As an indie writer, I sometimes feel I spend more time researching how to get book reviews and begging for reviews than I do actually writing the books for which I need the reviews! I came upon Reading Alley during one of my gazillion research sessions and decided to give it a try. Reading Alley is similar to many of other review sites: it provides a community of independent reviewers who can submit reviews.
The first thing a writer needs to analyze when deciding whether or not to use a new review website is whether the website violates the Amazon terms and conditions, because Amazon reviews is the end goal after all. At Reading Alley, the reviewers do not receive any monetary benefits, although there is a rewards program. There is also no obligation to post the review on Amazon or any other commercial outlet. This is the important point because Amazon clearly states the following:
Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.
~ Amazon Community Guidelines (emphasis added)
Reading Alley looked like it will be okay legally wise, but what about the cost? Initially, it didn’t sound too bad – $25 for a three-month review session. That’s cheaper than NetGalley and other similar sites. But wait! Don’t stop there. You can also promote your book to gain more exposure (front page of the website, in their weekly email, or on their Facebook page). It’s an additional $25 for a minimum of 10,000 impressions. I jumped on that as I’ve had issues before with paying huge amounts to be on a review site and getting almost no feedback. In the end, I paid $50 for a three-month review session including promotion.
What was my experience? First, let’s talk about Reading Alley itself. Their customer communication was good. I received an email each time a reviewer requested my book, a review was posted, or there was any other kind of feedback. I could check my dashboard at any time as well.
But what about the reviews, Dena? How did that go? A bit disappointing if I may say so myself. I had 10 reviewers request the book, 9 of whom downloaded and reviewed the book. I hear you thinking ‘that’s not bad’. That may be true, but only 4 of those reviews ended up on Amazon (one of which had already reviewed the book on Amazon). I know I can’t force reviewers to put their reviews on Amazon, but it’s disappointing nonetheless when it doesn’t happen.
In conclusion, I won’t be giving Reading Alley another try. Despite their good customer relations, the price is just not worth it for me. Guess I’ll keep searching for the magic formula for getting reviews.