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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Should Book Reviewers Get Paid?

I was thinking the other day about how many books I have sitting and waiting to be reviewed. And now that publishers have begun to send me books, that list continues to grow with each new query. So when a new book arrived yesterday, I plopped it on the fiction shelf and kept going. Later I decided to organize my shelves (I like them to be alphabetized by author), I noticed books on the floor stacked up neatly in piles, I looked at my bookshelf and noticed I ran out of book shelf space once again.

Looking at the near 500 books on my shelves, I said, "Lena, if you got paid for reading every one of those books, you'd have it going on." Which would make me eternally happy and of course I'd spend it all on more books or shoes. It's a disease, an unyielding circle of addiction to books and shoes. Better yet, reading books in pretty shoes....the life. Add a glass of wine and we have perfection.

However, at the same time, I personally would feel less credible as a book reviewer if I did except payment. Yeah, yeah, we get a free book to read as payment and then giveaway if we please, but that's it. Reading books everyday, it's time consuming. Not to mention you have a life already, trying to juggle a writing career, a husband, five kids and a house in the midst of being remodeled after the hurricane hit a couple of months ago. Some sort of payment should be necessary.

Authors and their publishers need us, just like we need them. They need a fair review, we need to have our book fetish needs met. But I think in the world of media and Internet; publishers and authors may need us more. So how can book reviewers get compensated? I have a few ideas of my own.

  • If you request a review. You must send your own copy for us to read. No ifs, and, or butts about it.

  • If you want an interview for your author, cool beans. But the author needs to come to the blog and answer questions and comments by readers by the end of the day.

  • Send out a personal shout to the reviewer or their blog site. Mention the blog in your tweets or your Facebook page. You want us to tweet about your wonderful book right? Give us some love too.

  • The book has arrived. I'm sure you think we are excited and overjoyed. Which we may very well be the day it arrives, but once it's read, we give it away. So much for the love huh? We have to keep our readers wanting more, just like you do. So why not include a tote bag or additional swag items, so we can keep the books we really love or better yet, send two books. I'm sure there's lots of books and swag laying around somewhere in a closet, on a shelf, in a box collecting dust. Open it and send it to us. We bloggers want it.

  • Recommend our blog to other authors, publicists, agents and media consultants. If we are good enough to do your review, we should be more than capable of doing others in your literary circle. In the end your writer wants notoriety and bloggers are writers too. We may not want to be notoriously famous, but blogger love never hurts.

Now that I've listed five ways I wouldn't mind being compensated, what ways would you like to be compensated or should book reviewers be compensated at all?


  1. I've never gotten paid for a book review - but I have taken money for manuscript reviews (they take even longer...)

    The truth is, there are going to be fewer and fewer GOOD reviewers out there if there isn't a happy middle ground reached someday - reading a book and writing a reviews takes hours if not days...

    I had one "tour manager" arranging for a lot of books to come to me via her book tours - and then I found out she was making $10-15 off my reviews (granted, she did do all the legwork) but I was making nothing... it just didn't sit right...

    oh great - I've given you NO answers... just more questions :)

  2. You ask an interesting question. I would love to get paid for reading and reviewing. So few people get to do something that they really love. I would be honored if I could.

    I guess I'm not sure why credibility would be a factor if you are still writing honest reviews?

  3. There are review services out there that charge up to 25 dollars for reviews. With the popularity of book clubs and book bloggers putting up free reviews from books they bought to share with other readers, publishers jumped on that idea. Offer free book for the exchange of a review. yes, online publicity book tour services does get money for our reviews, our blog space which showcases an author book, author interview, author trailer and more for an exchange of a book. hmmmnn.
    I'm not against any reviewer getting payment for reviewing books, then help in promotion too. so i say set up your own services for your blog and them promote it. Meanwhile, as with most book bloggers, blogging is a passion. Don't allow it to become overwhelming. limit the amount of books you will do per month. I don't go pass eight books at one time. Once i am at four, i might pick up two more. I don't review from publishers or authors during certain months. this year this month is my last month. no more acceptance til august. Keep book blogging as your passion that is a delight indulgence and don't allow it to become a overwhelming bite. lol

  4. You make some good points. I personally don't see the problem with being compensated as long as the review is till honest about their opinions. But anywho, right now this is just a nice hobby for me. Something to do with my endless time as I love books. But maybe in the future I'll be able to parlay this into a money-making venture.

