In case you missed it, I recently talked about making money from your book blog and invited you to sign up for my email series.
Email #7 in the series talks about making money from reviews, but most importantly, I tried to start a dialogue. I invited bloggers to email me back with their thoughts so we could really discuss the issue in depth.
Today I want to highlight some of the replies I got back. One blogger really wanted to know what other people thought. “Do most other book bloggers feel the same way?” she wondered. That’s why I’m sharing the responses today.
- How does the community feel?
- What are peoples’ experiences?
- Do book bloggers want change?
- How do publishers react? Do we care?
Hopefully you can get some answers to those questions from the awesome blogger responses below!
We just want to make money from our passion.
I’ve had this conversation with several bloggers, especially my bookish BFF Tamara Welch aka @Rockstar1023. We each love book blogging and love doing a combined weeklong feature every few months, but we also have bills to pay.
We have discussed several times and wondered “How can we turn this passion into income?” We’re smart, pretty blog savvy, and we promote like crazy on social media. But we think publicists would laugh if we said we wanted paid and do just as you’d say “LOL, I’ll go to one of the other 1,000 bloggers…”
We’ve each moved into some similar areas where we can get paid (she is working directly with authors and publicists and I am a freelance writer and business blogger,) however our PASSION is BOOKS and BOOK BLOGGING.
I have had to let my blogging fall by the wayside because I have taken on more writing clients, which has cut into my reading, requesting, scheduling…
While we bitch and moan (a lot) we are also actively researching and looking for our next steps constantly.
We are each considering transferring our blogs (which made your email about that super awesome) but are scared to make the “wrong” move. We’re not scared to invest, we’re scared to invest in the “wrong” platform/host/designer.
Rhiannon & Tamara
Free labour causes blogger burnout.
I really feel like attempting to keep up with the blogging community heavily contributes to blogger burnout. Book blogging is a labor of love, many of us doing what we do for free. What might have started off as just a fun hobby, quickly morphs into another full-time job with, at times, little gain or respect.
When I first started blogging, there wasn’t many book tour or promo posts. Sure bloggers were working with publishers, but not on the scale that we do today. And it’s fantastic that others see how influential we can be with selling books, but it can also be draining. Especially with issues like blogger safety being such a huge issue right now.
It’s for this reason that I’ve personally pulled back from accepting tours and promo pieces from publishers. Not because I don’t want to help promote books and new authors, but because it now feels like it’s expected of me… for free, at my expense. And I admit that sometimes I feel a bit used.
Let’s face it: bloggers are doing a lot more these days. I see them running the blog tours, setting up promo campaigns, throwing events. And it’s all really awesome, but I’m not sure it really benefits the community in the long run. Our community has virtually become an extension of the Publicity Department of the publishing industry. Some of us are okay with this, but others may desire compensation for their efforts. I believe they deserve that. But unfortunately it’s not going to happen with so many willing to give up their services and time for free.
Ad revenue used to pay for hosting fees, giveaways and even convention expenses for some of us. Now? I spoken to a few bloggers that have noticed that number significantly decrease over the years. What used to be an ad, is now a promo campaign that bloggers are eager to post in hopes of acquiring and keeping publishing contacts.
Book bloggers are worth more than just free content and we are one of the only communities that does not charge for our services. And until a bunch of us start saying no, I think we will continue to see some really great voices in our community hanging up their hats and leaving.
Publishers take advantage and here’s a list of consequences…
Publishers definitely take advantage of this. Somehow, a book reviewer is supposed to be biased when they’re paid, but a food critic or a movie critic isn’t? That’s the bit that has to be attacked.
What happens if reviewers AREN’T paid?
– Poorer websites/hosting
– Lower # of books offered for review
– Rushed reading job or a greater # that aren’t read completely
– More focus on ads than on quality reviews
If book reviewing is MY JOB, I’m going to take it as seriously as I take copywriting or marketing or anything else I do.
I think, we need to stop shying away from giving poor reviews when we’re paid, to forego the appearance that
What are people paying for? They’re paying for a chance to get in the door. What’s the ROI of a GOOD review? Social proof is everything, and a good review could make a huge difference. So, a good, complete, and HONEST review at $50 or $100 = how many sales? That’s what they’re paying for. Sure, anyone can review a book. That makes it a commodity. We have to turn away from the commodity mindset in order to change things as freelancers/entrepreneurs.
