Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Would you pay for a review? by Morgan Mandel

Yesterday at we discussed whether or not to pay for a blog book tour.

What about reviews? Would you pay for one, even by a reputable reviewing service?


Terry Odell said...

Paying for a review, beyond the cost of shipping them a book, IMHO makes the validity of the review suspect. Since I'd be skeptical about believing a review from that sort of review site, I would never pay to have my own book reviewed by them.

(Note: this is a response to the question posted here; I didn't pop over to the link to read the entire article, so take it FWIW)

Cheryl said...

I agree with Terry, it's hard to provide a totally objective review if you're being paid for it. In addition, as someone who works in book promotion, there are so many talented bloggers/reviewers who don't charge, why would an author incur the additional expense? Word of mouth is a very important aspect of book promotion, and these bloggers have loyal followings and are also tight with each other. Some people discount the smaller blogs, but those bloggers often bust their neck driving traffic to their sites, which is good for them and good for authors.


Irene at Reader Views said...

We are a book review service and provide free and express reviews. We charge for express reviews and give a stipend to the reviewer to put the book above all others and provide a review within two weeks.

Which now brings me to validity. Our reviewers give their honest opinion whether or not they get a stipend. They are serious about reviewing the book and don't fluff a book just because it is an express review. Our reviewers CAN be objective and are.

On the other hand, we limit free reviews because believe it or not, it does cost us to give a free review. I just can't seem to get anyone to work for me for free - they all want to get paid. (In fact, I just got hit up for a raise today!) So, what do they get paid for? Processing the request, sending out the book (oh yes...there is postage and bubble envelope too) to the reviewer, editing and formatting the review after it comes in, finding the cover, being sure the ISBN etc is correct, posting the review on the website (cross linking so it's not only one page) as well as amazon and the blog. And, then the review is sent to the author/publisher. And guess what, the whole process takes at least 1 hour (sometimes more)and at $15.00 per hour plus postage we've already spent $20 - not including running the site, rent, and electricity. I just can't see myself taking this money out of my own pocket just to give a free review because someone in the industry thinks all reviews should be free. Furthermore, we get at least 100 to 150 books per week. Do the math.

This may have worked a long time ago when newspapers/magazines charged for advertising and were able to give free reviews. That's history. Most of the major ones don't even do reviews anymore.

Further more, even Foreword now charges for reviews. And, there is Kirkus Discoveries. And, no they don't fluff the review because they are paid $400 per review. I've seen reviews come from them that are not desirable.

I do agree that bloggers are a good source of reviews and it gives good exposure on the internet for the author. Where credible review services come into play is reviewing manuscripts/galleys for endorsements on the back of the book, as well as for marketing purposes. A credible review goes a long way for the author.
Bloggers...keep reviewing - it's a win/win for everyone. The author gets a placement on the internet and the blogger gets a free book to read.

Bob Sanchez said...

Before I knew better, I paid $400 to Kirkus Discoveries through iUniverse for a review of When Pigs Fly. It was my first book, and at the time I didn't know if I would get any other reviews. Only later did I learn that free reviews online are not difficult to get (e.g. Reader Views). The K.D. reviewer seemed to go out of her way to be critical and was the only reviewer to call the story line trite and the ending predictable. That's okay, I suppose--you pay your money and you take your chances, and I did lift a couple of beneficial quotes from the review--but the free reviews were at least as useful.

People don't have to know that you paid for a review. That's not the issue. And bought-and-paid-for reviewers can and apparently do bend over backward to prove they are not bought and paid for, by writing an overly critical review.

Also, when I have talked to potential customers at book signings and I show them quotes from various reviews, none of them have said, "Oh, wow. You were reviewed by Kirkus?" The average reader has no idea who Kirkus is, and doesn't care.

The bottom line: I will never pay for a review again. It's just one more way that other people make money off the labor of authors. The issue isn't credibility; paying for a review is simply not worth it.

Bob Sanchez

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Sadly, most paid reviews are not worth the money. And the industry knows the difference between a free Kirkus review and a paid one.

Terry Odell said...

Although I can understand that the review site/publication process isn't without cost, there's always that doubt on the part of the reader. "If Author A paid, are they giving a better review to her book than they are to Author B's?"

Of course it shouldn't matter. However, if there's room for that kind of doubt, I'd steer away. I recall an on-line review site that began offering faster reviews for a fee, and the response was very negative. I believe they dropped that facet, simply because it created that 'praise for pay' stigma.

Other Lisa said...

I'm not working now, so probably not. ;)

Morgan Mandel said...

When I put an ad in Romantic Times for Girl of My Dreams, which I would have put in anyway, I was offered a review. I sent in for one and was disappointed in the review. I believe in a reviewer being honest, but I wished the ad hadn't been in the same issue as the review because it didn't help my sales one bit.

When I asked this year at RT for a review right when Killer Career came out, they said one of the criteria was whether or not I had an ad. I decided not to bother with them. I can't afford their expensive ads.

Morgan Mandel

Irene at Reader Views said...

One thing I neglected to say in my other post is many of us that provide a service of book reviews feel unappreciated when giving free reviews. Because a free review is "expected" in the industry, many authors don't take a minute or two to write a thank you note to the reviewer. I would venture to say that only one out of every ten does and our reviewers are thrilled when they get an acknowledgement for the hours they spend reading the book.

SassyScribe said...

I would never pay for a review...they got their money when they got my book! I am very mixed when it comes to reviews because a review is one person's opinion.

When my first book THE PARTY came out and I received a less than stellar review it felt as if someone had kicked my child to the corner. I sent it to RAWSistaz who gave it a 2 out of 5, calling the story coarse, crass, and vulgar. Yet they gave ZANE a 5 out of 5 who is just as if not more crass than I. However, I then sent it to RT and they gave it 4 out of 5 stars and it also won the 2005 RT Reviewers Choice Award for best AA romance by a 1st time novelist. So go figure...that same book again given 2 out 5 stars on amazon by another review group -siting that I was "losing sight" right there it showed me that I am not going to please everyone.

So I take reviews with a grain of salt and try to keep in mind that it is just one person's opinion.

I have a loyal fan base who like what I write and I am happy with that.