Lets face it; reviews are a great way to advance your author brand and get people to take notice. However, if you want someone to assess the nature of your work, you needa reviewer who is unbiased in order to give you an honest review, and when we think of unbiased reviews, we generally think of customers who have purchased your book and either loved it or hated it enough to leave a detailed comment. Unfortunately, some authors have difficulty getting natural reviews for their books from paying customers. In these instances, the author may choose to pay for reviews, and reviews generally come in two types, including guaranteed positive reviews and general paid reviews.
General Paid Reviews
General paid reviews are not expressly considered taboo and not expressly forbidden. However, they represent a gray area for book sellers and authors. A general paid review means that the author paid the reviewer money to ensure they read the text of the book and to review that book on popular websites, like Amazon and Goodreads. The quality of the review and the star level is not guaranteed, meaning the reviewer could rate it anywhere from 1 to 5 stars, and the author has no control over the rating or the text of the review. However, since most book reviewers do not want to damage an author’s reputation by posting poor reviews, many won’t rate below three stars, and if they believe the book is worth one or two stars, they simply won’t leave a review.
For sites that charge for reviews, this can be problematic. The site wants to attract more authors so that they can receive more money, but if the site gets a reputation for not posting reviews,it could harm the business. In this instance, many book review websites will send the book to more reviewers in hopes or finding someone who likes the book enough to rate it three stars or better. This causes many authors to think of paid book reviews as being unethical and unfair.
Guaranteed Positive Reviews
Positive paid book reviews pose a credibility threat to authors and can make readers wary if they think a book review thread is stuffed with paid positive reviews. A guaranteed paid positive book review also falls under fake reviews and can cause the author to be penalized on popular websites like Amazon.
Truthfully, paid and guaranteed positive reviews are not fair to potential reader's and can cause sites like Amazon to remove the review, warn the author and even revoke the author’s and/or the reviewer’s account. Many sites, including Amazon, are cracking down on the subculture that exchanges reviews for compensation on many publishing websites.
They are doing this because, four and five star reviews help improve conversion rates and puts the author’s books higher in the Amazon search ranks. Amazon has closed the accounts of hundreds of customers suspected of using their account for commercial purposes (i.e. paid guaranteed positive book reviews).
Are Paid Book Reviews Even Worth It?
Many credible websites are against positive paid reviews and penalizes authors that use positive paid book reviews. Many publishing websites have begin to ban authors that are suspected of offering incentives for a book review. Reviews are important to marketing strategy of your book, and Amazon encourages honest reviews from actual readers. The integrity of the reviewer's on their e-commerce network is at stake, and they work diligently to get honest reviews from their book club readers and customers at Amazon. They have a book club that reviews books, but not from being compensated by the author.
Yes, paid book reviews work, but they may not provide a credible review, if the reviewer is being enticed with a reward to say something nice about your book. Do you want your reviews on the back cover of your book or reviewed on a top website?