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Marketing Tactics > Are professional reviews useful?

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message 1: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Murrell | 367 comments I try to get unbiased reviews of my work, but the only reviews of any substance are from people who know me in real life. I'm a cynical person, so I take any positive criticism from friends and family with a grain of salt. I've considered getting a professional review. Many people complain Kirkus aren't worth the money. My goal isn't to boost sales. That would be fantastic, but I crave honest feedback from complete strangers more. Besides Kirkus, are there any review sites you'd recommend? Others I've heard of are:

Bestsellers World
Indie Reader
Readers' Favorite (This one gives free reviews)

Does anyone here have experience with any of these or others? I'm willing to pay for thorough reviews, but I'll definitely give Readers' Favorite a chance.


message 2: by Peter (new)

Peter Martuneac | 97 comments There’s a site called Entrada Publsihing, they’re here on GR too. They reviewed my book and gave a great job. I would stay away from Kirkus b/c not only is it expensive, but if that 300 word review, 240-250 words of it is a synopsis so the feedback isn’t even that good.


message 3: by Peter (new)

Peter Martuneac | 97 comments I have the same problem though. Hell, even when it’s an objective third party reviewing my work a part of me tries to insist they must be playing some kind of angle.


message 4: by T.J. (last edited Jan 11, 2020 03:29PM) (new)

T.J. Dallas (tjdallas) | 5 comments I've tried Reedsy Discovery; it cost $50 to put it into the "review pool". I haven't had a massively great experience - I submitted it, it got picked up, then put back a month later. I cancelled the review, got a refund, but then decided to try again. It hasn't been picked up again. I think the main reason I tried again is because I think Reedsy Discovery appears quite high in Google for some reason, so potentially exposure? But don't quote me on that, lol. They will give you a pretty landing page to promote your book, so...

I have used Booksprout where I gave away 20 ARCs of my book in exchange for a review. It's free to use, fairly straightforward, and out of the 20 books that got claimed, I got 12 reviews, so that's something :) You have to self-promote the hell out of it though to get the ARCs picked up.

I've submitted my book to another potential reviewer (it's a lesbian review site) but I'm not sure they'll choose to review due to certain content of my book. So I don't have high hopes; I can only try, lol.

Good luck!


message 5: by Peter (new)

Peter Martuneac | 97 comments I just had the same experience with Reedsy. My book was picked up, put back over a month later, so I canceled and got a refund. I’ll probably try them again with my sequel though.


message 6: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1103 comments The only experience I have with Readers' Favorite is as a reader and it's not favorable. It's a vanity review service. If I see their five-star seal on a book, I will not read the book.


message 7: by Roxanne (last edited Jan 11, 2020 04:48PM) (new)

Roxanne Bland (roxanne2) | 102 comments I've used Literary Titan. 50 bucks. A good, thorough review, too. They also have a monthly award for the best books reviewed (I won a silver for one of my books). Red City reviews are good, also 50 bucks. I've used Reader's Favorite and paid for one of their packages. 5 reviews for something like 180 bucks. The 1st book I submitted was trashed by 4 reviewers (1 was real snarky about it, too). The 2nd was better, and the 3rd was stellar (it's my best, so far). The reviews I got for all 3 books were thoughtful--even the snarky one made good points. So I wouldn't call it a vanity review service. It's just that if you get 1, 5 star review out of the 5, the author can get a 5-star sticker. An author might get a sticker for a not-so-good book and use it. Personally, I think they should change it to 3 out of 5 minimum, but that's not my call.


message 8: by Roxanne (new)

Roxanne Bland (roxanne2) | 102 comments Oh, yes. Midwest Book Review, and they're respected. 50 bucks for a guaranteed review. if you send a ebook. If you choose to go the freebie route, there's no guarantee you'll get one.


message 9: by Wanjiru (new)

Wanjiru Warama (wanjiruwarama) | 198 comments Are these professional reviews better than the ones readers post after they buy and read the book? Just wondering


message 10: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (last edited Jan 12, 2020 12:01AM) (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 694 comments Mod
Wanjiru wrote: "Are these professional reviews better than the ones readers post after they buy and read the book? Just wondering"

In theory, professional reviewers should be people who know the particular genre inside out. I think they would be more helpful for someone writing within the usual genre boundaries than someone pushing those borders. And their reviews should be definitely written with more depth and in a factual tone (meaning no unrealistic praises or no fiery rants).

