Paying for book reviews?

Since releasing my short stories as ebooks I’ve been approached several times (mostly through Goodreads) to have a review written for my books in exchange for cash.

Reviews are the lifeblood of an i independent author. With sales literally hanging in the balance over them, in the online world potential buyers rely on reviews and ratings from other people to decide whether to buy a book or not. So they’re critical to the success of a book.

You might not know this but many “reviews” are in fact simply paid for, by the publisher or producers of a piece of work. For example the often vaunted Kirkus book reviews cost authors over $400 (over $500 if you want the “express” service). Many people probably look at the movie ratings and reviews on the IMDB website, not realizing that movie companies pay people in large numbers to rate and review the releases positively.

This sort of thing has been going on for years of course, from the record companies that buy thousands of their own records to game the charts to Doctors paid by extremely rich pharmaceutical companies to give positive test results for (or even prescribe!) specific drugs.

So as a writer what do you do? If you stick to the “moral  high-ground” and refuse to pay for reviews you run the very real risk of not being read. If you go the “pragmatic” route and accept that “everyone’s doing it, so I may as well” then you’re throwing out your morals with the bathwater.

Salvor Hardin once said “Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.” – unfortunately in this case for the reviewers (who undoubtedly make a fair amount of money at this game) my sense of morals tells me not to pay for a review. Ever.

(This post was originally posted on K. Caffee’s website – thanks Kathryn!)



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