Should You Pay for a Book Review?

As an author in the self-publishing industry, reviews for your book are very important.  A book published by an unknown author has little chance of gaining attention, while the same book (and the same “unknown” author) with a number of positive reviews can begin to gain momentum.  Those positive reviews can help persuade potential new readers to buy the book and the word-of-mouth continues.

You may have already received reviews from some of your friends or colleagues, so what next?  There are some free review services where you can send a copy of your book.  These services are a great resource; however, because they are free, the reviewers get inundated with books and can’t review every book they receive.  Their services can also take several months and the reviews are not guaranteed to be good.

In addition to free review services, there are some services available where you can pay to be guaranteed a review.  That said, the review is still not guaranteed to be good, but if you are confident in your book (which you should be, after all you wrote and published it!), you shouldn’t need to worry about that.

Here are three pay-for-review services you can start with:


Standard Review is $395 for the review to be completed in 7-9 weeks.

Fast Track Review is $495 for the review to be completed in 4-5 weeks.

BlueInk considers for review any book that has been published (self-published and indie published).  They review e-books, on-demand books, printed books in any format, English translations and English-language submissions from outside the United States, as well as galleys. They do not review manuscripts pre-publication.


The cost is $305 and turnaround time is 6-8 weeks.

Open to all books and publishers, Clarion promises an objective 400 – 500 word review/critique with a quick six to eight week turnaround. The review will be posted on the ForeWord website (if the publisher desires), licensed to the three top wholesale databases, and made available to the book’s publisher. This service is ideal for books that haven’t received review attention elsewhere.


Standard review is completed in 7-9 weeks for $425.

Express review is completed in 3-4 weeks for $575.

The Kirkus Indie program gives independent authors a chance to obtain an unbiased, professional review of their work, written in the same format as a traditional Kirkus review. A book review can be an essential and powerful tool for promoting your book to literary agents, traditional publishing houses, booksellers, and, most importantly, potential readers.

DISCUSSION: What are your thoughts on pay-for-review services like these?  Do you have experience with any of the above?

Kelly Schuknecht works as the Director of Author Support for Outskirts Press.  In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at

19 thoughts on “Should You Pay for a Book Review?

  1. As a successful self-publisher, I have never used pay-for-review services and I never will. My opinion is that a writer would have to be quite desperate to use these services. What’s more, I don’t think there would be much of a return of the investment. The reviews that will count will be unpaid reviews and those on .

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    Author of “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 125,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and “The Joy of Not Working”
    (Over 250,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

  2. One thing that all writers need – traditionally published, Indie or self-published – and that is good reviews. What do you all think of these new services, like The Digital IN, which enable authors to commission reviews @ Amazon and Goodreads and other key book sites? I know publishers have been giving away ARC review copies and other premiums to reviewers forever, but is this different? And how important are these reader reviews anyway?

  3. I have taken a gamble on a Kirkus review for my new novel. Some year’s ago I paid for a review and it was very clear that the reviewer had only read a couple of pages even though they charged ~£200.

    Their comments were full of spelling mistakes and they even spelled some Fantasy authors’ names wrong, when likening their works to mine. To cap it off, some of my characters are called krell and they told me off for that saying krell were something whales ate. I have shied away from reviewers since, but I am hoping Kirkus is both honest and accurate.

    As an Indie author I need something genuine to show potential readers that it is an above average work so I am prepared to take a gamble.

  4. I’ve had much luck with the digital in (all one word after the three w’s, dot com). It worked for two of my books, and reviews were just $12 each. They were posted to Amazon by verified purchasers, which added a lot. Plus reviewers buy a copy of each book they review so ranking improves, sometimes dramatically, especially if you buy more than a half dozen or so at a time.

  5. I’m concerned about one pay service (someone mentioned here) that says on their web site: “Our reviewers are encouraged to purchase your title and write a review only if they can guarantee a positive, 5-star review.”

    You can buy 1 or 20 or more such reviews [sic.]

    That’s a real problem. The public catches on to that quickly and will discount all community-based reviews and only go with authoritative reviews tied to media companies.

    I’d rather hear what other readers honestly think, or at least know that along with professional reviews. When community-based reviews are gamed, we loose that.

    It’s sad and actually self-destructive to promote a site that guarantees only 5-star reviews.

  6. Check out I do both paid and free reviews on all genre for both self published authors and publishers. The difference between a paid and free review is the time factor. I get dozens of books a week that people want reviewed for free which means I am backlogged till late next year or longer. All open, honest professional reviewers will tell you the same. With a paid review you are guaranteed your review 6 weeks from the date I received the book. I am also able to offer different levels of review which includes marketing such as the review published in two magazines I am involved in, online and with all social media’s. I also offer manuscript critiquing. Whether you pay or get a free review it will always be an honest review with a guarantee I have read your book from front to back and word for word. Not all reviewers are deceitful, bad or just after your money!

  7. I’ve done some of my own research on the topic of reviews for self-published books and got the impression that Kirkus indie was strongly skewed towards being negative.
    What have you heard?
    I mean, the person went into a lot of detail, it wasn’t just “sour grapes.” Since I spent 10 years reseaching and writing my book, I’m not going to pay somebody to treat my work unfairly…
    So I guess, unless I actually hear something more positive about blue ink or forward clarion or another one, I’m not going to go through with it.

  8. Pacific Book Review is really good, I have used them and I alo know other authors who have been very pleased with them. They seem to be very professional. Pacific Book Review has different levels of book review packages depending on the level of marketing he author needs.
    Here is a link:

    They also own Hollywood Book Reviews that offers one book review package.

    Hope this info was helpful.

  9. I just had a review of my book by Kirkus indie, and the review was excellent. The person read it from beginning to end, and it was a large, complicated book. I spent about 10 years on my book, so it was a bit nerve-wracking. My book was an academic-styled book. I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome. They also notified me when they received my printed books (which another major reviewer did not, and didn’t reply when I emailed them about it). The person who reviewed my book seemed to know the area pretty well.

    The benefit of Kirkus is that if it’s a bad review, you can bury it. And the major publishers use Kirkus for reviews, so it puts you on an equal footing, somewhat.

    So far a positive review hasn’t yielded very much, though.

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