I don’t normally post about all the drama going on in the blogosphere, but this one kept getting under my skin.
A few days ago, author MichelleGorman tweeted an honest question-what do we all think about paid reviews? She had asked a blog [btw I’m not linking to the blog because it’s “coming soon” i.e. they’ve taken it down temporarily. If you really want to know who it is, the Dear Author post tells you and so does Ms. Gorman’s post] to review her book, and the blogger sent back a letter saying (read letter here on MG blog) that after a careful selection process she had decided Ms. Gorman’s book met their criteria-they felt just by looking at it that it would be a 4 or 5 star review (they only post 4 or 5 star reviews on their site) and they would charge her $95 for the review.
That bothers me. I read a book a few months back that just by reading the back of the book, I absolutely thought I’d love it. I hated it. I gave it a 1, and was so angry I wanted to stab something. You can’t automatically know if you’ll love or hate a book. I don’t purposely pick out books to read that I go in thinking I’ll hate. I pick books I want to read, ones that sound good to me.
But my frustration level with the paid reviews rose and rose until I couldn't help myself. I had to comment. There's a trust issue, here. When I review a book, the author trusts that she will receive an honest review from me-my followers trust my judgment, and therefore they need to know I'm giving an honest review.
How can I trust a review an author paid to have posted?
Many feel we can’t.
As a reviewer, I do have 1 or 2 star reviews. But, the point is-they are there. They exist. I feel they make my 4 and 5 star reviews hold more weight. My readers also know my taste. They know that some things that didn't work for me might work for them. I've bought books based on 1 and 2 star reviews.
As an author, I’d like to point out that the 1 and 2 star reviews do sell books. One I’ve seen says my book is nothing like Hannah Howell’s writing-well that’s awesome because there are readers out there who don’t want to read a sweet Historical Romance like Hannah Howell writes. Mine isn’t that. So if my book had only 5 star glowing reviews, who would really believe them? There’s no contrast.
Now, when I tell an author that I will review her work, I take time away from writing, from my children, and from my husband to do this (as do most bloggers). Why? Because it's something I enjoy. I love to read. I love to tell people about the books I read. And that means, the good, the bad, and the "meh." Lately, I've noticed many of the publicists I've been dealing with send me a link to netgalley.com for the eARC. I have a Nook so I only have 55 days to read that book before it disappears from my device, so when I see people say we accept books compensation for the reviews, which somehow cheapens what we do- I want to yell that I don't. I don't even get to keep the book because it's expired from my Nook.
I’m not getting anything from my hard work except for the joy of sharing books and seeing people comment on my reviews. That’s seriously a great thing to see.
I didn't write this to start drama, or to re-start the drama, I guess it would be. I wanted authors out there to see that there are many blogs that review books for free. Please don't pay for reviews-you don't have to. Many blogs support indie and self-pub authors only, many read on paranormal romance, and so on. So you see? There are tons of blogs out there and you don't have to pay to have your book reviewed.