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Review for Sale

I am doing marketing research as part of my preparation for publishing. In my travels I stumbled across something very interesting. A site that boasted giving “honest” reviews, of four or five stars.

I stopped, staring at the page. How can a review be honest if it guarantees either a four or five star rating? Furthermore how can the reviewer be credible if the only reviews being given are of four or five stars? Even good books have readers who don’t like the work, this particular reviewer has to read something that s/he wouldn’t give four or five stars without cold hard cash jingling in the pocket.

To make matters more interesting I was recently contacted to join a review crew for an author I am following. I think the idea is a good one: get an advanced copy of the book in exchange for reviews. Makes sense to me. Sure, these are readers who are already likely to enjoy the story and want to give a good review. But it seems a little more authentic than saying “for $50 you, too, can get five stars!”

Either way, at the end of the day, reviews are not an honest endeavor. Anywhere, not just for books. Take a few minutes to look up anything and read the reviews. Normally they range from raves to completely ripping apart the product. The truth usually lies somewhere in between.

I read reviews. I don’t take the words at face value though. I read between the lines. If the review is a low one I see why that person didn’t like the novel or product. Usually they give enough information that I can tell whether I would agree or disagree.

I do hope to get reviews for my novel. I hope to come by them honestly. I wouldn’t mind giving out free copies in exchange for reviews. But I’m not seeing the benefit in paying for stars. My work will generate a positive or negative following based on its own merit.

I can see paying someone to read the work and give an honest review of any star rating, especially as a new/unknown author looking to generate attention. I just won’t be paying someone to give me five stars. I fully plan on asking my friends and followers for reviews. Honest reviews. Give me five stars if you loved it. Give me two stars if you didn’t. Bottom line: don’t lie. That helps no one. If my novel doesn’t deserve five stars any fake review will not help me.

What are your thoughts on paying for positive reviews? Authors, what are your tips and tricks for generating honest reviews? Readers, what would make you give a book a review?


3 thoughts on “Review for Sale

  1. Nope. I would never, ever pay to get reviews, not when I can simply send out review copies for free, lightly guilt the reader into doing a review (or even a simply rating with no review can help), and so they often do write a review when I stress that they should since they’re receiving this copy for free.

    My trick for receiving honest reviews? Like I said, sending out review copies. This is a must for any author, be it self-published, small press published, or even large press published. I have seen large press publishers give out several hundred copies to gain reviews for books (usually on Goodreads), often paperback copies, so no one is beneath sending out review copies, and it is essential to gain those reviews so readers know what they’re getting themselves into when checking out the book.

    In fact, even after publication, my publicity team is still sending out review copies (under the table, really), because we also want to encourage sales of the book. I myself have received an actual published company from a publisher attached to a large press, so even with authors already published with big houses, the publicity is still sending out the already-published copy to garner reviews.

    • Thank you for sharing! This is exactly how I plan to generate reviews myself. The first step is getting those review copies out there in the best way possible. My head still swims with how to do this. But the success of a book is an ongoing process. So if I don’t get it right upon first publication I can continue to work on it. It’s a slow process, one review at a time.

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