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March 20, 2014

Should Book Bloggers Charge?

by Donna Huber

As I mentioned last week, Girl Who Reads is becoming a multi-reviewer site. It's exciting. I'm hoping that it will alleviate some of the work I do. I won't have to write posts 5 days a week. But then there is the organizing of who is reviewing what when and other administrative tasks so it might all balance out to be about the same amount of work.

I know paying for a review is unpopular. However, there are a lot of things bloggers do for authors that are not tied completely to the review. In searching for blogs to query for clients, I see some of the "mommy" bloggers that charge if a product being reviewed isn't a certain value - often set at $25 or $50. I don't know any of these bloggers personally, so I don't know exactly how that works out for them. Most are reviewing quite a few products.

Then there are places like Kirkus Reviews and even Publisher's Weekly that charge authors. In the case of the latter, it is an advertising package that may include a review, but no review is guaranteed. From the former organization, the author does get a review. It is up to the author if the review is published. If published it is distributed to retailers and possibly printed in their magazine and email newsletter. The book is also assigned to qualified reviewers - librarians, journalists, PhDs. In other words, there are a number of administrative tasks associated with having the book reviewed. They also have career opportunities, so I assume their reviewers are paid.

What if book bloggers charged an administrative fee for the books they accept for review? I'm sure it takes me at least 5 minutes to sort the requests, send the list of request to the reviewers, arrange for the posting of the review, etc. Is 5 minutes of my time worth $2 to you if it meant a review at Girl Who Reads?

Let's move away from the controversial topic of pay that is in any way linked to reviews. What about promo posts? People are paying sites like Book Bub and the multitude of other ebook deal sites. I do give at least some of sties  have proven to increase sales for most books listed. But then again they often charge $100 or more to list a free or discounted ebook.

Let's take an informal poll,

For authors...
Would you pay $5 - $10 for a promo post that looked something like this post or this one? It would also be tweeted and mentioned on Facebook over the course of the month or so.

For readers...
Do you look at the promo posts? Do you consider purchasing the books featured in such posts?

Just leave a comment with your answer. I'm sure there are other book bloggers wondering the same thing. Book blogging is a time consuming endeavor and while often our book budgets are supplemented with the free books we receive for review purposes, many wouldn't mind a little financial compensation for all the hard work they put into their blogs. So your answers will be hopeful to many.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the publisher, editor and head writer for Girl Who Reads and author of the how-to manual Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour

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  1. I do look at promo posts, and if the book look interesting to me I add it to my TBR pile :)
    I like this post :) You've made some good points there ;)

  2. I read promo posts but I take with a grain of salt if the review is all positive and the blogger doesn't have any "cons" of the product. I blog about motherhood and books. A motherhood type post takes less time, it comes from real life. While a book review takes extra time out of my work day being a stay at home mom. I think its more than just the admin time of posting the review but the time it takes to read a book. I certainly wouldn't mind compensation for my time to review. But I do take reviews more seriously when they aren't paid. Congrats on growing and taking on more reviewers. Found you on G+. I hope you will stop by my blog and enter a post on my Throwback Thursday and Small Victories Sunday linkies open now.

  3. Hmmmm…interesting questions. I personally am distrustful of reviews which are purchased.

    Just a couple of weeks ago I was at a writing conference and one of the authors was sharing a review he'd purchased from Kirkus. The review wasn't even all that positive and I was left wondering what the reviewer's unbiased opinion would have been if money hadn't changed hands.

    I completely understand a blogger wanting/needing to monetize their site, so it's quite the conundrum.

  4. As a book review blogger, I wouldn't mind receiving a little compensation for a book spotlight like you used as your examples. They did not include reviews so I feel compensation would be nice. I do sometimes read the ad if the book catches my eye and I have on occasion purchased the book. Personally, my opinion would not be swayed due to monetary compensation. It takes hours to read a book and gather the information and do the blog post. Compensation would be nice, sort of an advertising fee. I have an outreach of approx 5,000 so I feel that the author has a potential of selling that many books if they are featured on my blog (I'm realistic enough to know it would not equal 5000, but the potential is there.) Compensation would not be out of line. I have not received any yet, but I am now considering the add type blog post that you featured.

  5. As an author, I have paid for promotion of my books. I agree that it takes a lot of time to read and review someone's book and that compensation is certainly okay. I have seen others who agree to read the book, if they can be positive (not promising a 5 star review) then they do the review and charge. I still think the best reviews are from the fans who actually read our books. I don't mind paying for someone to highlight my book on their site to all of their fans and I pay for them to give me a shot.

  6. Hmm. Promo posts (ESPECIALLY if it seems as if the blogger hasn't read it personally) and blog tours both, kind of make my eyes glaze over.

    I write my blog for my own edification. I'm small, so maybe my perspective on the administrative stuff has yet to change. (Though I definitely need to get organized.) Of course there are sites and services that are specifically marketed to authors as promotion services. For most authors it WILL be necessary to use services to aggressively market their books.

    For me this is different than a 'pure' book blog. I think that bloggers who market their services (and pages) out for more advertising and less thoughtful review run the risk of alienating their readers.

  7. I do not read reviews I think have been paid. I don't know why, but it feels to me like the review couldn't be completely and utterly honest - since the author is actually paying for the review, it seems that the author would be able to have a say in what, exactly, the review says.

    When I participate in blog-tours, most of the hosting blogs don't want reviews that are less than three stars, which has meant that I have sometimes not posted a review at all, even if that was planned. I will not rate a book three stars if I think it deserves less, it would go against everything I believe in.

    I do read some promo posts, but mostly on the blogs I follow, so a release day blitz or a cover reveal will most likely be something I click on, but it's not all that often it will make me add a book to my TBR shelf, and even less often that it helps me buy a book.

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

  8. There are already bloggers who get paid for organizing book tours. I don't think of getting paid to blog though. So I don't think I'll go down that route. I read blog tours but almost never read cover reveals.