Freelance Writing and Ethics – Paid Book Reviews

I’ve written before about what I see as the unethical side of freelance writing (writing essays for students) but there is another set of job posts that I refuse to do. You might find this strange considering that it is something I willingly do for free too: Book Reviews.

The ethic of is that you do not charge for book reviews. After all, we are helping independent and small-press published authors (often just like ourselves) to establish themselves in a market. A free copy of the book is often fair trade for the promise of an honest evaluation. What I am finding on the content sites is the offer of paid book reviews – Fair enough! who wouldn’t want to get paid for something they love, right?

However, they often come with a snag: the author wants you to give the book a Five-star rating at Amazon and / or Good Reads. That’s before you have read it, before you even know what it is about, regardless of the quality of the plot, the characterisation, the structure and whether you are going to enjoy it… they insist that you are going to give it a five star review. I know that some people rig the system and give themselves false excellent reviews so I am under no illusion that any truly great book review is worth its salt on its own.

But being paid to write a glowing book review for a book you haven’t even read yet? Sorry, that’s not how I roll. I will continue to give fair and honest appraisals of both commercially and independently published books on this blog. If somebody thinks I am a good enough reviewer to want to pay me for the privilege (though I doubt that will happen any time soon because my hit rates are around 1000 per month) then I will not accept such dishonest terms as part of a review deal.

If you have a book you would like me to review, then please ping me an email through my Book Reviews tab


9 thoughts on “Freelance Writing and Ethics – Paid Book Reviews

  1. N. E. White

    Yikes. I know you can pay for a Kirkus review (and others), but they explicitly state that the review you get is the review you get – good or bad.

    I’m not surprised that people pay (and get paid) for 5-star book reviews.

  2. cjmoseley

    I’ve had some indie authors try to pull this one asking for 5* reviews for a free copy (occasionally of a book that was in a free offer anyway). Personally I don’t get it, I want genuine feedback not generic, mind you, my sales might be better if I did…

  3. Matt

    I’ve given up on trying to establish a reputation through good reviews. I can get some reviews and I expect them to be honest but everyone else seems to have an army of people giving them five star reviews without reading the books and we just get drowned out. I’m sure some are honest but I know for a fact that people are giving each other five star reviews as standard whether they deserve it or not. It’s got to the point where I am almost scared to give a book a lower score for fear if the retaliation. It doesn’t help that I’m not very social and even if I asked everyone I knew to write me a review I would still only have a handful. I can’t compete. So I just try to be satisfied that my work is just out there.

    1. I have a disclaimer on my indieview listing that I will give an honest evaluation – the lowest score I have given is two stars and I will continue to give two stars to books that deserve it. If it deserves a one star review then chances are I gave up on it after a couple of chapters anyway.

      I will get around to reading your book soon!

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