To Pay or Not To Pay – Book Reviews For Sale

By Debbie Burke



“Fly-by-Night Book Reviews says, for $100, they’ll give me twenty guaranteed reviews. Should I try that?”

“I paid $500 to Pie-in-the-Sky Reviews. My book didn’t receive a single review.”

“You don’t dare pay for reviews—that violates Amazon’s terms and conditions. You’ll be banished.”

“Kirkus Reviews are the gold standard.”

“Ever since Kirkus started selling reviews, they lost all credibility.”


That’s a sample of the spirited responses and contradictory opinions on a recent Authors Guild discussion thread about whether or not to pay for book reviews.

I wound up thoroughly confused, pondering the following questions:

How much do reviews really matter?

Are there still “legitimate” book reviews? What defines “legitimate”?

Have reviews merely become another profit opportunity for vendors peddling them?

Do customers really believe Amazon reviews?

Do reviews increase sales?

Author Maggie Lynch

Multi-genre author Maggie Lynch participates frequently in AG discussions. Over years of reading her contributions, I’ve come to trust her knowledge, judgment, and analysis. Her data is carefully researched. She looks at publishing history from the long view and puts so-called new trends in perspective.

During this ongoing, weeks-long debate about book reviews, one day Maggie wrote: “Warning, I’m going on a bit of a rant.”

What followed was her essay that offered a fresh perspective and updated information about reviews that all authors can benefit from.

I asked if I could share her “rant” at TKZ and she kindly agreed.

Here’s what Maggie has to say:

Paid reviews have always been around, long before the advent of the Internet. Who do you think paid for placement in magazines, journals, and newspapers?

When a publisher buys an end cap display in a bookstore and provides potential review quotes for the store to post, isn’t that paid? If your book is featured on the front page of a major genre magazine, it gets attention. The magazine is going to do a review because you paid $2-$5K to be there.

All advertising is, in effect, paid reviews.

The only difference now is that there are more books, more online venues, and more authors willing to pay for ads, reviews, and all kinds of placement.

Once Amazon entered the online market, it became the focus of most authors. Not because it is the only distributor, but because it is the only distributor using sophisticated algorithms that are somewhat transparent. A number of analysts and programmers focus on Amazon algorithms and then share that information via their own book publications.

Whether you love or hate Amazon, it’s a great search engine. They understand data. They understand how to present the most likely options for getting a sale from a customer. IMO there is no other bookseller with programming that sophisticated.

If other major booksellers–Apple, Kobo, Google, the Big 5—had that same search and analysis capability, they would get more customers as well.

For myself, I have many reasons not to like Amazon. Yet, I give them props when they do well. If I want to find a book or learn more about an author, I’ll look it up on Amazon first because I know it will be quick with lots of information–including other books in the same genre, series, similar authors, etc.

I will likely end up buying the book somewhere else to support a local bookstore or another vendor, but I go to Amazon first.

Many people stay on Amazon because of that ease of use. Authors often believe (mistakenly in my opinion) that they only need to be on Amazon.

But…book sales are NOT Amazon’s primary business.

Only 10% of Amazon’s overall revenue is book sales.

Unfortunately, far too many people think they can game the system. I know hundreds of authors who spend more time trying to figure out how to get higher ranking on Amazon than they do writing books. It’s crazy.

Review factories have always been a part of the online book environment. When I first entered indie publishing in 2011, there were entire “review factories” in Asia where one could buy 100 reviews from “sock puppet” accounts. They were pretty obvious back then, poorly written, using similar phrases.

A couple of times, Amazon has cracked down on these practices–usually when it becomes obvious and egregious. But they usually do it through programming changes.

In the process, some books with legitimate reviews get caught in the net. When crackdowns happened in 2014 and 2018, many authors lost hundreds of reviews and waited months to have them reinstated.

[Note from Debbie: I know authors who simply gave up fighting and started from scratch all over again. Sad.]

