Recently, I got an email to be a part of a new reviewing website that promoted themselves as being “similar to Netgalley.” Now, there’s a reason reviewers love Netgalley. It’s a database of up and coming books from major publishing houses, to small publishers, to self-published authors. It’s honestly, a beautiful thing for a reviewer because it’s like walking up to someone’s shelf and being allowed to request access to anything on that shelf. It’s a library in shrink wrap.
I don’t always finish my Netgalley books in a timely manner and if I’m being honest, I’m a binge Netgalley user. I don’t request a book from them for months and then when I do, I request seventeen books all published in two months time. So, obviously, I struggle to keep up with my own reading load on top of reading the entirety of the internet to be able to better teach my students. If you ever say something like, “she’s just a teacher,” I want you to remove yourself from this blog immediately. However, I digress.
What I hated about this email was that after looking at the website, I was under the assumption that self-published authors pay this site / publishing house / wannabe Netgalley. Note to publishing houses: make your websites REALLY RIDICULOUSLY clear. Well, everyone, actually. On this website it said that reviewers could pay for a review of $289 for a review in 5 to 8 weeks, and for an extra $100 your review could be sent to you like an Amazon package from a Drone in 3-4 weeks.
First off, when people pay for reviews, there’s this automatic expectation that that review will be positive. For me, this eliminates the whole point in reviewing the book. Slap five stars on that thing and call it a day. There’s no point in having an opinion when an opinion is forced down your throat. Isn’t that why people leave the home of their parents, to open their minds and learn more about the world than just the ideas their parents instilled in them? COME ON.
The second part of this “paying for reviews” douchebaggery is that this company would be making money on my reviews. They are middle-manning book review culture. They aren’t paying the small business blogger. They are paying themselves, which in my book can be as heinous as witch craft and wizardry. While this turned out to be untrue, they have “professional reviewers” review those books on various book database websites, but I’m still miffed.
What exactly is a “professional reviewer” unless your some swanky old white man writing for the NY Times or some other well-established news magazine. While yes, NY Times bestselling authors are often reviewed by the newspaper first, I know plenty of FANTASTIC reviewers that run their own outlet with crowds of followers who believe in the truth of their recommendations. No wonder small business owners everywhere want to fight the man. I feel a little bit like I have to defend my small section of the internet in this situation. Don’t come to my suite and tell me you aren’t going to pay me, but you’re going to pay someone who doesn’t use “douchebaggery” as commentary on a book.
I can’t replace this mouth with someone who has a filter.
I really, really, hope that publishing is not drifting to this middle man mentality. While I would love someone to pay me to be this person all day, I have a village to raise and innovators, entrepreneurs, and global citizens to help build. Don’t try to finagle your way into my bliss without making it worth my while, and definitely don’t tell me at the end of the email that you plan to pay your best reviewers. How about you take a note from this teacher, “best” is not possible when you believe that everyone comes to the table with different and excellent skills, and everyone comes to the table to prove mastery in a new and engaging way, and everyone comes to the table expecting you to know their uniqueness makes them the best.
You can shove it.
I am a writer, educator and genuine creative living on the coast of NC. Our house is built on sunshine with my husband BJ, dog named Tucker, and our two very sassy cats: Fromage and Jasper.