New Survey Proves Editorial “Paid” Book Reviews Sell Books

A survey of over 300 indie authors worldwide from Kindlebookreviews.net proves unequivocally that while many self-published authors thrash out the “morals” of paying for a book review,  the presence of paid editorial reviews on your Amazon book page will help sell your book – and only a quarter of authors are strongly against the idea of paying for a review.

  • The  vast  majority  of  authors  greatly  appreciate  the  value  of  honest  book  reviews,  and  believe  they  help  improve  the  credibility  of  their  book,  and  helps generate sales.
  • The majority  of  authors  approve  of  paid  review  services  as  long  as  they  are  honest and impartial, a majority (35%) of those asked.
  • Only 25% of authors are strongly against paid reviews.
  • 77% of authors find reviews either “extremely helpful” or “helpful.”

Given  the  high value  the  majority  of  authors  place  on  reviews,  authors  were  then  asked  how  difficult  it  was  to  get  reviews  for  their  books:

  • The  majority  (41%)  stated  it  was  “difficult”  to  obtain  reviews,  while  another  26%  stated  it  was  “very  difficult”,  making  a  combined  total  of  67%
  • Less  than  9%  stated it  was  “easy”  or  “very easy.” It was not specified if these people were adept at using paid review services such as editorial review services or mailing list services to get reviews.

Despite the backlash by a small percentage of indie author “pundits” online, SPR can also report that several authors who have publicly condemned paid book reviews have then come directly to SPR and used our services almost immediately after flaming forums with anti-paid review comments. Our conclusion is that however “dirty” it may be to have to embark on a marketing campaign of professional levels to promote your book, it is now increasingly necessary to make a dent in the market. Those who do not consistently have low sales figures and ranking.

It seems however much the “fashionable” knee-jerk stance pervades that books must not use any kind of “professional” services to gain exposure, online herd mentality is just that: once an author leaves the author forum environment they are just as alone and helpless as any other author with no sales, bad book rankings, and a stubbornly empty Editorial Reviews section on their book page, now held “above the fold” in prominent position and auto-filled by Amazon themselves.

The problem arises that many self-published authors are still confused as to what constitutes a “paid review.” Paid reviews come in two sizes: the sort Amazon allows and the sort they don’t.

  • Basically, if you pay someone to review your book and also send them a copy of your book, you have paid for a professional, editorial review, and this needs to be pasted into your Editorial Reviews section.
  • If you pay someone to leave a “Customer Review” or they say they will add it to your page for you, this is a paid review that is not allowed by Amazon Guidelines because it’s a paid review hiding as a buyer’s opinion, which it is not. Do not pay a member of the public anywhere online to post a Customer Review!

You can get Customer Reviews by paying mailing services such as our Bestseller Packages, BookBub or BookGorilla. This is allowed because you are paying for a marketing service to advertise your book to readers, who you have no connection to.

Do not mix up these two types of paid review!  Start to see them as separate entities!

So, is an indie author an indie author if they pay for a review? Well, it’s a politic. Do you want to sell books or write them? Is your DIY publishing a hobby or a career? is it akin to scrapbooking, or are you working towards being the next self-published author with a film or book deal? The ROI (return on investment) of a paid book review has always been cumulative, not a direct marketing-to-sales ratio.

It’s just great to learn what we at SPR have known all along: the editorial review industry is growing, not falling off. We can report a 130% growth in demand this year. As writers become more and more savvy, it seems only more certain that intricate and professional marketing techniques will become increasingly necessary to sell your book.

The fact is, paid reviews are not going away.

  • InklingBooks

    I’d like to see authors develop a ‘help your fellow writer’ ethos that stresses their responsibility to review (for free) most of the books they read. It’d be a good illustration of what Jesus said about doing for others what you want done for yourself. You want your book reviewed, review the books of others, informally and without payment.

    • Unfortunately, Jesus aside, Amazon does not allow review swapping between authors, and these reviews could be removed, or worse, affect your book ranking on Amazon if Amazon thinks authors are reviewing each other’s books as a “favor”. See the Amazon Terms of Service for information on this.

    • That would actually be against Amazon Guidelines, as I have mentioned above.

  • Rebecca Brockway

    This smart post helps clarify the integrity and benefits of reputable paid professional book reviews. Authors: move on from the dark ages and into the light. Get your book noticed, earn credibility, and sell more books!