Why shouldn’t bookbloggers get paid for reviews?

Why shouldn't bookbloggers (1)

So, the question of bookbloggers getting paid seems to be coming up quite a lot recently and I wanted to weigh in and plays Devil’s advocate for a short while (get your pitchforks ready!). This is more of a think piece and I’m looking to get some real feedback on it. We all know, as bookbloggers, that this is a totally divisive opinion, and that’s why I’m aiming to add some balance to the argument.

Other niches v Bookblogging

First of all, I think it’s super important we take a look at other blog niches and how much they earn. I’ll focus on the top 5 niches, they are;

  • Lifestyle
  • Parenting
  • Personal Finance
  • Food
  • Travel

The Blog Millionaire (Brandon Gaille) undertook a huge research project which analysed blogging niches and their median monthly income. You can check it out here. Below is a breakdown of what these blogs earn per month on average;

  • Lifestyle – $5,199
  • Parenting/Mommy – $5,150
  • Personal Finance – $9,100
  • Food – $9,169
  • Travel – $5,000

How much do bookbloggers earn? Great question. And the truth is, I don’t know. Apparently it’s not enough for anyone to take nay real interest in it. does that tell you all you need to know? What I can guarantee you is it’s nowhere near even the lowest median income from the niches outlined above. Why is that?

Why it’s hard for bookbloggers to earn money from their site

Well, it may be due to the price of the product they’re reviewing i.e. books. Books nowadays are super super cheap and so any commission earned from them is going to be minimal. Why shouldn't bookbloggers get paid for reviews? We’ve all seen a horde of books on Amazon selling for 99p/c. If a bookblogger earns 10% commission on that, it’s only around 10p/c per sale. You’d have to have a truck load of people buying through your unique link to actually make any real money. Ads are a good way to go and if you’re getting mountains of traffic then a bookblogger could do ok. Handling images and media with the utmost care is a primary focus of the new editor. Hopefully, you’ll find aspects of adding captions or going full-width with your pictures much easier and robust than before.

Bookblog community backlash

There is an awesome post written by Drew over at the Tattooed Book Geek about the dilemma of bookbloggers asking for money to write a paid review. Also, why not check out the comments on Drew’s post, there are some very strong opinions on there and it sums up the general feeling of bookbloggers. There is a strong feeling amongst other bookbloggers that it is ‘unethical’ to write a review on a book if you’ve bene paid for it. I can certainly see that side of the argument. After all, as bookbloggers, aren’t we supposed to be objective when reviewing books? How can we remain unbiased if we are getting paid for a review? These are great questions and I think they can be answered.

Why shouldn't bookbloggers get paid for reviews?

Bookblogger ethics

I think there’s a feeling among bookbloggers that we are the most ethical of niches. I beg to differ. I read a bunch of blogs form a whole variety of niches, and I find them to be as ethical as then next niche. It isn’t the niche that’s ethical, it’s the blogger themselves. Hey, aren’t we all individuals? Damn straight we are, so why paint all bloggers with the same brush attached simply because of their niche? You’re right, we shouldn’t. Why shouldn't bookbloggers (1) Whether or not a bookblogger is able to write a negative review despite being paid is certainly up for debate. BUT. May I refer you to the whole “we’re all individuals” spiel above? Yeah, I can. Would I feel comfortable writing a negative review about a book despite the fact I’d been paid for it? Bet your ass I will! Personally, I don’t post negative reviews, even if i didn’t like the book. I prefer to take a strengths-based approach. I always keep in mind that what I’m reading is someone’s baby, and it’s taken countless hours to create this. Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean that no-one else will. There’s a reader for every book! I would trust the bookbloggers I follow to give me the low-down on a book regardless of whether they’ve been paid to post it or not.

Other niches such as beauty bloggers get paid for reviews so why isn’t there an issue with their credibility/objectivity?

