Paying for Reviews – BEWARE!

Since becoming a self-published author, I have come across a wide range of new challenges. And I don’t mean just the usual publishing and marketing challenges. I mean, what happens afterwards.

I’m not going to pretend that my published book; ‘It’s My Mistake’ is a working masterpiece. I have had a few good reviews, but I’m not letting them get to my head. I’m too much of a perfectionist to believe it. I wrote the book quickly, and I know there are mistakes (no pun intended) in it.

But aside from that, since actually committing to publishing the book, I have had a string of emails through my website, private messages and tweets through twitter from people claiming to want to help you.

Yes, it’s lovely to know I’m being head-hunted (although, I know it’s got nothing to do with my writing, it’s all about them making money) and it’s nice to know there is a wealth of help out there. But I have to admit, it’s a little annoying!

For the time-being, I am not in a position to be able to pay anyone anything, I can barely get my own hair cut lately. I am not in full-time employment, I am a student. I write on the side as a hobby, for now. I am not pushing sales on my book, I am not approaching newspapers, magazines, radio stations, etc, to try to market my book, I am just a woman sat at her computer tweeting and posting blogs every now and then.

Once I finish my degree, I will be taking a year out (at least) to relax, move again (as I had to move in with my parents for a while) and take a holiday that I desperately need (I’m thinking for my 30th birthday this year). Then, and only then, can I really start thinking about making my writing career (if I can call it that) professional.

But while I’ve been just dabbing into the world of an author life, I have noticed that there is an awful lot of people / companies out there that pray on people like myself who are new to the game.

One in particular I will mention, because I want to expose them, is a ‘company’ on Twitter calling themselves ‘Booktasters Authors’ (I think they have a few names on Twitter, this is the one that contacted me though). They approached me back in November with a simple question, “Hi Penny, Do you like to get your book reviewed?” (see pictures at the end of this blog post)

Now, firstly, am I the only one that can see that that question is grammatically incorrect? Or are they asking me if I like the actual act of getting reviews?

Normally I don’t tend to reply to DM messages on Twitter, I get annoyed with the automated messages. Tweets, however, I do try to reply to. But I figured I’d see what these guys wanted. So I responded.

It turns out, this ‘company’ is offering ‘free reviews’ for your book if you sign up your book to their community. The catch is… you have to PAY to sign up.

So… you PAY for REVIEWS!

Apparently not, apparently the community of reviewers aren’t paid themselves, they are reading your book for free, unpaid, and in return are giving you an honest review.

But I was trying to make a point that I am still out of pocket, and then getting reviews in return.

Now, even if I HAD the money to fork out and get my book reviewed and help it’s sales, and that’s if I wanted to do that (as I am in the process of re-writing It’s My Mistake) I wouldn’t do it unmorally. I do not want my name tainted. I don’t want people to see my name, see my books and think ‘she buys her reviews, I don’t want anything to do with her or her books’.

I know, there is a very big possibility that if I get more reviews on Goodreads and/or Amazon, more people will want to buy and read my book. But I do not want to get there by paying a company to give me those reviews. It’s not honest.

Anyway, at first, I figured I’d just ignore the message. I wasn’t going to continue in a conversation and waste mine and their time. So I just ignored it.

Apparently they weren’t taking my silence as a no. A few days later they emailed me again. I knew right away something dodgy was going on when they wrote “We are very passioned to take…” Wait… ‘Passioned’? I’m not entirely convinced this is even a word. Microsoft Word doesn’t register it as a word, but I did find it online. But either way, what was wrong with writing ‘passionate’?

I just figured, if I didn’t reply again, they’d get the message.

Apparently not. If you see in the pictures below, they very unprofessionally sent me two emoticons. Ha!

I figured I needed to shut this down quickly before I got anymore emoticons… who knew what ones they’d send next!

So I replied, rather politely if I say so myself; “Thank you, but I don’t pay for reviews.”

Ooo… they are sneaky buggars. The next message (oh yes, they replied, persistent I’ll give them that) was sent the same day and they were trying to explain that I don’t pay for reviews, the fee is for offering the book to their community, some ‘managing process’ and guaranteeing a posted review on Amazon and Goodreads.