Proof that making money is possible with your book blog!
I wanted to chime in here and agree with you that one can make money from a book review blog. I am living proof.
Most of it has been from what I have termed “Expedited Reviews”. I found myself if a queue of audiobooks to listen to that was well over 200 strong. I started to get complaints about not getting to the audiobooks in the queue fast enough. So I said the somebody that was complaining, give me $20 and I will put your book on the top of the pile.
Low and behold this became so popular that I have had to raise the price several times. Currently I charge $50 for a 14 day turn around and make it very clear that they are not buying a positive review. I have been getting approx 2 of these a week for the last several months.
I also came up with the idea for featured posts, not a review post, but just a post with the book & author information and relevant purchase links. I sell these as well.
I also sell ads links but mostly I link to my review from the banner ad. Because I wanted to keep my traffic on my site.
I ended up creating demand for a product no one knew they even wanted and have made over $3000 this year, something I never thought was even possible.
Paul, The AudioBook Reviewer
Booktube is where the money gets made!
I think it might be possible to get paid for reviewing, BUT I think you need to have a very large booktube channel to do so. Or a blog, but booktubers tend to have a lot more subscribers since YouTube is a platform and isn’t just floating out on the Internet by itself.
Also, I think that sponsored book posts are another way to make money. Blog tours, cover reveals, interviews etc. Basically all of those strictly marketing posts that some bloggers post for free.
I’ve made more money on my blog through sponsored posts than I have through sidebar advertisements. Monetization on BookTube is another story for me – my ad revenue tops my sponsored post revenue.
Tiffany, About to Read
What’s the future of book blogging?
- Is our niched doomed to be “forever free” because there will always be people willing to review for free?
- Do you think publishers and authors would ever pay for publicity from bloggers?
- Are you tired of doing promo for free or are you okay with it?
- What do you think about some of the responses above? Is there anything that stands out to you?
I totally agree with charging for promo posts (promos, sales, cover reveals). In ANY other niche, that’s considered a sponsored post and they’re charged for. I don’t do them, because, and this may sound awful but, I get nothing from it. If I post a review, the author and publisher both give me a shout out. But promo posts I feel are more productive on bigger blogs (Vilma’s, for instance). They need an audience that’s already there reading other things.
Anyway, check a mom blog (big or small) and they charge for sponsored posts. Why? Because they’re getting paid for their blogging time, spreading the word of a product or company, and chances are that single post isn’t going to bring them any traffic. But they do it because they’re getting paid.
Honestly, I don’t understand why this is such a taboo topic among book bloggers. We are not the rule. In the blogging world, we are the exception.
I don’t feel like being paid jeopardize a the integrity of a review. All it does is compensate the blogger for their time. Reading, posting, promoting, etc. If you see a blog review of really awesome new toy you want to get your kids for christmas? Chances are good that review was comped. Does that mean the blogger is just blowing smoke? No. Because when they review products and services, it’s EXPECTED. It means they’ve figured something out, as a community, that we (for the most part and for some reason) refuse to do.
Books are no different than toys, or makeup, or blenders, or printers. They are products. We as bloggers male nothing from royalties from the sales of these books and yet we act as though its our duty to do this.
Yes, for the majority of us, reading is a passion. Books are our loves. And we breathe in quotes and characters like air. Why is it so wrong to profit from that? To make enough to stop paying for hosting out of our own pockets?
Wow. Time for me to step off my soapbox.
Amen. I’d be happy just to get enough to pay for the hosting and enough to cover buying the actual books or my monthly audible subscription. Right now I’m looking into affiliate links but that doesn’t look very promising.
It is remarkable to see the difference between the attitude towards sponsored posts from the book blogging community verses (for example) the travel blog community or fashion blogs. They shamelessly admit it and no one even bats an eye. No one cares. No one thinks their opinion was bought. The difference is almost laughable.
Stephanie — you’re right, the difference is so interesting. Paid promo posts are a STANDARD in all other industries. If you talked about doing them for free, people would be like “wtf? why?” And yet that’s expected in book blogging.
I love you and your soapbox! 😀
I totally agree that promo posts should be paid content. It’s like putting up an advert on your sidebar for free. Would you do that? I wouldn’t. Hell no! But that’s exactly what a promo post is. People get paid for those! It’s an entire, spotlighted piece dedicated to someone’s product.
