Should Reviewers Charge For Their Reviews – A Discussion

Hi! It’s been a while since I’ve come on here to ramble, rather than review books or tell you about what I read or plan on reading. I think of myself as a very opinionated person, so these discussion posts are very fun to write, so let’s just get into this. As you can tell from the title, we’re talking about paid reviews!

Sometime last week I’ve seen an Instagram story from a person telling book reviewers who charge for reviews they “should be ashamed!” and it didn’t sit right with me at all. There are many reasons as to why one should or shouldn’t charge for reviews, and I think there’s a lot more to consider here before labeling these bloggers and reviewers greedy and ungrateful.

The argument against charging for reviews mentioned things like, authors don’t get paid enough for their work as it is, and it’s not right to on top of receiving a free copy of their book, to also charge them for it. The person who posted said story/post said a free copy of a book should be payment enough; that we, as readers, enjoy books and it’s our hobby rather than a paid gig, so we shouldn’t expect to get paid for our opinions. And in most cases, sure, I agree that someone who reads and reviews for fun only shouldn’t get paid for the reviews. But there is a difference between people like me, who have a small reach – probably less than 2k people following on Instagram and here, altogether – and people with a successful accounts on either platform (or both, and YouTube!), with 20k plus follows, lots of engagement and therefore influence.

While it’s not true in all of those cases, most of these people take book blogging seriously – they post multiple times a day, their pictures are immaculate, they go live or update their stories daily AND still review the books they get. They’ve built up their following through hard work, and they write coherent, detailed reviews of each and every book they read. Yes, they love reading, and they probably receive lots of books for free, most times unsolicited, too. It’s apparent especially in the BookTube world, that those bloggers do not ask for all of these books, and most of them don’t even get featured on their channel, but reading review copies means the blogger has less time to spend on reading what they want and enjoy. Reading a book takes time. Reading critically and trying to digest a book to then write about it in detail takes even more time. While treating blogging as a full time job, I think those people deserve to get paid for their time.

Of course, there’s doubt when it comes to paid reviews. Are they honest, or did the blogger only rate it 5 stars because they got paid to do so? I think there’s always doubt, even with NetGalley reviews. You never know if the person is being honest, but in the end, I think the quality of the review can tell you whether the reader enjoyed it. If you thought a book was meh, it’d be hard to praise it for paragraphs and paragraphs on end.

In the end, our Bookstagram accounts, or blogs, or Booktube channels are perfect for advertising. In the past week I’ve had my picture being shared on a different Instagram account to promote a book, which post then got reposted AGAIN by the author. And although they’ve both sort of credited me, no one asked me if it’s okay to repost that photo in the first place. No, I don’t want to be paid for it, but asking permission would be nice, especially since it wasn’t a shoutout kind of a post, I was just tagged at the bottom of it with no indication what for. The photo was screenshotted and zoomed in and lost all of its quality, too, which is a shame. These photos and posts are free advertising. People in marketing get paid to source these free things. So why should we, the people who actually do the work, not get paid? It doesn’t make any sense. I’ve put effort into something, and if the publisher thinks it’s good enough for them to repost and use it in their advertising campaign, then it’s good enough to be paid for.

That being said, I am very against book bloggers approaching self published authors asking if they would like their book reviewed, and then demand to get paid for it. But I’m also against authors reaching out to bloggers regardless what their review policy is, spamming them with messages to review their book. I’ve been approached a few times with a link to their book on Amazon, saying that they think it’s something I’d enjoy and they want me to review it and it’s only 1.99 on Kindle so I should also pay for it. Now, that’s something to be ashamed about.

That concludes my little ramble about book reviewers and whether or not they should get paid for their work. I think in a lot of cases, it’s up to the publisher to if they want to invest in that kind of advertisement, or waste money on sending out review and finished copies to people who are unlikely to read them. I definitely think getting paid for reviews in not an outrageous idea, especially for people who spend a lot of time reading and reviewing books full time. I don’t think those reviewers should be shamed. I’d never dream of charging for reviews myself because I don’t think I have that kind of influence over my followers and it wouldn’t seem fair, as I definitely blog in my spare time only and have not made the commitment to do it full time. But there are people out there who deserve to be paid.

What do you think? Do you think all book reviewers should treat it as a hobby and accept a free copy of a book as a “payment”? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear other people’s opinions on this matter.

If you’ve read through all this and are still here – thank you!

Talk soon, and until then please take care and stay safe.