Whether they are better, that's hard to say. If you look at movies, you'll see that there can be a major difference between how a professional critic sees (and rates) a movie compared to a fan or to someone who's coming to the movie with no expectations or prior knowledge altogether. I'd say it's the same with book reviews.


message 11: by L.K. (new)

L.K. Chapman | 147 comments I've used a couple of professional review services, but in the end I feel like reader reviews (once you have a significant number) are the best way to get a feel for what people generally think of your book. Of course, some reviews will completely contradict one another - one person will dislike what someone else likes - but after a while you can get a sense of how readers usually react to the book. It takes a while to build up a good number of reader reviews though.

You can try bloggers, especially those who are really interested in your particular genre.

I know your question was about books that are already published, but if you want to get detailed feedback on a book before you publish it, I have paid for a manuscript critique on a couple of my books from a professional editor and I found that incredibly useful. I learnt so much and I feel it has made my writing a lot stronger.


message 12: by Derek (new)

Derek King | 1 comments Hi
Like others I've used Literary Titan, twice in fact. One a non fiction, the other fiction.
Small fee, sound reviews, counts as an editorial review on Amazon rather than customer review.
Plus within the fee you are entitled to an author interview and other info.
I'll be using them for future work too.


message 13: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Bayes | 7 comments I recently used Voracious Readers Only and actually had a wonderful experience with them. Specified upfront that I wanted only honest reviews. A lot of their readers are in the UK and Canada (though a solid base in the US too). Picked up a number of reviews and ratings - I would absolutely use them again.


message 14: by Whitney (new)

Whitney Rines | 21 comments Booktasters on Twitter has a pretty organic system. they have several readers on their roster and as someone whose done reading for others on there, a good system of how they get readers. They set up several books in a selection varied by the genre you choose, and when someone picks a book they have a certsin amount of time to read and review.
This insures that not only are the reviews organic, they are honest considering you don't generally knoe the reader and the only contact is giving them a free copy.


message 15: by Sherri (new)

Sherri Moorer (sherrithewriter) | 80 comments I'm a reviewer on Reader's Favorite. Honestly, you aren't likely to pick up a review there unless you pay for an "Express Review," or enter their yearly book contest. The free reviews are less likely to get picked up (I check for them, but I understand other reviewers are more likely to gravitate toward Express Reviews because they pay better). You can certainly put it up there and give it a try. My experience as a writer is that the feedback is pretty honest, but I did only get picked up for express reviews on my own work.

The good news is that the Express Reviews on Reader's Favorite are less expensive than elsewhere ($50). The bad news is that it seems most people don't find them reputable, or value them much.

All in all, I think you need to weigh your responses here to figure out what works best for you.


message 16: by Gail (new)

Gail Meath (goodreadscomgail_meath) | 221 comments Thank you to all, I'm going to try a few suggested things here and I do so appreciate your help. I understand how important reviews are, yet do they promote readers if the readers cannot 'find' your book in the sea of books? I have very good reviews...and many sales...yet I know I'm reaching nearly enough readers, good reviews or not...


message 17: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 839 comments Those professional reviews are editorial reviews and give your work come credence but don't count for any of the book stores. I want those Amazon reviews but will take the editorial when I can get them without paying a small fortune like Kirkus charges. If no one has heard of the reviewers, then they don't do much for you.

As others have said, do what works for you.


message 18: by Gail (new)

Gail Meath (goodreadscomgail_meath) | 221 comments Hi Barbara, as suggested I sent one of my books to Voracious Readers Only. May I ask - I cannot afford the higher cost plan, but I would like to try the lower one...did you choose the higher plan? Just curious if it would be worth the extra cost (if I can swing it). Thank you!!!


message 19: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 839 comments Gail,
What you have to look at is they reviews they have done. Are the good? Are they just a repeat of your blurb? is it generic? Did they even really ready the book?

If you get good reviews, that is great. If not, you won't use them again. I did get a couple of editorial reviews for two of my books. I will say that Kirkus was excellent, the others not so good, so there is a reason you pay that big money for them. I'd try to get a email list and then see if you can get a few from them when you publish the book.

Good luck and hope Voracious Readers works for you.


message 20: by Joao (new)

Joao Pires | 1 comments When I wrote the first novel I hesitated to hire the revision of the text. After work, I verified that the changes were minimal. I also received some practical advice. In the future I will turn to the free online review and ask someone for help reading my text.


message 21: by Gail (new)

Gail Meath (goodreadscomgail_meath) | 221 comments Thank you, B.A.


message 22: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 839 comments There is a beta reading group here on Goodreads. Some are pay and others are free. You can post what your book is about and ask for feedback on it. from other people. If you are looking for reviews for Amazon, then you need to encourage people to leave those reviews. I sent a request to my list for those who got the free copy of the book to please leave a review even if they didn't like the book.


message 23: by Wanjiru (new)

Wanjiru Warama (wanjiruwarama) | 198 comments B.A. wrote: "There is a beta reading group here on Goodreads. Some are pay and others are free. You can post what your book is about and ask for feedback on it. from other people. If you are looking for reviews..."