I’ve always felt the assumption that if you’re being paid to review something then you’re somehow a fraud or dishonest is unfair. Book bloggers often believe that everything should be done for free, but in many other industries the type of services book bloggers provide would cost a business.
While I personally have no problem with doing some stuff for free, people can’t really place high expectations simply because there’s almost zero compensation for our efforts. I feel totally comfortable saying that too because I request very few ARCs, so most of the novels I review are bought and paid for. Anything I do for blogging has to be funded through outside jobs. There’s literally no way to sustain yourself on book blogging and that’s because the community has created a culture that makes it nearly impossible to make any type of money doing something directly related to book blogging (and if you do then *gasp* how dare you?)
I’m all for supporting authors, but it’d be nice to at least have to possibility of monetary compensation. I’d definitely be more motivated in my own blogging if there were, but I don’t have the time to burn on the type of commitment hardcore book blogging requires and nor do a lot of other people.
Yeah I’m all for supporting authors too. I love them! But I can’t help but wonder… why is it all about us supporting them? When will we get a little support in return?
Huh, I knew someone was making money but not me – it’s why I am pulling back a little.
I don’t do promo.
Wow, I really liked that idea about expedited reviews and charging for featured posts. I don’t generally promote a book I haven’t read, so I only do reviews for books, but that may give me a few other ideas. I feel like charging for expedited reviews would only work if a) your queue was large (mine is; who’s isn’t?) and b) your blog gets a lot of traffic or has a lot of influence, but you never know who will pay for what. It’s honestly worth a shot, especially since I have review requests closed most of the time except for blog tours.
The worst that will happen is no one buys an expedited review. And if that’s the case, it just means nothing has changed from now.
Basically, there’s no harm in putting it up there to see if anyone is interested! 🙂
A couple of random thoughts.
1) The difference between the movie or food critic mentioned above is that usually they are paid by a third party. Person A makes the movie, and Person B pays the reviewer to write the review.
2) I know many publishing houses are struggling. Authors hardly make anything either. So I’m not sure how much money there is in it for us.
Having said both of those things, I would love to get paid for my reviews. Before starting my blog, I was on a site where reviewers got paid. It wasn’t much, but it was so nice mad money. I really miss that (the site shut down due to lack of funds/interest in the corporate owner).
I’m not saying this isn’t a discussion worth having. I’m just making sure we are thinking everything through as we go forward.
You do make some good points, Mark, thank you!
Regarding #2, I know a lot of books don’t have big marketing budgets. But something we talked about on Twitter today is that it’s interesting how some books are given huge 6 or even 7 figure marketing budgets.. then others are given 0. The lack of balance there is crazy!
I think I mostly don’t like the idea of publishers expecting free promo. A promo post is basically like an advert. But instead of sidebar space, it’s an entire blog post dedicated to the topic. That’s something that should be paid for!!
I’m an accountant by trade, so I get the idea of getting something from your investment. That’s definitely why some books get lots of publicity while others don’t get any – it’s where the publishers think they can get earn enough in sales to justify the money spent. However, I’d argue that James Patterson, for example, doesn’t need a ton of publicity because people will buy his books anyway. Meanwhile, some unknown authors might do better if that publicity money was spread to them.
As far as promo posts, I’m completely with you. I don’t do promo posts on my blog, so I hadn’t really thought about those.
And how will people determine what rates they get paid? Will it be based on comments? Views? Click throughs to something? Publishers and authors aren’t going to want to shell out money unless they know they will get results.
I’m not saying I have all the answers. Just some things we need to think about.
You’re so right Mark. All of the big name authors have huge marketing budgets, when people will buy their stuff regardless.
You have to be super famous to get a big budget.
But surely when you’re super famous you don’t NEED all that marketing?
And I think rates would be largely tied to comments and page views. That’s pretty much how normal advertising rates work and that’s basically what promos are.
People usually pick a price, give a list of their reach stats (page views, uniques, average comments, etc) and companies either agree to pay or they don’t (and find someone else).
