Friday, 3 April 2015

To Pay or Not to Pay..........that is the question! Or is it?

Not for the first time in the last few months have I stumbled across a debate online regarding book reviews and whether a writer should pay for them or not. This, it appears is a thorny issue and quite an emotive one, although thankfully during this recent debate no-one wanted to burn me at the stake or was horrible as has sometimes been the case. Nice to be able to debate subjects with well rounded individuals even if I didn't necessarily agree with them. (Waves at any who are reading this post)!!!Anyway........
 
Personally,  I don't think its a great idea when someone says to you 'pay me a tenner and I'll write a review for your book luv!' How can you be sure that its an honest review and they are just not giving you your money's worth? Amid lots of cries of 'totally dishonest' and 'paying your way to the top of the Amazon charts, tut, tut.'...........I think we should stop and have a look at this from a totally different perspective. My perspective! Only kidding. But, lets examine a few key points.
 
As most or some of you know, I run Brook Cottage Books which organises virtual book tours and other promo events for authors. Of course, most of the work I do has no cost attached despite long hours put in. However, for such things as the tours, yes there is a cost attached. The question is.........are you paying for a review by using a tour company? My answer to that is............No! You are paying me to be the 'glamorous' (?) in-between person who spends hours toiling over an overheated laptop putting together press kits, linking with tour hosts, getting word about your book out via a newsletter, organising tour banners, putting tour pages up etc etc etc. so you don't have to do all these things and can get on with the very important job of writing more wonderful books! All of my amazingly talented tour hosts, or my bookish family as I like to call them are extremely professional people who do an amazing job with their reviews. They just won't write what you want them to write. They will be honest. If they loved your book they will tell you. If they didn't, they will tell you that too. All I ask is that they are not rude or hurtful in their reviews.
 
Another point that was raised during the debate about book reviews was whether or not reviewers get anything out of taking part in tours when the tour organiser is getting paid. Let me clarify a few things...........
The money paid to organise a tour barely covers the man hours put in to get a tour off the ground and keep it running for the life of the tour. If worked out, it would be hugely less than the minimum wage. My day starts at 5am when I work on book stuff, paid or unpaid. I then go to the day job where I work on more tour stuff during my lunch and tea breaks. Then I get home and work until about midnight most nights on ......... yes you guessed it........more tour stuff. Why do I do it? Because I love it. Simples!
 
The statement 'what does the reviewer get out of it? Nothing. But you get paid.' I have to say that this one irks me a little. Lets look at some comparisons between a reviewer taking part in a blog tour and a reviewer reading a book to review at the direct request of an author.............
 
Scenario 1
 
Author request - 'Dear lovely reviewer, will you review my book?'
Reviewer response 'Oh yes certainly.'
What's in it for the reviewer? ..........A free book, making new networking links, increased traffic to blog, being kept in the loop about latest book news, making new bookish friends, being a part of the wonderful book world.
 
Scenario 2
Tour organiser request -  'Dear lovely reviewer, will you review this book for a tour on a particular date?'
Reviewer response 'Oh yes certainly.'
What's in it for the reviewer? ..........A free book, making new networking links, increased traffic to blog, being kept in the loop about latest book news, making new bookish friends, being a part of the wonderful book world.
 
Am I missing something here? Hmmm. As a book reviewer myself I have never once felt that I have been taken advantage of by blog tour organisers. Although I organise book tours, I also take part in a tons too that have been organised by others. As a result, I get lots of lovely readers to my blog. If a reviewer feels that they are being taken advantage of then they shouldn't take part in a tour. You'd tell an author politely that you do not wish to review their book so you should take the same stand with a tour organiser if you feel so strongly. But, don't agree to take part in tours and then complain about it!
 
The question of money exchanging hands in the book world seems to be one that causes debate after debate. It seems that a lot of people place very little value on the written word or what it takes to get that word out there. However, the very talented Rowan Coleman hit the nail on the head recently during one such debate on Facebook about why eBooks are so expensive! (?) Rowan very clearly pointed out what is involved in getting an ebook out into the world and its no mean feat! So, why shouldn't the author get paid a fair price for working so damned hard! In my opinion, they should be selling their books for an awful lot more! Adding to this, I'd just like to ask.........'Why shouldn't book tour organisers get paid?' Would publishers, agents, editors, proofreaders, book cover artists, printers etc etc do their job for free? Why do people expect me to?'
 
I'd love to hear your views on this.............but keep them respectful please. We are all entitled to an opinion. Mine is just that...........my opinion. Yours might be different. That's ok. Just remember though that the common denominator here is our love for books and that's why we do what we do..........paid or unpaid. Happy reading! x