BookLife Prize in Fiction

I’ve been getting some questions about the BookLife Prize in Fiction, a new award for unpublished and self-published novels. Prizes include a “brief critical assessment” from Publishers Weekly reviewers for all entrants (BookLife is owned by PW), a book blurb from “a bestselling or award-winning author” for semi-finalists, and a grand prize of $5,000 for a single winner.

BookLife claims to “[tap] the experience, integrity, and authority of Publishers Weekly to help indie authors achieve their goals.” It offers a free submission portal for writers who want to submit self-published books for review, along with “editorial content—success stories, interviews, author profiles, how-to pieces, news, and features”.

There’s also a Service Directory, whose DIY entries–some of which are paid ads–are subject to restrictions via BookLife’s Terms & Conditions, but otherwise appear to be unvetted. For instance, there are listings for Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Agency (on Writer Beware’s Thumbs Down List and long the subject of an Alert on Writer Beware) as well as SBPRA’s “marketing” subsidiary, Author Marketing Ideas. As “endorsed” listings, they receive preferential placement. Problem is, in both cases, the “endorsements” are from SBPRA employees.

I’ve been skeptical of BookLife since its inception, in part because of the failings of the Service Directory, in part because much of its content is generic info widely available on the web, or else reprints from industry bloggers or PW itself. Also, although BookLife is free, the site promotes PW Select, which charges $149 for a listing in PW and “featured” presence on BookLife.

With its multiple judging rounds and the participation of PW reviewers and editors, BookLife’s Prize in Fiction is reminiscent of Amazon’s (now-discontinued) Breakthrough Novel Award, which was also done in partnership with PW–though the crowdsourcing element is missing (judging in the ABNA was partly based on votes from the public), and there’s no publication offer waiting for the winners.

There’s another difference as well. Entering the Breakthrough Novel Award was free. Entering BookLife’s Prize in Fiction requires a whopping non-refundable entry fee of $99.

A big entry fee like this, as many of you know, is one of the signs of an awards profiteer–an organization that runs writing awards and contests not to honor writers but to make a buck (I’ve written a lot about such organizations on this blog). So I contacted BookLife to ask why the fee was so high.

I quickly heard back from BookLife President Carl Pritzkat, who confirmed what I suspected: part of the fee goes to cover honorariums for the PW reviewers who’ll be providing the critiques. But he also told me that “in terms of the entry fee we were modeling it after prizes like Forward Magazine’s INDIES ($99 with an early-bird rate of $79), IndieReader’s Discovery Awards ($150 for the first category of entry) and IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Awards ($95 per category for members; $225 for non-members).”

I don’t suspect BookLife of being an awards profiteer. Apart from the huge entry fee, other warning signs aren’t present. But honorariums or no honorariums, $99 is a lot of money, and in light of the large number of cynical awards schemes that seek to profit from aspiring and self-published writers’ hunger for recognition and exposure, I have to wonder why BookLife would choose to model itself after IndieReader and its ilk.

The grand prize is a nice chunk of change, and given how much writers have to struggle to obtain worthwhile feedback, author blurbs and reviewer critiques are certainly tempting. But I’d suggest that writers who are considering  this contest do some serious thinking about whether it’s worth handing over nearly $100 for a few sentences of feedback and the slim possibility of winning $5,000.

UPDATE 5/30/18: BookLife is still running its contest, and still charging $99. (For a look at how some entrants feel about the contest, see the comments below.)

I’ve been getting questions about the language of BookLife’s Terms and Conditions, specifically the license that must be granted by those who use the site:

[You g]rant BookLife and its affiliates a royalty-free, fully-paid, unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, sub-licensable and freely transferable right and license, for all formats and media, whether now known or hereafter devised or discovered, to use, reproduce, modify, edit, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works of, distribute, perform, publish and display (in each case, in whole or in part) Your Materials, including without limitation any ideas, concepts, methods, systems, designs, plans, techniques or other similar information included therein, and/or to incorporate them in other works.