Totally with you on #1 – food and theater critics are more comparable to Kirkus reviewers and reviewers for like People Magazine and NY Times, who do get paid to review books. Book bloggers and food bloggers alike are sitting over here all broke, like “hiiiii.” Haha
I kind of feel if we started banding together and starting multi-blogger sites (since I feel like the majority of book blogs I see are still 1 person blogging, mine included) that could brand themselves as more of a publication or magazine, publishers might be more willing to pay those? Even ones that aren’t at Kirkus’ level of industry influence yet. It’s an experiment I’d love to see play out. 🙂
It’ s so interesting, because there are so many parts to this whole equation. If publishers paid us, that also means they should be doing well enough to pay people, but they’re not. It’s not exactly an industry that makes a lot of money like the fashion industry does. On the flip side, book bloggers work really hard on so many things, and they deserve compensation at some point.
It doesn’t help that success can also be defined as being close with author and publishers while having a huge following. That makes it really tricky.
I can understand why booktube is far more compensating and gets a bigger traffic, but there are people who don’t like booktube, like me. I personally cringe at the tone most booktubers use in their videos, and I prefer reading reviews because it’s so much faster to do so. And some book bloggers have a big reach too, and if booktubers are getting paid, then why not book bloggers too?
I hate tube sites. It’s all youtube these days for everything. Are people so vain that they have to record everything they do? If people didn’t make the videos, you wouldn’t have them everywhere. I notice it most with gaming. I go to look up a strategy for a fight or a question on a quest and all the answers are in a 10 minute video when all I need is a short sentence to give me an answer. I didn’t even know booktube was a thing until recently. I don’t want to watch video reviews. I don’t see a point to that, but then, I don’t like podcasts either. I get my information better from reading the text.
I’m with you on this, Ashley. I much prefer to read things… hence why I love it when vloggers also post the transcript of their videos (so I don’t have to watch — I can just read).
(oops… sorry — Ariel, not Ashley)
Yeah I’m not a fan of BookTube either. In general I’m just not a video person. I prefer to read over watching videos.
But yeah… we always talk about publishers not having big budgets, but then why did they jump into paying BookTubers so quickly?
I know nothing about the inner workings of publishing, budgeting, and so on, but it’s also interesting to me how some books are given MASSIVE marketing budgets (talking six or seven figures) and others have next to zero. It seems like such extremes rather than a nicer balance.
I totally agree that bloggers should be paid to review books or post promo posts, but as you say, if there’s always someone willing to do it for free then it isn’t really feasible unless you have a huge audience.
Personally, I have never really considered this issue because since starting my book blog last year I have never requested/accepted an ARC or a review copy, or posted any book tours or promo posts, purely because I don’t want to. I simply read the books I want to read and review those, seen as I really don’t want the pressure of books stacking up that have to be read, especially as I’m a terrible mood reader. I think it would also annoy me in a certain respect to have my blog used basically as an advertising board for publishers/authors, which makes me sound totally unsupportive of the publishing industry and new authors i know, but that’s just how I feel about my blog. Bloggers should totally be reimbursed for providing a service like this to publishers, but I feel like nothing is going to change anytime soon unfortunately.
This has definitely been an interesting post, and I loved your email series!
I’m totally on the same page as you Laura. I get a few ARCs now and then but I’m such a massive mood reader. I definitely prefer to pick my own books whenever I feel like reading them. I hate the idea of having a “reading schedule” or “ARC calendar” or whatever.
I read random things at random times.
I also don’t like adverts and really strive to keep my blog ad-free. I totally respect anyone who chooses a different path for their own blog, but for me I like an ad-free zone, so that’s just how much blog is!
And thanks – I’m so glad you liked the series! *fist bump*
I honestly kind of blame ebooks for the taboo. That and publishers. They seem to be rather greedy about profits, they blame ebooks for the lack of their profits, and they don’t want to pay for promotions. But ebooks are hard too. I do product reviews on Amazon also. Companies send me physical products for free or crazy cheap (I’m talking like a dollar or two for something 20$ or higher. It’s kind of awesome), I try and review them. That’s how they pay me. They send me the real product. With the book community, physical ARCs are practically a thing of the past. Netgalley, Edleweiss, and general eARCs are cheap and easy to send out for reviews, but then the publishers look at that as how you get paid. It doesn’t feel the same.