Whenever Amazon makes a programming change to search out and punish fake reviews, those who make money on reviewing simply find a more sophisticated way not to get caught.

Algorithm watchers believe that instead of looking for and stopping these reviewers, Amazon is proactively changing the algorithm to counteract the sway of review farms.

Now reviews are weighted significantly less in the algorithm than they have been in the past.

Of course, no one knows how much less or what the criteria are, but it is something to consider. Because of that, authors who are focused on reviews simply pay more.

Authors consistently worry/believe that a high number of reviews (particularly on Amazon) means a high number of sales. That is not necessarily the case.

It is more likely that a high number of sales means a high number of reviews, UNLESS reviews have been supplied primarily by non-purchasers.

To evaluate this, look at the Top 100 bestsellers in Amazon. Many have ZERO reviews. Why? Because the book hasn’t been released and is selling on pre-order. What is creating those sales? Many factors that have nothing to do with reviews such as:

  • Advanced audience definition;
  • Pre-press ads, word of mouth, news, reaching out to fans;
  • Building anticipation for the book followed by a launch blitz that delivers on the promise;
  • ARCs to media and other reviewers (NetGalley, Edelweiss).

It may also be that Amazon never shows a lot of reviews for a particular book because the primary sales are on other sites, NOT Amazon. Many print books sell in bookstores, libraries, or direct from the publisher.

Reviews are not the answer to low sales. Do they help? Good ones do, those that provide information and key ideas to appeal to the audience you want. But the number of reviews does not necessarily correlate to sales.

The last good analysis I read about Amazon indicated there were more than 300 data points that are weighted in the sales and ranking algorithms.


Where do reviews stand in that weighting? Not at the top. Probably not even the top 10.

The reality is the #1 weight is actual sales.

You have direct control of many other factors that guarantee more sales such as:

  • Create a fan base;
  • Write more books;
  • Identify your audience;
  • Deliver to their expectations with a consistent brand.

Of course, these take work and time. They can’t happen overnight.

But many authors want a fix right now, an easy button to push.

People always want an easy answer as to why their book isn’t selling better. They don’t want to accept the more likely reasons it’s not selling better.

The reality is the majority of the book reading public has fairly narrow interests.

 My fantasy fans rarely cross into SF. My SF fans almost never cross into romance. My Women’s Fiction fans don’t like anything else in fiction. My nonfiction readers rarely read fiction.

That’s just from my list of fans–a small number of 12K people. But the sample size is enough to extrapolate statistically.

Identifying the audience and creating a package that appeals to them on many levels is key. That package includes:

  • Excellent blurb that makes the reader want to learn more;
  • Great cover;
  • Appropriate pricing for the genre;
  • Look Inside/Preview pages that draw the reader in;
  • Advance praise from ARC readers that tells the reader what to expect and why they loved it.

Indie authors particularly get uptight about reviews—they can see the numbers go up and believe they can control that. Then they start paying for reviews because they believe more reviews equals more sales. But that is a false sense of control.

Where do you stop paying? Is 50 enough? How about 100?

I now see books with over 100K ratings. Are you kidding me?

 The get-more-reviews game is one you can’t win because:

  • You likely don’t have the budget for big PR or marketing campaigns;
  • You can’t compete against contacts that big publishing houses have.

Amazon’s own imprints publish roughly 1,000 books a year, making it as large as the Big 5 publishers.

Amazon controls all the data and knows the sales information. They can certainly tweak the metadata as needed to drive sales within their algorithm. Other publishers can do this too, if they know how and employ people to do it. Most don’t, not even the Big 5.

What can the average author do to compete?

First, do not accept Amazon as the arbiter of books or literature.

They are not. Don’t become one of those authors–and some small publishers– who have bought into the Amazon way of book sales–low pricing, multiple promotions, exclusivity.

Small publishers and indie authors have given Amazon all this power yet selling books is less than 10% of Amazon’s revenue. 

Second, you can shout and bring bad practices to the fore.

Point it out and most of all DO NOT PARTICIPATE in the bad practices yourself.