This alarming-sounding language is pretty standard for the T&Cs of websites that allow users to post content (although it is more sweeping than some in not limiting the license just to the operation of the website)–but you’d be fully justified in wanting to run far and fast from a site that invited you to upload your entire book under such terms. In this case, however, BookLife makes clear that the terms don’t apply to its contest:

BookLife solicits authors and publishers to upload copies of their books for review and promotion. The terms of the license specified above shall not apply to such works, and authors and publishers shall retain all rights to their works except as may be expressly agreed and except for reasonable fair use rights granted to BookLife in connection with the review and promotion thereof.

“Fair use” can be a murky concept, but my guess is that it’s intended here to cover quotes and descriptions that may be used in reviews and in the profile of the winner that’s part of the prize.


  1. I entered the BookLife contest mostly for the ten-line critic’s report since writers claim in BookLife’s advertising testimonials that the reports really helped improve their writing. I have to say that I wonder if the reviewer actually read the whole of my book. What they take as the plot is one of the subplots and they then seem to contradict what they’ve observed about plot in the section on originality. And if it was “easy to read” it seems odd that most of what the book is about (including the actual plot) was never even mentioned in the critique. There’s also a glaring typo or just really bad grammar in the ten lines, so it’s clear $99 doesn’t include proofing the report. I probably won’t be forking out money anymore for paid reviews no matter how reputable the outfits supposedly are. I had opted for a yet more expensive IndieReader review on another book a while back and I got the impression the reviewer just cranked out three paragraphs over a bottle of gin. Again I’d question he did any more than skim the contents in order to fit the review to a formula. I can’t say I learned much from either review about how the books might be improved since the reviewers barely seemed to review the books I had written. I have learned though that paid reviews might be a bit of a scam generally and the reviewers might be prone to becoming hacks.

  2. Ingress Advertising, a shady company that contacted me (and several other people who have commented on this blog under the heading "Vanity Radio") advertises on Booklife's website. That to me says everything about Booklife and possibly how "Alex Wayne" of Ingress found me. I have since taken my profile down.

  3. I got middling number scores, but a pretty decent review. Overall, not worth the $99, but I did chalk "enter a writing contest" off of my bucket list, so there's that! I did get a few great snippets to add to an editorial review section for the Amazon page, which is good. I did notice that loads of people I know who have submitted, including me, were told to hire an editor or proofreader… even if we had. It seems they automatically assumed indies didn't do that, and that was just kind of added into most reviews, whether or not we actually had spelling/grammar or editing issues.

  4. I submitted my novel for both a Booklife review and Booklife Prize. Be prepared for honest criticism that may be hard to swallow. Take the feedback and use it to either improve your story or your next novel. I have not found the investment has particularly increased sales and there was zero communication on progress during the six week wait.

  5. I am so glad I read these comments before forking over $99. I don't have that money to throw away and I'm sure most indie authors don't either. I wish there was a way to know which contests were legitimate and I should try and enter. So far I haven't spent money on marketing but my numbers are going down and I wanted to do something to help. I have been quite successful with my book but I have had some reviewers leaving some 2 star reviews because of some bad language and a couple were not happy how I portrayed someone in my memoir. My publisher said it is actually a good thing to get not all 5 star reviews and shows interest. I have a lot of 5 star reviews too. So anyway thanks to all who took the time to comment. I won't be wasting my money.

  6. Before reading this blog, I entered the competition and paid for a BookLife Prize Entry Critic's Report. On July 8th of this year I received the report — very disappointing score of 3.4 out of 10! The report was filled with terminology that didn't really apply to my book. It looked like a cut-and-paste from a generic review with my title plugged in.

    I would urge new writers to avoid the contest and especially the Critic's Report. BookLife reviewers want very much to seem intelligent and so they must exaggerate differences. I think they tend to down-grade to the extent of inaccuracy the vast majority of books they review. In reality, books are like people — all pretty much the same, all pretty good. We each encounter people we like and people we don't like. It doesn't mean the ones we don't like are bad! New writers should relax and let the people who like their stories do the reviews. People who don't like the story won't read or review it. Bottom Line: DON'T SOLICIT REVIEWS. don't enter contests!

