Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Paid Book Reviews?

Yesterday I came across a post at Books, Biscuits, and Tea on Bookish Ramblings: Should bloggers charge authors for reviews? Vicky (the author of the article) began the discussion when she read a post by author Michele Gorman, in which Michele (who I do not know and have never had any personal dealings with, just FYI) spoke of writing to a book blogger to ask them to review her book, Misfortune Cookie. Their response began with the traditional, 'We're very busy and have to be selective about what we choose to read," type response. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Since writers have discovered what I've long known, that bloggers are a freaking gold mine to a writer, they are basically inundated with requests for reviews, and rightfully so. Bloggers have avid followings, and their followers believe what they write. However, this response was then followed with, "Currently, we have so many requests for book reviews and promotion help, that we do have about a 3-4 week wait list. Because we have such a large amount of book review requests, we have had to start charging for them . So now we are now charging a fee of $95.00 per review and subsequent postings. That includes a nice review with the short synopsis that comes with your book, a picture of the book with a link to purchase it from Amazon." (Direct quote)

Huh???

Below is my response to Vicky's post:

"As an author, I would never pay for a review simply because, as a reader, I’d be less inclined to read and believe any review given by someone who was paid for it. Knowing that other readers will feel the same, what is my inclination, then, to pay for a review I know won’t be read/believed? None, I’m afraid.

I have absolutely no problem with bloggers charging for advertising space on their blog, or for additional services such as arranging blog tours, or even a donation button on their blog, but paying for a review? Not going to happen, not for me anyway.

I recently received an email from a reader asking if I’d send her a copy of my book in exchange for a nice review on Amazon. I told her absolutely not; however, I’d be more than happy to send her a book if she promised to leave me an HONEST review, whether she loved, liked, or yes, hated the book.

Bloggers are seriously the bread and butter of any successful writer, which we are well aware of an grateful for (hugs and kisses to you all!). However, if blogging becomes a paid vocation, I’m afraid it will no longer carry the charm and magic it does now. Authors will find much better places to spend their advertising money that putting it in the pocket of a paid amateur reviewer. Book bloggers will no longer carry the weight and importance they do now because they’ll be paid for their words, rather than reviewing out of a genuine love for reading.

I read that book bloggers have more power to sell a book than a review in the NY Times. I believe it. Why? Because we all know the book blogger is being honest. We all know the NY Times writer is paid for their review, and is likely getting kickbacks from the publisher. Their review can’t hold a candle to the power of a review from one of you amazing book bloggers."

So my question to you, my dear followers, is: what's your opinion of book bloggers charging authors and/or publishers for reviews? Would you pay for a review? Would you feel like you were buying a good review rather than receiving an honest review? As a reader, would you believe a review given by a paid reviewer, or would you assume the reviewer is "selling" good reviews?

9 comments:

  1. "...charging a fee of $95.00 per review and subsequent postings. That includes a nice review"

    Includes a -nice- review? Why is that person reviewing books in the first place, it defeats the purpose. And $95.00 -jeez, that's ridiculous!

    As a reviewer myself, I could never charge for what I do! And I agree, I think it discredits the author even if their book is amazing or not.

    Just my two cents. x

    Vix @ ttoria.blogspot.com

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    1. Can't argue with a single word, Viktoria. :o)

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  2. Agree. I won't pay for a review. I won't READ a review by someone who has been paid for it for all the reasons above and more.
    I have nothing against bloggers earning for advertising, book tours, etc, but not for a review.

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    1. I agree, Cami. I think if a blogger can make money through advertising, tours, or in any other service they want to provide, more power to them. But a paid for review? Doesn't make sense any way you look at it, for anyone.

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  3. Why should readers care? All I want is to read a good story so why should I care what happens between the writer and the blogger? Obviously, I'm being a bit smarmy. As a reader, I typically purchase a book based upon recommendations from friends, family, media hype, and yes, bloggers. I think the blogger takes a huge risk to damaging credibility by pumping a sub-par book. Readers will feel duped. This practice doesn't benefit the reader, writer, or blogger.

    Also, I would agree that bloggers are a super source for marketing and promotion for the writer, but don't put all bloggers on a pedestal. One stop on my last book tour the blogger didn't read the entire book or at best skimmed it (which I doubt), and then based his review off assumptions of what the story was about. It was an okay review, but disappointing none the less.

    Bottom line, if bloggers can't keep up with volume (and I don't see how they can), they must be selective and more restrictive. Just because they agree to review a book doesn't mean they can't say "hey, dude, this sucks!" after struggling through the 100 grammatical issues in the first ten pages.

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    1. I completely agree Jeffery - I'm a blogger myself, I won't hype myself up too much but I have a pretty large follower base and receive at least 3 book review requests per day as well as many books from publishers. If I know that I am getting overwhelmed by requests I simply turn down all requests except those that appeal to me massively.

      I would never dream of charging, no matter how much my blog grew. To me, I am profiting from being a reviewer myself as it is. I am a 19 year old working part time, I also read about 8 books a week and unless I was receive free books for review I would not be able to fund my reading addiction.

      In my opinion, reviewers and authors have a symbiotic relationship. I know that the young adult book blogging community is massive, and this widens the outreach of authors and also helps to hype up a book via word of mouth and they supply us with books to help upkeep our reading addiction and keep us sane. Adding money to the mix is not a practice that I will ever take part in.

      Blog reviewers should do what they do for fun, not for profit.

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    2. True, Jeff, that you do find bloggers that are maybe less that stellar (such as your reviewer who didn't even read the book!). Most of them are pretty awesome though. And most of them have an avid following which means their readers trust them. If they start publishing "nice reviews" because they want to be sure the author is getting their money's worth, everyone loses. They completely should be able to say "this sucks" if it does. They won't if they're being paid. Then they lose the trust their readers have in them, and once they lose their following, they no longer have any earning power.

      Jade, good for you for being selective rather than being overwhelmed. That's so much smarter than not reading a book and then publishing a bogus review. I hope most bloggers have your ideals. :o)

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  4. Hi Cindy!
    As a reader i wouldn't read a review by someone who has been paid for it. As a reviewer, i know sometimes you don't have the time to read a book and you have to be selective but never charge for a review. I think it'd be disrespectful to your followers by not being honest and you won't help the author to improve or let them know that you really liked it.

    Anyway, kisses from Perou! =D

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    1. I'm with you, Susu. I completely understand a reviewer being selective because I know how many requests reviewers get. But charging... that's something else entirely. :o)

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