I love reading your blog as I fit in here. My problem is this: I do not work at a publishing house; I do not get paid at all for what I do. I write reviews, although not many to date due to a death in the family. To attempt an income, I asked a couple of people who requested I read trilogies over four hundred pages, to make a donation on my website; I did not specify any amount Then I told them that a donation does not guarantee a good review; I always do an honest review. My integrity matters to me. I never heard from them again of course and this situation has repeated itself. So, I am still left incredibly poor financially (not embellishing) but providing a good, honest service, while writing my memoir. I even promote the books, release dates, and reading venues on Twitter, Facebook and other sites. Any ideas?

    1. Hi Terry,
      I haven't heard of anyone doing reviews that way, but it seems to be a good idea. The ones I've used, though, (the ones I've paid for) promised more than one review. If you could find a few others to join you, people might find that more attractive. I don't usually go after reviews one at a time. For me, the hard part is getting that first ten, since many promotional sites require a book have that many. Or more!
      I think you need to keep at it. It takes time to establish any kind of service online. Responding to blogs about reviews (like this) is a good idea, but don't be shy about putting your link in it!
      Have a nice Easter,


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