We can’t let our avarice, our immediate desire for an easy-button solution, give us permission to game the system, pay for reviews, tell lies, or buy hundreds of print books to try to make the bestseller list.

If few authors engage then it will become evident that no one can make good money off of these deals. 

Third, expend your energy in engaging with actual readers.

Build your mailing list, blog or use some other social media that you like to keep your readers informed.

Outside of your next book, the biggest asset is YOUR readers—people who have already voted with their dollars and their time to buy and read your book. Once they already read and like your book, they want more—more about you, more about upcoming books.

  • They will tell their friends
  • They will write reviews;
  • They will volunteer to read ARCs in the future;
  • They will post to social media;
  • They will talk to libraries about carrying your book.

Your readers are your biggest asset.


Thank you, Maggie, for sharing your perspective and wisdom with TKZ!

Maggie reaffirmed my belief that time is best spent writing more books.

However, that doesn’t lessen my gratitude to readers who make the extra effort to write reviews!


Learn more about Maggie Lynch and her 26 books at her author website.

Check out her free video course about Why Books Don’t Sell. It covers the basics of putting together a good package for your book and buy pages with vendors.

On that same POV Author Services site she has many blogs just for writers about both business and technology, as well as mental health and philosophical writing concerns.


TKZers: What is your experience with reviews? Have you ever paid for reviews? Do you think they helped your sales?

52 thoughts on “To Pay or Not To Pay – Book Reviews For Sale

  1. I can’t agree with your guest that paying for legitimate advertising (more prominent placement or presentation of a product) is the same as paying someone to say they like something. Paid reviewers are scammers, period.

    Even usually unscrupulous television producers require small-print notices on ads, something like “Paid endorsement by an actor.” Of course, you’ll never see “This is a paid review.” If the reviewers were honest they wouldn’t be pimping their opinion in the first place. So it’s all down to the authors, isn’t it? What price dignity?

    • Harvey, it *IS* all down to authors, as you say. Everyone has a different view of what’s “legitimate.” That’s why this topic prompted so much discussion among Authors Guild members.

      You certainly take the wisest course by writing more books! How many are you up to now?

      • Thanks, Debbie. After a year’s forced hiatus, I just started again and finished my 67th. Also busy with mentoring a few students and anxious to start the next story. Nothing more fun than racing through a story with the characters, trying to keep up and recording what happens and what they say and do. 🙂

  2. I have no experience with reviews except to say that I never use them to determine whether or not I buy a book. In fact, I seldom even read them. So many of them seem fake to me. I buy almost all my books from Amazon, simply because it’s so easy, and usually the least expensive option.

    How do I find books? A recent example: I read a blog post of the best ten books the author had read in the past year. The description of one of those books interested me, so I bought it. It was so good, I read it four times in two weeks. I then searched for other similar books by the same author. I now have purchased ten of her books and have enjoyed every one of them. Many books by the authors on this blog are in my Kindle Reader, even though some are in genres I would normally not even look at, and I recently bought six books in one purchase (not from Amazon) from an author I had read about, mostly to study what she was doing. I’ve been disappointed in second books by some authors and won’t be buying further books from them. Those second books almost always had glowing reviews. An editor at a Big 5 publisher asked me to send her my next book, so I bought two of their recent publications to see what they were currently buying. They were okay, but neither was great, and I certainly won’t buy more by those authors. It was an eye-opener.

    I would have to say that in my opinion, the books speak for themselves. Good writing trumps everything else.

    • I forgot to ask you what the titie of your book is, if I may be so bold as to ask.

      • Robert, I don’t think I asked you for yours,either. The one in question is Sins of the Heart, a western historical romance. I’ve not finished editing it, so we’ll see if I get it finished enough to submit.

    • Becky, word-of-mouth recommendations are the strongest influence on my purchasing decisions, too. I don’t buy books based on ads or phony-sounding reviews. I do pay attention to thoughtful, insightful reviews whether positive or negative.

