Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.


[ Originally posted: April 15th, 2011 ]

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 $499* and turnaround time is 6-8 4-6* 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.

by Kelly Schuknecht

When it comes to reviews, there’s so much to say that it’s almost inevitable that I would have to update and expand upon what I wrote back in 2011–after all, the world doesn’t hold still for anyone, and that’s certainly true of both the internet and the publishing industry, as well!  You will note that I have already made note of several changes in regards to pricing and timing for the ForeWords Clarion review options (marked with an * each time), but what about the larger picture?  Can we still mount a defense for paid reviews in a world where Amazon and Goodreads are king, where product pages provide ream after ream of short, easy-to-digest reviews from laypeople like you and me–and FREE reviews at that?

national review book reviews

If you suspected I might have a simple and short answer for you, I’m sorry to let you down.  Saying “yes” casts aside all of my many thoughts about the value of those unpaid product reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and saying “no” discounts the ongoing benefits that longform paid reviews still offer.

Let’s start with Amazon and Goodreads.

I’ve written in detail about the virtues of garnering lots of good reviews on Amazon and Goodreads before, specifically in my series on Self-Publishing and Merchandising from May of 2015, where I broke down the distinctions between these kinds of reviews and blog-based reviews.  And the statistics speak with resounding and repeated certainty that readers use the metrics provided by Amazon and Goodreads as one of their first and most important decision-making tools.  If readers search for a title they’re fairly certain they’re going to like, only to find that it has lots of poor reviews on Goodreads or a low star rating on Amazon, they’re not likely to follow through and buy it, no matter what else they’ve read that’s positive.  And if readers stumble across a title by accident that they weren’t actually looking for, but it ends up having fabulous reviews, they’re actually fairly likely to pay money to purchase it!  Search engines like Google have tweaked their algorithms to push books that are rated highly on Goodreads and Amazon to the top of their index, so you should never, never discount the importance of asking friends, family members, and other members of the public to post a positive review to these sites.

And what about paid reviews?

While longform essay book reviews have largely become the province of periodicals with paid subscription models like the London Review of Books or the New York Review of Books, they are far from dying out in terms of popularity–they’ve merely found their niche readership, and a powerful one at that.  It’s hard to estimate the exact impact of one positive longform review, but collectively, consider: the discerning reader needs an evaluation of content, of structure, of tone, and of many other aspects of a book’s nature than what can be provided in a brief burst of opinion on Amazon.  The discerning reader wants to know: what do the experts think?  Not everyone is looking for the lowest common denominator of shared public opinion (or so one of my college professors once opined) … sometimes they want to hear from one learnéd voice, in detail, the full warp and weft of a book.  This is why paid reviews are still worth their money–they reach the discerning reader.  And guess what?  Discerning readers are very likely to be a go-to resource to their friends and families, access points for dozens upon dozens of other new readers.  Discerning readers are amplifiers, advocates, and arbiters of your book’s larger footprint.  So yes, we shouldn’t forget about the paid review.  It has a place in the larger scheme of things, the larger framework of reviews and marketing.

They do not determine or reflect the actual value of your book, but good reviews–both paid and unpaid–do determine who is likely to buy it next.


If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, 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, kellyschuknecht.com.

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