Is it Stigma or Reality that Readers Don’t Buy Books with Paid Reviews?
Lasts week’s editorial stirred up some viewpoints that are well taken. I want to address one such viewpoint:
… just as “POD press” has become synonymous with “vanity press,” paid reviews are now looked on as the last resort of people who can’t get “really published.”
Now, let’s look at the aspect of “paid reviews” rationally and who in fact is even concerned it’s a paid review. I challenge anyone that feels that paid reviews are a last resort (ouch!!) to go to their local brick and mortar or independent book store and poll the readers with these questions:
1. Do you read the blurbs on the backs of books before you purchase the book?
2. Do you make a decision whether or not you will buy the book because of the endorsements?
3. Do you know how those endorsements are obtained?
I can venture to say that 99% of the readers will answer something like yes, they read the blurbs; yes, they make a decision because of the endorsements; and, I suppose the author asks for them, or it would be No, I don’t know.
I can guarantee you the reader finds value in the endorsements but has no idea how the endorsement was received, let alone whether or not it was paid for. The only ones that even know anything about paid reviews are authors, publishers, and publicists. But, let’s be reasonable – as authors, is this our reading audience? I hardly think so, and if these select few people in the know will not read a book because it received a paid review as a last resort, then we, as authors (or publishers/publicists,) need to revisit our marketing plan and not attempt to market to them. It’s obvious they are not our reading audience and our time and effort, and of course money, certainly is wasted if attempting to convince them to read our books.
But, there is more. Do you know that celebrities or well know people like Tony Robbins and Stephen R. Covey don’t actually read every book that has their endorsement on the cover? No, they sure don’t. In most cases, they don’t even know the authors. The communication that goes on is only between the publicist/agent for the celebrity and the publicist for the author. And, did you know that the publicist for the author sends at least 6 “samples” of blurbs to be chosen from? More so, are you aware there is often a fee for the endorsement? This is known in the publishing industry, yet it’s doubtful that targeted readers know or even care. But, does this mean those that feel paid reviews don’t hold credibility also pass by these books? That would be an interesting survey to take, but, I can only imagine the answer would be something like “well, that’s different…” I would hope I’m wrong and they would say “no, I wouldn’t buy that book because the endorsement was paid for.”
Chicago Sun-Times, and many others (USA Today, Reuters) that publish our reviews several times a week don’t care if they are paid for or not. That’s the last of their concerns! So why should Jane or John Reader? In reality, they don’t. It’s only a stigma that has been imprinted into some in the publishing industry.
To further substantiate what the readers actually know or care about, a response from an author to my last week’s editorial was:
As an author, I can’t tell you how many people assume I have tons of money coming in from book royalties. The vast majority do not know the difference between a published and self-published book. If asked, they will not know who published the book–they will not even bother to look. All they want is a good story or information that will serve them. What goes on behind the scenes most readers are oblivious to.
As an author, I so resonate with this comment. I have never been asked by anyone, at signings or when I facilitate retreats where people buy my book, whether or not the blurbs on the back of the book, or the praises inside, were paid for. Have you? And, if you have been asked, and actually did receive a paid review, did the person refuse to buy your book?
Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.