      Best of luck when you send your novel to the editor!

  3. Guess I must’ve been sleep-walking all this time ‘cuz I didn’t know paid reviews were a thing. LOL!

    For non-fic, if I find a book whose description I like, I may read a few reviews to see what the reader took from it (because what the non-fic title implied is not always a reader’s actual take-away), but I don’t typically read reviews for fiction. As Becky mentioned above, it’s more about reading a post or getting other word of mouth and trying an author out. Then it’s up to that author’s style and quality as to whether I read anything else they do.

    • Another vote for word-of-mouth, BK.

      Nonfiction is different b/c you’re often reading for education and information.

      For fiction, voice is a big factor for me. The “look inside” feature gives a taste of that. If I love an author’s voice, I buy the book

  4. Thanks for this post, Debbie and Maggie.
    If I’m looking at a book on Amazon I check the 1 and 2 star reviews to see why a reader didn’t like a book. If it points to poor writing, editing, etc., I’ll steer clear.
    But one point not made in this post is that (especially for indie authors), if you want to advertise in certain email newsletters, etc., many require a minimum number of reviews, often dictating an average star rating. Others use them as one of many other factors in deciding whether to accept the ad.
    I just released a new book, and I’m getting email solicitations from review sites to promote my book for me. This post helps reinforce my deleting the messages.
    The best marketing, as you and others have pointed out is “write the next book.”
    (Confession: I do value my starred review from Publishers Weekly, although I don’t think it did anything for sales. Readers aren’t impressed, although other authors are.)

    • Terry, great point that some advertisers require a certain number of reviews and/or rankings.

      One and two-star reviews can be informative but unfortunately some people run campaigns on certain review sites to slam an author for spite.

      A starred review in PW is an achievement for sure!

    • Hi Terry,
      It is true that some promos require a minimum number of reviews. The number I’ve seen most often is four or five. You can get that usually by tapping your fans. It doesn’t hurt to include a reminder about reviews in your email newsletter to fans–not only for a recent release but for past releases.

      If you have zero reviews that can be a problem, especially if it’s been a few months. However, I agree with you that the difference between 5 reviews and 50 reviews is not a big difference for the majority of people who look to buy your book. You DO have to ask and ask again for people to do reviews. Many, many readers have no idea that it is important to authors.

  5. Slightly tangential comment here, but while we’re on the topic of reviews, I’ve bought several books thanks to one-star reviews. If I’m on the fence about a book, I’ll often read “bad” reviews that say things like “too dark” or “all the characters are irredeemable losers” or “book was too short, only 200 pages” and these comments convince me the book is for me! I guess what I mean is honest reviews are always more valuable.

  6. My novels have few reviews.

    In 2018, I published my first novel (women’s fiction). Since I had little money to invest, I wanted to buy one of the cheaper newsletter ads. As Terry mentioned, many ad resources require a minimum number of reviews, so I paid $20 for a service that combed Amazon for the most prolific reviewers in the women’s fiction genre. They sent me 20 email addresses for reviewers and a suggested email to request honest reviews in exchange for a PDF copy of my book. It netted me 7 reviews, which actually were honest opinions, bringing my total number of reviews to 20. I don’t think those reviews in and of themselves led to increased sales, but my listing in the newsletter did produce sales.

    Publishing more books is what produced increased sales for me. Now that I have three books out in my New England Murder Mystery series, sales have revived for the previous mystery titles in my meager backlist.

    • I forgot to mention that I required the reviewers I got from the review service to state in their reviews that they received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

      • TL, full disclosure is the ethical way to handle that. Sounds as if you received a good value for your $20.

        Writing more books is key. As Maggie says, there is no easy button or shortcut. Do the work and the rewards will come…albeit slowly.

      • That is an Amazon requirement. It has been for as long as I remember. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to buy emails from prolific reviewers, but it may well be that that ability was abused by some.