I don’t know why tours, cover reveals, promos and the like were ever set as being this free service, but I wish that would go the wayside. The only people getting paid are the ones who have made a business setting up and organizing those things with other blogs. When it comes to bloggers and their readers, I often wonder if those things are taboo because of the few that might get lazy/greedy and just post them all the time. If you were doing free reviews and charging 5$ for each promo or cover reveal and 10$ for participation in tours, you would want to do just those all the time. Other content would fall the wayside and then your readership would fail. Sadly, people who read our blogs often judge all of us based on one or two, so those bad eggs would have those who read our blogs not caring to read them because it’s no content, just promotion.
I love the idea about getting paid for expedited reviews. That is really smart and would be amazing if it were the norm. I would be happy to just earn enough to fund hosting and 10% of my book budget. I’ve gotten to a place where I request so many galleys because I have to put money on hosting and related things instead. Then I end up with way too many galleys unread because I can’t read them fast enough now that I’m a mom and have less free time. But if I don’t request them when they are up, they will go away and then it will be longer before I have the chance because kids are expensive and my blog has been making me so burnt out that I feel like I would rather spend my money else where. It’s turned into a horrible cycle. I read a post somewhere about how for most bloggers, their blogging life span is an average of 2 years. It’s our own fault for starting the taboo that this all has to be done for free and that being a tour organizer or an editor is the only way to make any money. You feel used, under appreciated, and get burnt out and quit. Reading feels like a job instead of a hobby because you know you have to review that sucker when you’re done. You don’t get paid and you become a slave to the reviews. I understand the short lifespan.
That was probably a bit of a braindump so I hope it makes sense. It’s a little early for me to being doing such serious thinking. I’m still working my way through my coffee. Haha.
Yeah it is so baffling that tours, cover reveals, and promos are standardized as being free. It’s literally like putting an advert in your sidebar… for free. That seems weird, doesn’t it? So why don’t people think it’s weird to create AN ENTIRE POST dedicated to a product for free?
I also think it’s crazy that it’s normal for a tour organiser to get paid for putting a tour together, but it’s not normal for the participants to get paid for advertising all the content for them.
I mean, organising a tour is a lot of work and they DEFINITELY deserve to be paid for that.
But surely the people doing the advertising deserve something to?
I’ve only been book blogging for a year, but I definitely think the work of successful bloggers should be paid for. I think this would incentivize bloggers to create quality reviews and not feel guilty about spending so much time on their passion. Definitely will consider charging for expedited reviews in the future, once I’ve gained more of a following. Great responses to make you think!
Yes I love the idea of paid expedited reviews! It’s so cool that Paul has been able to make it work!
I was talking with my husband about this because he has been pushed me to DO MORE and MAKE MONEY, which is theory sounds nice in all but. The only money I make blogging is on affiliate links – with you, Creative Market etc. It’s enough to buy some books but not enough to brag about.
I’ve thought about charging for promo posts – but with so many other blogs out there willing to do it for free, how much will really be made?
I was talking to other bloggers and another issue is that most of our “readers” are fellow bloggers. The community continues to grow everyday, which is great, but like you said, there are SO MANY others willing to do things for free, that making money could make things difficult. I do think if publishers and authors were willing to pay for publicity,
Also, I don’t understand why book bloggers are held to a different standard then other types of blogs. It’s basically the same thing.
Yeah it’s so hard to create change when people will always be undercutting you. Everyone needs to stand up together and say NO MORE.
If you wouldn’t miss doing promos, then you could certainly just start pointing people to your rates whenever you get asked to participate. Worst case scenario, they say no and you don’t put up a promo post.
But if you would miss the promo posts (I know some people really enjoy putting them up) then I can see why you might not want to do it that way.
But if you could live without them, then hey, no loss! Either you put them up and get paid, or you don’t put them up at all.
I think getting paid for reviews would be awesome but I do see a few problems with it. Take Booktube for example. Here lately there has been a huge amount of backlash about sponsorships and people are starting to pull back on it because it is not seen in a very positive light. A lot of people are saying that Booktube isn’t the same that it was that it is essentially turning into a money gimmick insead of sharing a love for books . I’ve seen a lot of booktubers making videos about going back to the way they use to do things.
The thing with book bloggers is let’s say a smaller book blogger and a well known one wrote a review for a certain book. Do they get paid equally even though page views are different? What will it be based on: page views or how awesome the review is? I’d imagine it would be on how much authority you have in the community. Let’s assume they both write one heck of a review though. Anyway, there’d have to be a way to make it fair and I think that is where the problem would be. Of course, the more you put into something the more you get out of it so perhaps the more well known blogger deserves more? But do they? There is already tension with ARC’s so adding money into the mix could create a lot negativeness within the community. But I get it – book blogging is highly time consuming and getting paid does sound good. It is kind of like a catch 22 situation. It boils down to the fact that there are two types of bloggers, casual and hardcore. If money became a thing I think that publishers and authors would seek out more casual bloggers to get free reviews.
