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Thread: Paying For Reviews

  1. #26
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Kirkus is careful to keep their paid-for "reviews" separate from their real reviews. The way I understand it the paid-for "reviews" aren't even in the hard-copy version that the folks at libraries and bookstores subscribe to.

    Anyway. Back to Xlibris. They're a notorious vanity press. Our thread on 'em is here: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=942

    frosteeman, what you should do right now is forget this book. It's dead. Write a new, different, better book and send it to a real publisher.

    Might as well talk about where reviews on covers, and blurbs, come from in the real world. (Note: Neither the author nor the publisher pays for reviews or blurbs.)

    First, let's talk about blurbs. Those are the little things like, "The best book I've read this year!" -- Some Other Author that you see on book covers.

    Where they come from: While the book is in production, the publisher prints up a bunch of Advance Reading Copies (ARCs) or Uncorrected Proofs. They paper the world with these. The blurb quotes usually come from authors who are: a) The author's friends, b) Other clients of the author's agent, c) Other authors published by the same publisher. What the other author gets: An ARC. Also, the promo value of having their name on the cover of your book. No money changes hands.

    If you see quotes from reviews printed on the cover of the hardback, notice that those are usually from reviews of the author's previous book.

    Reviews themselves:

    Remember those ARCs? This is all happening about six months before the book is due to be published. The ARCs get sent to every major reviewer. The publisher's publicity department handles this; it's at no cost to the author. So The New York Times, the Washington Post, Kirkus, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today ... and anyone else who might be interested gets an advance copy. If your book deals with dog breeding, the specialized dog-breeding magazines will get ARCs. The idea is you want the reviews to hit the papers the week that the book is released. (It doesn't do any good for a review to be printed for a book that isn't available yet.) Any ARCs that are left over will get sent to book bloggers, and anyone else who wants one. Really, they send out a lot of 'em.

    What happens to the reviews: If your book is a hardcover, and later gets a paperback release, the juiciest quotes go on the cover of the paperback.

    If you get a really, really juicy quote, or win a major prize, the publisher might decide to reprint the dust jacket with the quote on it.

    Suppose your book is a paperback original? In that case, the review quotes go on the cover of the second or subsequent printings.

    Notice how much this costs the author: Zero.

    Notice how much this costs the publisher: The cost of printing and mailing the ARCs (which is all budgeted when they decided to offer on the book).

    Notice how much what Xlibris is doing resembles the real process: Not at all.

  2. #27
    Even if you decided to pay for reviews (and I don't think it's a good idea), $1500 is a bit ridiculous.
    ...

  3. #28
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Here's a link to a previous discussion we had about paying for reviews.

    But the gist is, don't do it.

  4. #29
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    I agree.

  5. #30
    practical experience, FTW victoriafoyt's Avatar
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    There's no need to pay for reviews!

    Some added a humongous list of bloggers awhile back and all of them (make sure they're in your genre) will review your book for free... you just have to compose a good query letter and spend the time to send it out.
    Victoria Foyt
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  6. #31
    If you don't try, you can't fail AnneGlynn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by victoriafoyt View Post
    Some added a humongous list of bloggers awhile back and all of them (make sure they're in your genre) will review your book for free... you just have to compose a good query letter and spend the time to send it out.
    Once upon a time, that was true. Now, my blogger friends who do book reviews tell me that they're swamped with novels and can't possibly review them all. If you're self-published, they won't even consider your request. If you somehow catch their interest, your review date is far, far away.
    Anne

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  7. #32
    imagining doing the impossible Sherrie Cronin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnneGlynn View Post
    Once upon a time, that was true. Now, my blogger friends who do book reviews tell me that they're swamped with novels and can't possibly review them all. If you're self-published, they won't even consider your request. If you somehow catch their interest, your review date is far, far away.
    Anne -- I recently self-published my first science fiction novel in ebook form only and what you said has been my exact experience. There was a wonderful list of blogs here --- and sincere thanks to whomever provided it. But ..... many of the blog sites say they will not accept any new books, period, and more say that they are too swamped to accept any self-published ones, and still more will not accept an ebook.

    Most others (and it was a dwindling list by that time) did not even answer my careful, individually crafted query. The few folks who for some reason did click with my letter and respond have scheduled me many months down the road and I hear from an old hand here that I should not hold my breath that the book will actually get reviewed. Things change. This is all understandable of course. These folks are blogging for their own fun and owe their time to no one else and certainly not me.

