Earlier this week Publishers Weekly announced that it is starting a Quarterly Service for the Self-Published.
"...we are announcing PW Select, a quarterly supplement announcing self-published titles and reviewing those we believe are most deserving of a critical assessment. The first supplement will appear in our year-end issue in December. Each quarterly will include a complete announcement issue of all self-published books submitted during that period. The listings will include author, title, subtitle, price, pagination and format, ISBN, a brief description, and ordering information provided by the authors, who will be required to pay a processing fee for their listing. At least 25 of the submitted titles will be selected for a published review."
The processing fee is $149. You're gambling on whether or not that will buy you a review.
Several years ago, Kirkus Reviews started Kirkus Discoveries where self-published authors were guaranteed a review in a separate section of the KR website for a fee of $425 to $575.
Evidently there are other publications that provide reviews for a fee that I had missed hearing about.
One of the things I find interesting about this whole situation is that a year or so ago there was some kind of uproar on the Internet about whether or not litbloggers were accepting payment for reviews if they received an ARC or review copy. Accepting payment, even in the form of a ten dollar ARC that's really good for nothing after you've read it, was considered to be unethical. One hundred and forty-nine dollars is a lot more than the cost of an ARC or even a real book. In fact, all those publications are charging significantly more than the cost of a book. No one can deny that money is changing hands here.
I guess I understand that the publications are receiving the payment from the author and not the actual reviewer, who is paid by the publication. I'm not sure how much difference this makes, though.