The sad reality of paid book reviews and other author/reader incoveniences

“WOULD YOU LEAVE A REVIEW more often if you knew HOW HARD IT IS for authors to get reviews and how big of an impact that has on their survival?” author Mateja Klaric asked in her interesting survey on book reviews.

And did you know that AUTHORS/PUBLISHERS HAVE TO PAY to get a book review in KIRKUS, the most prestigious (and “most trusted,” according to their website) literary magazine?

As Kristen Houghton writes in the Huffington Post, “Now paying for reviews is a commonplace practice. ForeWord ($295), Kirkus (standard service $425, express service $575), and Publishers Weekly (various guidelines) offer programs where you ‘pay to play.’” IndieReader is far more reasonable at $225, Blue Ink: $325, San Francisco Book Review: $150, as Peter Derk reports in his article “Confession: I Paid For Book Reviews.”

Luckily, we have GOODREADS, which so far (and I emphasise this!) allows readers to publish their HONEST REVIEWS for FREE. On AMAZON you have to be a paying customer who has spent at least 50$ in the last year in order to leave your review (and, by the way, if an author wants to be reviewed on Amazon still has to pay one of Amazon’s “trusted” reviewers).

In any case, even on Goodreads now authors are at risk for severe “trolling” (most platforms do nothing to combat this).

This is the HARD REALITY of the book market today, “when almost every print newspaper in the country has done away with its book review section,” as Houghton reminds us. Or, perhaps, this is again another manifestation of our flawed humanity, whether it has to do with online/offline book marketing strategies or anything else.

Personally, I have made a point not to resort to paid reviews – mostly due to a lack of funds; (let’s face it: my independent publisher’s promotional budget as well as mine are severely tight). But also due to what is left of my sense of self-esteem and dignity: as an early 21st-century author, I guess I have already stretched enough those two values when, to use Peter Derk’s words, I experimented what it means to be “going from creator to carnival barker.”

So, as a writer (sometimes) and reader (mostly) I would encourage people not to be shy in leaving their HONEST (and NOT PAID FOR) REVIEWS on blogs, social media and Goodreads pages.

References:

·      Mateja Klaric, “Why Is It so Hard to Get Book Reviews from Real Readers?” www.matejaklaric.com

·      Kristen Houghton, “Book Reviews: Should You Pay for Them?”The Huffington Post

·      Peter Derk, “Confession: I Paid For Book Reviews,” Lit Reactor.

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