What is the name of the beta reading group? I searched but nothing came up. Thanks.


message 24: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 694 comments Mod
Wanjiru wrote: "What is the name of the beta reading group? I searched but nothing came up. Thanks. "

'Beta Reader Group'


message 25: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Williams (thewrongwriter) | 29 comments I learned of a couple other places to try here, thanks.

I've used Voracious Readers Only for a few months now. It's given me a bunch of emails for my mailing list, and the owner is very reasonable to work with. Nothing but good to say there.

I received 1 nice Goodreads review from this, which I appreciated. I might have gotten 1 Amazon review. That's all though.


message 26: by Gail (new)

Gail Meath (goodreadscomgail_meath) | 221 comments Thanks, Christopher. I just signed up with them and the owner seems very nice and helpful. It's so difficult to determine what is real/helpful/even semi-helpful and a waste of time and money. Has anyone used Whizzbuzz? I paid their $50 for a year, which seemed very reasonable, and feel like, that was that....nothing.


message 27: by Gail (new)

Gail Meath (goodreadscomgail_meath) | 221 comments Oh, and Tomas, a beta reader did post here about her service. But I haven't had any luck finding a Beta Reader Group either.


message 28: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4306 comments Mod
There is a group called Beta Reader Group. Since I can't post a link, you could go into my profile and look through the groups I'm in. It's generally near the top. I haven't had much luck in it, but maybe it would work for you.


message 29: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Murrell | 367 comments I've had a few takers there, but it is pretty hit or miss.


message 30: by Ian (new)

Ian Bott (iansbott) | 263 comments A few people are talking about beta readers, which is very different from a review so let's be careful not to muddy the waters. A review is of a finished work and is written for the benefit of other readers. Critiquing/beta reading is of work in progress and is meant to help the author in preparing the work for publication.

With that distinction in mind, if you're looking for critiquing to help improve and polish your story then I can recommend Critique Circle. Given the ban on links, feel free to message me for more details.


message 31: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 839 comments Here on Goodreads is "Beta Reader Group" Like everywhere else, check out the person and their services if they want you to pay. There are a lot of free beta and exchange offers on it. I lucked out and found my editor in that group.


message 32: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Promotion's for Indie Author's csmindiepr (goodreadscommichellechantler) | 5 comments As a reader and reviewer, I totally understand the problems Author's have trying to get good reviews.
Editorial reviews are excellent, within the industry, but to the leyman, editorial information will wiz straight past many of them, an upfront honest review (not a blurb or re-hash of the story) of how the reader saw the book, I believe will create more sales than someone speaking industry language.
Also even though I know why you would want experienced reviewers, to me paying for it defeats the purpose, you need people who will speak their mind without worries of whether they are going to hurt an author's feelings.
Even I have had an author ask me why I rated her book 3 stars, and I find the scoring ratings crazy?? then she asked me if I could review ALL her book's. Work that out.


message 33: by Gail (last edited Jan 21, 2020 02:43AM) (new)

Gail Meath (goodreadscomgail_meath) | 221 comments Thanks for your thoughts, Michelle. I agree with you. I have reviews from those I don't know. Don't tell my daughter, but the reviews I receive from others are what I treasure most as I know for certain they are written honestly, without favoritism. My daughter swears she loved the book so much and couldn't put it down, yet by her review - it's pages long - it is obviously written by someone close to me...but I do love her so for her efforts.


message 34: by Tony (new)

Tony Blenman | 90 comments In my opinion, a review from someone who does not know me would be more useful, since I am looking for a critical review, not a feel good one. I believe a review by Kirkus, or any other company, would be done by one person in the organization, thus it would be prudent to have a reviewer who is knowledgeable of the genre in which I have written. Paying a lot of money for a review would not necessarily guarantee a professional, useful review. Maybe getting a review done by a number of people from a local writer's group might be an option.


message 35: by Irene (new)

Irene Baron (goodreadscomirenebaron) | 12 comments I had a review by the company you mentioned. However, mistakes were made which they DID finally correct. It took 2-weeks to connect with someone after leaving several messages.

