Paying for Reviews

I’m interrupting my string of guest posts because I’m unsatisfied with how they’ve performed. Every post I write is written in a manner that is meant to start a discussion. Sometimes I get 100 comments and other times I get 10. I have no issue with that because it’s just the nature of blogging. But I’d rather it be me causing the fluctuation than someone else. I may or may not post the four remaining guest posts I have pending next week. If you’re one of the four post authors and you’d rather just keep the post for your own blog, then just say the word and I’ll delete it.

Everyone knows that getting people to review your book can be tough. Maybe it’s self-published. Maybe it’s traditionally published by a tiny press that no one knows about. Maybe it’s published by a major publisher but has been marketed minimally. It can be difficult for anyone. I’ve seen bestsellers with less than 100 reviews on Amazon.

So, couple that with the onset of self-publishing and you have yourself a market for paid reviews. Some people have no problem with this and others do, like me. Every blogger or organization always claims that the payment isn’t necessarily for a positive review, it’s for the service of reviewing the book. OKAY. If you keep popping out bad reviews, then you’ve eliminated your paying customers. AND they straight up lie about things. One blogger from WordPress says she accepts $5 for her reviews because she has a social media reach in the millions and heavily markets her reviews. HA! This was a comment on a blog I read on here! The worst part is that she convinced ALLLLLL the other commenters that it was well worth it for an author to pay her for her review because of her massive reach. They’d all been talking about how bad paid reviews are and then one lady starts talking about her millions of followers and they’ve all bought in.

I didn’t try to verify what she was saying, but I did click her name to find your typical blog. Erratic posts. Single digit Likes and comments. (But her reach is in the millions. Mhm.) I’d put her in a worse category than Kirkus. At least we know exactly what they’re after when it comes to reviewing books. They charge, take a deep breath, $425-$575 to review your book! I’ve known about this forever, but that’s simply a damn joke. Their express option takes 4-6 weeks.

Paying for reviews is never about the service or the social media reach or ANYTHING other than money. And what’s the easiest way to keep people coming back for them? Positive reviews. The end.

I’d like to know what you think of paying someone to review your work. Would you do it? And I’d also like to know if you think it’s any better or worse than positive review swaps.

On this day in 2014 I published Why are Protagonists Always Damaged in Some Way?.


72 thoughts on “Paying for Reviews

  1. I like to give authors the *option* to pay me for my reviews. My reviews are always honest and they take time to do, so I will accept payment, but I also often consider hard copies in replace of payment, and while I definitely don’t reach millions, I always send the author a link to or copy of my review so they can use it, share it, learn from it, etc. at their discretion as well. Since I do put a lot of work into my reviews, I definitely appreciate when an author chooses to pay me, but I still struggle with what should be a proper fee if they ask. Never would I ask for hundreds of dollars. A friend of mine was gouged by Kirkus and I will agree, their fees are absolutely ridiculous, considering the end product.


    • We simply disagree with each other on this. If I was trying to get people to review my book and had someone give me an *option* to pay, I’d laugh and would not be providing them with a copy for review.


  2. Also, just to clarify, I most often accept ebooks at no cost, purely for the love of reading and sharing what I think. But as a struggling young mother, getting paid commissions is a great way to boost the diaper fund while doing something I love.


  3. I would not pay for a review, especially $425 or more. That’s just ridiculous. I do read reviews of books on Amazon, but tend to always make sure I read any 1 and 2 star reviews to balance out the 5 star reviews.


  4. I’m not sure that I would pay a person to review my book. Most likely I’d make my book available for free ! If someone was willing to pay me, I wouldn’t object (being human as I am) however I would be happy to review books without payment because I think it’s the least you can do. And when reviewing them I a my best to be critical enough but not too critical.


  5. Bah! Since I rarely read reviews ever, I would not pay for someone to review my book. If and when it ever gets published, plenty of people will review it whether I want them to or not. Some of them much more qualified than those who claim to be “experts” at reviewing books. The only place I want my book reviewed is by potential agents/publishers while they’re deciding whether or not to publish my book.
    As for positive review swaps… If a book is good, I say so, but I’m not going to hold back on any constructive criticism. And I wouldn’t want anyone else to hold back on criticism for me! I think it’s essential to growing as a writer, even if we don’t end up using the feedback.


  6. I think it depends on the type of blog. I would consider paying a small sum for a professional blogger to review my work, but I think that receiving the work/product itself can sometimes be enough. I’ve done one product review on my blog (not of a book though) and I felt that receiving the product for free was enough compensation. However, if you are trying to make a living from blogging, then charging customers for the work you do goes without saying. After all, reviews on professional blogs are excellent publicity (of course I wouldn’t pay any blogger who clearly couldn’t guarantee I’d get my money’s worth). But again, the whole thing would need to be realistic so that both sides profit.


    • I guess you know more of these professional bloggers than I do. Because I know none. And what makes a professional blogger, anyway? Someone who says they’re a professional and tries to take money from their readers? Cause if someone blogs for a site, then they’d be getting paid by the site. And if they just run their little blog about nothing, then there’s nothing professional about that.


  7. I’m sort of indifferent on the issue of paying people for reviews. For me, I most likely wouldn’t pay someone to review my book–I would hope that they would be naturally interested to do so. The best I would do is offer the book for free in exchange for a honest review.


      • I wouldn’t mind being paid as a reviewer and currently I review books in exchange of keeping the books I review. I guess after saying all this, I don’t think paying for reviews is necessarily bad, but I would prefer not to do so myself, mainly because I want to encourage readers who are generally interested in my book to review it. I would rather offer the book for free.


      • It sounds a little like a double standard. You wouldn’t mind being paid to review books, but you wouldn’t want to pay to gave your book reviewed.


      • It does sound like a double standard, but my reason is limited funds and also honesty concerns. I know that I will always give honest reviews whether I’m paid or not, but I feel when money is brought in, there is no guarantee the review will be honest. Will the reviewer give a positive review in hopes that they can continue to get paid for reviews? That is just my thoughts, but I could be wrong–maybe paying people for reviews will not affect how honest the review is.


  8. I wouldn’t pay for a review of my books. Granted, it is difficult as a self-published author to garner reviews, especially since KDP Select will remove reviews from those who “know” the author. Paying for reviews seems a bit dishonest and deceitful. If an author’s writing craft is enjoyable and entertaining to read, then the book will stand on its own substance, with or without reviews.


  9. If I was a self-published author, I would absolutely include a review from The Washington Post or another nationally recognized paper as part of my marketing plan. Being an indie author is not free if you actually want to sell books. It’s expensive because all marketing that gets real results IS expensive. And I don’t find this shady or dishonest, because those organizations don’t know you or care about you, so it’s not like they’re going to pad their review with dishonesty. The biggest obstacle indie authors must overcome is the stigma that they are illegitimate and not worth reading. But having your name in the same sentence with something like “The New York Times” makes you look more professional, and can make potential buyers forget/ignore/not notice that your book is self published. Most of the general public assumes that in order for a big paper to review your book, you must have been traditionally published. Few people outside of the writing community know that one can simply pay Kirkus or whoever to review anything.

    But I would not pay a blogger, or friends, or any other random people on the internet to offer a formal review, as no one reading the book’s back cover cares that your mom liked the book. “My Mom” is not a source people trust to be unbiased. And I would NEVER pay people to leave reviews in the comments section of in order to artificially inflate the star rating, etc, because that is totally shady. Same with “I’ll review your book if you review mine.” There is a difference between a review you purchase to advertise your book and actual reader response. I would gladly keep the review sections of Goodreads, Amazon, etc full of non-partial, honest readers that I had little or no relation to.


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