Should you pay to have someone review your book? This is a question many small press, self published, or POD published authors are going to have to ask. With the entrance of the pay to review model many authors who could never get their books reviewed by the “mainstream" review outlets now have the opportunity to get that necessary and all important book review. But what are the pitfalls and pluses of such a decision? Well, that all depends on what you expect when you decide to enlist a paid service to review your book.
Guaranteed Review – Your book is guaranteed to be reviewed when you use one of the pay services. There is no waiting around wondering whether or not your book is going to be one of the few chosen to make the review pages. You’re paying for a service and once you have paid you’ll get what you’ve paid for.
Quick Turnaround Time - Anyone who has gone the traditional review route knows that it can take months, if ever, for a book to be reviewed. However, many of the pay services will review a book for you in a matter of days or weeks. From ten days to six weeks you can have a professional, signed review. Mainstream review outlets can’t compete with that.
Ownership of the Review – When you commission someone to write a review for you, you own that review. Which means you can use that review anyway you see fit. You can reproduce it in whole or in part, ship the whole thing out with your other marketing materials, dance on it or rip it to shreds, it’s yours. Most services require that anytime you use the review you acknowledge the particular writer and service that wrote the review but other than that it is yours to do with as you please.
Aid in Promotion – The New York Times Book Review is a promotion machine in and of itself. If they give you a good review then you may be on the road to bestseller status. And the same is true for the other major review markets. But if you’re published via POD or you’re a self-published author the likely hood that The New York Times Book Review is going to review your book is slim to none, or any other major market for that matter. So you’re going to need all of the promotional and marketing help you can get. Paid review services can help you with this. Many of them will submit your review to other media sources which will give your book added exposure. So not only are you getting the review for your money but you will also gain extra promotional and marketing exposure you may not have had access to otherwise.
Any Book, Anytime – Backlist titles, books that have already been released, pay review services will review them all. If your book has been released longer than ninety days many reviewers won’t touch it. A pay review service is a way to still get that all important review regardless of when the book was released.
Good Review vs. Honest Review - This is what the controversy surrounding pay review services centers on: how can you possibly get an honest, objective review of your book if you’re paying someone to write it. Some would argue that you can’t. Others would say it doesn’t matter, if you’re paying for a service than you should get what you want. I say the answer lies somewhere in the middle. There are services that will give you a glowing review regardless of what you write. And considering that some pay review services charge as much as $350 dollars per review, it isn’t a surprise that an author would expect a positive review. But a book review isn’t only about hearing glowing reviews of your work.
A good book review should cover what works and what doesn’t work with your book, what improvements need to be made and how well you told the story you were trying to tell. If all you hear is the good stuff then you will never know what you need to do to make your work better. So instead of choosing a service that will only tell you what you want to hear, choose one that will be honest with you and give you a complete review of what you have created.
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