Friday 15 January 2016

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If Book Bloggers Were to Get Paid

Recently, Phillip Pullman wrote a short piece for The Guardian; Enough's Enough - Authors Can't Work For Free. A number of authors elaborated on what he said, talking about how they get paid very little from the sales of books, and that any work they don't get paid for away from writing takes time away from when they could be writing, which earns them their money. (Links go to Tweets from C. J. Daugherty and Melinda Salisbury.) Which is pretty awful. I personally never realised that authors didn't get paid for such events. It's ridiculous. All that time and effort they put into events for us, their fans, and they don't get paid for it; that not one penny of the money we spend on tickets to see them actually makes it's way to them. I can't believe it, and think it's atrocious, really.

But further tweets got me thinking about something else. Melinda Salisbury did comment that she doesn't consider what she writes for book bloggers as something she should be paid for:

Which, is of course, awesome. And led to these interesting tweets from Jess from Jess Loves Books:

I found it really surprising to read that all review bloggers, it seems, are paid for reviewing products except book bloggers. I find that quite unbelievable. I knew some bloggers got paid for reviewing certain products, but it never occurred to me that we're the only blogging community that doesn't get paid.

In some ways, I think it's understandable; we all know that it costs a huge amount of money to produce ARCs, and sure, they're not all just for bloggers, but it is money spent for the purpose of reviews. and we get them for what we do anyway. Yet, at the same time, these days, I probably receive more finished copies to review than I do ARCs. This might be because it's cheaper to send finished copies and there are more of them, when only a certain number of ARCs are made and have already been sent out.

There is part of me that feels this isn't fair, though. We book bloggers are hard working, and put a huge amount of time and effort into our blogs and creating interesting, informative, unique and fun content. If other bloggers can be paid for doing what we do for other products, why can't we? If I was offered the chance to be paid for book blogging how I do now, I would jump at the chance. Let me say that again: I would jump at the chance to be paid for book blogging how I do now.

If we were paid as book bloggers, I think there are a lot of things that would change, such as:
  • Those of us who only review books they enjoyed would have to review all books. I imagine we would be paid per book we promote; if we get sent 10 books, and only enjoy three out of the 10, and those are the only three you review, you'll get paid for just those three, despite reading the other seven, right? This would be a problem for me if I'm expected to review the unsolicited review copies I receive. Granted, I no longer get that many, but I would feel I had to read a book I knew I wasn't going to enjoy because
  • We will have to read to a deadline. Makes sense right? If your being paid to review a book, the publishers will want the book reviewed by a certain time. That wouldn't work for me. I generally don't read to a deadline. I have to read the books I fancy as and when I fancy them. This does mean that sometimes review copies will not be read for months. Publishers are fine for me to do this, because they know they will be reviewed, and a later review can put the book back on readers' radars. But they're not going to pay for a review, and wait months for it.
  • If we're all reading and reviewing to deadlines, we'll all be talking about the same books at the same time. Even if it's not a review but some kind of spot light post for the book, we'll still be talking about the same books at the same time. No content that's all that original.
  • If we're all talking about the same books at the same time, blog readers aren't going to visit all the blogs. We might end up losing blog readers.
  • Also, would those readers trust out positive reviews if we're being paid for them? Most bloggers have a disclaimer on their blog or in their reviews somewhere to explain that despite receiving books in exchange for a review, our reviews are not affected by this and our reviews are honest. Would this be as easy to believe if we were being paid?
  • If we're reviewing to deadline, we'll have little time to read the books we buy or borrow from the library. Also, those books aren't going to earn us money.
Those are just a few examples. I suppose, in a sense, some of these examples wouldn't matter so much if your book blog was just a side-line to earn some extra money as well as a day job; you could be more selective about the books you accept, read and review, because you're not completely depending on the money it brings in. But in her tweets, Jess was talking about the prospect of turning your blog into a job. If your blog is your sole source of income, you might not be able to afford to be so selective.

As much as I would absolutely love to be paid for book blogging, I think it might end up feeling more like a chore than something I enjoy. If things were to change and we start getting paid for what we do, I'd want some clear rules set out as to what that would mean. I'd hate to have my experience of blogging to change so much it becomes unenjoyable. But I would absolutely love if it came about that book bloggers would start to be paid for the work we do, especially as other bloggers are.

What do you think? Do you think we should get paid or not? Do you think there would be more positives or negatives to being paid? And what do you think about authors not being paid for the events they take part in? Talk to me! :)


  1. Authors aren't the only ones that don't get paid for events. I am a crafter. I just learned that most fabric designers (like quilting fabric) don't get paid for the shows and events they go to either. It's considered promotion and you don't get paid to promote your product.

    As for getting paid to blog about books, I can see why people would be wary about the honesty of the review. However, there are non blogger who don't trust blogger reviews. I saw either on Amazon or B&N a review where the person said she wasn't sure if she was going to like the book because the only reviews she had seen was by bloggers. She though since we get the book for free we can't be objective.

    1. I think this is just awful that people don't get paid for attending events. It's just wrong.

      Well, we can be objective, we've shown that time and again. And we can't review a book if we don't have it. It's an exchange. And it would be a hugely expensive hobby to buy every single book that is published. I wouldn't be able to blog like I do now if it wasn't for publishers sending out review copies, I just couldn't afford it. And blogging does cost us money, anyway. We still buy books, and some of us have our own domains etc, and we buy books for giveaways. It would be great if we were able to earn something from it. I just don't know if it would ever happen.

