I’ve always said I’d never pay for reviews.
The big payouts to places like Kirkus run about $500, give or take the length of the book, so those are easy to refuse. And since even the idea of forking over a small amount for a critique seems tantamount to literary prostitution, the temptation to click that PayPal link is usually fleeting.
So what’s an author to do about these new seemingly innocuous fees that keep popping up on book reviewers blogs?
“I would be interested in reviewing this book,” said a blogger I recently contacted.
See me smile.
“Please note that I will not do a review without a blog post. If you want your book reviewed, you will need to choose the Blog Post Promotion with Review option. Payment links are at the end of the form.”
The fee was ten dollars.
See me frown.
Another review site, a rather glossy on-line magazine, requested $12 dollars for handling my cover art. Not sure what that means, exactly.
“I would love to review your book,” said another blogger. “I do have a cost per review policy set up. I have it set as a donation so the amount is up to you.”
Hummm? Is a donation a fee, if there’s a cost per review policy?
My head hurts.
I mulled these charges over, and here’s what I figured out. I’m asking a stranger who owes me nothing to read my 386-page novel. A stranger who, by the way, usually has a day job and a family life and may be a writer, as well. I’m asking that they compose pithy – hopefully positive – comments to be posted on Amazon, Goodreads, Twitter, etc., so that I might sell my book and earn a royalty check worth cashing.
In light of this revelation, and since a Hamilton appears to be the current going rate, I considered what I can purchase for ten dollars. Two Egg McMuffins with tax come in just shy of ten bucks. If I were the gambling sort, I could get in a couple hands of blackjack. I found a mini USB fan clock on ebay, which was very cute. And there was even a Batman money clip. But these are not things I want or even need.
As an author in our digital world what I lust for – there, I said it – are reviews. Perhaps you are now wondering how I handled the above requests. Well, damn, I paid the reviewers what they wanted! Did I feel like my hopes were being held hostage by benevolent booknappers? A little. Still, I understand the time and effort needed to review a book. (If you’re not convinced, think about how you’d fit being a reviewer into your life. I’ve pondered the idea and have no clue where I’d find the time.)
So, I will keep querying reviewers and will consider what they want in return. Somehow the fact that they don’t ask for payment for the actual reviews makes the idea a bit more palitable. When the costs go up, as they surely will, I will contemplate the issue again. In the meantime, I’ll make friends with PayPal.
Anne Montgomery’s new novel, The Scent of Rain, tells the story of two Arizona teenagers whose fates become intertwined. Rose flees into the mountains to escape from her abusive polygamous community where her only future is marriage to a man older than her father. Adan, whose only wish is to be reunited with his mother, is on the run from the cruelties of the foster care system. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other? The Scent of Rain is available at https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780996390149 and wherever books are sold.