|Review mill! Green energy!|
Before I go any further, let me say I haven’t bought any reviews for White Pickups, nor do I intend to. The honest 5* review it got is better than anything I could have afforded, and it even points out a couple flaws (dammit! why didn’t I write that down when I thought of it?). But if you tilt your head to the right and squint, buying reviews (whether from PW/Kirkus or a review mill) becomes a marketing expense. I don’t have confirmation, but rumor has it that a certain number of reviews (50?) is supposed to draw the attention of Amazon’s algorithms and they start recommending the book. From that angle (remember to tilt your head and squint), review mills are targeting algorithms rather than people. Scummy, yes, but people are always going to try gaming the system when there’s money to be made.
But buying a “real” review can be pricey. Factor in the hours spent first reading the book, then writing the review, and even at minimum wage you could be looking at over a hundred bucks. The Times article mentioned Kirkus charging $425, for example, and that sounds about right for a professional. If I was out of work, I’d probably take $400 to write a review, but I wouldn’t inflate the rating.
Personally, if I had the money to buy reviews, I’d spend it on editing instead. Better yet, I’d spend the time writing something that rises above the crud, leaving indies in awe and publishers grumbling how they could have done better. Back to Scrivener now…