To pay or not to pay for reviews…

Reviews – all authors need them – even the bad ones. But it’s hard to know where to look for quality reviewers or bloggers when an author puts out a new release. I know I’ve talked about reviewing before, and I am NOT shy about stating my negative feelings on reviews that are mini-summaries or book reports, laying out the entire plot in one big public dissection. But this post isn’t about that. It’s about those reviewers or bloggers who expect to get paid for reading a book and then posting about it on their blog.

Now, if reviewing or blogging is your business and you actually pay taxes on the money you make, then I suppose making money doing it is totally fine. But what I’ve discovered since self-publishing my first book, is that in the Indie world, the regular Joe or Jane has gotten a bit big-headed about getting paid to do something they do anyway – read and tell others what they thought. The reviewing world is exploding – with everyone from Kirkus Book Reviews to your neighbor reading all the books they can get their hands on and then posting on a blog or website what their thoughts and experiences were. Again, let me reiterate that all books really do need reviews. But the best of them come in organically, when a reader bought the book and has had such a passionate experience (be it positive or negative) that they simply MUST shout their opinion to the world. These are the reviews that are my favorite – because they are honest.

I’ve always had a problem with paying for a review. For one, if you are giving your book to someone for free, which you spent months or years writing, editing, formatting and marketing, and they say they will review it honestly for free – it’s sort of an equal and balanced arrangement. But if you give your book to someone with the sole intent of them reviewing it, you run the risk of their review being biased toward the author. I am still very careful with this. I only gift books to interested people who I trust will review in a timely manner and in an honest and spoiler-free way. If one of those people then came to me and said, ‘Oh, I charge for this now. If you want me to read and review the book or share it on my blog, it will cost you…’ then I’d never send them another book. Ever. Never, ever. Why? Because, those aren’t the kind of business relationships I strive to build. And honestly I can’t afford to pay everyone to read my book and review. I have paid for mini tours. That’s a totally different thing, IMO.

Anyway, think about this for a second: It costs money to self-publish. There’s outsourcing that can include anything from co-authors, editors, graphic designers for covers, stock images or artists for covers, formatting, and there are supplies needed like printer ink, computer maintenance (I had to buy a new laptop last year, for example) binders, ink, etc… Also, there are the costs for marketing, like blog tours, announcements, business cards, book tours and swag. Some Indies even have agents who snag a percentage of sales, or assistants to help them manage everything. Self-publishing can make you more money (IMO) in the long run of course, but you DO put out a lot as well. So, to have a reader say that they will be charging to read and review a book is kind of frustrating and, well, to be honest – lame. I won’t even send a book to Kirkus (an established and respect place for authors to go for reviews) because I worry what the Indie world would think if I ‘paid’ for reviews. It’s a scary line to cross. Paying for feedback might seem to some that the author pays for favorable reviews. I know it’s happened. And I don’t want to be lumped in that group…ever.

Now, it seems the blogging community is making a killing charging authors to feature their book on their blog, review it or interview them. Meh.

You might be wondering how this came about today…well, I saw a post on Facebook that I couldn’t ignore because it ticked me off so badly that I actually felt my blood pressure rise. I’ll share the image here with you, and let you form your own opinions on the original poster and their ‘stance’ on this subject. I don’t know the person, I’m only reacting to the post. It was shared from a page that does not support bullies in the writing community – something I appreciate more than words can say. If you want to know more about them, you can find them on Facebook at Authors & Bloggers Against Bullying. Anyway, here is the post that spawned this blog today:

FB Image

The original poster seemed to be miffed that some authors didn’t want to pursue using their ‘services’ when it came to mentioning their book on their blog (I’m guessing by an author interview, or book review). I’ve been tagged on Twitter countless times by bloggers who reviewed one of my books unknowingly – for absolutely free. I doubt they did this with the intention of then charging me for their time. And each time that happens, I swear my heart expands another centimeter because it means someone out there read my work and enjoyed it enough to tell their friends. The funny thing is, I get why some bloggers would charge for promos and I have no problem with that. It takes time to set up posts and make everything look great and spread the word to their followers, but the people following those blogs are there to learn and be entertained about the subjects at hand. I wonder how many would stick around if they knew that the bloggers only featured books or authors on their site that paid for the service? Again, it’s a line I don’t like to cross. I’m more than happy to pay someone to organize a book tour…but to pay them to read the book and feature it on their book blog…yeah, I don’t have a budget for that. Often I feature authors and their new releases on my own blog and I would never dream of charging them for that. It’s called networking, and I’m happy to do it.

In conclusion, as an author, I know I need (and love) my readers, reviewers and those awesome bloggers out there that take the time to read my work and share it with their friends and followers. I appreciate every single review and blog post – I really do. I work hard to get my work out to the masses and love to see it enjoyed. However, it’s the few out there simply looking to make a buck off the reading and writing community I don’t have the time of day for. They can move on to the next author, I’m totally fine with that.

To quote one of my favorite songs from The Pretenders, “It’s a thin line, between love and hate…” and I suppose, the reviewing world fits perfectly with that sentiment. Wow, is that ever true. LOL

But y’all know I love you. I can’t live without you. Seriously. *wink, wink*