    But .. for those of us with shy friends and relatives who agree that one should not PAY for reviews ...... what are the other options? My husband is offering to stand on a street corner wearing a t-shirt with a picture of my book cover and my website URL printed on it. I am thinking of taking him up on it.....

  8. #33

    Kirkus

    The Kirkus review is specifically for indy, or self published, authors from my understanding of it. The website goes on to say:

    1. Kirkus Indie will send you the review via email, at which point you can use it however you choose—on the back cover of your book, in marketing collateral, on your website or in a letter to an agent or publisher. You may also choose to publish your review on KirkusReviews.com where it can be discovered by industry influencers, agents, publishers and consumers. If it is a negative review, you can request that it never see the light of day.
    2. If you choose to publish your review on our website (at no extra charge), we will also distribute it to our licensees, including Google, BN.com, Ingram, Baker & Taylor and more. On top of that, our editors will consider it for publication in Kirkus Reviews magazine, which is read by librarians, booksellers, publishers, agents, journalists and entertainment executives. Your review may also be selected to be featured in our email newsletter, which is distributed to more than 50,000 industry professionals and consumers.
    Still, $500 for a review seems like alot of money.

  9. #34
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    If you choose to publish your review on our website (at no extra charge), we will also distribute it to our licensees, including Google, BN.com, Ingram, Baker & Taylor and more. On top of that, our editors will consider it for publication in Kirkus Reviews magazine, which is read by librarians, booksellers, publishers, agents, journalists and entertainment executives. Your review may also be selected to be featured in our email newsletter, which is distributed to more than 50,000 industry professionals and consumers.
    My bold.

    So the review will be put on some online sites; but there's no guarantee it'll appear in Kirkus Reviews magazine, or in their email newsletter, which are the bits that most people think of when thinking of Kirkus.

  10. #35
    Heather Topham Wood woodtop255's Avatar
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    Yikes, I think your money could be spent better elsewhere. Especially if there's no guarantee of publication in Kirkus Reviews.
    “The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.” -Anais Nin

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  11. #36
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    If you spend $500 sending out review copies to those who express interest I bet the result would be better.

    Basically you have to find reviewers, you have to get their interest, you have to send them the book. On the up side, the necessary research overlaps heavily with your other goal of finding customers.

  12. #37
    Boldly going nowhere in particular. Jess Haines's Avatar
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    Yes, agreed.

    You could better spend that $500 on shipping costs of review copies to many reviewers who are more likely to get the word out about your book.
    Jess Haines
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  13. #38
    practical experience, FTW victoriafoyt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherrie Cronin View Post
    Anne -- I recently self-published my first science fiction novel in ebook form only and what you said has been my exact experience. There was a wonderful list of blogs here --- and sincere thanks to whomever provided it. But ..... many of the blog sites say they will not accept any new books, period, and more say that they are too swamped to accept any self-published ones, and still more will not accept an ebook.

    Most others (and it was a dwindling list by that time) did not even answer my careful, individually crafted query. The few folks who for some reason did click with my letter and respond have scheduled me many months down the road and I hear from an old hand here that I should not hold my breath that the book will actually get reviewed. Things change. This is all understandable of course. These folks are blogging for their own fun and owe their time to no one else and certainly not me.

    But .. for those of us with shy friends and relatives who agree that one should not PAY for reviews ...... what are the other options? My husband is offering to stand on a street corner wearing a t-shirt with a picture of my book cover and my website URL printed on it. I am thinking of taking him up on it.....
    I'm sorry to hear that Sherrie...

    I've had quite a different experience with my new book though... I've been able to get a bunch of reviews and while the dates vary, for the most part the reviewers have been able to get them reviewed in a timely fashion. All it's cost me was a free ARC or hardcover.

    Maybe its because my genre's YA and there are THOUSANDS of YA-focused blogs out there? Maybe it's because the queries come from my publisher and not me (for the most part)? Perhaps your query needs work? Have you tried to get some feedback from the query forum here? That's an AMAZING resource!
    Victoria Foyt
    www.victoriafoyt.com -my personal site
    www.savethepearls.com -my post apocalyptic dating site/book promo site
    www.sanddollarpress.com -my publisher

  14. #39
    imagining doing the impossible Sherrie Cronin's Avatar
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by victoriafoyt View Post
    I'm sorry to hear that Sherrie...

