Book Reviews for Indie Authors – Part Three: Paid Reviews

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, other BookWorks bloggers have suggested some ideas for obtaining book reviews from readers on Goodreads and Amazon (among others). Because no one likes to be the first one at a party, it’s helpful to have a few reviews right out of the gate. This is why you… [Read More]

book reviews for indie authors by Carla King for

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, other BookWorks bloggers have suggested some ideas for obtaining book reviews from readers on Goodreads and Amazon (among others). Because no one likes to be the first one at a party, it's helpful to have a few reviews right out of the gate. This is why you should consider paying for legitimate reviews as part of your book launch strategy. (Plan ahead because reviewers need 6 to 9 weeks to read and write your blurbs, though some services provide expedited reviews for an additional fee.)

The practice of paying for book reviews used to be widely criticized but has now become accepted as a necessary step in the publishing flow along with editing, formatting, and design. Here is a list of review services that authors I’ve worked with have used with success:

Where to Find Legit Book Reviewsgold-star-

Kirkus Reviews charges $425 for a review that you can expect to receive in 7 to 9 weeks, or $575 for their express service that takes 4 to 6 weeks.

Foreword's Clarion Reviews charges $499 for a 450-word review, which you will receive in 4 to 6 weeks.

NetGalley allows you to pitch your book to professional readers (media, reviewers, booksellers, librarians, bloggers and educators) who can review and recommend your title, from one location for $399. (Get a deal on NetGalley if you’re a member of IBPA.) Miral Sattar of Bibliocrunch published a useful interview with NetGalley on how self-published authors can use the service.

A review from San Francisco Book Review costs $150 ($299 for an expedited review). You don’t need to live in the city to use the service.

You can submit your book to unpaid book review sites like BookLife’s BookLife's PW Reviews, but it may be declined for review. Publishers Weekly offers PW Select ($149), which gets your book in the magazine and on its websites, in the newsletter, and on social media channels, as well as a listing in its special announcements database, and to readers who subscribe to its magazines.

Indie Reader offers reviews for $225 and RUSH reviews (4-6 week turnaround) for $300. If your title earns 4 to 5 stars, it will be included in Indie Reader’s Curation Services, which to date include Scribd (the eBook subscription service) and Bibliolabs (which works with libraries). They also recommend titles to the Huffington Post and USA Today.

BlueInk Review only reviews indie and self-published books and their reviews cost $395.

Some avid readers have become book bloggers, taking the challenge to find and recommend great books. Find them at The Book Blogger List, a place to “help book bloggers find like-minded bloggers and help authors find book bloggers that might be interested in their book.”

LibraryThing connects authors with potential readers, and you may be able to find reviewers here with their book giveaway program.

Register to see the list of book review bloggers on The IndieView. The list starts with “prolific indie reviewers.”

Author Assistant Kate Tilton provides a list of reviewers on her reviews for indie authors by Carla King for

Some reviewers post reviews on their blogs, others on Amazon and Goodreads. For example, I was approached last year via my Adventure Travel Books group on Goodreads, by a woman who had written a book about a solo bicycling adventure in Italy. It was similar in topic and spirit to one of my books, which she said she had read. Her message to me was well written, funny, and not at all pushy. It’s important not to be pushy when approaching an author who is known in your genre. They get a lot of requests, and it can be burdensome. Yes, I read the book and reviewed it favorably.

Be creative! For example, I recently encouraged the author of a novel featuring Shakespeare to cultivate relationships with famous actors and directors of current Shakespeare plays. She already knew a few, as she teaches and directs students about the bard and his works. I advised her not to necessarily ask for reviews, but offer the book (digital or print edition), as a gift after a conversation or an email exchange or two.  I think it’s important not to burden a potential reviewer with an obligation to read the book, especially if you’ve never met. They might not even like to read. But who knows? They may be very pleased and honored to be asked. Still, a too-quick request might also cause alienation and can kill the relationship before it starts.

Don’t be afraid to use your social media connections, especially at LinkedIn, to cast about for reviews or comments from people with known names. After all, you already have a relationship with these folks.

Find more resources in Randy Stapilus‘s October 2015 post Great Sites That Offer Indie Book Reviews

This post on book reviews is a modified excerpt from Carla’s Self-Publishing Boot Camp Guide for Authors, 3rd Edition. Find out how to get it in print and eBook formats at

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4 thoughts on “Book Reviews for Indie Authors – Part Three: Paid Reviews”

  1. Hi Carla,
    Thanks so much for listing my site, The Book Blogger List! Honored to be included in such company!! Amazing that my site is now 3 years old – time flies! It has somewhere in the range of 2000 Book Bloggers listed and sorted according to the genre that they read.


  2. Personally, as a reader, when I see one of these “paid for” reviews, I skip right over it. I could start a website and charge others to get my reviews but what makes my review worth hundreds of dollar? I think this is just a business plan that sucks in money from all of us gullible authors who want to sell more books. Sorry, but I won’t be paying for reviews.

    1. Profile photo of Carla King Carla King says:

      Hi CM,

      I must counter that it’s hard work to set up a website, gather a staff of reviewers, create a system of delivering reviews, etc., and nobody does it to rake in tons of money – it’s a revenue stream but there are easier ways of making money on the web.

      I actually trust the paid review services more than the other back-of-book reviews as I know many are solicited from friends and associates who may be adverse to ruining a relationship by giving an honest review. Especially as I know from helping authors out all these years that many are disappointed in the reviews that they receive from the professional reviewers.

      Many of these “bad” reviews contain valuable information (often agreeing with I’ve suggested previously to the author) such as the book needs editing, it’s too long, the first chapters are boring and background would be better incorporated later, or the plot is broken, themes are too crowded, there’s an unsubstantiated twist, characters dropped, dialog stilted…

      These professional reviewers give authors their money’s worth, even if the “review” becomes a manuscript review rather than a blurb.

      If you want to sell more books you’d do well to heed the advice of a manuscript reviewer, which costs about the same and up as a book review, before marketing the book. A great (paid or unpaid) review can be a great way to jumpstart the process and I maintain that it’s a worthwhile budget item for the author who wants to become more visible in a very crowded marketplace.

  3. Henry says:

    I’d like to nominate another review service for the list:

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