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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone look at Blue Ink reviews or Kirkus reviews before downloading a book?

I went to the self-publishing expo this year and both companies were there. Seems like they are two of the bigger ones. But I never heard of them until attending the expo. Just wondering if anyone reads those reviews.

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I don't.

I occasionally read reviews in the Washington Post. I also get Bookmarks Magazine. That's about it.
 

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elake28 said:
Does anyone look at Blue Ink reviews or Kirkus reviews before downloading a book?

I went to the self-publishing expo this year and both companies were there. Seems like they are two of the bigger ones. But I never heard of them until attending the expo. Just wondering if anyone reads those reviews.

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Kirkus used to be a very well-respected review source, but a few years ago they started taking "paid" reviews. Amazon dropped their reviews from the "editorial" section of their pages as a result, and my library no longer uses them or Publisher's Weekly (Publisher's Weekly clearly marks the reviews as paid or unpaid in their online sections, but if someone just sends along the quotes you can't tell). My library pretty much seems to rely on...Library Journal, I think it is called. The reviews in it are unpaid and are done by librarians across the country. I used to follow a Librarian who did reviews for them and she said they didn't get to request books to review (as per a lot of review sites.) I think they were able to specify genres and submit reviews and then it was up to Library Journal from that point on.

The librarian I used to work with (she's retired now) did use Publishers Weekly to reference/check books, but I'm not sure if the new librarian uses them at all.

In short, I won't even consider them because I'm not going to all the trouble to find out if it's a paid review or not (from either/any source). They are hugely expensive, charging somewhere around 500 dollar per review and I've always had a hard time believing that a nice ethical line can be drawn when someone is being paid that kind of money for a review. Or heck, any kind of money.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
MariaESchneider said:
Kirkus used to be a very well-respected review source, but a few years ago they started taking "paid" reviews. Amazon dropped their reviews from the "editorial" section of their pages as a result, and my library no longer uses them or Publisher's Weekly (Publisher's Weekly clearly marks the reviews as paid or unpaid in their online sections, but if someone just sends along the quotes you can't tell). My library pretty much seems to rely on...Library Journal, I think it is called. The reviews in it are unpaid and are done by librarians across the country. I used to follow a Librarian who did reviews for them and she said they didn't get to request books to review (as per a lot of review sites.) I think they were able to specify genres and submit reviews and then it was up to Library Journal from that point on.

The librarian I used to work with (she's retired now) did use Publishers Weekly to reference/check books, but I'm not sure if the new librarian uses them at all.

In short, I won't even consider them because I'm not going to all the trouble to find out if it's a paid review or not (from either/any source). They are hugely expensive, charging somewhere around 500 dollar per review and I've always had a hard time believing that a nice ethical line can be drawn when someone is being paid that kind of money for a review. Or heck, any kind of money.
I see what you're saying and now we have a debate. So then I ask you, what's wrong with paying for a review? I like to think of it as a reading fee. And just because you pay for the review, that doesn't mean you will get a good one. To my understanding, those reviews are completely objective. And why wouldn't they be? After all, it's not like the people reading your book know you or will benefit from giving you a good review. So you're taking a risk really. You're putting your book and your money on the line to try and get noticed. I think it's well worth the risk.

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elake28 said:
To my understanding, those reviews are completely objective.
No such thing as an objective book review, IMO. Unless all you do is report the number of pages. ;D

I read primarily Mysteries and Science Fiction. I don't look at either Kirkus or Blue Ink because I'm interested in info about those genres from a source with a track record in those two areas. The two sources I use are paid only in the sense that they do a regular column of book reviews, not in the sense that they are paid for a specific book.

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elake28 said:
I see what you're saying and now we have a debate. So then I ask you, what's wrong with paying for a review? I like to think of it as a reading fee. And just because you pay for the review, that doesn't mean you will get a good one. To my understanding, those reviews are completely objective. And why wouldn't they be? After all, it's not like the people reading your book know you or will benefit from giving you a good review. So you're taking a risk really. You're putting your book and your money on the line to try and get noticed. I think it's well worth the risk.

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So, how about taking the five hundred dollars and buying a hundred reviews from fiverr. com? What would be the difference? Other than 99 reviews, I mean? Seems like a slippery slope to start down.
 

