Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Book Launch Kickstart Boost – 50 Kindle Sales & Reviews for $250!
I don’t know. Doesn’t it seem slightly … unethical … to you? To pay $250 for 50 reviews?
(I’m not linking to the site because I don’t want to offer inadvertent promotion.)
Basically this is what Amazon has been cracking down on and what readers are rightly suspicious of. I happened on this deal as it streaked by on my Twitter feed the other day, noting that these folks promise to push your book to the head of the class in the Kindle rankings. It’s really just another pay-to-play scheme and must surely fly in the face of the Ethical Author Code.
Or does it?
Maybe it’s just a matter of degree, but if you can buy a review from Kirkus, why can’t you buy 50 reviews from this outfit? Neither Kirkus nor these guys promise positive reviews. You pays your money and takes your chances.
Is it deception if the 50 reviewers actually read the book? If the reviews are honest? How does it differ from a Kindle Freebie promotion that gives the book away and nets 50 new reviews? (And, incidentally, the reviewer gets a Verified Purchase tag on Amazon even though she didn’t literally “buy” the book. She did download it, though.)
What a thorny thicket!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point this out too: In addition to the 50 reviews (and sales), you get a “full analysis report of [sic] 130-point checklist – reviewing your specific platform – filled with recommendations to enhance and improve your author platform and marketing [as well as] 5 book marketing mockups of your book for marketing.”
Complicates things, because now you’ve paid for marketing advice, not necessarily for the reviews. At least that’s what you could say.
I’ve never purchased a review (not even from Kirkus because Kirkus is dead to me — a long story there), but I’ve given away plenty of copies hoping for a review. That seems acceptable, and ethical, provided that the reviewer alerts readers to the freebie. Guess what: That doesn’t happen very often. People mean well, but they forget to mention that they didn’t pay for the book. Hey, the New York Times Book Review doesn’t say, “By the way, we don’t pay for the books we review. The publishers send us ARCs by the thousands.”
As with most ethical issues, a little bit of a dicey thing doesn’t seem so bad. But where on the scale does it become just plain wrong?
And if it’s always wrong to buy reviews, then Kirkus needs to get out of the review-selling business.
What do you think? Is it legit to buy 50 reviews if the reviews are honest? For that matter, is it legit for publishers to buy prime point-of-sale locations in a bookstore? Or for an author to buy dozens of copies of her own book to get better visibility in the rankings? Or …
All I can say is, Caveat emptor.