Should Authors Pay For Reviews?

Whether authors should pay for reviews is an ongoing debate.

First, we have to acknowledge that there are two types of reviews: editorial reviews, and reader reviews. Editorial reviews–like those from Kirkus, Clarion and others–are paid reviews. They are not cheap, either. These are the reviews that you might see on an Amazon page, under editorial reviews. Of course, not all editorial reviews cost. Midwest Book Review, for example, does not charge for reviews. Your book also might not get reviewed, either. So if you really, really want an editorial review, chances are you’re going to have to pay for it. Nobody seems to have a problem with that.

It’s the reader reviews that causes such angst. There is the camp that is philosophically opposed to paid reader reviews. It cheapens the review process, they say. Paid reader reviews lose integrity. Money taints the review because it’s an incentive to give a good one, rather than an honest one. The other camp says that readers should be paid for reviews. After all, they’re giving their opinion, just like a lawyer would to his client. Ah, the first camp says, but that’s different. In that case, you’re paying for the opinion of a professional. Readers are not professionals; they review books because they love to read. But isn’t giving a reviewer a free book a form of payment? It certainly costs the author to provide a copy. Or is this more of a barter system: If you agree to review my book, I’ll give you a copy, free. So, in other words, the author pays for the book and the reviewer pays in author in time spent reading the book and the effort to write a review. But what of those reviewers who demand a free book and then decide not to review it after they’ve read it? I’ve run into those. Send me your book, but that doesn’t guarantee a review. In those cases, the author is out the cost of a book and has received nothing in return. Somehow, that doesn’t sit well with me.

As for myself, I am not against paid reader reviews, as long as it is clear that a paid review does not translate into a good review. I think readers can be just as honest about a book whether they’re paid or not.

What do you think?



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