Paid Book Reviews: The Pros and Cons

Paid Book Reviews: Are They Worth It or Not?

Should you pay money to get your book reviewed? We go through the pros and cons of paid book reviews.Paid book reviews are a growing topic of conversation in the publishing industry. Also, many first-time authors are surprised to learn they can pay for reviews. While in years past, paid reviews were considered taboo and unprofessional, it is less and less the case. Increasingly, paid reviews of books from the right sources can be a legitimate part of a well-planned book promotion campaign.

But what are the pros and cons of paid book reviews? For many self-published authors who don’t have significant marketing machines behind them and lack professionally bound galleys that are ready far in advance, the prospect of paid reviews can be intriguing. Yet, also, the possibility of paid reviews can be intriguing to traditionally published authors who do have those things. Therefore, how do you decide if it’s worth it?

The Pros
  • Visibility — several of the paid book review websites do have a certain amount of prestige and reach — they are being read by the people who decide what books bookstores buy (book buyers) and librarians; both are groups who you want to discover and buy your book.
  • Predictable Length of Content — You know what you’re receiving in terms of word count, links, and social sharing. Without paid reviews, you might pursue a book review only to receive a few sentences or be part of a round-up. With a paid review, you can depend more on the extent of the content.
  • Access to Data — with some paid review services, you have access to precise analytics to at least understand how many people engaged with a post, or at the very most, tell you who clicked through to purchase a book. Traditional review, and especially with organic social shares – social media posts and links about your book that you didn’t pay for but happened naturally – you don’t know what impact they have. You can look at the number of retweets or likes, but how many people followed the link? How many made a purchase? 
The Cons
  • Will it be Unfavorable? What you generally do not know is whether or not you will receive a positive review. Taking the chance — and spending money — on one review and not knowing if it will be positive or even if it is, whether or not it will help with book sales, is a gamble.
  • The Fact it is Paid — Editors and publishers, booksellers, librarians, and die-hard readers can spot a paid review from a mile away. Therefore, it doesn’t have the impact of a review earned through a traditional book marketing campaign. While you may have a review in Kirkus, which the industry keeps an eye on, professionals understand that Kirkus Indie Reviews are paid placements. In much the same way a blogger can be paid to write about a product, a paid review can carry less weight with insiders.
  • Cost — The price for a single review generally ranges from $150 at smaller sites to $500 or up to $1,000 for significant players depending on the package. As book publicists (and also book reviewers) who spend a lot of time showing reviewers why our client’s books deserve a spot on their roster, it seems pricey. You might end up paying as much for a few reviews as you would have spent on a complete book marketing campaign that targets legitimate book reviewers and writers who are not paid for their opinions. An author could use the same money to invest in advertising, outreach to booksellers, or printing galleys. Many initiatives cost less and have a more substantial impact; you can find some of those book marketing ideas here.

How to Decide About Paid Book Reviews — or Not

The Smith Publicity team at our Cherry Hill NJ headquarters.Often, the decision about paid reviews of books will come down to budget and how badly you want or need a review in a particular publication.  Paid book reviews are only one potential component of a book promotion campaign, and they are not a mandatory element in the opinion of most book marketing professionals. If you do choose to have them, paid reviews can be one of the many tactics in your publicity campaign. For additional help, check out our book marketing resources for authors page.

If you are convinced that you want to find out more about having a paid review, one trusted paid book review service Smith Publicity recommends is Blueink Review. If you have questions about paid reviews or any other promotional services, please email us at info@smithpublicity.com