Book Related

Being Paid to Book Blog: A Discussion

This topic has been popping up on a feed fairly regularly of late, and I figured that I should probably weigh in on the whole thing.

There are mixed opinions out in the blogging world about whether or not it is acceptable to be paid for your blog posts. Some people are completely fine with it, while others are very against it. Everyone else falls somewhere in the middle. And it can get more specific than that too, where people are cool with certain posts being paid and others not so much.

Which makes it a rather complicated subject matter, and a great subject for discussion.

To get this out of the way, I have no issue with posts being sponsored. I have no trouble with paid reviews either, so long as the reviews remain honest. 

I just don’t see the big deal about it. When I started my career, I was told that if I’m good at something and choose to make it my job, never do it for free. So if you’re good at writing posts and reviews, and someone offers to pay you for your services, why wouldn’t you take it? Booktubers do it all the time – get sponsered to have a certain type of video posted on a certain schedule. It would be great if bloggers got the same opportunities.

I know there are significant differences between book blogging and booktube channels. Booktube videos get a lot more views per video than the average blog post gets, meaning they’re able to to get a certain book or topic more attention. So it makes sense that companies would rather put their money there.

But I’ve seen a few blogs and a few reviewers who have large numbers of followers and attention, who might be worth investing in.

I haven’t come across too many people who have issue with sponsered posts, but what about paid reviews?

The main issue I’ve seen amongst others that have written posts such as this is that our readers wouldn’t trust paid reviews. And that’s fair – we’ve all heard a horror story of someone who said they would give a glowing review in exchange for a few dollars.

But in this case, one or two people who suck are setting an unofficial rule amongst the rest of us. Would getting paid change how you feel about a book? It wouldn’t change a thing for me, except that it would probably get me to be more agreeable to when I read and post about it. But my opinion of the book wouldn’t be changed.

When it comes down to it, we trust the opinions of critics, who are paid for their work. But because the rest of us are amatures, we are held to a different standard?

The ARC game would be majorly affected if we started getting paid.

Right now, we are all super stoked if we are lucky enough to get ARCs of books. Especially one that is an anticipated read.

Could you imagine if someone was offered and ARC to review, and asked for money? The author/publisher would likely laugh at you and just give the ARC to someone else who is just happy to have a copy. The entire book blogging/reviewing community would have to stand against it at the same time, and let’s be honest, that’s not going to happen. It could be changed through a slow process, but by that time, some of us might be in the retirement home.

But if we’re not going to get paid, why should we be expected to treat this like a job?

I’ve heard it, and I know I’ve said it – ‘I’m so not in the mood to finish this ARC, but I owe the review’. Or something to that effect. And I know that the letters/emails I’ve received with some ARCs or review copies I’ve received have always said that it’s understandable that things come up and just send a message if you can’t do it on time. But the schedule is implied and most of us see it as law, and we do our best to plow on through.

Here’s the thing, though: I run a small music therapy practice. My regular work days run from around 8:45 in the morning until between 5-6 in the evening. This doesn’t include driving, or when I run additional Saturday programs, or when I have a ton of paperwork and accounting to get through after I get home in the evening. I try to maintain a normal social life for my sanity, I have a long-term partner, and a household to manage. Sometimes I have time to read, sometimes I don’t. I appreciate the review copy/ARC you send me, and I’ll do my best to read on your schedule, but as this is not paid, that book is likely coming second to everything else. This blog is a hobby until further notice.

Disclaimer:

When I read that back, it sounds a little harsh. But it has to be true to keep my sanity. I am careful to only request or take on books that I’m interested in, so that I’m excited to read, and this has gone very well so far. I only take on a certain number of review copies per month to make sure I don’t fall too far behind, which also helps. I’ve figured out what works for me and what doesn’t, and set my limits, so that this remains a fun hobby that I want to continue with.

I’m still learning, but for the time being, I’ve got this down to a system that works for me, and I still love it. And I’m super excited for all of the review copies that I have currently.

