Of course, there are exceptions to every rule out there. In this case, it’s OK to pay for a review from an organization like Kirkus Reviews or to upgrade your Readers Favorite review. However, that said, I’ve never bought a book because someone had a Kirkus review. To me, it’s a complete waste of money. I don’t care what a paid literary site says about a book. If it’s on the front of your book, it’s kind of a turn off to be honest. But, to each their own on paying that kind of money on a review. I’d love to see the stats about one of these types of reviews helping sell the book. BUT, as far as book bloggers go, they NEVER charge for a book review. NEVER. (say it with me, NEVER!)
There are times where they may charge for a service, such a book tour or custom graphics but NOT book reviews. What don’t they charge for again? (now you yell, BOOK REVIEWS!)
I’ve been a (no charge) book blogger for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, I have rules, but charging for a review is not one of them. Receiving the book free of charge is enough of a payment for me (and most other book bloggers as well). I have taken a break from book blogging for now but when I was my review policy was very clear on what was accepted and what wasn’t. When I would get a suspicious or misnamed email from an author who clearly didn’t read my policy it went directly into the trash file. (Sorry, it’s the brutal truth. My info is easy to find, if you can read a one-page policy, I can’t spend 10 hours of my time reviewing your book.)
A book blogger emailing an author requesting to review their book isn’t completely out of the ordinary. But, if you receive an email that is ‘off’ as if they didn’t even try to find out more about you, they don’t list the name of your book, they don’t email you at your email address or know much about you or your book, that’s a red flag.
NEVER ever send your book or eBook file to someone without fully checking them out (and maybe asking around). I admit I’ve had a few bad seeds approach me here and there even as a book blogger. It’s completely OK to ask a possible reviewer/blogger for more information while you make your decision.
It’s a little bit amazing to me that anyone will even attempt to charge an unsuspecting author, especially when they do it in a secretive, dishonest way (like mentioning that they charge for reviews ‘after’ you’ve sent them the book) and have someone purchase it. It’s a HUGE no-no on Amazon as well.
When reviewers are paid to write a review for an author it hurts everyone. It hurts the buyers because they are being duped into buying a book that isn’t what they thought as far as quality goes and it dupes other legit book bloggers because book blogging isn’t an easy job. It takes hours and hours of our time and then to have someone who will accept money, well it pretty much devalues bloggers as a whole. You know, the whole one bad apple ruins it for everyone, thing. It also dupes the authors who work so hard to follow the rules that Amazon has set.
There are probably tens of thousands of book bloggers on the interwebs specializing in every single genre available and then some. Here are my suggestions when looking for book reviewers/bloggers.
Check out their website.
–Whether you found them on social media, through a referral or even through one of the links I’m adding below, GO to their site and spend some time. Read some of their reviews, check out their about me page and without a doubt READ their review policy.
Follow them on Social Media.
–Follow them on social media and get to know them a bit. Most bloggers are super chatty and talking books is their specialty. Careful though, you may never shut them up. 😉 You can find a lot out by simply scrolling through their tweets, Facebook page or Instagram.
Read their Review Policy.
–And I mean READ it, every word. Unfortunately, not every blogger has one but, most do. In a review policy will be clues as to whether the blogger is a good fit for your book. You really do want the best fit as opposed to anyone with an email address. They will list the genres they accept, how to request them, whether they are taking reviews or if they are accepting something else as well, like author interviews or guest posts.
Have a great review request letter.
–AND personalize it. If you are doing this right you will have spent some time on their site, you’ll know that your book is a good fit and you’ll know what the specific blogger is looking for. I have found that when I get a request full of personality, with all the info I’ve requested or not requested, that I’m more likely to even consider their request. You wrote a damn book! You should be able to create an interesting and unique review request email too.
Do NOT send your eBook file upon request.
–You don’t know their response yet and you don’t really know this person. I wouldn’t send my baby to my neighbors via UPS (probably), so don’t send your book baby blindly via email.
Stick to bloggers who review your genre.
–A one paragraph love scene does not qualify your historical cowboy memoir as a romantic comedy. You wrote the genre you wrote, be proud of it and send it to those who love the genre or you’ll get a hell of a lot of no reply’s and possibly some bad review. Why would you want a sci-fi author to review your erotica novel anyway? (on that note, erotica is NOT any of the romance genres… don’t even try it, TRUST me on this one)
Just as authors talk to each other, so do bloggers.
–If you are a huge pain in someone’s ass, I guarantee they are telling their friends and you’ll end up being ignored by everyone. Don’t be rude, irritating, dickish, judgemental or pushy. It will truly get you nowhere but ignored by anyone you approach.
Remember, blogging is not these site owners jobs.
–Book bloggers do this because they love literature. They love reading and they love promoting authors who have great books. You are not entitled to a review just because they’ve accepted your book. They do the best they can but please remember not every book is for every person. Most book bloggers don’t want to hurt your feelings by telling you they hated it or that it just wasn’t their cup of tea or that you just really shouldn’t quit your day job.
–Theses bloggers have lives, families, jobs, crisis situations and things to do. They are not available 24/7 and you ‘following up’ 5000 times isn’t going to bump you up to the top of their ginormous to be read lists. In fact, irritating them will likely get you on the do not review list. I worked in the ER once and had a guy screaming at me that he’d been waiting for hours, that he had a REAL emergency. I smiled and said ‘yes, so do all these people around you, and since you’ve been waiting you should be thankful, it means your not dying but, if you scream at me ONE more time, I have the power to move your non-dying ass to the bottom of the list.’ Take that as you will.
I worked in the ER once and had a guy screaming at me that he’d been waiting for hours, that he had a REAL emergency. I smiled and said ‘yes, so do all these people around you, and since you’ve been waiting you should be thankful, it means your not dying but, if you scream at me ONE more time, I have the power to move your non-dying ass to the bottom of the list.’ Take that as you will I think the lesson could apply to those ‘I need a review right now my book releases in 2 days.’ BE PREPARED! Bloggers have backlists and waiting periods. If you’re not on the ball and early, you’re not getting a review on release day. It’s NOT the blogger’s fault, that’s YOUR fault. It’s like blaming a plane for taking off without you when you’re an hour late. The traffic isn’t at fault. The plane isn’t at fault. YOU should have gotten up earlier to make the flight that you knew you had.
Where can I find legit, non-charging book reviewers?
–I’m so glad you asked. Below are some sites that have lists and lists of book reviewers. Please, make sure you check them out first. I am NOT endorsing anyone on this list, so use your best judgement.
If you are an author who found this helpful, please share this post with your friends on social media and save someone from wasting money on paying for a book blogger to review their book.
If you are a book blogger accepting reviews, leave the link to your policy page, with genres accepted below in the comments.