Paying for professional book reviews remains a controversial topic that very few authors have practical, unbiased information about. In fact, it’s not even well-known in the author community that paid book reviews exist, and even less is known about the value of such reviews.
Before I discuss the pros and cons of paid reviews, I want to define them (strictly for the purposes of this post).
- Trade book reviews. Trade publications are those read by booksellers, librarians, and others who work inside the industry (as opposed to readers/consumers). Such publications primarily provide pre-publication reviews of traditionally published books, whether from small or large presses. Typically, these publications have been operating for a long time and have a history of serving publishing professionals. However, with the rise of self-publishing, some trade review outlets have begun paid review programs especially for self-published authors. Examples: Kirkus Reviews and Foreword Reviews.
- Non-trade book reviews. Because of the increased demand for professional reviews of self-published work, you can now find online publications that specialize in providing such services. These publications or websites may have some reach and visibility to the trade, or they may be reader-facing, or a mix of both. Examples: Indie Reader, Blue Ink Review, Self-Publishing Review.
- Reader (non-professional) reviews. It’s considered unethical to pay for reader reviews posted at Amazon or other sites, and Amazon is actively trying to curb the practice.
This post is focused on the first two types of paid reviews; I recommend you stay away from the third.
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