Paying someone to review your book is an accepted and common marketing tactic. This article and directory will help you determine the answers to these questions:
- Should I pay for an editorial book review?
- What should I consider when choosing a review business?
- What services are available?
Editorial reviews vs customer reviews
Customer reviews are written by readers, who also assign one to five stars to reflect their opinion of the book, with five being outstanding. Authors are referring to customer reviews when they reference a book’s review count on Amazon, Goodreads, and elsewhere.
I like Amazon’s definition of an editorial review:
“An editorial review is a more formal evaluation of a book, usually written by an editor or expert within a genre.”
Editorial reviews may be added to your book’s product page on Amazon via Author Central. They appear under the heading Editorial Reviews.
Examples of other uses of paid editorial reviews:
- Include excerpts on your book’s cover and/or inside your book
- Post on your website and social media accounts
- Include excerpts in your book’s description on Amazon (this is one of my favorite uses)
- If you are contacting a blogger or podcaster, include the reviews your written materials
- Include in a press release and on other marketing collateral
Do you need editorial reviews?
If the purpose of a review is to impress and influence someone, who is the person you are trying to impress?
- A shopper?
- A bookstore manager?
- A librarian?
- A reporter, podcaster, or blogger?
- Some other influencer?
Clarity about who you are trying to impress is your compass for navigating possible review sources. Each review source has two facets: the person or organization who wrote the review, and the review itself.
In my experience, the average reader isn’t too familiar with these review businesses or doesn’t give them much thought. But another reason for buying these reviews is to impress bookstore owners and librarians—people who make buying decisions.
Tip: Be clear about the answer to this question. If you are trying to impress readers, Amazon customer reviews are probably more important.
Five questions to ask yourself before making a decision
If you are familiar with The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages, you know that I break out paid review businesses into two categories, fee-only and hybrid. Hybrid reviewers review a limited number of books at no charge. Those that are not accepted must pay.
Note: Businesses that that do not charge to write editorial reviews are profiled in The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages. There are not very many, their standards are high, and their requirements are stringent, making them less available to self-publishing authors.
1. Is the cost in your budget? Name-brand reviewers like Kirkus Reviews and Foreword's Clarion Reviews begin at $425, but even lesser-known reviewers cost $200. Considering the fact that opinions vary, it can get very expensive to solicit multiple reviews.
Tip: Sign up with the review business’s mailing list well in advance and watch for discounts and specials. Associations also offer discounts: IBPA’s arrangement with Foreword will save you 35% (which gets you close to the fee for joining!). Find out more at https://www.ibpa-online.org/.
2. How important is “professional” feedback to you as a writer? We all want independent feedback about our writing. Some services also offer longer reviews and/or reviews of manuscripts. However, it’s important to remember a review is just one reader’s opinion.
Tip: Read the company’s reviews for books like yours. Is that the depth you are looking for?
3. How will they promote their review? Most review businesses claim they market your review. Examples include their print magazine, website, mailing list, and social media. They may also syndicate their reviews. For example, Foreword Clarion licenses their reviews to book wholesalers such as Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Cengage, Bowker, and EBSCO.
Tip: Review the information in the table below to decide if a company’s claim of promotion is helpful for your situation. I also like to check their website’s Alexa ranking, a useful tool for evaluating a website’s popularity (the lower the number, the more popular the website). Note: Our research as reflected in the table is only a starting point, and it is subject to change.
4. Does the name of the review business detract from your positioning? If you are trying to downplay the fact that your book is self-published, does the name of the review business give it away or is it neutral? Or does it even matter?
Tip: As always, bestselling self-published authors in your genre can serve as a guide. Check their editorial reviews on Amazon for ideas.
5. How do you plan to use the review? I’m always looking for short, insightful quotes to promote client books. I’m not even sure readers read 300+ word reviews!
Tip: If a quote is all you need, perhaps try excerpts from Amazon customer reviews or blurbs from a well-known person or organization.
16 sources for paid editorial reviews
In our directory below, we profile 16 sources that review self-published books for a fee. The details you see were taken from their website or were publicly available sources as of June 2021.
Caution, please read:
- The details here are subject to change.
- You should rely on your own research and validation of the details.
- The details we provide may or may not be the best way to evaluate the worthiness of a review from a service. Only you can decide that.