I do like to think I get paid with ARC’s because I’m not paying for the books. Although I have to say I am accepting less and less because I like choosing what to read on a whim, you know?
But anyway, interesting discussion!
I have so many thoughts bouncing around in my mind on this topic.
I will not read or follow a blog/site where money exchanges hands for reviews. I don’t feel that reviews can be completely unbiased when there’s money involved. (This is why I don’t follow or read sites like Kirkus.) That said, I do believe there are opportunities to monetize a blog in other ways (e.g. featured posts), so as long as there is a visible disclaimer on a sponsored post.
To touch on what Stephanie said:
“Our community has virtually become an extension of the Publicity Department of the publishing industry. Some of us are okay with this, but others may desire compensation for their efforts. I believe they deserve that. But unfortunately it’s not going to happen with so many willing to give up their services and time for free.”
I would like to think that publishers and publicists would be willing to pay for featured/sponsored posts, especially on a blog that has a larger readership and social media following. That’s what they’re paying for: eyes on their product, which hopefully turns into sales. So even though there are blogs out there willing to feature and promote books/authors for free (maybe because they’re new and still building their following), I think it is reasonable for an established blog (like Cuddlebuggery) to charge for what essentially is an advertisement.
That was suppose to be a 5-star rating for this post (not 4) 🙂
just a note that most of the reviews on Kirkus are not paid for.
I’d be very iffy of a website where the author or publisher pays the reviewer. But on Kirkus, from what I understand from looking into it a few months ago, the reviewer is employed and paid by Kirkus (usually a freelancer). Even though, yes, the publisher pays Kirkus, the reviewer has no relationship with the author/publisher.
In that case, I think I would trust that the reviewer had true editorial independence, as an employee of the New York Times would when writing a book or movie review. But I don’t actually read them either, I was just curious lol, so I can’t definitively say, “Yes, I just their reviews.”
I think I would rather have the publishing industry just start treating blogs differently in general than start paying them for the same stuff currently happening. :/
Honestly? I would absolutely not want to be paid for reviews. That sounds like it would come with the obligation and stress of accepting a free ARC times 100 lol.
I like that right now, I’m fully independent. If a publisher asks me to read a book or a tour company asks me to sign up, I feel no guilt saying no. I can post a review later than I originally planned to, without repercussion. I can run my blog how I want to.
I feel like so much of that freedom would go away. Whether the obligation is actually there or not, there would be pressure. At the end of the day, I’d rather say ‘no’ to posting a free promo than feeling like I have to (whether it actually *is* mandatory or not, the feeling of obligation would be there) post paid promos.
I think not getting paid also has to do with scale. Just from reading blogs in other niches, I think it’s way more common for small and medium blogs to be able to get cool things like review copies in the book niche than in others. I’ve had blogs in other niches (ones where it’s easier to make money) that were, comparatively, way more successful than my book blog, and I still had nowhere near the number of opportunities I’ve found in the book community.
I just figured out how to sum up this rant in one sentence, so I’m going to do that. 😛
I’d rather see publishers start treating book bloggers better, than throw money our way to justify treating us poorly.
Thanks for posting this Ashley!
Quick update. I just added a “Please consider sending at least $5 per review request to help keep the lights on.” on my review submission page and have already gotten several payment from authors and such during their submission!
I do have a pretty high traffic “book” blog running at approx 5000 uniques per month and if you do not try, nothing will ever happen.
If you have an idea, try it out you can always backpedal.
I’d love to make money from my book blog, though I can’t see it happening in the near future! I don’t have the audience to charge for book reviews, and even if I did I wouldn’t have the guts to do it. I think the WHOLE book blogosphere would have to start charging for book reviews, or it wouldn’t be possible.