  5. It would be so lovely to be compensated with cold hard cash. But for me, when I see book reviewers charging $75 a review, and all their book reviews are four stars. Those aren't reviews, those are author spotlights camouflaged as reviews. I think it would be a little difficult to take $75 and write an honest review about a book you really disliked. I think a reviewer might hold back some. Because if you got paid for th review and it was awful, would the author that paid actually be a return customer and pay you for a review for his/her next book? Probably not. So I think a reviewer has to set guidelines and expectations for authors and readers. I'm all for paying for spotlights, book tours, etc. But a honestly don't have the answer.

  6. I had to laugh, Lena, as I feel the same as you - overwhelmed, most of the time. I don't have 500 books (more like 50) to be read, but I agree, in some way this has become a job (that we enjoy!) and why not get paid for our time?

    I would like to be paid!! But yes, there are the credibility and loyalty issues - when you get paid by a publisher you will feel more loyal to them. In a way, they are your employer.

    No answers from me, Lena!

  7. I agree with you, it is like a job. But it's a job that I love. I've done reviews as well as interviews, giveaways and podcasts for authors. In return I get free books and they promote my blog if they like what I've done.

    I would love to get paid for all the work that goes into it, but the free books is a nice perk. Honestly, I'd still do this if all of my books came from the library.

  8. Those five things sound really good. I won't mind getting paid, but then I wouldn't have as much freedom with my reviews as if I were just given a free copy.

    Great topic :D

  9. The swag for giveaways and suggesting your blog to other authors sound excellent to me.

    Being paid would be all well and good, but then it would make my blog work rather than fun and writing exercise.

    I'd love it if I could get my reviews linked to from the author's or publisher's web sites, that would net me more traffic and thus better chances of working with other authors.

  10. I agree with your take on ways a blogger should be compensated for their reviews - it is work, no matter whether you do it for money or for other kind of remuneration. What a pity some publishers take reviews for granted.

    Accepting some bonuses like a free copy of a book is one thing, accepting hard cash is the other. I like being honest and I suppose if somebody paid me, they would feel entitled to suggest what kind of review they are expecting. I think it would be wrong - finally nobody would like to read my skewed opinions because let's face it - why should they?

  11. Very interesting to read this post. I started my book blog for the reason to journal the books I bought and chose to read. When I started moving around the book blog circle a little bit is when I realized people were doing this for authors and publishers. I instantly thought I wanted in that circle. Now, 5 months later, I'm in that circle. I have to say it's fun to get that free book in the mail but reading that book in a timely manner causes me to not enjoy the review concept as much! I am stuck right now with how to write a review for a book that was not well-written. Both my husband and I read it and it is just going to be very hard to write something kind. This experience makes me very cautious about even accepting free books much less being paid for what I need to say. I'm leaning towards being very choosy about accepting review books in the future.

  12. Interesting thoughts, Lena. I suppose there's nothing wrong with charging for a review. My thing though is whether the writer/publisher would enter into an agreement that states that the reviewer is not obligated to be dishonest about the quality of the book.

    There's also nothing wrong with a publisher giving kudos to a good reviewer.

    I also don't suppose there's any reason you couldn't ask a publisher you review for if they have giveaways you can use on your blog. It would be something for the hours spent reading their books.

  13. Getting paid for reviews sounds nice, but I think it depends on the source. No, I don't think it'd be OK to have authors/publicists/publishers paying reviewers. Talk about completely killing credibility (which you mentioned). But, getting paid by someone else – you know, being a paid reviewer for a publication or something – would be entirely different. And perfectly acceptable. Too bad there aren't tons of those positions, huh? ;-)

  14. First time here. Interesting post. I think credibility would become an issue if publishers paid for reviews. It is still possible to keep one's credibility if the reviewer only got paid for publicity work and book tours. I think reviewers can get paid for reviews through other interested parties such as magazines, newspapers, online businesses. I like your suggestions too.

  15. You all have interesting thoughts on this subject...I see I wasn't alone in mine.

  16. That's an interesting question you ask. I haven't really thought of being compensated for my reviews, though I did explore the idea of a reviewing career or a career in the book industry. I do love getting swag, lol, though I may end up holding on to it. :)

  17. You have some interesting ideas. I've found that I'm still so thrilled to be getting books for review that it feels like payment enough. However, I do find that it becomes burdensome to accept too many books to review so I turn down at least 80% of the requests that I receive. Since it isn't a job (ie, I don't get paid for it) I figure I can be picky and only read what really interests me.


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I am a writer, filmmaker, wife and a mom of five beautiful, intelligent, quirky kids. This blog is for writers, aspiring writers, filmmakers and movie lovers. Bringing you my favorite books, films and photos, as well as giveaways and updates on my journey. I'm currently in the process of producing my first short film from my collection of short stories titled, If I Had My Way. The first story to be filmed will be Tandarin Drive. My award winning book, If I Had My Way, is available now. You can purchase a copy at and You may contact me via email at:

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