Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why Book Reviews are important, especially when done for FREE

I have seen several articles this week relating to the costs that indie or non NYT Bestesller Authors have when it comes to marketing their books. In one article, the author stated that her publishing company charged her $600 for their snippet review on the cover of her book.... that's for ONE review! Another stated that her publishing company allotted her a ZERO advertising budget, meaning she paid for it all. She got $6000 for the advance, and spent $2000 of that to advertise her book. Another author published 4 books last year and cleared a mere $18,000 on her tax return, and these are books I have seen in large book stores near the front! That was eye opening for me. I am an avid reader, and had no idea that mid-level authors barely made anything on their books, especially considering the time they put in to produce quality work!

I was entering a giveaway today for a copy of Not Just For Breakfast Anymore, and one of the "bonus" entries was to follow the author's blog. (No bonus for blogging about him, it just fit with this article idea I already had). As I was perusing the site, I saw that he had been blogging about his journey as an indie publisher. For books like this one, priced at $6.99, he needs to sell it to bookstores at half price. Minimum profit $3.49 per sale. That's not taking into account any costs he had with producing the physical book.

I have a Kindle that I bought with Swag bucks last year, and I love it. I like that I can offer to read an e-version of books to do reviews for authors, and that doesn't cut into their profits. I do offer paid ads on my site because I have costs associated with blogging, and that helps to offset them, and allows me to do larger self-sponsored giveaways. It also means that I can offer to do book reviews for authors for free. Granted, I can't afford to purchase each and every book that I review, but I can accept a book in return for a free and honest review. I also like giving books as gifts for birthdays, holidays, and other milestones. When I review a book that I think is perfect for someone I know, I notate it and purchase that for them at the appropriate time as a gift. It supports the author and who doesn't love to get a great book as a gift?!

While I do offer honest reviews on every product I like, sometimes people notice that they see mostly positive reviews. That's for a few reasons.
  1. I know what type of books I like, and I tend to accept mostly offers in those genres.
  2. Even if a book doesn't quite mesh with MY personal preferences, it doesn't mean it is poorly written or executed. I can focus on the positive aspects honestly, and point out what might appeal to others. What's great about readers is that we all have different tastes!
  3. On the rare occasion when I have gotten a book that was poorly written, I contacted the PR company before I wrote my review. I do not feel right about bashing someone's first book. The PR company took my suggestions, and I am sure others suggestions, back to the author. Since the book was still in the galley stage they were able to put a hold on the book and fix the problems. The completed book was MUCH better, and I was able to give a good review. It's ALWAYS a good idea to contact a company before writing something negative.
 I say all this to say, support the authors whose work you adore. Follow them on social media, and share about their work. Leave comments on book reviews. It's nice to know people are actually reading your reviews, and often the authors stop by and it's a bonus for them to see what people are saying about their books.


Melanie Ski said...

Very nice article. I just love getting books for free and giving a review. I am glad it is such a value to the author!

KimberlySue said...

Thanks so much for this helpful post! I'm new to blogging, and right now I have around 300 followers and I spend pretty much all my down time reading review requests and working on my blog. I love doing it & I can't imagine how Indie authors are able to afford costs that are that high in order to advertise their books! It's sad that many amazing authors never get the chance to get their books out there, because they don't have the money to do so.

I'm the same way when it comes to 'bashing a book.' I'm honest with my opinions, but as the saying goes, 'One man's trash is another man's treasure.' Just because I don't like it, doesn't mean that other's will dislike it too! I always try to be positive as well as honest in my reviews.

Thanks again for this post!

Tina Peterson said...

Great article and well thought out. I started writing reviews because I can't afford to purchase $15 books on my own - but this way I get a book and I can help the author out too.

I've only had 1 book I haven't liked at all. And I really debated posting my review at all. It was a real struggle because I didn't want to hurt they're feelings.

Thanks for stopping by GivingNSharing - I'm giving you a stumble. =D Tina "The Book Lady"

Tina Peterson said...

Hi again - I'm following you from GFC, Twitter and FB. Thanks for your great blog! Tina "The Book Lady"

By Word of Mouth Musings said...

I just received three books to review - my first ever ... so great to read this!

Thanks for linking up to Time Travel Tuesday today, it really means a lot to have your support ... and having a chance to read posts that have been and gone is like curling up with a favorite magazine!
Have a wonderful day!

Barbara said...

I had no idea that authors have to go through so much even after their books are published! What an eye opening post!