So wait, can you actually get paid for book blogging?

For reviewing books and sponsored posts, it’s not overly likely from what my research has shown.

However, you can include ads on your blog, while will help bring in real revenue. You can be an affiliate for Amazon or Book Depository, which sound like they give you credit (I didn’t look into this a lot, so don’t take my word for it).

You could use your book blog to promote the book you’ve been writing, or your design abilities, or some other skill/product you have.

If you have any other ideas, include them below, because I’m curious.

Conclusion?

Obviously, none of us are too bothered by this lack of pay, or we would have stopped doing this long ago. That includes myself. I won’t invest in my blog (in the sense of a domain), but I’m cool with not getting paid, because I have a blast doing this. Maybe it’ll change in the future, maybe it won’t. We’ll just have to see.

Also, in conclusion, you just read a really long brain dump on this topic. Congrats for sticking it through, but I know it’s a bit all over the place.

If you’ve got any thoughts on this topic, I’d love to hear them. Be sure to leave them in the comments so we can continue this discussion.

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8 thoughts on “Being Paid to Book Blog: A Discussion

  1. I posted about this a while ago. I don’t have a problem with people being paid to blog. However, I think it’s unlikely to happen.

    1.) Even if “paying book bloggers” becomes a thing, it is not going to affect most of us. Like any industry or blogging niche, only the “top” people will get paid offers.
    2.) But, as you mentioned, book blogs don’t really have the numbers. Why would someone pay even a “big” book blogger (with, what, maybe 10,000 followers?) to do something when they could get five smaller bloggers to do the same thing free? Bloggers in other niches like fashion get paid because they have WAY more followers than even the biggest book bloggers.
    3.) I think indie and self-published authors would be more likely to pay than big publishers. BUT, these people don’t want to pay you and risk getting a bad review. Why would someone pay you $50 to be insulted? The other option would be: They pay and need to approve the review before you post it. But then they may be looking at either having paid you $50 to insult them or having paid you $50 to not post anything at all. Again, who would do that?
    4.) I believe most bloggers would try to be honest, but there is a lot of pressure to give someone good press if they have paid you. Maybe bloggers won’t be raving over terrible books, but I think many of us would feel the pressure to be a *little* nicer in our reviews if we were paid for them.
    5.) Due to all this risk, I don’t think publishers or authors would really want to pay for reviews. If bloggers do get paid, I definitely think publishers/authors are going to want some control over what it is they’re paying for. I can see paying for an Instagram post or paying for an author guest post or something that the publisher/author would be able to ensure was positive or at least neutral.

    And, on a slightly related note, I think being paid to post content provided by the publisher/author would actually be more beneficial for the blogger, monetarily. For me, reading a 300 page book and then writing/formatting/promoting the book might take 6 hours. If I ask just $8/hr as compensation for my time, I’d be asking $48 per review. I think people who are envisioning paying for reviews are thinking more in the $20/review price range, and to me that’s just not enough. I’d rather be paid $20 to do something that was less time intensive than reading and reviewing the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I 100% agree with all of your points here.
      Book bloggers just don’t get the hits that so many other niches do, as you say. And while the market for books is smaller than for fashion as well, it still comes down to the fact that you’ve got to compare price vs. value added. And I don’t think that it’s high enough when it comes to books for publishers or authors to be willing to shell out, especially if they can’t even guarentee a review of the calibre that they want.

      There are a lot of factors that play into this subject that just don’t add up in a way that I think is going to result in anyone getting paid for the blogging. We’re better off with ads and stuff like that, where we get paid off of hits rather than our opinion and influence. If someone can do it, great for them. But I think that the rest of us have a good thing going here with ARCs and review copies, so I think it works.

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  2. I agree with Megan and Hilary. More power to anyone who is getting paid to talk about books! I am pretty happy to be getting arcs – and as time goes by I’m getting approved for some great titles that I would read anyway. I may not be getting paid in the cash money, but I feel like this endeavour is saving me money 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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