Should Book Reviewers Get Paid For Their Reviews?

I always say to myself, “I would love to get paid to read.” That would really be the ideal job, right? Sitting on your couch all day with your pet, beverage of choice, snuggled in your pajamas. You can read books upon books upon books. Then get paid to write a review for the books.

As lovely as that would be, who would be paying us? Do we really expect authors to pay for reviews even after giving us a free copy of their book?

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Getting Paid

I’ve seen some book bloggers post disclaimers about how they will never accept any monetary compensation for reviewing books. I’ve also seen some book bloggers offer paid services for their reviews. For example, an author can pay a fee in order to bump their book to the top of the reviewer’s TBR list.

I can certainly see why some book bloggers ask for monetary compensation to review books, though.

Book reviewing isn’t an easy as it seems. Yes, we book bloggers get a book, we read it, and then we write a review on it. It sounds simple, but it’s time-consuming and ironically a lot of work.

Book bloggers take on a lot of books at one time, often not being able to read what they want because they take on so many requests. We love books, so we get in over our heads.

Writing the actual reviews is time-consuming as well. We post it on our blogs, Amazon, Goodreads, and anywhere else. We share the review around for a while after we publish it.

Books are important to us and we know how difficult is it for authors to write and publish these books.

However, because we know how much work this is for authors, I don’t think it makes sense for book bloggers to ask to be paid. They’re already sending us a free copy of their book and authors already don’t get paid that much to begin with.

Am I saying book bloggers don’t work hard enough to get paid? No, absolutely not. Though I just think book reviewing is more a favor to our favorite writers and I think getting a free book in exchange is a good way to do things.

Donations

I have seen book bloggers ask for donations though. If they review a book for an author, they accept the free book and review it for free. However, they’ll ask the author if they want to donate to their website or blog in return.

I don’t think this is a bad way of doing things. Bloggers work hard and we put a lot of time and money into our websites. If an author is happy with the way the blogger handled the review process, then asking them to make a simple donation to keep their site up and running so they can add more book reviews, isn’t a bad idea.

Of course, it’s just a donation. People aren’t obligated to pay anything.

Being A Book Blogger

While being a book blogger is a job in itself, it’s fun and I enjoy adding books to my reading list as well as aiding authors out on their writing journey.

It would certainly be nice to get paid to review books because it’d be a fun and easy job, but I like the satisfaction of helping out fellow writers.

What are your thoughts? Do you think book bloggers should get paid to write book reviews? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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23 thoughts on “Should Book Reviewers Get Paid For Their Reviews?

  1. There are lots of different opinions to this. I see evidence of authors quietly paying for book reviews which then slip through the Amazon rules (which say you can’t post a review of a product you were payment for) Some reviewers dress it up and say you are paying for their ‘service’ to promote it on social media etc, but it is still a payment linked to their review of the book.
    I also think that getting paid for a review puts pressure on a reviewer to give a higher star rating and less of a true reflection of the book, so that they may gain future paid work from that author.
    However, with Amazon now enforcing a minimum ‘spend’ per year on each of the sites you wish to post a review on, the unpaid book reviewer is feeling this even more.

    On the other side of the argument, book reviewers are more likely to post a review of a book than the member of the public who have bought the book. And they may write a more accurate and balanced review than friends and family who post reviews (although again, Amazon is trying to stop reviews which are obviously from close family etc) How many times have you seen a review which bravely says ‘I think I read a different book to all those who gave it 5 star reviews’

    When you look at the book process as a whole: the editor, proofreader, book cover designer and book tour promoter all get paid, so why not the book reviewer? Friends outside the book blogging community regularly ask, ‘how much do you get paid to review books?’ Replying that I get the book for free, does little to convince them that the hours spent on reading and writing up the review, plus sharing on social media, is really a ‘payment’.

    Like you, I would love to get paid to write reviews, but in a perfect I would love to be able to still write any review without feeling pressure from a paying author to make the review biased. But can you imagine how the complaints, suing and insurance claims bandwagons would all descend on the industry if paid reviewing became the norm?

    • I should have let you write this post for me. You said everything so much better than I did, lol.

      But yeah, I agree with everything you just said. Everything does change when there’s money involved even if people don’t say so. Of course, I would love to get paid to do something I love – reading and reviewing and helping fellow authors, especially self-published and indie – but they’re already losing a sale by sending me a free copy anyway, so I see that as enough.

      Being a writer, I know the other side of creating a book. I read the books as a reader, but I understand the writing process and finding people to read and review the book is no easy task. I couldn’t imagine having to pay all those reviewers for it.

      But again, on the other hand, I know how hard book reviewers work and I, as author, would appreciate them taking the time to read and review my book so I would want to give them something in return.

      It’s a tough choice and certainly an interesting discussion to have.

  2. This is such a good post! I definitely agree that being a book blogger is no easy stuff and there’s a lot of time and energy that goes into reading and reviewing a book–it in’t as easy as it sounds, true! I don’t know if I would ever, as a book blogger, charge for posting reviews but donations seem like a good idea. Plus, there are some authors out there who really appreciate the work we do and wouldn’t mind contributing to the blog in any way possible. Having said that, earning money through book reviews does sound like a good idea and those who do charge for doing this shouldn’t be shamed 😀 I loved reading this post!

