An entire cottage industry of book reviewer businesses has sprung up since we began publishing our directory in 2009. The explosive growth of new book releases, combined with a decrease in traditional media book reviewers, created a vacuum and businesses arrived to fill it.
We recently added review businesses as a new category in the 9th edition and it has 32 listings. All are in the business of reviewing books or helping authors connect with reviewers. Several do not charge a fee, but typically a fee is involved.
We made a point of selecting only those that say they will accept self-published books (or don’t say they won’t). Just keep in mind that there may be other qualifiers that apply, especially if they do not charge for book reviews.
Qualifiers can range from the intangible (the book “looks self-published”) to the tangible (they don’t review eBooks or POD titles). Advance planning is also critically important, especially if you are targeting reviewers that service the trade—retailers, libraries, distributors, etc.
Paying a company to review your book is an accepted practice. However, you are essentially buying an opinion so reputation matters, especially if you are trying to impress book sellers or librarians.
Below is how we organize them, several examples, and what you’ll find in the 9th edition for each company (the directory release date is November 14, 2017).
Traditional (no fee)
This obviously sounds great, but these review organizations have the highest standards. Make sure your type of book fits their criteria, including their advance notice requirements. Only the highest quality books with the broadest appeal are considered. Two examples from the eight we profile are:
Our profiles include submission information, lead time information, reading interests, formats and a summary about the business.
This is a crowded category with well-known names like Kirkus, but also smaller outfits who have reviewers posting their review directly on Amazon, complete with a star rating. Some may charge more for faster service, but all accept virtually any book you send them. Two examples from the twelve we profile are:
Profiles include submission information, affiliations, fees, where they post, reading interests and several other data points.
The accessibility of self-publishing has created a flood of authors seeking reviews. The reviewers in this group have a traditional no fee option, and a paid option sometimes called sponsored reviews. Like fee-only, there is a wide range of names, some on par with Kirkus.
A good example is Foreword Reviews. Authors may submit a book for a free Foreword review, or pay a fee for Foreword’s Clarion Reviews.
Our profiles are similar to those for Fee-only except they show information for both the free and paid options for these seven companies.
The five businesses in this category are companies that help you connect with reviewers for a fee. For example, BookRazor will sell you a contact list of reviewers who have reviewed books similar to yours. It’s then your job to contact them.
Then there are services like NetGalley and Edelweiss that operate a marketplace offering advance reading copies to a community of reviewers. It’s free for the reviewer, but the publisher/author pays a listing fee to add the book.
Our listing profiles show minimum costs, submission information, what’s expected from the author/publisher, formats accepted and other details.
How do you decide?
Often it boils down to budget, but we think you should also consider what’s important to your primary audience of readers. Even if you can afford to pay hundreds of dollars for Kirkus to review your book about hiking in Colorado, it’s arguably doubtful your readers will care.
On the other hand, concentrating on Amazon customer reviews may be just the ticket for your self-published paranormal romance book.
Have you paid for reviews? Do you have any feedback for others about your experience?