Should you pay for book reviews

If you’re about to publish your first book, you may not have thought about paying for reviews. I paid for my first review on Reedsy Discovery which went rather well, but I had no intention of regularly paying for reviews.

Over the course of 2020 I was contacted by reviewers that were eager to review my book, but they wanted to be paid (fee + book price). I tried a couple, which led to more reviewers contacting me. I was swayed and agreed to pay for about a handful. You might think it sounds like a scam (which it most of the time is) but I fell into the trap of laziness. It’s easy to pay for someone to review your book. It’s easy to just throw money out and then think this will somehow lead to sales. They all promise you lots of sales and having no prior experience, I gave it a try.

But I noticed that some reviews contained significant misrepresentation of the plot line, mistakes you would not make if you had read the book. I also noticed that some reviewers only posted their reviews on one platform, but not on others even though we had agreed on it. Some promised a review by a certain date, and a month later it was still not done.

*So to all new authors, self-published authors or soon-to-be self-published authors; be very very careful when someone asks you to pay them to review your book. Be very selective and if you do still choose to pay, find a reviewer you trust, or do it through a reputable middle-man (like Reedsy for example).*

Some paid reviewers I’ve worked with are really great, but those have almost exclusively been contacted by myself, not the other way around. I have decided to no longer pay for book reviews. Even if it costs me more time to find reviewers because I have to actively seek them out rather than waiting to be contacted by them, I prefer providing a free copy to someone who really likes to review books and will do so honestly.

Important side note on ratings: Handing out free copies does not guarantee or entitle you to a positive review. You need reviews for your book to sell it, and the reviewer needs to be impartial if he/she wants to continue reviewing books. You can build great relationships with reviewers (and therefore your audience), especially if you intend on publishing more than one book. Long-lasting co-operation is not built on threats or demands (from either side). And feedback on your work, even negative feedback, can always be constructive.

What is your experience with paid reviews?