Should You Pay for Book Reviews?

Paying for reviews is nothing new in the publishing industry, but should you do it?

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Should you pay for reviews? The short answer is no. The long answer is a bit more complicated than that, however. Before we answer the question, we first need to make some distinctions between what type of review you are looking to purchase.

Trade Reviews

If you have a book coming out in the future and you want to market it to people in the business—libraries, schools, bookshops, distributors, and other professionals—you might want to get some trade reviews. There are several publications that offer this service and you can send them a copy of your book. Historically, these used to only be for traditionally-published books, but a lot are opening their doors to self-published works as well. You send them your book and they may review it. Some may charge for this but a lot of them don’t. The majority of the high tier publications don’t charge for this, so be a bit wary if a company does try and charge.

Reader Reviews

This is Amazon or Goodreads reviews. As you’re trying to sell your book to the public, you want a couple of reviews to help the consumer make the decision. This also includes personal blogs or review sites as well.


Reviews are good and can help your book sales, but they aren’t as impactful as people think. Trade reviews are beneficial, depending on who your target audience is, but it isn’t one size fits all. So, should you pay?

For a trade review, possibly. If it’s a reputable company that’s offering it and they have a slightly non-standard business model. The majority of these publications make their money from charging a subscription fee for their readers. There is nothing stopping them from offering the subscription service for free and charging the authors that they review. Or doing both and charging a lesser fee to both parties. The bigger publications don’t charge the author, but a company charging doesn’t automatically mean you should avoid them. You should look closely at what they’re doing and why they’re charging, but charging isn’t the same warning sign as in other parts of the publishing industry.

For reader reviews, however, no. Never pay.

Davina Chime is a Thanet-born hopeless romantic.

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