So I don't have time this morning to do a big post, and I want to do a through job about reviews so I’ll just post the most important thing (IMO) about reviews.
Never buy a review – period.
Whether it is blatant, like Kirkus Discoveries, ($400 - $550) or some “less obvious” fee where they claim you are just paying for “expedited processing” like BookPleasures ($119). It is just a bad idea. If you get a bad review you are out cash and humiliated, if the review is good you just “bought it” and all creditability goes out the window.
There are some sites (Like ReaderViews and AllBookReviews) that offer free reviews but also chage for expedited processing. In these cases you go "on a list" and eventually someone might review your book. I know Michael's "The Crown Conspiracy" sat on the ReaderViews "queue" for almost 6 months before it was finally reviewed without having to pay. I question though whether this was a good decision as some people may assume it was a paid review. Well too late to do anything about that now but at least I know you can get reviews off these sites without paying - I guess that was with the research.
I remember looking into a book by a fellow author and saw a nice review by someone called Geri Ahern. Since our books were similar I was going to contact her about reviewing my husband’s book. When I googled her I found a blog where she reviews book – which was great until I saw that she charges a fee – Grrrr I just lost all respect for the author and now doubt the quality of the book.
Getting reviews IS important but don’t be so desperate for them that you pay for someone to review your book. The only thing you should ever have to do financially is give the book gratis and pay for shipping. I nice media kit goes a long way as well. But never exchange money when looking for a review.