Should Book bloggers get paid for reviews?

The debate is strong with this question on Twitter today and I felt that as someone that converted to a self-hosted blog for the opportunity to make a small amount of money, I thought that I should give my point of view on this topic. You know that I love making my opinion posts so here is another one for you. 

So the basic argument is that people are frustrated or angry that booktubers and bookstagrammers get paid for sponsorship posts and or for product reviews but where is the love for Bookbloggers? Well let’s first breakdown some important facts. No one is getting sponsors or getting paid for reviews right out of the gate. I couldn’t start a YouTube channel and get paid for a thing. That’s just not how that works. 

More specifically, YouTube doesn’t allow someone to monetize their channel until several benchmarks are met. They have to have 10,000 channel views. They have to have 1,000 subscribers. They also have to have over 4,000 watchtime hours per month. They have to have all three. Those have to be met each month for you to continue to monetize each month. 

So I want to caution anyone Book blogger that thinks they should stop or add a YouTube channel to their work with the thought that that is how they get paid for reviewing books. It’s just not how that works and I would hate for anyone to be discouraged or give up not knowing those rules. 

A fellow Book blogger did a post that I really think makes a lot of sense in a lot of ways. The Tattooed Book Geek gave a perfect logical reasons why getting paid solely to review a book really isn’t a good idea. Please check his post out because I think it’s a great one. 

To me, the way that a Book blogger can make money is not something that will happen for a very long time. We see a lot of success stories, we see these Booktubers making all this money but how long did it take them? I think that the way that we get paid is through monetizing our blogs. We work at gaining more followers, more views, adding more content so that we are able to get money for all those views to our blog. Once we have a large follower base, we can expect money from Affiliate Links which is another way that we can gain money. 

There is also ko-fi, a site where people can donate to you to help support your blog, that is something that you can also really expect more with a larger amount of followers. 

I got lucky, and one person donated me $102.00. I used some of that to purchase a self-hosted website and domain name. I wouldn’t be here without it so I’m really grateful. However, ultimately for me to make any money I will have to post more, I will have to be active more on Social Media to gain more followers. It isn’t going to be easy. 

Finally, other ways to make money is with merch, which once again is something you are more likely to sell when you have more followers.  There is Patreon, a website where you post exclusive content for people that subscribe and pay every month a small or large amount of money. 

I feel like there are many many ways that a Book blogger can make money if they put the work in to get to a place where those things are actually going to work. I can’t sell merch right now, I don’t make money from affiliate links, I’m not yet monetized. So as it stands I’m not making money and honestly? I’m okay with that. I think the great thing about this is that it’s fun. 

Would I love to make this my job? Lord that would be great. But in order for that to work, I’d have to make over $2500 a month to continue to support my family. That’s not something that is going to happen but I can work towards this possibility. 

So what is the real issue? I think it’s that Book bloggers feel overlooked. We read books, we post tours, we do all of these things and we don’t feel any reward for that. It sucks. It really does and I can totally understand why there are a lot of Book bloggers that aren’t in a place where they can do more than what they are doing, some even with way more followers than me but they still aren’t making much money. 

I would love to see Book bloggers get paid for reviewing booklights, or a kindle. I don’t think Book bloggers should be paid solely for righting a review itself. I wanted to start a book tour business where part of the money paid for the tour, would go to the bloggers because as a Book blogger I know that it feels like we are doing so much work and getting nothing in return. However it occurred to me why this won’t really work. 

If you are paid for a review, someone can accuse you of writing a positive because you got paid. Of course that doesn’t mean that you did. But here is the big issue with seeing all those paid videos. Did they really like the product or do they have to say they liked it because they were paid to say they liked it? It’s always a question in the back of peoples minds when they see any paid sponsorship or review. 

In the end, I am totally for Book bloggers getting paid for our blogs, and even getting paid to review book related items. But I think that if our job is to help authors and publishers to get books out there and show them support how can we do that with an expectation as having pay us on top of everything else? I understand the frustration but as The Tattooed Book Geek said, if book reviews and ARC’s because a paid service, they won’t be given to anyone that doesn’t have the view count or followers and us small Book bloggers will have to work even harder to get to a place where we can be paid too. 

How do you all feel about this topic? Do you disagree? Agree? I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts!