      • Good job on requiring that. That is a rule for most legitimate reviewers. Readers expect that those who read ARCs or get a copy in exchange for an honest review are regular reviewers.

  7. Thanks, Debbie and Maggie, for this thoughtful post.

    A few months before my first novel was to be released, I was at a writers conference and met some folks who introduced me to the concept of a blog tour. I eventually paid to have my book put on tour by a respected blog tour company that appealed to an audience I thought would like my book.

    The arrangement was to have around 25 bloggers read and give an honest review of the book on Amazon and/or Goodreads. I did not personally know any of the reviewers.

    I believe those blog reviews, both on the bloggers’ sites and the retail sites, resulted in more sales. How many? I don’t know, but for an unknown debut author, I think a blog tour makes sense.

    • Hi Kay! And Debbie . . .

      I’m interested in learning more about blog tours, being a relative no-name myself. (And having received my first rejection yesterday . . . I’m going to print it and frame it. 🙂 )

      Is there a link I can follow?


    • Hi Kay, I think of blog tours as a discoverability tool rather than a sales tool. That is you are getting your book cover, name, and some general information out to more people than you can reach on your own.

      It is next to impossible to know what, if any, sales result from those tours because you can’t track who sees the blog, who clicks on the blog, and where they go to any buy site (e.g., Amazon, Kobo, Apple, B&N, etc), or if they buy. A whole lot of tracking data you don’t get.

      When I first started out I did to blog tours because I was still building my email list. If you can arrange it with the blogger be sure to have a way for people to join your email list–maybe as a part of contest where you giveaway one or more copies of your ebook to those who sign up during the tour. Or depending on the blogs reach and commenters, you can do a drawing from those who comment. It helps to give you a little more control over data and building your own fan base.

  8. Paying for reviews always seemed skeezy and dishonest to me. I remember back in those early, Wild West self-publishing days, some writers making it big on Amazon got caught using review farms. Not a good look, even though it may have helped drive some sales. Ack!

    Organic reader reviews are best, of course. I put a link in the back of my ebooks that takes readers directly to the Amazon review page for the book. I think that’s helped.

    • Are you saying that someone who reads reviews before buying is not an ‘organic reader’, James? I disagree. You may feel that Kirkus and NetGalley are ‘skeezy,’ but I would disagree there as well. Then again, are you absolutely sure that your various publishers have not submitted your novels or nonfiction for reviews through such companies?

      • No, not saying that at all, JR. I was referring to buying reviews from farms. Clearly unethical. Kirkus, as I understand it, offers objective reviews, and that’s fine.

        By “organic” reviews I mean people who actually buy the book and want to leave their opinion.

        A little clearer?

  9. I read the reviews on Amazon to get a sense of a book, then buy it on B&N.

    I’ve been receiving scam calls from a company which keeps changing its name, but the callers aren’t native English speaking, and they follow the same script. Anyway, they want to promote and maybe publish GUARDIAN ANGEL which they seem to think is self-published. I’ve never listened to the whole spiel, but I wouldn’t be surprised if part of that promotion is fake reviews. The publishing world is full of piranhas, and we are minnows. Take care.

    • Marilynn, scammers are happy to offer complete packages of publishing and promotion from soup to nuts. And for an extra $1000, they’ll throw in the sun, the moon, and the stars, too.

      As always, Writer Beware, which is also the name of a great watchdog site by Victoria Strauss who sounds the alarm about scams targeting unsuspecting writers.

  10. Good advice about writing the next book, Debbie. That’s always been my philosophy. Give readers what they want — more books — and be thankful they love your work.

    I’ve never paid for reviews. Not only is it unprofessional, IMO, it defeats the whole purpose of reviews. I’d much rather have fewer reviews than scammers posting nice things about a book they never read.

  11. Great discussion here today. I do not buy books based upon reviews . . . I have yet to do that. I buy books based upon knowledge of the author’s previous works.

    Sometimes I take a chance on a new-to-me-author and it pans out, but when it doesn’t, it aggravates me that I spent money and time on it. 🙂

    • Thanks for joining in, Deb.