I just laughed when I read that. The way I see it… I pay them > they give me reviews back. Doesn’t matter how fancy you try and make it sound, what I’m getting in exchange of my money is reviews. I’m PAYING for REVIEWS.

So, not only am I out of pocket, but the readers are getting my book for free!

The thing that started to really annoy me though, was their persistence. Bearing in mind that this last message I sent them was the 3rd of December (2017) and their reply was almost instant. I ignored them and they didn’t take the hint… again.

Seven days later, I get another message. Another unprofessional one with one of those emoticons again.

I ignored it and made sure I wasn’t following them. (It turned out I was! I quickly rectified that!)

I got another message on the 13th of January. Clearly they didn’t get the hint when I not only ignored them, but I unfollowed them too.

It was at this point that I realised I wasn’t going to get rid of them politely. So I had to block them.

Now, the reason why I am writing this post is because I am not only annoyed that I was getting harassed by them, but that they are probably harassing other people too. There are a lot of new authors out there that are probably thinking that doing something like this is a good way to make a name for themselves.

DON’T! I am fed up with seeing people who are not genuine. I know it’s a harsh world out there, but do not fall prey to these people. Do not pay for reviews. You worked long and hard on that book, people should be paying YOU not the other way around.

And do not contribute to a world of con!

Here are the screenshots of the messages I received:

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Published by

thegirlwhowhispered

Hi! I'm Penny, AKA The Girl Who Whispered. I am an award-winning multi-genre author, blogger and activist.

11 thoughts on “Paying for Reviews – BEWARE!”

  1. An alternative to the predatory review services out there are the many individual bloggers on WordPress who review books as a hobby. They don’t take money, but instead usually just request an ARC in an exchange for an honest review.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Penny Rose. The amateur reviewers out there in a way form a great support network for Indie authors because they provide non-scam, honest reviews for no money (normally, they get your book for free from the deal, which is a small price to pay for the time and effort they put in). In WordPress, in “Reader,” search for “book reviews” (or similar phrases) and read through the sites. There are literally hundreds of blogs devoted at least in part to doing book reviews. Lots of different volunteer reviewrs are out there; many (but not all) review indie work. Many specifialize in certain genres. Of course, the quality of the reviews varies a lot, so I would recommend reading the reviews of a reviewer before deciding whether or not they are right for you. Normally, the reviewers feature information on how to submit books for review, and the procedure varies from reviewer to reviewer. Of course, there is no guarantee of getting a review if you approach someone, and in one case, I was told a review was forthcoming, but it then never came. On the other hand, I’ve gotten some great reviews from this process, and it cost me nothing.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you, Penny, for this article! I was Googling Booktasters, because they have sent me messages, and I wanted to know what they are about. And thank you, Eidswick, for the alternative idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. *checks the screen shots*

    SON OF A…!!!

    I got contacted by the same people, only difference is an actual Twitter user is trying to convince me to pay money for reviews (Mary McDonald). Exact same website though.

    That’s scary, I came this close to paying up. Thanks for the heads up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry to hear you’re having similar trouble, were they quite pushy? Because that’s my main concern. They were quite pushy with me. And I think they had at least two accounts when they were trying to contact me.
      Glad you didn’t get sucked into it!

