As I've mentioned, I'm kind of blowing off marketing (well, I guess right now I'm kind of blowing off everything, but at least I'm starting to feel better), but a couple of months ago I did pony up $49 to give BookRooster a shot. What they do is to distribute review copies to their subscriber base. I used to be a reporter, and I am very sensitive about how unethical it is to pay for reviews (a sensitivity that is clearly not shared by many, many, many Internet review sites). But BookRooster passed the smell test--all they are giving people is a review copy of your book, which of course is exactly what you give any reviewer.
Of course, the downside of not participating in an unethical fee-for-service arrangement is that you cannot be guaranteed the service. BookRooster will offer your book to its subscribers for free until you get 10 reviews, but they don't hold a gun to their subscribers' heads and force them to review it.
My book went on offer there a month ago, and so far I've gotten...one review. Now, that review is a wonder--five stars, and the person wrote me a lovely e-mail (they even found a broken link on my Web site). I really, really appreciate that reviewer. A lot.
But one review is not ten. This paucity of reviews was not a shock to me: I found out about BookRooster through Joe Konrath's blog. He used it to promote Flee, and when I looked at the reviews I noticed that an awful lot of them began something like, "I love Konrath's books and couldn't wait to read this one!" If you've got an established fan base (or, I would assume, if you're writing in a really popular genre), you're going to get a lot of reviews very quickly. If you don't, then BookRooster isn't going to be a panacea.
Still, I figured the service would be worth it to me even if I didn't get a ton of reviews. For so long I've had all of one review on Amazon. (NO, I have not begged my friends and family to review my book--have I mentioned that I really don't like marketing?) Although that review was useful in that it did make me rethink my positioning of the book, it was really annoying to have the most-visible review of Trang be one written by someone who was not ever going to like or understand the book, especially knowing that there were better reviewers out there.