    I've had quite a different experience with my new book though... I've been able to get a bunch of reviews and while the dates vary, for the most part the reviewers have been able to get them reviewed in a timely fashion. All it's cost me was a free ARC or hardcover.

    Maybe its because my genre's YA and there are THOUSANDS of YA-focused blogs out there? Maybe it's because the queries come from my publisher and not me (for the most part)? Perhaps your query needs work? Have you tried to get some feedback from the query forum here? That's an AMAZING resource!
    Thanks Victoria -- I am still learning my way around this site and did not even realize that there was a query forum. My goodness .... sometimes this place feels like a giant cruise ship where I keep discovering new lounges and decks I didn't even know existed....

    Yes I think that publicity would be easier if I wrote YA, or paranormal (or paranormal YA!) as the numbers of blogs for older women who like quirky fiction are considerably smaller. I am trying to think of ways to break into the book club circuit, as that is more my crowd.

    And of course having a publisher to send out those queries for you has got to add a level of legitimacy. Anyway, good for you for making the system work.

    I appreciate the query forum lead and I am finding new honest ways to solicit reviews every week. Somebody out there is going to review my book sooner or later

  15. #40
    practical experience, FTW
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    Don't do it, don't do it, don't do it ... but for the love of god, if you reach such a low point of wretched dejectedness that you feel you absolutely must buy yourself a review, slink off to that den of inequity where everything (including Amazon reviews) costs $5. Do NOT pay thousands (or even hundreds) of dollars when a five dollar whore will get the job done just as well.

  16. #41
    practical experience, FTW victoriafoyt's Avatar
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    Sherrie (and the OP of course),

    Have you tried Goodreads, Shelfari, or Library Thing? There are many groups on those sites for every type of genre where you can make friends and meet bloggers.

    Also, try joining author groups on facebook like Book Junkies. I'm in a few groups like this on there and I see many authors reviewing each other's work!
    Victoria Foyt
    www.victoriafoyt.com -my personal site
    www.savethepearls.com -my post apocalyptic dating site/book promo site
    www.sanddollarpress.com -my publisher

  17. #42
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin davetylerdurden's Avatar
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    Another good way to generate interest in your book and possibly gain reviews, is to review other books yourself. In my opinion they do not have to be a huge critical analysis, but as victoriafoyt mentioned, sites like Goodreads are ideal for this. Read and review other indie authors works (especially when they give them away for free) and you may find that they in turn will read and review yours. Plus you will build up a good name for yourself.

  18. #43
    Heather Topham Wood woodtop255's Avatar
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    Blog tours are also usually reasonably priced and many of the stops include a review of your novel.
    “The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.” -Anais Nin

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  19. #44
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    I PAID for my reviews at the range of $100-$200 respectively. But I had no clue that many readers consider this as some way of cheating to get a positive review somehow. I was under the impression that the fee was only for having the review posted on their website and nothing more. IMO the reviews I got were fair and spot on. People can click on the blog in my sig and see if they think my reviews were fair or they just put a positive spin cause I paid for them.

  20. #45
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    That seems rather over-priced for two reviews from websites i have never heard of (but maybe that is just me). I hope you at least asked for evidence that each review gets the hits required to justify that charge. And I can't say I read 2/3 (for a site that gives most things 3/3) and 'needs proofreading' as a positive review. (The second needs a cover image).

    But, anyway, once you pay for the posting of the review what you are buying is advertising. And the value of advertising is exposure (view/circulation) and conversion (sales). $100 could get you a full page ad in a niche newsstand magazine with a circulation in the tens of thousands.
    Last edited by veinglory; 05-17-2012 at 01:39 AM.

  21. #46
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    This is true. But at the time I just googled BOOK REVIEWS and I was directed to these websites. And being a self published author with a zero following to begin with, I did not see any reason to be picky about it. I am not concerned too much with advertising and exposure, but I hate the notion that if my review is remotely positive because I PAID for it, seems to tell me that since I'm a self published author then my work could never be considered any good. Or at least this is the gist of what some people have hinted to me that did not approve of my reviews for my book.

  22. #47
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    The have good SEO in order to get money from authors. To get that money they should also have had to tell you the average unique hits per review and the click through rate. They should have bothered to upload a cover and they should have linked to a point of sale. If you didn't want advertising or exposure then it seems odd to pay someone to not give you any when you could have the same for free.