      When considering whether or not to buy a book, the “Look Inside” feature is the best way for me to decide. An actual sample of the author’s style, voice, and skill level is the biggest decider of yay or nay.

  12. Thanks, Debbie and Maggie. This is very helpful. A difficult subject, but well handled.

    I have a question: What is the proper etiquette when asking another writer for a review? – offering to review a book for the other writer, providing a free book (?print, pdf, ePub, or mobi?), or other service? And, is it legit to offer to reimburse a reader for buying and reviewing your book? Other legit ways to ask readers for a review? Drawings? etc.

    Thanks, Debbie, for picking this subject!

    • Hi Steve, Let me take your questions one at a time.

      Proper etiquette when asking another writer for a review?

      This is common for those who publish traditionally, in that the publisher usually has writers they’ve published int he same genre and the editor will actually ask if they’d be willing to review. However, for indie publishers you have to do it yourself. Of course the easiest is to ask someone you know really well and already have a relationship with. The key there is to give a deadline.

      Let’s say you don’t know any other writers in your genre well. Then the key is to ask someone who you’ve met–maybe at a conference, at a writers meeting, etc. So you can establish a relationship. Provide a book blurb, the timeline in which you would need a review or pull quote, and thank them for considering.

      Know that the vast majority of writers do not review books. They simply don’t have the time. If they don’t know you, they won’t likely make the time. If you have anything to offer in exchange, make that a part of your query. e.g., I know this is time consuming and please know I would be happy to return the favor for your next book or any previous book you would like me to read. OR, I would be happy to give a shout out to your next release to my mailing list.

      Should you pay an author for a review. IMO absolutely not.
      It is NOT legit to offer to reimburse a reader for buying and reviewing your book. It IS legit to offer your book to send them your book for free for the purpose of a review. This is usually done as an ARC but can be done after the book is published. I personally send ebooks, via BookFunnel, but there are reviewers who require a print book.

      In the end, the best way to get reviews is to have already built relationships with readers and other authors who are excited about your book and really want to get it and review it. That takes time, planning, and work.

  13. Of course, I have paid for reviews. Paid reviews and ‘fake reviews’ are not the same things.

    When you see a review in Kirkus Reviews (America’s most prestigious publisher of reviews, whatever someone on some random forum may say) it was paid for. When you see a review in, it was paid for. When you see a review in which the reviewer says they got the book through NetGalley, the author or publisher paid. It really has nothing to do with Amazon.

    • J R, I agree that Kirkus, NetGalley, Edelweiss are all paid in some way, as are certain review services where you pay a middleman to put your book into an email they control to potential reviewers. But then the idea is that reviewer gets your book for free in exchange for a review and should disclose that in their review.

      The type of PAID reviews which are not legitimate IMO are where you give a specific reviewer money to write a review (e.g., I’ll pay you $50 to write a review of my novel). Or you give them money to buy your book so they will appear as a “verified purchase” when doing a review. IMO paying someone to write a review is usually followed with “a good review.” Paying someone to buy your book is definitely gaming the system. DO people do this? Yes, they do.

  14. Debbie, thanks for having Maggie here as a guest today. Maggie, it’s great to see you here! Seems like an age since we met at Orycon. Thanks so much for today’s post and providing so much food for thought.

    Count me as one of those who won’t pay for reviews. I also don’t review other authors’ fiction on Amazon. I save that for my newsletter. And I only highlight books I personally read and enjoyed. I want to keep it positive. I will review non-fiction books about writing and indie publishing on Amazon, because I am the target audience in those cases. But again, I only do that for books I thought worthwhile.

    Thanks again, Debbie and Maggie!

    • Nice to see you, too, Dale. It is a long time since I’ve been to any conferences–a combination of moving away from the Portland area, getting older and not wanting to drive for two hours to Portland, and more recently the pandemic and everything been closed.