  7. Unfortunately, I have to confirm what other commenters have said: it seems quite likely that not all entrants' manuscripts are being read by reviewers. For a contest that charges a $99 entry fee and promises feedback on every entry, this is totally unacceptable.

    I read this post before entering and decided to give it a go anyway, for three reasons:

    1.) I wanted to report back to my writing group on whether I thought it was worth any of us entering next year.
    2.) It seemed at least some writers were getting helpful feedback via the Critic's Review, and even if I didn't consider the prize $$$ at all, I wanted to get feedback from an industry professional.
    3.) Of the folks who complained about their ms getting "completely trashed" and not even read, I hadn't seen anyone share the full text of their review. So…I couldn't be 100 percent sure what happened.

    Well, I'd bet my next royalty check my ms was not actually read by a reviewer. I'm a sucker for constructive feedback and I have a pretty thick hide. I'm not complaining about a bad review or trying to claim my ms should've won the grand prize. But the review I got contained a glaring error and absolutely no identifying details about my book. I don't care about getting a good review, but for a $99 entry fee I expect a quality review if I've been promised one.

    I wrote more about my experience on my own blog, for anyone like me who appreciates reading up on an opportunity before jumping in. Given my experience, I'd recommend any writer who doesn't have $99 to toss in the trash avoid this contest for now.

  8. Almost $100 and I got seven sentences. No kidding. The reviewer threw the whole "analysis" out the window because she didn't like my subject, environmental conservation, despite my genre listing as eco-fiction. One Google search would have revealed to this profoundly lazy and arrogant person, multiple interviews with me regarding this very topic and lots of 4 and 5 star reviews! Oh well!

    I am mostly disgusted with myself for getting sucked in again, by those hysterical emails–YOU STILL HAVE TIME (to make us a lot of money)! ENTER THE "CONTEST"! C'mon (moron)! We want your money!!!! DO IT. Throw away $100!!!!

    Years ago, when they were first ramping up, I sent them my first book that they "lost in the warehouse". Not kidding again. They LOST it in the WAREHOUSE but I could send another to a different address. Overwhelmed by the professionalism, I didn't. Why did I try again with these people?

    We are the new gold rush for thousands of people, folks. Get the desperate, sad, little Indie fish on the line (suckers) and you can make a lot of money. It's called predatory capitalism. I am demanding a refund and per being an activist, will continue to keep our State Attorney General's office aware of these profiteers. Ultimately though, it's up to us. We have to put them out of business by refusing to pay a dime for any of it. Enter free contests, do free advertising. (Learn to take your own advice, follow your instincts!).

    In talking to other writers, "book people" out here in CA, these things were brought up: who was your reviewer? It all comes down to this. (We don't know because they don't have to provide a name!). There is no standard professional algorithm per se for their reviewers some of which do not even know how to do a review=be mean and nasty instead=your review. There is also no standard for quality so they can crap-out a few lines and call it good. Never mind you paid almost $100. Who cares. Here's your seven lines. Suck it.

    (2) They don't BOTHER with those annoying little details about your book, like the GENRE, and find a reviewer that knows/specializes in the genre, so important.

    (3) They are still at the bidding of trad publishers remember, who already have enough competition within traditional publishing without those pesky Indie authors buzzing around their heads (SMACK!). One editor I spoke to said she thinks the smack-downs are intentional per PW's catering to the trad pub world.

    (4) Combine this with major cronyism. If you are not part of a network of authors, writers, that know/know of one another already, definitely do not patronize PW/BL. They are also NYC-centric and come across as almost hostile to those outside the 'sacred circle' (contradicting everything they claim they are about). Enter free, LOCAL, REGIONAL contests. This would be a nifty rule (eh VA?). No one in my writing groups here on the west coast can report a positive outcome with PW/BL.

    And thanks to Writer Beware, one of the few websites dedicated to advocating for us.

    (Just tried to delete my Book Life account and they won't let me. Here we go! Fear and (self)-loathing…).