    • Thanks, I’m glad you liked it and are sharing your input. 🙂

      But yeah, I will never charge money for my book reviews, though I do understand why other reviewers have. And of course, I would love to get paid to review books because I love it and I’d be able to do it more. But I personally don’t think that’s fair to the author.

      I think the donations is a good way to go about things. Though I’ve gotten gifts from authors before as a thank you. I’ve gotten signed paperbacks as a thank you and I was sent a mug once too, which is always nice. It’s the thought that counts, lol.

  3. While I don’t advertize myself as a book blogger, I do review books I read, and post those reviews on both Goodreads and my blog. If I buy a book via Smashwords, I’ll usually also review it on there, and sometimes do reviews on Amazon and Audible too. I’ve had free copies of books in exchange for reviews, but never been actually paid for any.

    I’m also an author who has given out free copies of some of my books in exchange for reviews, and given out free copies as part of promotions where reviews weren’t part of the deal (though they would have been very much appreciated).

    My point is, I’m able to see both sides of this coin. I know the time and effort that goes in to writing and publishing a book, and I know the time and effort that goes in to reading and reviewing one.

    So, do I think reviewers should be paid to review books? No. It’s not that I don’t think they deserve it, because they do, which is why I think they have a right to a free copy of the book, and a whole lot of gratitude for what they do. But authors need to make money somehow too. Plus, I have to wonder just how honest a review would be if you were paying for it. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I know I’d feel pretty reluctant to give a low rating to someone who paid me. It would be like telling your boss you don’t think he’s very good at his job.

    Having an option for people to donate money – regardless of whether you’re an author, a reviewer, or both – is fine. People can donate whether book reviews are being exchanged or not. Actually paying for a review… No. I don’t think that should happen.

    • Well said. I agree with you. Monetary compensation would be nice, but in the long run I don’t think it’s the right choice.

      Book bloggers work hard and even though I’m not published yet, I’m still a writer and I know how difficult and time consuming the writing process is. I also know authors don’t make that much either.

      Book bloggers are there to do a favor for their favorite authors and have the joy of reading a free copy. That’s the way I see it, anyway.

      As I said in response to another comment, I’ve had some authors send signed paperbacks as a thank you which is enough for me. It’s the thought that counts and it’s nice to see they really appreciated my review – whether it was a high rating or not.

  4. Who among us wouldn’t love to be paid to read and review? 😊

    As an earlier commenter posted, everyone else involved in a book’s journey is paid, why not the reviewer?

    However, the literary world has been mired in controversy the last few years over ARC reviews and paid reviews because someone is always looking for and/or finding a way to scam the process. New scams and scandals are coming to light at an alarming rate, and retailers…like Amazon… can’t be depended on (or trusted) to do what’s right.

    What if an author pays for an honest review and Amazon and its algorithms removes reviews in one huge swoop? Where does this leave the author? Or what if reviewers are charging for reviews and not even reading the book, but just writing generic reviews? The more reviews you write, the more money you make. In the end, it becomes a questionable revenue stream, especially when there’s a noticeable increase in reviews.

    A blogger just posted on Twitter last week how she was confronted because her ‘free’ reviews were hurting someone else’s ability to be paid for their reviews. Totally out of line and uncalled for.

    As an author and blogger/reviewer, I get it. But reading and reviewing, IMHO, needs to remain something that is done out of a love of reading and the desire to share books while supporting authors. ☺

    • I would totally love to get paid, of course! 😉 But yeah, I do agree – reviewers work hard, so why not us? But I agree, money changes the game and whether we realize it or not, we as reviewers would probably feel obligated to give good reviews if we were being paid. Plus, the poor author is already losing money on sales by sending out free books to begin with.

      Also, it’s really interesting to me that out of everything else, book reviews are easily turned into “scams.” Why? It makes no sense to me.

      And if that happened on Twitter, I totally believe it. People are awful sometimes. But honestly, that person should just open their eyes and realize the majority of reviewers don’t charge.

      Yes, I agree with you. Reviewing is totally done out of the love of reading and to help our authors. 🙂

  5. I was just thinking about this the other day. But I never thought of asking for donations. That’s an interesting option. As both a reviewer and a writer, I can see both sides. That said, I agree with you.

    • I mean, I would totally love to have my full-time job be reading and reviewing, lol. But I don’t think it’s fair to the author at all.

    • I’ve heard about Amazon taking down reviews and I don’t understand why. This hasn’t happened to me (yet) and hope it doesn’t. I hope it gets resolved soon for the better.

  6. Great discussion, Rachel. I am not in favor of being paid to review a book for you blog (and elsewhere) –
    I already buy almost every book I review, to maintain a fairness, but it does take some time to read and write a good review. My gripe right now is that any reviewers in the US can’t post to Amazon UK and I have lots of readers outside the country.

Let me know your thoughts!

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