I’ve got a few ideas on making money from my blog – not bookish related – though I’ll just see where the future goes. By the way, I LOVED your email series on this! 🙂
When I started my blog – almost six years ago now – I remember that advertising was really frowned upon in the book blogging community. I remember this so well, because it didn’t make sense to me at the time, and it doesn’t make sense now. But, there were a few holier-than-thou and very prominent at the time book bloggers who preached that advertising was selling out and a complete no-no. I’m pretty sure at least one of these bloggers eventually ended up with multiple adverts on her site. But, anyway…That mentality spread in the book blogging world and it has led us to where we are today. I don’t think there’s any coming back from this now.
Paid reviews are not something I am into (Just too much pressure!) But if we were to get paid to post up blog tour/promo posts then every book blogger would have to be on board as regards accepting payment. This is not going to happen. Also, Booktubing (something that is really not for me!) seems to be where the money is at. I don’t believe that publishers don’t have a budget to pay us – not for a second! What I do believe is that there’s a mentality in the book blogging world (or at least there used to be – maybe that’s changing!) that when publishers provide content for a blog tour they are actually doing us a favour (and not the other way around)! I also believe that publishers know that if a certain amount of bloggers start charging for their services, they can just go elsewhere and get pretty much the same service for free.
Due to various reasons (poor content, constant emails from overzealous publicity assistants while I was on holiday…) I have taken a step back from blog tours. I am very much in favour of charging for promo posts etc. but I have tried to do this in the past, and it hasn’t worked.
I am friends with a pretty successful lifestyle blogger and she thinks it’s crazy that we don’t get paid for the work we do/would never consider posting up work for free. Her mindset is, ‘it’s work and therefore you should get paid for it’. That should have been the mindset of the book blogging community right from the start. I fear it’s too late now.
(See, I told you I had a lot to say on this – I mean, I could probably write a book on it!)
This is a great post. I completely agree with you. I don’t do much promo posts. I mostly just do review posts. I bet I do less than one promo post a quarter and that is really for a few indie authors that I want to help support. The reviews that I post are either books/audios that are given to me for review or possibly library or purchased. I don’t always review the ones that are from the library or purchased. It helps me feel like this is a hobby to continue to have books for fun without the responsibility of reviewing. I just review the those if I feel like it. This is a great topic and I love that you always have this wonderful discussion posts. 🙂
I’m always interested in hearing about topic and how others feel. My thought is that a blogger is a writer, and should be paid as any other author, particularly when they’ve proved themselves in their niche industry. As mentioned, we all have bills to pay and would love being paid for our passion. Great post!
I think this is such an important topic to discuss!! I get so many requests to do book promos and reviews through email and I have been thinking about stepping away from book tours and putting out a service for any author wanting a book promo with a fee. It get’s super expensive running a blog through a hosted site. I like the post here because it shows how frustrating and rewarding it can be doing everything for free. And its pretty hilarious because all my friends or even guys I date personally thinks its odd I don’t get paid for it…in fact some of them get mad that I don’t demand it. hehe So it definitely would be nice to be compensated just enough to pay for my hosting even.
I’ve found myself in the same position as Paul. I put up the option of a two week turn around for a price and am already booked into January. It’s all been from authors of small or high quality indie pub books because they are willing to pay to get their book an honest review from bloggers. I do think one thing that matters is an established blog though. The reason they want to pay me instead of go with only free reviewers is that I have a larger blog than most bloggers that are starting out and have time to read anything they are sent. So yeah, it’s possible and I’m happy to hear book bloggers are okay with each other finding ways to make money.
First, I currently don’t have a book blog. I had a book blog for two years and one of the things I found extremely discouraging was the fact that making money from the blog seemed quite difficult and mostly unaccepted by the book blogging community. Every person who has had a blog knows it’s very hard work and a book review blog means even more work – so why shouldn’t you get payed for your work if so many bloggers from other niches are making a living from their blogs? I love that you gave some examples of book bloggers who are making money – they are certainly a great inspiration! I hope this scenario changes in the future and I’m even considering having a new try at book blogging.
I’m late to the discussion and I believe a lot of these points have been mentioned, but so far I see these things as the main problems:
Publishing isn’t doing well as an industry and publishers don’t want to spend money where they don’t have to. (Though I imagine they could find $20/each for seven bloggers to do a week-long blog tour!)
Some other blogger is always going to do it free, so why pay someone unless they have LOTS of followers?
Even if the “big” bloggers can manage to get compensation, most bloggers would not benefit from a switch to paid reviews or promo posts.
