Wha? “Sponsored Reviews?”


Even though it’s been five months since Child of Fire came out, I’m still contacting reviewers, hoping to get a little more exposure. I’ve slowed down quite a bit, but I still mail off the odd book now and then.

So, as I was looking over N.K. Jemison’s new book on Big River dot com to see if it’s a hardcover (and thus too spendy to buy at my local shop) I saw a review posted there by sacramentobookreview.com.

Interesting! So I pop over to their site and poke around. No they haven’t reviewed CoF before. Yes, here are there guidelines for authors who want to send them a book. And here are their prices for a sponsored review.

Cue needle-scratching-an-LP sound. A “sponsored” review?? Well, yes. You can pay to have a review “expedited” which costs $99 for a Standard Turnaround (9-12 weeks) up to $299 for an Expedited Turnaround (2-4 weeks).

They don’t promise a positive review, only a “professional” one, and they don’t promise that a paid review will appear in the paper. However, if they don’t, the author will receive an advertisement instead and the size of the ad depends on which “turnaround” price they pay.

They also promise to put the review into their “publication pipeline” which apparently means Amazon.com, their syndication service, and their website.

As I said above, there’s nothing on the site (that I could find) that promises a rave review. I also didn’t find a disclaimer specifically explaining that cutting a check is no guarantee of a positive review. Still, it strikes me as fishy; I wouldn’t send them anything simply because a reader might wonder if I slipped a couple of bucks into the book, and jeez, people, I’d send a copy to your sickly grandmother if she had a blog.

Vaguely uncool. I’m going to email writer beware about it.

Oh, and because I should make this clear, I am in no way suggesting that N.K. Jemison wrote a check for the review they gave her. In. No. Way.