      Like

  4. I’ve recently been contacted by a few companies like this, but googling booktasters and also checking their website makes me think booktasters may be legitimate. Their website advises reviewers to explain what they liked and didn’t like about the books they review, and not to just attack the author if they didn’t like it.
    I also found someone who used them and reproduced the various reviews: http://www.brainmemorymaps.com/reviews.htm
    Reading through the reviews there: they seem genuine to me, including some negative points as well as positive. I also found little on the Kindle Community boards about booktasters, unlike the other companies I checked out.
    So it’s possible you were put off by their pushiness. I agree with them, when they say they are not paying for reviews. As long as the reviewers state they received the ecopy for free in return for a review, as per the first Google search result for: Amazon policy free copy review which states:
    “No. We don’t allow any form of compensation for a Customer Review other than a free copy of the book provided upfront. If you offer a free advanced copy, it must be clear that you welcome all feedback, both positive and negative. … The only type of paid review that Amazon supports is an editorial review.
    Customer Reviews Guidelines Frequently Asked … – Amazon.com
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/community-help/customer-review-guidelines-faqs-from-authors
    I’m seriously considering trying them. I would never pay for a positive review; I only want honest ones.
    Keep in mind Kirkus is a trusted source of paid reviews, if you can afford it and also meet their eligibility requirements.
    Hope this helps!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Luke,
      Thanks for stopping by on my blog, and my sincere apologies for the late reply.
      I will admit, I was very put off by Booktasters because of their pushiness, but I still stand by the idea of paying for reviews (this blog post was written over a year ago now). Yes, they may be genuine reviews and be both positive and negative, and yes the reviewers themselves aren’t paid. But, like I mentioned in my post, I still part with money and get back reviews. It’s just something that doesn’t personally sit well with me, and the fact they were pushy and unprofessional also didn’t sit well.
      I’m by no means judging those, like yourself, who may be interested in using Booktasters, I understand how difficult it is for those of us who are starting off and class ourselves as indie authors, we could do with every little bit of help to get our work out there. We worked hard for it, we deserve to be recognised!
      There are other ways to get reviews too, you could do a giveaway. Goodreads.com do giveaways, I used to enter a lot a few years ago, although they have changed their policy for authors to do giveaways and it now is no longer free (and from what I remember last time I checked, it wasn’t cheap), you could also just put your book up for free, I see a lot of e-books for free on Smashwords.com, you can even do it for a limited time with a ‘voucher off code’, I occasionally do this for a ‘special occasion’ (like Christmas). Of course, this isn’t guaranteed reviews, I’ve only had a couple reviews from my sales on Smashwords, but the latter is free to do. Another option is to offer a discount off your next book (or a similar promotion) in return for a review – of course this isn’t the best option for those who are still new.
      I also use WattPad.com to post a few chapters (sometimes whole books for a limited time) and I get the odd comment on areas or the whole works, this might not help sales on Amazon of course, but I do use them to publish on my website, blog, etc.
      These are obviously just a few ideas that I have just come up with off the top of my head, I’m sure there are others ways.
      Either way, if you decide to go with Booktasters, I do wish you luck and wish you luck on your writing journey nonetheless, it’s certainly difficult. Please do let me know how it goes too.
      All the best,
      Penny.

      Like

      1. Perhaps it’s a matter of degree – whether something is paying for a review? Even if you’re just giving away a book for free, you’re still making a gift of something of monetary value, in hope of a review.
        For me personally the key thing is whether the review is honest. If the incentive results in honest reviews, for me I’m okay with it (especially if it’s a free book). If the reviews are dishonest (in some way expected to be falsely positive), I’m 100% against it.
        I also feel there’s a tendency to value something according to how much you paid for it – and I think free books can fall into that category too. I imagine whole bunches of free books just languishing unread on Kindles or whatever.
        I like the suggestion (from http://eidswick.wordpress.com/) of reaching out to bloggers/reviewers in your genre. But that idea just makes it seem like common sense that some people would think of organising, to make it easier for authors and bloggers to connect. Maybe that’s what some of these are doing, as they claim?
        Anyway, if I do take them up on their services, I’ll certainly blog about how it goes!
        Best regards,
        luke

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I had a similar approach on Twitter from Marylee MacDonald after I posted several tweets about my book coming out on Amazon 2 weeks ago mid-Aug. I thought she wanted to review it personally, then she DM’d me about Booktasters in a very persuasive set of messages. I am on a budget and suspicious of these sites but admit that free-site reviews take too long as they are inundated. I don’t like the idea of paying for reviews and it may be that the ‘market’ can spot this a mile off as well. I don’t think they offer much either. I just don’t know whether to go for it if only to get reviews, but it looks like queue jumping. I may just go for straight advertising – costly, but at least it does what it says on the tin.

    Liked by 1 person

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