It seems that our title wasn’t “good enough” for their magazine, but I can pay for the “honor” of having our title reviewed. $99 to be exact.
To justify this fee, I’m told about the limited space in the magazine [like I don’t know this is the same situation that afflicts all review magazines?] vs. unlimited room online and how mahvelous this online review site is, but…they need the money to cover the cost of writing and posting the review. Oh, they assure me that they still maintain their high standards and that only “the best books” are chosen for review, and this is just the cost of doing business.
But wait, if I pay the fee and the reviewer declines to review the book – they’ll return my money. If that’s the case, I have to wonder what determinates they employ for reviewing a book.
Mind you, I’m not angry the magazine didn’t feel our book warranted print space because I’m a big girl and know mags have limited space. My Vickie Secrets are in a twist because I question whether a paid-for review is an honest review and whether this is just a new profit center.
After all, it was about a year ago-ish when we were included in a mass email from the editor of this magazeine that angrily took us all to task for not taking out ad space with them. The fuzzy logic was that we owe it to them because they review our books.
Hmm. And here I thought they reviewed books because of their love of good literature. Yes, of course magazines make their money from advertising, and many mags are facing extinction because advertising is way down. Publishers know that ads don’t sell books, so they’re putting their money where they get better bang for their buck.
My heart goes out to magazines – and anyone – who help with the advancement of reviewing books. However, I was appalled at being called on the collective carpet. Since this magazine caters to indie presses, including those which may not know a lot about the industry, this is a line you just don’t cross.
Now they’re inviting me to pay a hundred bucks to have our book reviewed. I think not.
Cheap is as cheap does
This request for money – what I call Vanity Reviews – cheapens the idea of reviews in general and creates an air of suspicion of all reviews. Just like vanity publishing, people now look at reviews and wonder if it was paid for or a real, honest review. How long before no one cares about reviews?
This magazine is far from the first to implement vanity reviews. I’ve been sickened to see other very big names in the review world stooping to the pay-to-review as well. Even though those other entities make it very clear they are paid reviews, it still smacks of being a new revenue source that preys on the unwitting. And our industry is rife with them.
If one pays for a review, the expectation is that the review will be favorable. I mean, who wants to shell out money and have the added insult to having their book trashed. The magazine realizes this and presents the “out” clause by offering to return the money.
Now really – if a cash-strapped magazine stands to gain $100 for a review, it goes to reason that the magazine/reviewer will be motivated to find something nice to say – no matter how small. Publishers or authors starving for reviews will be sucked in – just like the vanity published author.
Why pay the vanity fee?
Ah, the rub. Bookstores lurve book reviews because they believe it will sell books. Personally, I’m ambivalent. We’ve had many fabulous reviews, and we didn’t see the giant sales. On the other hand, we’ve had authors whose promo plans were off the charts, and there were huge sales even though they had no reviews. So, yes, the silly realities are that reviews don’t, by and large, sell books.
That said, when we get a good review, we slap that puppy right on the front cover. It’s all a part of the hoop-jumping game.
So welcome to the brave new world of pay-to-play reviews. I don’t care how prettily they try to tie this particular bow, let’s admit what it really is: a profit center where the veracity of those reviews is questionable.
I’ve taken this magazine off my review list.