I Hate Paid Reviews

In the literary world there is little that authors like more than positive reviews on popular retail sites for their books. Reviews are critical to getting your book in front of more people. Regardless of what your intentions are with your book, to get sales and get “rich”, exposure to make a name for yourself, a lucrative licensing deal to see your story turned into a TV show, movie, and/or video game, or like me, to share your story with more people, reviews are how authors accomplish that. 

Most websites offer account holders to leave reviews for practically any product they sell. Amazon even tags reviews as “verified” if Amazon knows the reviewer has actually purchased the product through their website. The problem is that most buyers, whether they buy a book or something else, don’t leave reviews. And these websites use algorithms on their servers, usually at least partially based on review content, to determine which products are promoted on the website, appear in what order when displaying search results, or even being included in mail-outs and newsletters.

And while most websites offer users the ability to leave reviews, though few do, there are ways for authors to get reviews. Some of those options rely on the author finding people willing to potentially leave reviews in exchange for a free copy of the book to be possibly reviewed or submitting their book(s) to various contests that provide reviews and/or promotion for select entries. Promotion in itself isn’t a review on a website but for those who see the promotion, the promotion of that book/author by that group is as good as a review that might encourage others to buy said work and then potentially leave a review of their own.

But beyond those, there is another method. Authors can pay others to review their work. The price of the review may vary depending on who is being hired to read and review the work and the different review options that provider offers. Some may only review your book on their website while others offer reviews on a variety of key retail sites like Amazon.

However, I am NOT a proponent of paid reviews. Most paid reviewer services that I have researched said that they will only post a review if the book merits a minimum of 3/5 rating, meaning that in a 5-star rating system (the common rating system on websites today) that the reviewer will only leave a review of 3-stars or more if they like the book. This means that I may pay someone upwards of several hundreds of dollars to read my book only for them to decide that they don’t like it and not leave me a review. Now I’ve “wasted” a fair bit of money for nothing. But on the flip side, I may spend that same amount of money and get a 5-star review out of it but then I have to wonder if my book really deserved that rating or if it was only given because I paid for it. 

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re a professional reviewer then that money is how you pay your bills. Those rates help to pay you for your time reading my book and writing whatever review it warrants but if you have a reputation of never reviewing books or only leaving minimal or critical reviews then you are less likely to get more business. It behooves reviewers to be more positive in their results than not because more people will seek out their services if they are associated with books that saw a jump in sales in part due to their review. When this happens it does make me wonder if the book truly earned the review given or if it was elevated beyond what was deserved to ensure the reviewer was viewed favorably by the hiring author.

No doubt the reviewer hopes for recommendations from customers to help attract new business. How many recommendations do you think would be given by an author who paid for such services only to receive no review, or worse a negative review? To me, that’s like paying someone on IG to “promote” my book on their pages that are followed by bot accounts that will then follow my account. What good are 200,000 followers if 199,999 are bot accounts that will never buy my book, never review my book, never recommend my book to a friend, and never read what I have poured my heart and soul into? Why pay for that kind of “exposure” when it isn’t real and doesn’t actually expose my work to anyone who might enjoy it?


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