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Should Authors Pay for a Book Review?

Updated on August 3, 2016
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Am I cheating my readers?

Many independent authors want positive reviews for their new book. Amazon promotes books with many reviews as they are interested in promoting well reviewed books to generate more sales – the snowball gets bigger as it rolls downhill, of course. Many good reviews give new authors credibility. More reviews generate more sales and promote you and your writing ability and that helps all your future books and reputation.

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But it’s hard to get reviews if you’re a new author. Asking your friends and family for their time in giving your book a review is humbling as generally most feel if you are a really good writer you shouldn’t have to ask for reviews. There are so many books on the market, most review services are backed up for months. You can send your book to media but most media companies pass on unsolicited free books delivered to them to their employees or trash what no one wants. But we all know people do it. If you look at many of the books on amazon, look at the earliest reviews and you'll see that most all are 4-5 stars as the author most likely got friends, etc. to help with the reviews. The reviews tend to score the book down as time goes on - if they don't then you can be fairly sure it's a good book.

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If you search "paid book reviews" on the web you will find many sites offering a paid review. Do you really want to pay for a review? That seems to be a misrepresentation of your book, as well as unethical and unfair to your readers and potential readers. It’s fundamentally wrong to pay for a review. And, it’s not fair to your readers or potential readers to “swap” reviews with other authors since that tends not be a truly independent review.

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Most writers want to spend their time writing, creating new works and generally don’t have the time to approach writing groups, book clubs, or generally any kind of meetup group for writers or readers. But, on second thought, this might be the exact place to start. Writing groups and other social groups are usually looking for programs for their meetings. You might want to contact book clubs, service clubs or social clubs in your area and ask the program chairman or program committee for 5-10 minutes to address their group and speak about your book and explain how your book can be helpful to their members. Pass out a few free copies to the members as well and remind anyone who may read your book to give you a review. Yes, good old hard work does pay off and it’s fun and interesting to search the groups in your area to see where your book will do the most benefit and meet new people. Try to talk to senior social groups too – there are some retirees (ex-execs) with a lifetime of experience and business contacts in the book world to give you new ideas on how you might promote your book – retirees love to help and share their experiences. For example, I gave a short talk at a Lions Club meeting and met a retired lawyer who happened to be best friends for many years with a senior manager at Penguin. It all comes down to the content of your book but coming through the side door is easier at times and it can work out for you!

Finally, there are organizations such as www.bookwormworld.com which has a net work of people that like to read books. They aren't obligated to give you a review but if they like the book they will give you a review and usually a positive review.

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    • CYong74 profile image

      Kuan Leong Yong 18 months ago from Singapore

      I think this is similar to whether you should pay for ads to your blog? With so much competition, you probably need that boost if you wish to get anywhere. But the writer needs to know where to draw the line eventually and start working towards "real" reviews.

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