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elake28 said:
I see what you're saying and now we have a debate. So then I ask you, what's wrong with paying for a review? I like to think of it as a reading fee. And just because you pay for the review, that doesn't mean you will get a good one. To my understanding, those reviews are completely objective. And why wouldn't they be? After all, it's not like the people reading your book know you or will benefit from giving you a good review. So you're taking a risk really. You're putting your book and your money on the line to try and get noticed. I think it's well worth the risk.

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If I'm in the business of being paid for writing reviews and I want as many authors as possible to pay for my service, it would not be in my best interests to write a scathing review, even if that was how I felt about a book. If I did, I would be running the risk of putting some authors off using my service because they, understandably, wouldn't want to risk paying through the nose for an honest review that may damage their book's prospects. So I would be sorely tempted to pull my punches and not risk losing business. Therein lies the suspicion of paid reviews.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
jmiked said:
No such thing as an objective book review, IMO. Unless all you do is report the number of pages. ;D

I read primarily Mysteries and Science Fiction. I don't look at either Kirkus or Blue Ink because I'm interested in info about those genres from a source with a track record in those two areas. The two sources I use are paid only in the sense that they do a regular column of book reviews, not in the sense that they are paid for a specific book.

Mike
Well let me give you an example and point out some other things. Has anyone heard of Darci Chan, or read any books by her? I got a chance to meet her at the expo and see talked about getting her review from Kirkus. She didn't get a star. She got an objective review that pointed out what was good about her project and what could have been done better. Her book went on to get noticed by a publishing house or an agency I can't remember which one she said. But the point is the review helped in the long run.

Also, the people reading your book are chosen based on what kind of books they read. So for example, they wouldn't have someone who mainly reads romance novels read a science fiction books. So again, it's a good debate to have. But to me, it looks like you're saying they can't be trusted. I have no reason to question their integrity.

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Discussion Starter #9
Sam Kates said:
If I'm in the business of being paid for writing reviews and I want as many authors as possible to pay for my service, it would not be in my best interests to write a scathing review, even if that was how I felt about a book. If I did, I would be running the risk of putting some authors off using my service because they, understandably, wouldn't want to risk paying through the nose for an honest review that may damage their book's prospects. So I would be sorely tempted to pull my punches and not risk losing business. Therein lies the suspicion of paid reviews.
But why question their integrity? The reality is, this business is very subjective. What one person loves, another might hate. Most books they review don't get a star. But even the ones that don't get constructive feedback.

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elake28 said:
But why question their integrity? The reality is, this business is very subjective. What one person loves, another might hate. Most books they review don't get a star. But even the ones that don't get constructive feedback.

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I'm not questioning anyone's integrity. Merely pointing out why many people regard purchased reviews with suspicion.
 

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elake28 said:
But to me, it looks like you're saying they can't be trusted. I have no reason to question their integrity.
There's a difference between questioning someone's integrity and not automatically putting your complete faith in it. For people I don't know or have any information on, it's just an unknown.

I want data points. Comes from being an engineer for 35+ years.

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Discussion Starter #13
jmiked said:
There's a difference between questioning someone's integrity and not automatically putting your complete faith in it. For people I don't know or have any information on, it's just an unknown.

I want data points. Comes from being an engineer for 35+ years.

Mike
I respect that. I just feel diffrently because I met them both in person and from what I saw they seemed legit.

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Discussion Starter #14
Chad Winters said:
I would agree with Sam. Imagine movie reviewers who were paid by the movie producers to review their movies. That's not a review, its an advertisement.
Well you have to remember, you're not going to get a good review just because you're paying for it. What you're paying for is their time. This is a service they provide to self-published authors.

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elake28 said:
I see what you're saying and now we have a debate. So then I ask you, what's wrong with paying for a review? I like to think of it as a reading fee. And just because you pay for the review, that doesn't mean you will get a good one. To my understanding, those reviews are completely objective. And why wouldn't they be? After all, it's not like the people reading your book know you or will benefit from giving you a good review. So you're taking a risk really. You're putting your book and your money on the line to try and get noticed. I think it's well worth the risk.

