Is it ethical or unethical to pay for book reviews?

April 23, 2015

Today, I would like to reply to this question because I am annoyed to hear writers and authors wonder if is it ethical or unethical to pay for being reviewed. Let’s start with a principle: when you ask someone to review your book,  it would be right to pay. After this consideration, it would be wonderful to understand if a book review is a service or a favor.


In the editorial market, reviews are divided in editorial reviews and customer reviews. The first ones are those opinions written by professional writers, bloggers, journalists or book reviewers, while the second ones are those written by customers who buy your books. Useless to say that when a customer put a review on Amazon, Goodreads and other websites of book reviews, this happens because he/she liked the book very much.

However, to get a success with a new book, many customer reviews are needed! A customer is available to review a new book for free if the author gives him a free copy. There is hence a natural trade between the author and his/her reader. A professional book review is fully different: that is a book promotion service. This service is also bought by established authors to launch a new novel.

A professional book reviewer earns money with his/her book reviews. Is it a so unethical job? A professional book reviewer must read a new book not only to evaluate if it is bad or good, but also to see style of writing, plot, structure and other details that can be very important, especially for new authors, in order to help them improve their writing and their next book. A paid book review, hence, is not unethical, but it is a service like others. In this world there are many unethical things.

Is it ethical to sell weapons to kill helpless people? Is it ethical that smugglers exploit millions of migrants and to force them to pay for being put in an overloaded boat that most likely will sink in the waters of the sea? Is it ethical to pay to be cured and healed from diseases? In the US there were many cases of people that could not heal because they had no health insurance. And so? Why attacking a professional book reviewer who is seeking only to do his/her job?

I would you knew that any job, is it is done well, is always a good job and never unethical! A paid book review can be a new way to promote a book. Other websites of book reviews ask even 500 dollars for a book review. Advicesbooks 50 only. Many websites ask 500 dollars to publish a bad review also. In case of negative opinion, instead, I send  my review to the author by email and he/she can also use it to improve his/her books because this opinion works as book advice.

Moreover, many important journals accept to review only books reviewed on professional websites of book reviews and don’t consider other reviews published by customers on self publishing platforms. Be sure: I won’t get rich with the money for a book review, but I wanted only that you were aware about the importance of my job and to get a professional book review!

Read also:

The importance of being reviewed

How to get reviews for your new book


  • Tom Hagley June 4, 2020 at 17:23

    If I ask someone to post a review of my book on Amazon, they have to buy the book. Is it proper for me to tell them I will pay for the book whether they post a review or do not post a review?

    • Rosalba Mancuso June 4, 2020 at 19:08

      Hi Tom,
      Thanks for your interesting question.
      The matter about to pay or not to pay for review is very challenging.
      Usually, Amazon reviews come from readers and should be done freely and voluntarily with no payment by authors or publishers. Moreover, Amazon forbids the reviews done upon a payment, even if they regard a verified purchase. A review on a book review site or a literary magazine, instead,is done by a professional book reviewer who offers a review writing service. The review will be always honest and unbiased, but the payment will serve to support the work of the book reviewer. In the past, book reviewers were paid by publishers, but nowadays, with self-publishing, this burden passed to self-published authors. Hence, I think you must be able to distinguish the category of people from whom you want to receive the reviews. If they are readers, they have to buy the book and review it if they want. If they are book reviewers, they could ask you for money to perform their service. I hope this advice helps.

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