This seems to be a huge issue in the bookblogger community and it made me take a look at all of the beauty vloggers my wife watches. They are paid to promote and review products and they’ve built faithful audiences while they do it. Sure, some will call into question their objectivity. But their recommendations are tied into their credibility and, therefore, their success. Why shouldn't bookbloggers (1) So why can’t a bookblogger get paid to write a review on a book, say it’s either great or not-so great, without feeling as though they’ve sold their soul to the devil?

How long it takes to read and review a book – why shouldn’t we get reimbursed?

I’ll use my personal example here. I work 40+ hours a week in a highly stressful job. I then come home and read a book. It takes me anywhere between 5-10 days to read a book (based on 1-2 hours reading per night). That’s mainly because I have a relationship to contribute to and other hobbies. Why shouldn't bookbloggers get paid for reviews? It then takes me around 2 hours to write the review. Plus an extra 30 minutes for images and editing. Plus another 15 minutes for SEO. Plus another 20 minutes to post to Amazon, Goodreads, and promotion for the author. THat’s around 13 hours of work. yeah sure, I like reading most fo the books I buy/get given. But it’s still commands the hours a part-time job would. So why on earth can’t I get reimbursed for that? I look at other blog niches and they can charge for reviewing products. It seems a bit unfair right? There are some caveats though… Unless you’re J K Rowling or Stephen King, there isn’t a lot of money in writing books. Bookbloggers provide a great service for new, independent, and self-published authors. They provide free promotion and marketing for an author. I personally love that part of bookblogging and it’s what keep me going. But for other bookbloggers, they’d like to be recompensed for their precious time. And I get it. After all, I work damn hard on my blog, and I love writing about books. It’s why I started blogging to begin with.


Why shouldn't bookbloggers get paid for reviews? When discussing this subject, I know there’ll be bloggers on both sides. So, with that in mind, see the extremely poignant quote below;

Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love. Don Miguel Ruiz

Summary

To summarise, I think there’s a great deal of logic on both sides of the argument here. I get the argument about being ‘objective’, I really do. I can also see why many do choose to charge for their reviews; they take a good chunk of time if you’re doing them properly. Other niches of bogging manage to make a good amount of money but unfortunately bookbloggers don’t. One thing I am willing to say though, is this; the judgement passed on those bookbloggers that do choose to charge for reviews needs to stop. Aren’t we all preaching individuality and acceptance within the blogging community? I certainly think we are, and that’s a major reason why I love the community. We need to remember to get off our high horses every once in a while. The air of superiority with some bloggers is cloying. I haven’t got time for that. None of should have. So, why shouldn’t bookbloggers make money from reviews? Because of the law? No. It’s because of other people’s opinions. That’s sad. While other niches stroll ahead and forge careers as ‘influencers’, bookbloggers will have to wait a little while for the general feeling to calm down. Until then, why not have a little bit of fun?   SHOW ME THE MONEY!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-mOKMq19zU


I hope this post has helped to spark some opinions and I’m dying to hear them. What are your thoughts?   Thanks for reading!

13 thoughts on “Why shouldn’t bookbloggers get paid for reviews?

  1. You have given a very fair outline of bookblogging for pay. You have stated both sides fairly.

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  2. That’s a great post and thank you for writing on this topic. And I am book blogger who had to deal with this issue for a long time but I had to say this that a review doesn’t have to completely negative or completely positive. We can be neutral while expressing our views. Point out the positives and also the negatives, that way neither are we praising a book way too much nor are we bashing a book or the author. By the way, I hate bashing and just because I don’t do that I have also been told that I am not honest with my reviews 🙄. I get paid for reviews (not always, but most of the time), there I said it! But I am not biased with my views. Constructive criticism works best! Followed your blog 💜💜