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It doesn't matter to me if you (or anyone else) chooses to pay for a review. But if I know a review is paid for, I will not read it nor give it any credit for being fair or objective. I don't trust paid reviews. They may be legit and I may be missing out, but it's hard enough to find good reviews; I chose to discard paid ones.
 

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elake28 said:
Well you have to remember, you're not going to get a good review just because you're paying for it. What you're paying for is their time. This is a service they provide to self-published authors.

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If that were the case, they would be selling critiques, not reviews. When I hire an editor she provides a storyline edit--this is essentially a detailed critique of where the story works, where it doesn't, where it can be improved and so on. Bang for the buck? Very, very good. I don't think she's done a storyline edit that was less that three typed pages of summary/notes.

I pay her for her time and expertise--and I do it BEFORE the book is published so that there is plenty of time for improvement. Anything done after is a mute point for me. Reviews are for the READER, not the writer. I don't want to find out after I publish it that my characters are boring, not fleshed out, etc. I'd rather not have readers point it out either.

If you want to hire someone to do a critique that's generally different than what Kirkus or other provide under 'review.' I wouldn't want to spend 400 dollars to get a couple of paragraphs about my book. But that's me.

As a reader, what I want from a review is an honest opinion of what was entertaining and what wasn't in a short three, maybe four paragraphs. Maybe some comparisons to other books in the genre. In order for ME to trust it, it has to be unpaid.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
MariaESchneider said:
If that were the case, they would be selling critiques, not reviews. When I hire an editor she provides a storyline edit--this is essentially a detailed critique of where the story works, where it doesn't, where it can be improved and so on. Bang for the buck? Very, very good. I don't think she's done a storyline edit that was less that three typed pages of summary/notes.

I pay her for her time and expertise--and I do it BEFORE the book is published so that there is plenty of time for improvement. Anything done after is a mute point for me. Reviews are for the READER, not the writer. I don't want to find out after I publish it that my characters are boring, not fleshed out, etc. I'd rather not have readers point it out either.

If you want to hire someone to do a critique that's generally different than what Kirkus or other provide under 'review.' I wouldn't want to spend 400 dollars to get a couple of paragraphs about my book. But that's me.

As a reader, what I want from a review is an honest opinion of what was entertaining and what wasn't in a short three, maybe four paragraphs. Maybe some comparisons to other books in the genre. In order for ME to trust it, it has to be unpaid.
I see what you're saying. You make good points. Still, those reviews, and reviews from publishers weekly, have high regard. They are viewed by industry leaders all the time. If I knew that agents and editors from publishing house looked at these reviews, trying to find the next project to take on, I'd gladly risk my money for that.

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In general, critics get paid by their employer (the newspaper or blog that hires them), but they are paid for their work, not for their review. The only freebies that critics should receive are a free copy of the book itself, with the understanding that the critic can write whatever he or she wants about it.
 

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elake28 said:
I see what you're saying. You make good points. Still, those reviews, and reviews from publishers weekly, have high regard. They are viewed by industry leaders all the time. If I knew that agents and editors from publishing house looked at these reviews, trying to find the next project to take on, I'd gladly risk my money for that.

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Ah, then you are asking on the wrong forum. You need to ask PUBLISHERS/EDITORS/AGENTS if they look at the PAID reviews of these publications and what they think. I wouldn't go by what the publications tell you either--and be clear if you find an agent blog/editor blog that takes questions--ask if they ever look at the paid reviews and how often, etc. In publisher's weekly there are (or used to be) two sections--one for paid reviews and one for industry reviews. I don't know how or if Kirkus breaks it out in any way.

I'm just a reader, so I answered as a reader.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
MariaESchneider said:
Ah, then you are asking on the wrong forum. You need to ask PUBLISHERS/EDITORS/AGENTS if they look at the PAID reviews of these publications and what they think. I wouldn't go by what the publications tell you either--and be clear if you find an agent blog/editor blog that takes questions--ask if they ever look at the paid reviews and how often, etc. In publisher's weekly there are (or used to be) two sections--one for paid reviews and one for industry reviews. I don't know how or if Kirkus breaks it out in any way.

I'm just a reader, so I answered as a reader.
Writers are readers, too. I thought you were a writer because your reply was so detailed. Seemed like I was getting replies from mostly authors but how can you tell.

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