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23 thoughts on “Should Book bloggers get paid for reviews?

  1. Interesting points. I read and review because I enjoy it (and as I’m currently furloughed I can do more than usual).
    We get free and often early access to books which is great for bookworms like me when the library and bookshops are shut.
    I’m sure this has been debated before and will be debated again in the future.

    1. So true. I can understand wanting to be compensated for all the work we do so I’m sure it will be constantly up for debate.

  2. I have had authors offer to pay me for my review, or to get their book moved up my list. I always respectfully tell them I don’t charge for book reviews. But, I have a Paypal button on my site if they ever feel inclined to help support my blog costs…including coffee. It takes me a lot of coffee to get thru a day of reading and blogging. Even that doesn’t get them special privileges. Now if I am doing proofreading or other services, I don’t feel bad about getting paid for that. I agree that affiliate income is the best way to go. But…oh my, is that slow to build up.

    I enjoyed your post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. This is a very good post and I appreciate that you stated your opinion respectfully. I agree with you that charging for reviews is something that might arise doubts whether the review is biased or not, and that’s something I wouldn’t do for said reasons. However, I totally support that publishers and indie authors could pay to bloggers for cover reveals, excerpts, interviews and creative posts. They don’t require the blogger’s opinion on the book but still, it’s a compensation and a way to promote the book. About blog tours, it’s similar, because you could compensate blogger for promotional content only and those with reviews, getting the ARC for free which might cost around 12-19$ if they had to buy the book.
    This topic has been discussed heavily since yesterday, and I enjoyed reading your opinion on it✨

    1. I read your post too and I didnt even think about promo posts and cover reveals. Those are great examples of methods we could be paid. Thank you for your comment! I was actually going to comment on yours as well but I’m working so my attention is all over the place ?

  4. I agree, I would never expect to be paid for reviews.
    The only thing I would view as unfair is if someone independent is paid to arrange a book tour but doesn’t pass this on to the people posting the actual reviews.

    1. I can totally understand that. They are getting paid but we are doing the service. Totally understand and agree that that is unfair

      1. I don’t even know if that’s how it works, and I’m participating in a blog tour next month that I’m totally thrilled to be a part of. But if that IS what happens, it’s a little questionable.

        1. Unfortunately thats how it is right now. We get a free book therefore we don’t get paid for the service. Even though without us there would be no tour. Tours aren’t cheap but I was able to figure a price that would allow me to make some cash and pay a blogger something. $5.00 a post, not a lot but its a goal I’d like to try and make happen one day.

  5. I think maybe, the wrong question is being asked. I don’t think (unless it is specifically stated that nothing changes as far as the honesty of the review) we should be paid to review. I think it is a question of sponsorships etc… Or maybe if there was not pay per review but again, publisher monthly sponsorships. So, the big 5 get together and agree to a pool of money that is doled out money to sites that hit certain benchmarks/criteria. So they aren’t paying for any one review. They are paying for your site as a medium. Then there is fear of content control.

    1. Yeah that seems to be where things get muddled in terms what the argument itself. I think publishers investing in bloggers but that also means that small bloggers are less likely to get involvement until they are bigger which could take even longer than how things are now for a blogger to become involved with a publisher. If that makes sense.

  6. Also, as stated above, blog tours. This mess of blog tours getting paid and those sites that participating not getting paid, has to stop.

    1. Yeah its an unfortunate that that is a thing though I know some blog tour runners are doing it to make a living by which they may view bloggers as just hobbiests who don’t need payment? I dunno.

  7. A really interesting, thoughtful post. I have never expected to be paid for writing reviews or indeed anything relating to my blog, but on other hand you could say that we are providing a service for authors and publishers. Anyhow, Book bloggers probably should receive some kind of recognition.

  8. lovely post, whilst i dont think we will ever get to the stage where we are paid for reviews, i think its important to remember its our time we’re being paid for and not the review itself? i truly hope one day i can make some income off blogging

  9. The way I look at, is that most of the books I review these days I’ve either received from NetGalley or directly from the author and they’ve been free so I always look as that as payment for my review.

  10. I’m with you here! In my opinion the fact that I realistically have a very small follower count and get free books (including ARCs) is amazing to me! I love it!

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