I was reading another writer’s blog a few days ago and discovered a sad but common story. This writer had finally finished her first novel and decided on the services of an online publisher. It seemed to me that she had done some solid research and found a suitable fit. So far, so good.
When the novel was ready for distribution, using the services of the online publisher, she decided to purchase a special marketing package that included the offer of reviews from three widely-recognized review sites. If you heard the names, you would likely recognize them. This part of the package cost $1500. It guaranteed the three reviews, and the reviews would be independent and allegedly widely-read. So far, so good, if she could expect a reasonable return on her investment. Of course, that would directly translate into book sales, or so the offer implied.
The writer waited about six months for the final review, the last of the three. The review was basically a summary of the story line with a sentence or two at the end of the review that was rather indifferent and not informative. Most of the review had been tactfully lifted from the back cover of her novel. Needless to say, the writer was very disappointed. She was light $1500 and quickly learned that the reviews did nothing for book sales. In the meantime, her book was available at the usual places online, sites where reader reviews were known to flow freely.
Online publishing is a tuna vs shark world of intrigue and opportunity. It can work well or it can be a pit of expensive and hard lessons for the unwary writer. In this case, the writer fell victim to a rule that seasoned writers know well. The maximum cost of any review should never be more than a review copy of your book.
One more time, all together: Never pay for a review if the cost of the review is greater than a review copy of your book.
There are countless ways to get your book reviewed, including all those free comments found everywhere on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and their kin. There are also review sites, review blogs, magazines, newspapers, and periodicals. The list is endless. Wherever you find a book review is an opportunity for a review of your own book. All you have to do is query the reviewer and find out if he or she is willing to look at your work. Easy enough. Just be sure that the reviewer is not a one-on entity, a flash or hack reviewer, or someone who just writes reviews to fill up word count. Reviewing is an art and an occupation, so look for those who do it seriously and continuously. If you catch their eye with a good, short query, they may just want to review your latest masterpiece. That’s what they do.
Please, never pay for a review! There is absolutely no reason to do so. It won’t help your sales, and it likely won’t be read by enough people to be of any practical use when weighed against the money you spent. Pay only with a review copy of your book, and then only to those reviewers who are established and recognized.