  9. I'd like to share my experience, too, for those who are uncertain about BookLife. I submitted my novel on 8/8, and received my critic's report fairly quickly, on 9/6. It received a 6.75 score, but the review was mostly complimentary and came in at 300+ words. It's material I can use for promo, but I had mixed feelings about the seeming contradiction between the score and actual review. Ultimately, this process really is totally subjective, and perhaps I simply got lucky with a reviewer who was willing to provide meaningful feedback. I'd probably consider submitting another book in the future.

  10. I can share my experience. I submitted two novels as I completed one at beginning of the year and a second in the summer. My second was much better than my first by a good margin. While both novels got good ratings from Booklife, my second was slightly lower (which surprised me!). So, please do not get hung up with the ratings. One person reviews and you are truly at the whim of that reviewer. For example, I am sure some reviewers are easier markets relative to others…that is pretty obvious.

    If you want some feedback and some quotes, it is worthwhile to do. However, always be prepared for any negative comments if you mark your review as public.

    My one disappointment was the feedback contradicted itself with the rankings.

    Does anyone know what the ratings' distribution is: how many novels rated? What is the distribution of the scores?

  11. I emtered the 2018 contest hoping for just for the review, although not for 3 semtences. And then read these remarks. Oh well. As my Mom used to say "a fool and his money are soon parted." I wonder if any reviewers are Canadian. If not, I will expect a lot of minus ranking, since it is a historical mystery.

  12. For all those touting a win at the Chanticleer Awards or Reader's Favorite as proof that your book doesn't suck…think again. Reader's Favorite writes puff pieces because they don't want to upset the paying customer, and while I've taken Grand Prize at the Chanticleer Awards with a previous book, my fellow Grand Prize winner in the humor category made me wonder about their standards.

    Why is BookLife getting pilloried for charging? All the other book awards do. Booklife fees are right on par with everybody else. I submitted my book, and got a really nice blurb. Good rating too. So I don't think this is a scam at all. I'm really happy for this opportunity. 🙂

  13. I've received a few good reviews from Booklife, one book received Publishing Star for 2016. That same book was shredded by a different reviewer in their contest. Another book I submitted to the contest won the 2016 EPIC eBook Award, but, like the other book, was shredded in their contest by that reviewer. I didn't mind that a reviewer didn't particularly like my book. That's the nature of a contest. What I didn't like was that the feedback was given in an unprofessional and truly nasty manner. I would submit to them for reviews again, but I'll never pay to enter their contest and have my work shredded like that.

  14. Well, I hesitate to say this, but my unpublished novel got all 10s in this year's BookLife Prize event and the review was excellent, so I'm happy. My book moved into the Quarter finalist category but did not move into the Semifinals. Just wondering.

  15. I received a 9.50 from the BookLife Prize for my unpublished novel. For me it was $89 well spent. (I used a discount code to get $10 off). I hope to use the report to try and interest an agent/traditional publisher.

  16. I have submitted two books to Booklife. My first "award winning" novel garnered a 4.5, and was an IndieReader finalist. It was an LGBT book, and I am certain that was part of the problem :)- I'm NOT being judgmental btw. My second book just came back a 9.25. I think it's all subjective – You're asking for someone's opinion. I've been blessed to utilize all of my reviews – some paid, some not. It's all smoke in mirrors! Use what you can (even if it's a small blurb) to get readership. If it's a well-written book, you'll know by sales.

    Good luck to you all. It's a difficult business.

  17. I would caution writers against submitting their book(s) for reviews. The one I received was very scanty, lacked insight and — yes demeaning and outright nasty — despite the fact that other reviews for the book were excellent and enthusiastic. Definitely not worth the money.

  18. M. Z. Thwaite – I am so glad I read all of these reviews before I spent time and money. Thanks for all of the feedback! I'm eager to promote my new novel but not with these folks.

  19. Received my Review 31 days after submission, nearly at the end of the stated 5-week deadline (for which, I guess I should be grateful). I'm a debut indie author of Sci-Fi and mistakenly felt I needed a "legitimate" review to give me credibility, so I forked over $75 in hopes of garnering a valid review.
    First: The novel averaged 7.25 out of 10 (again, for which, I guess I should be grateful)
    Second: The review was 222 words in length
    Third: The reviewer used words like "apace" "ilk" and "while not especially nuanced…"
    In retrospect, there were so many other places I could have spent my money one–but I'm now a poorer, but wiser indie author and will post my opinion of this BooklifePrize on Goodreads.