    Like

  3. As long as majority of the bloggers review books for free because they actually enjoy doing it, i don’t think any author would invest money in this sort of thing – especially if there’s a chance that someone will say something bad about their stuff.
    I’d love to get paid for some book related job, but not for reviews on my blog, because that’s my hobby and i don’t want anyone to think they can influence what i’m doing there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know what Norrie, that’s a great point! I do honestly think there’s an argument for it.
      Sure, I’m not interested in getting paid for reviews because, like you, it’s my hobby. But there are others that are, and I have no problem with that.
      Would you feel compromised if you were offered money for a review? Whether that review be positive or negative. Would you feel confident in writing a negative review of you’d been paid?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve never been offered money, so i don’t know how that would work, but just thinking from a rational standpoint: if i were an author and i’d actually pay for a service (review) i’d expect it to be something nice. It’s like going to the hairdresser and they screw up my hair, i’d not expect to be charged. Or getting shit food in the restaurant, i’d want a refund. Nobody would pay for something bad, and i’d imagine once an author pays, there’s some sort of a contract…? I dunno.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hmm, great point. I suppose it would have to be in the fine print? A kind of “know what you’re signing up for” for the publisher/author would be good advice. I dunno, it’s just something I wanted to explore and I do think there’s an argument for both sides. Personally though, I’m not interested in getting paid for reviews, I like my own schedule and freedom to write what I want

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I think you’ve raised a really good point here – the possibility of a negative review. I’ve yet to see a beauty blogger give anything other than glowing feedback for products they are being paid to review. So what the beauty product owners are actually paying for is a positive review, not just a review.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re right Sarah. Unless of course, they don’t actually post the reviews of the products they don’t like?

        Also, if they don’t like a product, I wonder if they send the money back? I think most companies would prefer to call it a failed attempt rather than a blogger posting negative reviews?

        A lot of book review sites do ask that, if you don’t like the book, then you let them know and you can do an excerpt or a spotlight instead. Isn’t that kind of the same thing?

        Like

      2. Yea, that’s what i thought as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the post shout out.👍

    Ah, I think my view on charging for reviews is well known but if people want to do it then it’s really up to them. I do think it needs to be stated in reviews though. No, it’s nothing to do with can a paid for review be objective or not and more to do with that people hide that they charge and that is wrong. We are expected and supposed to say when we receive a book from a publisher or an author for free to review it so I feel that if someone charges then it needs to be stated in the review too.

    People occasionally moan that bloggers aren’t subjective when they receive ARC’s because a poor review might mean less ARC’s from that specific publisher and they review positively just to get free books, it’s BS and I disagree with it but some people think that and as such, some think with charged reviews that they can’t be subjective as money has changed hands.

    It’s down to the blogger if they are genuine and honest or not in the review. No-one knows but them but going back to ARC’s, I’ve seen people say that they don’t trust ARC reviews because the book was received for free and don’t read them, so surely, if the review is paid for then it needs to be mentioned in the review so that people can decide if they want to read the actual review or not.

    One thing that bugs me is charging indie authors for reviews and getting free books from publishers at the same time. I’ve seen a few that get books from both the US and UK (I’d love to get US books) sent by publishers and then at the same time the blogger charges indie authors. Sometimes I don’t think they realise that if they charge £30 for a review and the author sells the ebook for £3 then that review needs to sell 10 copies of the book before the author makes their money back on the review.

    One issue seems to be newer bloggers, I’m not having a go at them and I can get that they want to charge but charging straight away seems wrong as surely it should be something to build towards, build a following, gain a reputation and be blogging for a few months and then try charging and see how it goes but not after a couple of posts and a week of blogging.🙄

    What would be your view on charging for other types of posts appearing on your blog? Say, an interview, excerpt or guest post from an author? It’s not a review, so your review isn’t being called into question, you haven’t received a free copy of the book but you are giving the author and their book free advertising? Would you consider that? I doubt anyone would get much money, I’d presume £5 or £10 depending but it’d make the blog/blogger a bit of money.

    I think that charging for reviews took a pounding as so many bloggers do it for free and while, yeah, many call out those who charge. Those who want to charge started calling out bloggers who review for free as stupid for not making money, etc and it got both sides of to a bad start.

    Another thing, a couple of bloggers who charge for reviews are or were (I don’t know if they still do or not) very sneaky and underhand about it. Contacting authors and offering to review, getting sent the book and then emailing that they had forgotten to mention that they actually charge for reviews and stuff like that gives a bad impression on all bloggers and definitely made those who charge look bad.