    And the point is not really whether the review is good. It is that you had to pay someone to read your book. This is not a good look.

    As for why you were turned down for reviews, a lot of reviewers don't take self-published books. This may have to do with average quality or sheer volume and is just a fact of life (for the record I do take self-published books and have a review blog specifically for them. But I review 1 book every few weeks and get 10 new queries a day... so).

    I would also note that you book is not in a clear genre, this makes getting a review hard. I don't think it makes paying for an ineffective review the solution. Indy book in a clear genre have a lot of luck with niche blogs that are less overwhelmed by requests and more likely to not care where/how the book was published.

    The only thing that can be worse than not being reviewed is being reviewed by a disreputable site. I'll admit that I Google books I might want to review and if I find them on Kirkus Indies etc I am less likely to take them.

    But that's just me. Other readers may not care where reviews come from, but are also almost certain to never see the ones you bought unless already searching specifically for that book. Which makes it bit lose/lose IMHO.

    If you want to go the paid review route, $5 will get you a not too obvious fake review on Amazon which will probably do you more good. After all, if it is just advertising, why not buy a positive review.

  23. #48
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starchaser3000 View Post
    This is true. But at the time I just googled BOOK REVIEWS and I was directed to these websites. And being a self published author with a zero following to begin with, I did not see any reason to be picky about it. I am not concerned too much with advertising and exposure, but I hate the notion that if my review is remotely positive because I PAID for it, seems to tell me that since I'm a self published author then my work could never be considered any good. Or at least this is the gist of what some people have hinted to me that did not approve of my reviews for my book.
    If you pay for the review, the reviewer is working for you. It's in their best interest to give you a good review, so that you'll come back and pay them again. So a paid for review means nothing. It's a waste of money. I'd rather hear what your mom thought of the book than what you paid a reviewer to say.

    Plus, I just looked your book up on Amazon. I don't see any reviews at all http://www.amazon.com/Fantastica-Vic.../dp/1467905739 so the reviews you paid for aren't even posted on the most important site? Money not well spent, if you ask me.

  24. #49
    Writing HF Again, Thank God EngineerTiger's Avatar
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    I went back and forth on this question a few weeks ago but decided against it. As a self-published author, I think the key is not to give in to the temptation to rush into things. For now, I'm getting a review here and there on Goodreads and on Amazon. Word-of-mouth seems to be growing; thanks in a large measure to Nick Russell's reviews which pushed the books into a market I might not have reached otherwise - thank you so much, Nick!

    A current Giveaway on Goodreads is also getting the first book some attention. I had to chose between an iffy concept like paying for reviews or sinking a chunk of money into an ad in the primary quarterly magazine for my target audience. An ad that reaches 40,000 potential readers made a lot more sense to me than a review my readers might never even see or care about if they did come across it. I also have ventured into audiobooks. There again, it makes more sense to me to spend the money to get the books into a new format than to risk it on one review.

    I know that we are all anxious to have our books receive attention. However, there are no shortcuts in writing; whether as self-publisher or through trade publishing. The advantage a self-publisher has though, is that we have time on our side. We don't have to sell in a given time-frame to boost a publisher's confidence in our work. Our books can sit out on the internet almost indefinitely while word-of-mouth builds interest while we work on the next.

    One avenue is to seek out the blogs and Goodreads groups that discuss your genre and become an active participant. I've made a lot of acquaintences that way and a few have even bought my books because they enjoy sharing discussions.
    Visit my WEB SITE for information about my series, BLACK KNIGHTS OF THE HUDSON

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  25. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    As for why you were turned down for reviews, a lot of reviewers don't take self-published books.

    I would also note that you book is not in a clear genre, this makes getting a review hard.
    You nailed it on that one. I found out real quick that self published authors have a hard time getting reviews from both readers who only review trad published books and reputable review companies. I just took what I could get at the time being naive about this stuff anyway. Plus these reviewers were cheaper than Kirkus and others that I checked out on the net. The most expensive one was around $150 I believe.

    I have been told by others that my book is hard to categorize, which is fine by me since that was the intention all along. But to simplify what my book is about, it is simply a parody/satire of fiction fantasy from TV and the movies over the years. My Amazon Link goes more in depth about it.

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