I wish people reading our books would review them. They get confused as to how to do so. Some don't want to go through the hassle of learning how to leave a review. They can give the review to you and you can leave it as a literary review with the reviewer's name.


message 36: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4306 comments Mod
Irene wrote: "I wish people reading our books would review them. They get confused as to how to do so. Some don't want to go through the hassle of learning how to leave a review."

Or they just don't care about reviews. Let readers do what readers do. If they want to review, they will. If not, don't sweat it.


message 37: by Richard (last edited Feb 04, 2020 02:19AM) (new)

Richard Parkin | 29 comments T.J. wrote: "Booksprout ... You have to self-promote the hell out of it though to get the ARCs picked up."

T.J. Can I ask what kind of promotion you did on Booksprout to get the ARCs picked up?

The Booksprout site doesn't have any nuts and bolts on how it works for authors (not until after you've signed up, of course). I'm guessing the ARCs are ebooks and probably the most popular format would be Kindle compatible, yes?

up-date: after signing up, I'm still none the wiser on how to promote the ARC on Booksprout


message 38: by Laura (new)

Laura Engelhardt | 73 comments Has anyone tried Pubby? That was recently recommended to me, but it seems like a monthly membership & when you don't have a ton of books published already, it seems like a fairly steep cost. Are there any good one-time services to connect authors with actual readers willing to leave a review?


message 39: by Faith (new)

Faith Jones (havingfaith) | 17 comments Peter wrote: "I would stay away from Kirkus b/c not only is it expensive, but if that 300 word review, 240-250 words of it is a synopsis..."

You should ask for your money back. A review should never include a synopsis because once the browsing buyer has read a summary of your story, there's no reason left for them to read the book. A review should give them a feel for the writing style, the soul of the book and a mystery to dig deeper.


message 40: by Faith (new)

Faith Jones (havingfaith) | 17 comments B.A. wrote: "There is a beta reading group here on Goodreads. Some are pay and others are free. You can post what your book is about and ask for feedback on it. If you are looking for reviews..."

Generally, regular reviewers don't volunteer to beta-read because they would then have read a book that they cannot post a review about. The final version could be different, with improvements made and any flaws corrected, so to say anything they'd have to read the whole story again.


message 41: by Peter (new)

Peter Martuneac | 97 comments Faith wrote: "You should ask for your money back. A review should never include a synopsis...."

I haven't paid Kirkus for a review for precisely that reason. And it's not a one-off thing, that's their M.O. Look at the overwhelming majority of their reviews, and there's only about two or three sentences actually reviewing the book, the rest is basically a blurb. Huge waste of money in my opinion unless you have cash to burn and simply want the legitimacy of a Kirkus review.


message 42: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 839 comments Professional reviews are editorial reviews and if from a well known reviewer or company and it's good it might (notice that word) help get a few readers. Over all, I don't see a lot of people who scroll down to read editorial reviews. For $450 for Kirkus, that one line that you can use isn't really worth the money.

Generic reviews for your book from actual readers is much better and they do get read. When I do read a book, I will review it be it good or bad. I don't give a synopsis unless its for a publication. That is the only time you need a short synopsis of the book. (which is where you can use that Kirkus review) I'm working on getting those reviews from people who actually read my book, be it good or bad. Any feedback means that I did get someone's attention.


message 43: by Ken (new)

Ken Johnson (author_ken_johnson) | 10 comments A lot will depend on your marketing plan. I know people who used Kirkus and said it helped a little...not enough to cover their costs. Others say they broke even or just better than even. Most readers tell me they don't look at reviews or blogs or even YouTube reviews. However, librarians and other do look at Kirkus and other professional reviews.


message 44: by Teri (new)

Teri Pizza | 10 comments Ian wrote: "A few people are talking about beta readers, which is very different from a review so let's be careful not to muddy the waters. A review is of a finished work and is written for the benefit of othe..."

Yes, please send link to the critique group you mentioned to teripizza@mail.com. Thank you for your definition of reviewers vs. beta readers.


message 45: by Mark (new)

Mark Abel | 40 comments Has anyone tried KBR, (Kindle Book Reviews), and are they legitimate? I see they do not charge for reviews which is a good sign. Feedback is appreciated, Thanks !


message 46: by Isabel (new)

Isabel Jolie (booksmyladypartslove) | 10 comments T.J. wrote: "I've tried Reedsy Discovery; it cost $50 to put it into the "review pool". I haven't had a massively great experience - I submitted it, it got picked up, then put back a month later. I cancelled th..." I'd like to add to this that I stayed away from Reedsy because I'm a romance writer, and had very little to no romance represented. In general, while I like Reedsy's free formatting tool and they have some great advice for writers, I definitely think they pick their favorite genres...


message 47: by Laura (new)

Laura Koerber | 24 comments I don't think there is anything wrong with a review including a synopsis. Reviews from any source nearly always include a synopsis--at least as far as describing the setting, characters and central problem of the story. Kirkus is still not worth the money in terms of sales, but their reviews are entirely valid in terms of the content.