That said, I really like the idea of bloggers being compensated. Blogging takes lots of time and effort, and also lots of money if you invest in hosting, giveaways, buying your own books, etc. I do think there are some publicists who rely too much on bloggers to do free work–work that in other areas and industries people are paid to do. And while I’m happy to spread my love of books free for now, I expect publicists to recognize it as a labor of love and not act as if I or other bloggers owe them free marketing and publicity.
Book blogging is my passion, And I love it. It would be great if it could earn money- not profit atleast the maintenance charges of the website and incessant book buying. But as you said, the publishers/publicists will rush to another blogger since there are so many out there. No idea how to strike a balance.
I’m very late to the game, but.
While I would like to offer paid reviews, I fear that the only people who would be interested are the indie authors. Which, great, I love those people, but I also don’t want to stop reading and reviewing books by big publishers, because they put out some stuff I’m really interested in. So would I end up only reviewing indie books on my site, or would I end up charging the little people and then giving the big companies the same thing for free? That hardly seems fair at all.
I don’t know, I think you can still work with it. For example
– Charge for a “guaranteed review”. Otherwise, the books sent to you aren’t guaranteed to be reviewed by you. Maybe you will, or maybe you’ll never get around to it. But paying guarantees ar eview.
– Charge for an “expedited review”. If someone (like an indie author) pays, then their book moves to the top of your list.
I meant to add on the other post I commented, but it’ll work here, too—I love reading the feedback from bloggers, because I’m going to self-publish my books, starting next year with the first one, and was starting to prematurely freak out in terms of how to do it—i.e. would the book bloggers feel insulted if I paid them to read and [honestly] review my book—because so many do it “for the love”.
But to me, it is marketing, so it should fall under the marketing budget—and I respect bloggers too much to not do that.
I’m not sure of the right terminology, but the work of outside editors, etc. are involved, so it doesn’t fall into self-publishing only.
Since you’ve written two posts about this topic, do you have any tips on how a publisher/indie author might be able to reach out to book bloggers?
Good luck with your book! 🙂
Many book bloggers accept review requests, so you can just email them via their contact form and pitch your book to them. But you won’t be successful unless you follow a few ‘rules’ :
– Take the time to learn the blogger’s name. Book bloggers get a lot of emails addressed to, “Dear Blogger” or sometimes even the wrong name completely (“Dear Mandy” when my name is Ashley, for example). These often go straight into the bin.
– Read the blogger’s review policy if they have one. The review policy may outline what genres they do or do not accept. It’s important that you pay attention.
– Don’t lie or make assumptions in emails. For instance, I’ve gotten emails that say, “I can see from your blog that you’re a big fan of lawyer mystery novels.” But I’ve never read or reviewed such a book in my entire book blogging life. If you haven’t actually read the blogger’s blog or done research, don’t pretend like you have.
I know a lot of those seem like obvious rules, but back when I was accepting review requests, probably 90%+ of all emails I got broke those rules. Hence why I stopped taking requests at all.
A lot of people seem to just mass email bloggers and copy and paste the same email to everyone. Bloggers see this and don’t like it. Those emails are usually just instantly deleted. The personal touch goes a long way.
Just be genuine and only contact bloggers who truly seem like a good fit for your book. There’s no sense in contacting a blogger who focuses on contemporary romance if your book is high fantasy. That doesn’t help either of you.
Excellent post. I have been working on a booktube channel since long and I also have a blog since 3 years. I am from India and here, paid reviews aren’t that popular. In fact, I am often told that as authors want GENUINE reviews, they wouldn’t pay me. It’s like they pretend like only free reviews can be genuine!
But I think I am doing fine. I do get a couple of book deals and it’s all cool! I am hoping it will get better.
This is a really interesting post. It’s actually rather disheartening to read the comments on this post, because I see that a few say they won’t read a blog that gets paid for any kind of reviews. But I’ve been thinking about this topic lately. I’m a teenager (AKA no bills, and any money I earn basically goes to books haha), so I don’t need the money. I don’t want it either. However, if I want to upgrade my blog and/or buy something that would help traffic, efficiency, etc., I think it would be awesome if I was able to make a little money blogging, and put that money BACK into my blog. Eventually, it would be amazing if I could make some real money from my blog, because I love doing it, and as it grows bigger, there are more and more things I have to do to keep it running and growing, and be social at the same time.