  20. I submitted my book in October for review, and still haven't heard back from them. My project just says "received." Is this normal? Should I write to them and ask about the status of my book? Or does this mean they've rejected it for review, even though I've received no notification telling me that?

  21. If I got nines in all categories for the book I submitted, and detailed comments, what does that mean?

  22. Thank you for posting this. Just got my review and they trashed my book. Good to know it's what they do. I was really upset until I read this.

  23. My historical mystery, FOREVERMORE, has won First Prize in the Chanticleer International Book Awards, and was a Finalist in several other awards. BookLife gave my novel two reviews, and each review trashed it completely, with a total of 3.5 out of 10! I can see if my book was trash, but it's won awards and has been read by many talented authors and judges. How can BookLife be so "expert" as to trash an award-winning novel? Total and complete rip-off.

  24. I entered my debut self-published YA novel this year, and just moved on to the semi-finals round. Their feedback was delivered as promised, and my questions were answered in a timely and professional manner. I've found that if you want consideration in an awards contest you have to pay an entry fee, otherwise the chances of being read are minimal. I'm proud to be listed as a semi-finalist with some really amazing indie authors. Thanks for the opportunity, BookLife!

  25. Amy from IndieReader here.

    In defense of BookLife (and IndieReader) being “an awards profiteer”, would you not agree that the good people who read and review awards entries should get paid for their work? And how about the staff required to log the entries, send out the books, etc? IndieReader does not claim to be a non-profit, but we are working for the good of indie authors and have been since our launch in 2009.

    Also, for the past several year, IndieReader has included a “first look” for the winners by the reputable NYC-based lit agency, Dystal + Goderich, something that—to paraphrase a MasterCard ad—is priceless for an indie author looking for agent representation.

    I’d also like to remind you, Victoria, that in your original post on the Discovery Awards back in 2011 (linked in the phrase "IndieReader and its ilk" above) that you noted “some nice perks”, to which this year we’ve added a few more that you can find here…

    As far as the comments re: the quality of reviews/feedback, it’s important for authors—both trad and self-pubbed—to remember that all reviews—be they in The New York Times, Kirkus or IndieReader—are subjective.

    Another important distinction for authors to consider is, unlike other companies which may seek to make money from authors who are looking for mostly positive feedback, IR’s main audience are readers looking for great self-pubbed titles. Our obligation, first and foremost, is to them.

    So if you are an indie author looking for a pat on the back for a badly written, unedited book, we are not the place to go. However, if you want to know if your book is good and potentially saleable (not always the same thing), you should check us out because we’re the place where readers go to find out.

  26. I wish I would have thought to look for this information before applying for the BookLife Prize in fiction. I thought it was a no-brainer when I made the decision to enter. It is PW after all and I thought highly of them. My book had won several awards/honors with the most recent taking the top place internationally in it's category. I had also received a critic report from another reputable site with 5 out of 5's across the report. It has several reviews and is rated at or above 4.6 on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N. Many with compliments to the world building, pacing of the story, and character development. What I got back on my report from BookLife? 3 sentences, 2 of which were summarizing the story. The last sentence contradicted the repetitive compliments I had previously received. I, too, wonder if anyone actually read the story. I received a laughable low over all score. I'll take this as a lesson learned and to investigate thoroughly before spending hard earned money again on something just because it contains a company name I am familiar with.

  27. I have won numerous writing awards for my first three novels, but my entry was a just-completed manuscript that has not yet been seen by others, sans mom and one close friend.

    The (raw) manuscript is the stand-alone sequel (part 2) to Grog Wars, a Literary Classics silver medal winner and a current Finalist for Chanticleer's 2016 "Dante Award–it's sequel has to be good.

    I needed feedback from an unbiased source. I needed to hear the harsh stuff my friends won't tell me. I have to say, the feedback was pretty darned nice–no negative comments whatsoever. In fact, the reviewer used words like, "inspired" and "original", and gave it over 8 points on their 10 point scale. This manuscript has not seen a professional edit yet, so I am encouraged I can turn it into a ten-pointer with the right help. I am quite happy with BookLife.