    It’s also perhaps upto the author if they are prepared to pay for a review or not, weigh up the pros and cons and whilst if they give the book for a free review on a blog they perhaps won’t care too much about the blog stats. If it’s a paid for review then stats would need to be bought into the equation, is the charge worth it for the page views the review will get, etc. I know one, at least that wasn’t happy with the paid for review that they got as it wasn’t posted on Goodreads and Amazon and authors need a certain amount of reviews on Amazon for their book to be seen. I made a throw away comment to them over something and they told me that the review was good, the blogger was decent but the review wasn’t posted on Goodreads and Amazon yet the blogger had told them it would be. It can’t be as it goes against their regulations and I had to tell the author that.

    I guess, my point is that if bloggers charge they need to be above board over it, say in the review it’s paid for (it’s only fair when we have to say that we got an ARC) and say in their policy that they can’t post the review to Amazon and Goodreads so that authors know what they are getting for their money.

    One final thing about charging for reviews, if you make money from your blog, even a pittance you are supposed to declare it. I’m not sure if it’s just a UK thing or not but do bloggers who charge for reviews or want to charge realise this and do they do it?

    I guess I had a lot to say, sorry for the essay length comment.😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I WANT these type of comments!

      I actually wouldn’t accept money for a review because I am happy to use my time to read and review a book and, in my mind, my payment is through the free book, even if I don’t like it.

      I do think that the extra promotion would be chargeable. I know you spend a load of time promoting the book and the author, as do I. If i’m being pedantic, that isn’t part of the agreement. BUT, on the flip side of that, promotion for the author is promotion for us.

      One massive bug bear I have is when an author doesn’t put the work in to promote the review. I mean, come on! Or they cut contact as soon as you’ve posted the review. That’s a surefire way to not work with me again.

      The fact that we receive most of the books we reveiew, are free, that in itself could call into question our integrity. But I know I’m credible, and I’ve seen reviews where you haven’t been keen on a book and you’ve portrayed it fairly.

      I don’t think the fact it’s paid for should atomatically call into question the credibility of the review.

      As for indie authors, I don’t know how people can justify charging for reviews. We, as avid readers and bloggers, know that the money made from the majprity of indie books isn’t huge. So to take out of the author’s pot just strikes me as being shitty.

      Well in the US (not sure if it’s a state-by-state thing or nation wide) they alll have to file annual tax returns no matter where they work. They’re technically all self-employed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I agree with you, totally that just because a review is paid for it doesn’t mean that it’s not credible or genuine. I just think that it needs to be stated in the review like with an ARC copy and then the person can make up their mind if they want to read the review or not.

        I think most of us are credible and it’s irrelevant if the review is paid for, it’s an ARC, etc.

        That’s the thing with paid for reviews, the huge publishers don’t pay and it’s the small and poor indie author who writes in their spare time and is trying to make it that is expected to pay. Now, sure, if Booknest or Fantasy Faction charged the indie author for a review then they’d sell loads of copies based on the review but for a small blogger to charge, the cost to the author just doesn’t seem fair.

        One thing that baffles me, when I started blogging people wouldn’t dare request ARC’s from publicists. They were so scared of emailing and getting told no that they wouldn’t do it. Request 100 books on Netgalley, sure, they’d do that a week after starting their blog but they wouldn’t request directly from the publicist and send them an email asking for a book because they might say no. Yet now, it’s changed to they are happy to charge for reviews and ask authors for money straight away.🙄

        Yeah, that’s true, us promoting them is also us getting promotion too but……when they don’t reciprocate it sucks. You share the post or review a few times on various SM, others retweet and share too and yet the author blanks it, they don’t share, retweet, etc and it does make you question what is the point. Especially as you are promoting them and their work and yet they can’t even be bothered to promote themselves.🙄 I guess they think that it’s not their job to do that, I really don’t know, some are great at it, some aren’t, it’s probably just how it is though they can’t really complain about the lack of promotion when they don’t promote the post themselves! It really grates on me when I email them the link, thank them for appearing on my blog and wish them luck with the book and their work and they can’t even be bothered to reply.🙄

        Like

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