Notes about the listings:
- Only review businesses with reviews posted in 2021 are shown. If you uncover a review business not on this list, make sure it has reviewed books in 2021.
- Most businesses allow you to suppress (kill) a review you don’t like. You still need to pay for it, but at least it won’t be public. Ask ahead of time, if you are concerned about this.
- Min Fee. This is the fee for their non-rush service. Most will offer a review more quickly, but it will cost more.
- Turnaround. This is how long it takes to get the review, based on the noted fee. Most offer faster service for a higher price.
- Alexa Rank. Alexa is a useful tool for evaluating a website’s popularity (the lower the number, the more popular the website). It isn’t perfect, but every website on the internet has a ranking, and those numbers are public. (Click the link and enter your own website. You’d be surprised what you can learn!)
- Author Link. Is the review linked to the author’s website?
- Amazon Buy Link. Yes means the review links to Amazon to buy your book.
- Other Buy Link. Most of the companies link to Amazon, but do they link to other stores?
- Review Promotion. In most cases, this information is taken directly from the reviewer’s website.
- Click the arrows to sort by column.
Scroll down for Additional Resources.
|Review Business||Min Fee||Turnaround||Alexa Rank||Facebook Followers||Twitter Followers||Author Link||Amazon Buy Link||Other Buy Link||Review Promotion|
|BlueInk Reviews||$395||7-9 weeks||1,628,735||1,759||1,264||Yes||Yes||Yes||Website, awards program, social media, and syndicated to Ingram’s iPage and Oasis databases. Selected titles are disseminated to Publishing Perspectives, idreambooks.com, and the Douglas County (CO) Library System.|
|BookLife (Pub Weekly)||$399||6 weeks||142,700||2,290||2,421||Yes||Yes||Yes||Reviews are published in the BookLife section of Publishers Weekly alongside articles and listings related to self-published books. Both Publishers Weekly reviews and BookLife Reviews are syndicated to retailers and reviews database services.|
|Chanticleer Book Reviews||$425||6-9 weeks||478,202||2,316||1,908||Yes||No||Yes||Website, distributors, newsletter, social media, magazine (4 and 5 star), other|
|City Book Review||$199||8-10 weeks||1,255,414||110||128||No||Yes||None||Reviews are posted to specific websites|
|Feathered Quill||$50||2-4 weeks||2,412,157||2,743||2,754||Yes||Yes||No||Website, mailing list, social media|
|Foreword Reviews (Clarion Reviews)||$499||4-6 weeks||232,474||5,122||8,514||No||Yes||Yes||Website, print magazine, and licensed to book wholesalers such as Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Cengage, Bowker, and EBSCO|
|IndieReader||$275||5-9 weeks||394,958||10,994||7,599||No||Yes||Yes||Website and featured on Ingram’s “buy” pages which are accessible to librarians, publishers, and booksellers.|
|Kirkus Reviews||$425||7-9 weeks||35,827||63,201||217,500||No||No||None||Website, email mailing list, and 20 licensees such Barnes & Noble, Google Books, Ingram, and Baker & Taylor (but only on websites where your book is available). Select reviews are published in the monthly print magazine.|
|Literary Titan||$59||45-60 days||2,168,557||400||63,900||Yes||Yes||None||Website, social media accounts, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Amazon (editorial review)|
|Lone Star Literary Life||$249||4 weeks||1,932,356||11,000||5,446||No||Yes||None||Website, mailing list, social media|
|Online Book Club||$97||4 months||46,523||40,966||63,900||No||Yes||Yes||Posted on their website.|
|Pacific Book Review||$300||5-7 weeks||4,782,825||1,875||10,000||No||Yes||No||Website, mailing list, social media, Ingram, search engine via PR Web|
|Readers' Favorite||$59||2 weeks||124,027||11,132||12,700||Yes||Yes||None||Website, mailing list, social media. A list of genres reviewed is emailed each month “to 500,000 libraries, bookstores, and schools across America.”|
|Self-Publishing Review||$89||7 days||470,181||6,464||11,700||Yes||Yes||Yes||Website, mailing list, social media|
|The Children's Book Review||$195||4-5 weeks||330,170||13,233||14,100||Yes||Yes||Yes||Website, mailing list, social media|
|The Independent Review of Books||$250||4-5 weeks||3,552,080||109||125||No||Yes||Yes||Website and social media.|
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