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Should Authors Pay For Book Reviews?

By John Reese, May 27 2016 04:23PM

It’s a question that’s courted more than a little controversy over the years, but there’s a significant difference between paying for a book review with no influence over the resulting review and paying for a review that is guaranteed to be overwhelmingly favourable, Aka those commonly found on the likes of Fiverr. Unfortunately, the distinction is often lost and in doing so a powerful marketing opportunity may be overlooked for the sake of allowing prejudice to influence thinking.


Let’s be honest, every author hopes his or her book will receive glowing reviews, but a handful of two line reviews from friends and family or poorly worded reviews from someone who’s been paid $5 to read and write a review for your book, simply doesn’t cut it. Now, before you take umbrage with that last sentence, we certainly aren’t demeaning the support an author gets from friends and family, in fact it often proves a godsend, but the truth of the matter is that a positive review from a widely known, professional and trusted reviewer is worth its weight in gold. Every book, whether it be by a known or unknown author publishing for the first time stands a chance of becoming a best seller, the deciding factor is often how quick it can build momentum and professionally written, insightful and compelling reviews are a major part of the success factor. The problem for most authors is that they sit on the fence, unsure which side of the argument to come down on.


At BookViral we believe that information is the foundation of success and we wanted to offer something more substantial than hearsay and conjecture. Now before we do, and for those reading this who are unfamiliar with the services we provide, let’s be absolutely clear and say we don’t provide paid reviews. We commission reviews as part of our promotions, providing exactly the same service as Kirkus or Publishers weekly. The difference is that whereas those esteemed bodies will take an author’s money and are quite happy to return a bad review, we screen the books we promote and if our commissioned reviewers return a bad review we return the authors money and we don’t publish it. Life is hard enough in modern publishing without paying good money for a bad review!


Now it’s clear that we all have ‘skin in the game’, so simply asking the authors we’ve worked with if they favour paying for professional reviews would add little value. We wanted to dig a little deeper and find a correlation between paid book reviews and increased book sales. We’ve worked with over 1800 authors in a little under two years and have an ever-growing author mailing list of over 25,000 so we are reasonably well placed to ask the most pertinent questions.


Whilst any information collected can be presented with a bias we wanted to keep our survey as succinct as possible. Now keep in mind that paying for reviews is a commonplace practice and when it comes to professional reviews they aren’t cheap. You’re paying for professional insight garnered over many years, often decades, and you can be confident that a highly experienced reviewer will read your entire book in full and follow clear guidelines in writing your review. The costs vary but on the date this post was first published typical fees were Kirkus, (standard service $425, express service $575), Blue Ink Reviews ($495 for the review to be completed in 4-5 weeks), and BookViral ($152 for review to be delivered in 12 working days).


Our survey was responded to by 1,237 authors and the questions we asked were:-


1: How many times have you paid for a book review?

2: How much have you paid for professional book reviews?

3: Do you believe paid reviews have had positive impact upon your book sells?


So, should authors pay for book reviews? We would rather you cast an eye over the responses from our latest survey and draw your own conclusions, but it does still seem that a five star review from a top book review site still carries a great deal of kudos. In our first blog post titled The Secret Of Viral Book Sales we shared a formula for creating viral book sells and it should be remembered that compelling, professional reviews are one of the most powerful forms of publicity you can get.

As always, it's great to have made the connection with you and we hope we have given you something to think about. We'd also like to draw your attention to the 2016 BookViral Book Awards. We value originality and great writing and if you are confident your book will meet our expectations you can submit it by clicking on this link SUBMIT BOOKS.



1 comments
Sep 10 2016 05:15AM by Natasja Rose

Just shared this on my author blog.

I don't think authors should pay for customer reviews, because they already 'paid' by writing the book, and there is nothing forcing the customer to write a few words if they enjoyed it.
For professional reviews, I think that Authors should pay, though I admit some review companies charge far more than they need to. If I won't write an entire book 'For Exposure', I shouldn't expect someone else to do their job for free.

I might be a little biased, given that I just paid for one of BookViral's packages, but I'm paying for exposure to their customer base, review and promotion, so I consider it money well spent

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