      Like you, I don’t review unless I know the author personally AND I am truly interested in reading their book. If I like it, I will highlight it on social media and/or in my newsletter. If I don’t like it (especially with an ARC) I’ll let them know I won’t be able to review it. The reality is I’m too busy most of the time to read anything, and often turn down even authors I know because I can’t possibly get to it in the timeframe needed.

    • JR, one of the big debates on the Authors Guild discussion thread was whether or not Kirkus reviews were still considered legitimate.

      Kirkus now offers two options: the traditional review where the publisher submits a book to them; Or authors can *pay* Kirkus for a review.

      This is where the water gets murky.

  15. I took a brief look at paid review services in 2018, reading author complaints via a search engine. I assumed the complainants were narcissistic malcontents whose brittle egos had been shattered by an honest review. Not so. They commonly appeared have a realistic grasp of their admittedly low ability, but were offended by the technical quality of the review, the cost, and how fast it disappeared into their service’s Review Mausoleum.

    I concluded that the services as a class:
    • disrespect Indie works
    • use low paid reviewers
    • use review templates with function key comments
    • may have conflicts of interest with other services they sell
    • are expensive
    • use slow standard turn-around to sell expedited delivery
    • are otherwise okay.

    On the other hand, one large reviewer went out of business a few years ago, so their profit margin may have been too low. Also, regarding quality, the services verify that their reader has actually (more or less) read the book, by requiring inclusion of a synopsis. This takes up a large hunk of the review, making it less likely that their reader will note any problems that would help the author rewrite the book. Thus the synopsis is of little help to the author, other than providing a basis for a QC complaint to the service if the synopsis is seriously wrong. The synopsis is not much help to potential purchasers, either, being redundant to the Amazon listing.

    Still, depending on the situation, I would consider buying a review from Kirkus or other source. I’ve been told that libraries read Kirkus reviews. I’ve found Self-Publishing Review (SPR) to be very professional, more economical, and have uploaded their reviews to Amazon. For free or low cost ($50) reviews, see also

    Some useful (?) info:

    • Thanks for your review of reviews, J! Your summation “are otherwise okay” was a hoot. Reminded me of “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?”

      According to a number of librarians in the Authors Guild, Kirkus has long been the gold standard. Their credibility may change now that they offer a paid review option.

      Thanks for those additional review sites with good reputations.

      • A clarification: At the time I did the survey, 2018, Kirkus was already selling reviews at a price of about $500 +/-, depending on desired delivery. They did offer, as I understood it, free reviews, if ordered via a legit publisher. Self-published works don’t have a publisher, and wouldn’t qualify. (You’d have to at least publish several authors using your imprint to qualify.)

  16. Such great stuff here! Thank you for taking the time to delineate so many good thoughts.

    The only thing I scratched my head about was mentioning that books are only 10% of Amazon’s sales. To me, that’s apples and oranges. I don’t care how many shoes or widgets Amazon sells. My question is how many books Amazon sells *compared to other bookselling sites.* Comparing apples to apples. Ten percent of Amazon’s total sales of everything could still be a lot more books than the next leading book sales site.

    Also, one might want to factor in the Kindle Unlimited program. I’ve seen well more than half of my royalties coming through the KU page-reads rather than outright one-time sales. I’d lose all that revenue if I weren’t exclusive to Amazon (for e-books).

    Other than these thoughts, though, I learned quite a bit from this article. Thank you for asking Maggie to allow a reposting of her knowledgeable thoughts on this subject!

    • Thanks for joining the discussion, Linda.

      I think Maggie’s point was that Amazon’s original purpose/business plan was publishing and selling books. Now that segment is only a small part of their business. So their focus on bookselling is much lower than it once was.

      But you are right to compare sales between Amazon and other online booksellers like B&N, Kobo, Apple, etc. Amazon remains the big cahuna, with an estimated 60-70% of book sales.

      KU results are highly variable. My income from KU was almost nothing yet author friends receive a significant amount from KU.

      Glad you stopped by, Linda.

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