There's been some talk this week in the writerly hangouts about how Kirkus (remember them? The big toughie reviewer with the reputation of crucifying books?) is offering to review books by Indie Authors for a price. $400-$500 a book from what I hear. And here's the thing, the author gets to decide whether or not Kirkus includes the review in their newsletter. So if they rip you in two, don't include the review. But if it's glowing, please do include. Um, huh? I get that they're paying for it so why would they want to put out a negative review but something about it doesn't seem right to me. I've had an awful review from Kirkus that I wished they wouldn't have published but they did. And this buying of reviews-- does it make the reviewer more favorable to the book? I don't know. If someone gave me $500 would I not call it a giant stinking pile of dog poop? Maybe.
Which brings me to another type of "buying". Some publishers recently have been heard to be sending valuable gifts with their books to book reviewers. People are saying this is too a type of buying. Is it? If I have shiny new gift in my hand am I going to be totally truthful about your book and if I hate it say so? Or am I going to be so excited about shiny new gift that I'm just going to gush about your book no matter what you wrote. Hmm.
And then does it even really matter? So many things are bought now anyway. Kim Kardashian gets ten thousand dollars to tweet that she likes a new lip gloss. Who knows if she really likes it. Audrina Patridge takes home a check for holding up a tube of Colgate Total Whitening in the grocery store and giving a toothy grin. Does she really use that brand? I don't know. It is good though. I use it all the time (please send my paycheck for endorsement to...;-) ).
I think people do read reviews and make purchases off of them but is everyone evaluating where they come from? I've looked up books that have loads of 5 star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads only to be disappointed when I started reading and the book is full of distracting grammatical errors, jumping back and forth between tenses and times and just plain old not good.
So here's some stuff to discuss. Do you think it's wrong to buy a review from Kirkus? Do you think it even matters (like, do teens even read or care about a Kirkus review?)? Publishers sending gifts to book reviewers- yay, everyone's doing it or nay, you're not going to get a true review. And how valuable do you find book reviews when making a purchase?
Kristina, Miss Author in Action