MamaRobinJ said...

So true! Great point about why we should support authors.

Thanks for the time travel visit! Nice to travel back and meet you ;)

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I love reading new books! It is fun to get them in the mail too. I didn't realize I was helping so much.

Stopping from Time Travel Tuesday!

Stephanie @ henry happened said...

Thanks for stopping by - stumbling back!

Squeak said...

Thanks for the informative blog post. I also review books for authors and it is nice to know that we can help them out with our blogs on their books. I have actually found some really good authors that way!

Blog On!

For Books –
For Chocolate –
For Both –

Laura O in AK said...

Amazing how costly things are for those in the book business. ITA about free reviews being great. Or, there are the almost free ones by bloggers like me who do it for the book (sometimes in pdf format.)

Stumbled your post. Mine's at

Self Sagacity said...

Fantastic post, I stumbled you. Thanks for stopping by.

Create With Joy said...

Hi Karen

Thanks for joining me at Create With Joy and letting me know about your blog & article! You wrote a very insightful piece. I am bookmarking it for future reference!

I do free reviews on my blog (I just posted my latest) and I also carefully prescreen the books that I accept to my best to ensure that it will be a good match for my tastes BEFORE reading. My reviews tend to be of a more positive vein for that very reason (good pre-screening!) When things are less of a good fit, I do my best to focus on the positive, and to be honest about the things that decreased their rating, for me, in as nice a way as possible.

You never know when an author will visit your site - I have had a few of the authors stop by and leave comments!

Have a fabulous week & I look forward to reading more of your blog!


mom2kiddos said...

Those are really very good book review ethics. I spend my time now reading blogs instead of books. I'm fairly new to blogging, and might consider doing book reviews in the future - especially children's books. Thanks for sharing this.

Julia said...

You make a lot of really good points. Thanks for sharing this post. I've stumbled it. Thanks for stopping by today.

ChildTalk said...

Great points!

Stumbling you back. Thanks for the very nice comment on my post. Hugs to you and your son. :)

Becca @

Maple Leaf Mommy said...

Wow, I had no clue that a "successful" published author could make so little. Very interesting article. thanks.

Stumbled you, my post is:

aquariann said...

I had a summer job at a bookstore, and one of my favorite memories is when I got to write a book review for the local paper. Your great post has definitely got me pondering the possibility of blogging my own reviews! Btw, I stumbled back. :D

LMC502 said...

I'm here from the Stumble Hop, and glad I found you. I really enjoyed your article! I had no idea the costs were that high for indie publishers to get the word out. No wonder they love bloggers!

Beautè Gras said...

Thanks for the Stumble, returned!

Mama.Mommy.Mom. said...

Stumbled! I love doing book reviews when I can find the time to read!

Here's my post:

Jamie @

April said...

I love doing book reviews on my iPad! It's also greener that way - no books printed! Stumbled!

Coupon Queen said...

Being an eclectic reader myself I love seeing other folks reviews and I really appreciate when they are free, I think you get a more honest opinion that way. I have found some really great books that way and I have passed on books I like on my blog as well. Glad you are enjoying your Kindle, I love mine too. Thanks for stopping by, I am following back. Have a great rest of the week. :)

Anne said...

Thanks for stumbling by my blog. I enjoyed your post about book reviews. I would love to do reviews. How do you go about doing them? Sad that authors would have to pay for their reviews and make so little for all their efforts. I'm sure their are many great authors that we'll not be published due to the high costs and that is just sad.

Annie said...

Thanks so much for stopping by Maximum-Chaos!

I was totally clueless that it cost the average author so much of their own dough to promote their book. After all of the hard work to write it, then get it published... WOW!

Cathy Kennedy said...

Good advice at the end! Thanks for stopping by my blog. Normally don't find an opportunity to visit on the weekend, but have a second to spare. Feel free to come by again!

~Cathy Kennedy, Children's Author
The Tale of Ole Green Eyes

Lori said...

Wow! Very interesting. I never thought too much about it. Thanks for sharing!

Returning the stumble. :)

Dominique @ Dominique's Desk said...

I too love doing book reviews.. it gives me the opportunity to save on $$ to get the books I like to read.

Nicolette said...

This post was so timely, even if I did find you via Time Travel Tuesday ;) My husband is writing a book and we have been exploring publishing options and have run into just what you described.

Kristyn said...

thanks for the follow i am now following back