I’ve come across a few articles recently huffing and puffing about the awfulness of the concept of paying for book reviews. I can’t understand why some people get so worked up about it. What is so morally wrong about an author paying an experienced book reviewer to review their book and post the review in the relevant places, such as their own book blog if they have one and on Amazon, Goodreads, and so on? You’re not buying their opinion – just their time and expertise. You’re paying for a service, in the same way that you might pay an editor to edit your book, or an architect to design you a house.
Relying on friends, relatives and the general public to turn out reviews is usually very disappointing. It takes a very committed person to regularly turn in reviews voluntarily. Even if readers enjoy your book and thoroughly intend to write a review of it. often as not life gets in the way and then they forget. And on top of that they may not be very good at reviewing. Book reviewing is quite a skill and not everyone can write interestingly about something they’ve read. The secret is to give a brief synopsis but without revealing too much of the story, and then to express a considered opinion of the book’s and the author’s merits. You need to touch on characterization, plot, language, pace and so on, not simply trot out a few sentences about what happens to the heroine.
Book reviews are considered very good publicity and no one complains about authors paying for advertising space on relevant websites or in magazines. That’s not seen as somehow underhand or disreputable. I think there’s a slight case of double standards going on out there.
If you’re prepared to pay for a timely, professional book review then that’s your choice and, in my opinion, it’s a very wise one.