    *I did not pay anything for any other service, nor was this a paid review. It was merely a review that was promised to each entrant to the writing competition.

  28. Writer beware is right. As with others who've commented, I doubt my novel was even read. I received a very brief, generic response and a 4.75 rating, which I found confusing until I searched the site to find out that it's a 10 star scale. I appreciate that they explain how to properly credit them should I choose to quote the blurb. The question is, should I use the sentence that makes my book sound boring? Or the one that makes it sound bad? They give you the option to make your critique private. I didn't bother. I believe their review reflects more poorly on them than my book.

  29. I got my feedback in a timely manner. Out of four books submitted, they liked one. For one of the others they said "it was like the author couldn't decide if she was writing a novel or a biography." Um, the book is biographical historical fiction. You would think Publisher's Weekly would know the definition of that genre. The others were TERRIBLE feedback, and as someone mentioned above, the books have won other contests, including being named book of the year.

    Will not be entering this contest again, even if the book they liked wins something.

  30. This has been my perception of BookLife, and to go a step further I recently paid $$ for a screenplay critique from Two, and the second gave me a lower rating than the 1st (plus a number of off topic questions of my work) AFTER I made the adjustments recommended by the first screenplay reviewer! Asked for my money back, of course.

  31. I just got my review from BookLife this week and received a very complimentary few lines about my unpublished manuscript. I think there's a chance I might make it to the next round. I have no reason to believe there was anything fake about the review — while it was short, it referenced the ending, so I believe the person read from start to finish. I felt, and still do feel, that $99 is a very fair price for a read and review of an entire book. Writer's Digest charges that much for it's self-published book competition if you send your book in time for the EARLY-BIRD rate. And you don't get a review! So they can judge after 10 pages that they don't like your book and you have nothing for that money. Kirkus charges self-/un-pubbed authors $425 for a review that is 80% summary — that's very little useful feedback, and there's no contest element. And you can't get another review with Kirkus unless you substantially change your manuscript. In all these situations, you can't control who reads — you do take a leap of faith that you're getting a fair reader. Even published authors with very successful books get mixed reviews. So I have to defend BookLife here. I got even more than I'd hoped for and think $99 for a review is a bargain.

  32. They declined to review my book when I first published it and joined BookLife, and now I know why: They couldn't find anything bad to say. 🙂 Having won a Readers' Favorite Gold Metal, I was just about to fork over $75, and glad I found this article.
    Still toying with the idea, but at this point I could flip a coin, if I had one.

  33. My comment was short, and while I didn't get the greatest rating, was fairly good. It had one line I might be able to use, but I think my 54 reviews on Amazon are going to do a lot more to sway a reader. It was an expensive proposition that I don't think I'll do again.

  34. I submitted 5-6 weeks ago and received a review today. That's what I expected. "5.25" overall rating disappointed me greatly. My book is pre-order at this stage (wanted some buzzwords for the e-cover at launch) and this review didn't really help me with that. It was highly negative and completely missed the character growth by claiming the "Prose was inconsistent." I vetted the prose with a beta group of 30+ to ensure that's exactly what doesn't happen (e.g. claiming Willa Cather's prose was poor in My Antonia on account of the accent clearing up by the end). Beta readers have unanimously told me they can't put it down, and that they love the character consistency and depth… I'm disappointed that the nuance of the character's devolution was missed as well; I thought it was fairly obvious. The reviewer did have nice things to say about concept originality and suspense; maybe I'll just pull a couple of buzzwords from that. But I think overall that they were looking for something specific in this "Contest" that they did not exactly disclose. Is a "10" for a Self-publishing / Indie contest supposed to be on par with the best books ever written? Maybe 5.25 isn't all that bad for my first manuscript if that's the case. For now, I'm still disappointed.

  35. I submitted a book for the contest. The critique I received makes me wonder if the book was read at all. There is a very large factual error in the review. I saw that there were some very harsh reviews and was prepping for a possible negative review. But I didn't expect a review that seems to evidence the book was not read.