Kirkus does have a certain prestige and good reviews can be used in ads. But the review itself won't do much. At least that
s my experience and my book was starred, featured, and made the list of one hundred best books--all without any increase in sales


message 48: by Isabel (new)

Isabel Jolie (booksmyladypartslove) | 10 comments Phillip wrote: "I try to get unbiased reviews of my work, but the only reviews of any substance are from people who know me in real life. I'm a cynical person, so I take any positive criticism from friends and fam..."
Hi - I recently used IndieReader. Can't tell you if it will help me with sales, but it was a thoughtful review, they gave me a good rating at 3.5 (I think it's good at least, for them, as they aren't big in my romance genre) and there are pieces I can pull and post on my Amazon author page and BN review page. I like IndieReader and wanted my book listed on their pages.

I've used Booksprout and get good results from ARC readers, but for the most part the reviews aren't thoughtful...and I've found they have many reviewers who tend to just give a synopsis (which I kind of hate. Why would anyone buy the book after they know what's going to happen?). But, they definitely help to get your review numbers up.

AuthorsXP is another good service for ARCs (not paid for reviews... like Booksprout, these are those reviewing in exchange for a free copy).

I'm using Hidden Gem for my upcoming release... and so far they seem to be giving pretty thoughtful reviews. I look at ARCs in general as a necessary evil.....before ebooks, publishers gave out free paperback books by the boatload to get word of mouth. I see ARCs as today's lower cost version of free paperback giveaway, and a necessity since some look to see how many have reviewed your book.

Personally, I can't imagine Kirkus is worth the money, but I did buy from them when they were running a massive sale at Christmas. I still haven't received the review....but I did it because I wanted the feedback. And I am hoping, even though I'll get it after book release, there will be something useful in the review to use on my author page.

I love that you asked this question. It's so helpful to get feedback from authors about what's worked for them and what hasn't.


message 49: by Isabel (new)

Isabel Jolie (booksmyladypartslove) | 10 comments Teri wrote: "Ian wrote: "A few people are talking about beta readers, which is very different from a review so let's be careful not to muddy the waters. A review is of a finished work and is written for the ben..." If you are looking for beta readers, or people to just read and critique, I use CritiqueMatch.com, and I've found some great writers to exchange work with. There are many services like this. This is where I tend to post first drafts...before I share with a developmental editor. It's great to get feedback from a wide variety of readers. There are many services like this, and yes, it's for work in progress....and not for reviews after published.


message 50: by Irene (last edited Apr 11, 2020 09:57AM) (new)

Irene Baron (goodreadscomirenebaron) | 12 comments Phillip, I disagree with your comment about Kirkus.

Since we're not allowed to "bash" reviews, I will just mention Kirkus made a BIG MISTAKE on dates, the whole purpose of the book about the date of Christ's birth found by using NASA astronomy programs.

The years of research had just been completed and published in my book. The reviewer said it should have been duplicated by a noted organization in the field. I never contacted the Vatican.

I doubt if anyone else has access to the original 68 NASA astronomy programs I used to find the data.

So, her only negative statement about finding confirming research was not well received. Perhaps she was used to reading fiction and didn't realize my book was reporting original research.

I tried to connect with Kirkus about the wrong data they published. I wrote emails, called and even sent a letter snail mail, to the CEO. One phone call resulted in a person who said they would pass the information on. Their information must have been ignored.

After weeks, I began to think very negative thoughts. When someone finally wrote back via one of my emails, after discussion, they responded by having the date in the review corrected.

I didn't address the original research aspect review comment as I figured they didn't realize the book printed recently completed original data which took several years of computer research. That was mentioned many times in the book.

Kirkus wrote in my contract that review buyers were to never print anything in the review without including the WHOLE review. Within the month and after, I saw bits of Kirkus reviews where people reported, when asked by me, that they were informed they could publish sections of their review if the whole review was cited. Therefore, there were two standards represented by that organization for using the reviews as publicity.

For the price, as you can see, I was disappointed.

First, as mentioned earlier, by their negligence in numbers.

Second , not being able to contact anyone in a suitable time frame to have the incorrect data corrected to match that published in the book.

Who reads a review twice? A month is a long time to have incorrect data of original research posted.

After that, I haven't paid for another review. I was soured on the experience.


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