  2. Omg authors don't get paid for their events?!? OKAY THAT MAKES ME MADE. I think there's a lot of stigma around paying for books and art and it makes me really mad. xD hehe. sorry! It's just no one would think twice about paying to go see a football game, but people will complain about the price of books or whatever. It's just all really unfair. D:

    And I do think bloggers should get paid actually. Maybe not necessarily for reviews? But for advertising space! I mean, we'll just promote books we love for the sake of loving them...but YEAH. It sucks that one can work so hard and basically never expect to turn it into a business. Unless you turn to selling other products or opening Etsy stores or Society6 stores (which I see bloggers doing now and it makes sense!!)

    But like I freelance on a bookseller's blog. So I get paid to advertise their site...obviously I don't review books I hate because that won't sell them. But I put together lists (not necessarily of books I've given 5 stars) and review books I do love and I'm in no way being dishonest there. So I think there's room to make book blogging paid.

    (Although the real problem is, if bloggers started wanting to be paid for review books...wouldn't publishers just give the books to the newbie bloggers who are desperate for them? So it probably would never work out. D:)

    (Omg such a long comment. xD hehe, but basically I just think book bloggers COULD be paid without it compromising their honesty and credibility. *nods*)

    1. RIGHT?! Pay the authors. You pay for tickets for the events, the authors should be paid.

      I think we should get paid, I just can't see it happening, or happening without issues. And people already get paid for advertising space, but that's just not something I want to do. I don't want to "advertise" a book I wouldn't read/buy/enjoy. It's just not what I want to do. And with regards to Etsy/Society6 stores, some of us just aren't able to do that. I'd have nothing to sell. So. Lol.

      I think the fact that you blog on a bookseller's site and get paid for it is awesome. You're being honest about what you're doing, and you're not lying about loving a book you don't - I've seen your lists, and there might be books there I know from your blog you don't like, but you're not saying you like them, you're put them in a list of books of a certain kind. I think that's fine.

      Yeah, I just can't see publishers paying us. I'm not sure if they'd have the budget for that.

      I love your long comments! :)

  3. I didn't even realize reviewers of other products get paid. But I think it's probably a bad idea to pay book bloggers for reviews. When it's just review copies and ARCs, I trust that bloggers are able to be honest with their reviews. But if people were actually making money or even a living off it, even I, as a fellow blogger, would start to get leery of good reviews because I would assume the publishers aren't going to pay people who say bad things about them. Therefore, people would have to say good things in order to get paid. And unfortunately, there are dishonest people out there. If bloggers were paid by a third party and NOT the publishers however... I could maybe see that working.

    It's definitely interesting to think about!

    1. See, that's where the rules would come in. I think if publishers were to pay reviewers, it would have to be for the review, not a positive review. Because even negative reviews sell books; I've had people comment on my negative reviews saying that the elements I didn't like are what appeal to them, so they were going to buy it. I think publishers couldn't put conditions on it like that, because if bloggers who wanted to be paid but be honest... well, they'd lose money. It just wouldn't work. The publishers can't dictate the reviews. That's my thinking. If it ever happened.

  4. I didn't really realize that other types of reviewers get paid. I think it would be difficult to be objective if the publishers were paying me. Of course, there are people who are paid to review for publications - but they're paid by the publication, not the publishers so that would be different. For me, blogging has turned into a job in freelance editing, so I make money that way - there ARE ways to monetize, but it can be tricky!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. I don't see how it would be hard to be objective just because you're being paid. You just continue being honest. As long as publishers didn't demand positive reviews. I'm not sure I could see it happening anyway, really. And monetising isn't for me, personally.

  5. I did know most other review blogs get paid, and that honestly makes me distrust most of them. I seek out the young blogs that are blogging for a passion and aren't being paid yet but usually as soon as they start getting paid, their posts change. In my opinion, it's often easy to tell that they're just being nice because they were paid to be. Or, in the case of cooking blogs, the recipe they developed is just around this ingredient they were sent, but there's no passion there. I think that book bloggers who become very attached to certain big name publishers can have this same aspect to their blogs too, even if they aren't paid.

    1. I think it's really sad that you've found this. I would hope people continued to be honest and passionate, even though they're being paid. I know that's how I would be if I was paid.

  6. Just found your blog through the discussion link up :) I'm a bookish blogger that doesn't write reviews/promote specific books, so there's no way that my blog in its current form could/should make money. And that's how I like it. I had an old blog years ago (with a different theme), and I did a lot with monetizing (ads/blogher/product reviews etc). At first it was exciting, but soon it felt like those things had taken over my blog and I had to post a specific way, was not able to express myself how I wanted to etc. And all said and done I made under $500 for the hassle, and I ended up deleting my blog because I got so sick of the whole thing. Now I blog because I enjoy the interaction with other book loving people, and it gives me an outlet to write. That's good enough for me :)

    1. That sounds like a great way to go about things, if monetising was stressing you our and not much fun. Monetising isn't for me, but I do think there's a difference in being paid to review something, and having adds etc on your blog. Product reviews are different, obviously. If you didn't enjoy that, then of course it's your perogative to change the way you do things. Thank you for stopping by! :)