Guest Author: David M. Kelly on Paid Reviews

Welcome back to my eclectic collection of odds and ends articles.  Tonight, we’ve got one from a fellow author I met on Goodreads.  Like most of us, he’s had to toil up that horrible slope everyone dreads, called the “learning curve”.  One of the biggest issues most independent authors face is how to get the critical reviews for our works.  David has some good points, and I think I will let him take over from here.


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 independent author. In online bookstores, potential buyers rely on reviews and ratings from other people to decide whether or not to hit that “buy” button. 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 much-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 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 newly-published 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,” are you 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 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. Do you agree?

Thank you David.  I know where I stand on this issue, and look forward to hearing what others think.  Please leave a comment below with your answers.



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