  36. Well, I may as well just echo ALL of the previous posts. Three sentences, two just a summary, the other stating that it dragged in the middle. Really? Tell me how I'm supposed to post that? I too got that the reviewers dropped out. 3 weeks turned into 2 months.

    If you don't like my book, that's fair. But this was clearly never read. My 40+ reviews on Amazon far outweigh this. I'm very upset and feel royally ripped off.

  37. I was emailed by the President, Carl Pritzkat a week or so ago, apologizing to me about the delay in receiving my review from my Booklife prize entry. According to him, the person who was reviewing my entry quit or "Dropped out". I was told it would be around two weeks before they would be able to send me my critique. I received that critique today and was completely stunned at the terrible review my book received. My book is a cozy mystery and the person who reviewed it was under the mistaken impression that it was a thriller. In fact, the whole review was based on the fact that the reviewer thought my book was too light-hearted and the crimes not taken seriously enough to be a thriller. I don't have a problem with honest reviews but I feel that since they couldn't even get the genre straight and the first reviewer dropped out, that my book was rushed through and wasn't judged fairly. I entered this same book in the Writer's Digest 2nd annual ebook awards and received 5s and 4s as my score and received a great review. I will never enter another contest or even consider paying for advertising with Booklife after this experience.

  38. I entered my novel One Little Word in the Booklife Prize for $75 and received a very complimentary review in about two weeks. I read the reviews for all of the other top ten books in my genre and found them to all contain at least some positive feedback even if the reviewer noted unfavorable aspects as well. I don't know if they are still offering the discount (when I entered you got $24 off if you had a free Booklife webpage) but it seemed like a pretty good deal to get a written assessment including categorical scoring as opposed to many awards contests in which you enter and never even hear how you stacked up against the competition unless you won. The one thing that would be nice is if they would reveal who was doing the individual reviews instead of it being a nameless PW reviewer, but all things considered based on my experience it seemed like a genuine awards contest.

  39. Unfortunately, the previous post is complete misinformation.

    There is no "BookLife review catalog." There is no "premium review service" that exists. Nor are there any "BookLife reviewers."

    If you want to look at the types of assessments being given to BookLife Prize in Fiction entries (these assessments are written by Publishers Weekly reviewers), it's easy (these are being posted in real time):

    These are only the assessments that entrants have chosen to make public, so there are some you can't see that aren't as positive. But as you'll see from the volume and the amount they change, there are many positive, constructive assessments.

  40. I've read a lot of blogs (including a few from Booklife reviewers) talking about how their reviewers are paid to intentionally give bad feedback no matter how good a book is. One author actually submitted a NYT Bestselling book with a different cover/author just to see what would happen and low and behold, it got a horrific review too. They are told to not write anything positive because even a single positive sentence can give an author a blurb to use. They intentionally want mean reviews. I saw one where the reviewer began by saying something like "all romance novels are utter crap and I hate them," then went on to negatively review a romance novel.

    If you pick up their BookLife review catalog, something like 98-99% of all the reviews are negative. For the most part, the only ones that seem to pop up as a positive review are those reviews where the author paid for some premium review service (one that cost a lot more than $99).

    I wish I could find those articles again. I may have to go digging for them. Either way, it sounds very much like a money-grab.

  41. I paid to submit to them and recently received my feedback. It was a joke. I got three sentences, two of which merely summarized the story. The third sentence trashed everything about it, despite it being well-received by over two dozen readers (average Amazon rating 4.8 over 32 reviews). The "critique" literally had nothing positive to say at all. I understand you're not paying in expectation of a positive review, and that not everyone will like the book, but it would have been nice to have at least one positive thing said. It's such a bad, mean-spirited critique that it's almost funny. But not quite.

  42. When you get the feedback, would you come back and comment? I'm curious about how useful it is. Thanks!Q

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JUNE 3, 2016

Back From Hiatus: Why I Went Away

JUNE 16, 2016

Tate Publishing & Enterprises Slapped with $1.7 Million Lawsuit, Department of Labor Investigation