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How and Where to Get Paid to Write Great Editorial Book Reviews in 2022

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Whether you’re a writer, book lover, or both, you’ve undoubtedly encountered book reviews in the wild. Literary magazines publish book reviews in every issue, and you’ve probably seen them on the jackets of your favorite (and least favorite) books.

In most cases, an actual human got paid real money to write that review. Whether it was a book they loved and had to tell someone or the publisher assigned them, many book reviewers get paid to tell the world what they honestly think of a book.

Writing a book review isn’t about marketing. Reviewers aren’t paid to tell someone how great the book is if it’s not a great book. They have to share their honest opinion on whether other readers should read the same book. Read on to find out how and where to get paid to write editorial book reviews.

Contents

Wait… Really?

It may sound too good to be true, but you can get paid to read books. For writers who love to read or readers who love to write, book reviewing can be an ideal way to make some extra money.

Freelance writers understand the importance of juggling multiple income streams. Getting at least a little monetary value out of hobbies and passion projects can make them feel like less of an indulgence. Plus, writing book reviews is a great way to gain experience as a professional writer and even get byline credit in many cases.

New writers likely won’t quit their day job on paid book reviews alone, so don’t plan on getting rich quick here. Writers with specialty qualifications earn more, as do those willing to do the work upfront and wait for an acceptance or rejection. Availability of work and pay vary dramatically, but writing paid reviews is still a viable opportunity for a book lover or writer.

write editorial book reviews
Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

How to Write a Book Review

Book reviews come in many shapes and sizes, as you’ll see when you explore the writer guidelines for the opportunities listed at the end of this article. Still, if you want to write a book review, there are three critical steps in the process, no matter what the result looks like.

Step 1: Understand the Assignment

If you’re writing a review for a paid review opportunity, be sure to read the guidelines and requirements thoroughly before you even read the book. Some reviews are short and require very little detail, while others have intensive calls for data about the book’s contents. Reading your assignment ahead of time can save you additional work later.

If you’re writing a book review for your portfolio, you have a lot of creative license in determining the format for your review. You can choose to be brief, to the point, and factual, or you can make your review a literary work in its own right. Just remember to consider your ideal client’s guidelines when writing to make your portfolio as enticing as possible.

Step 2: Read the Book

This is the best part of the whole process, isn’t it? You want to write book reviews because you love to read books. Just remember that there’s often more to writing a book review than just telling someone what you thought of it.

As you read the book, be sure to take notes about the book’s overall themes, characters, and impressions. The shorter the review, the more value you have to get out of each word, so you want to plan your review as you’re reading. Longer reviews may require you to keep track of profanity, typos, and other issues, too.

Step 3: Write the Review

Some reviews are direct and to the point, while others can themselves be lengthy works of art. Regardless, all reviews require a few key elements to be considered a review. Whether you’re writing a review as a paid assignment for a client or just for your portfolio, be sure to include:

Summary

All book reviews include the basic details of the book (title, author, genre), plus a summary to give the reader an idea of what to expect. Some very short reviews may only give you one sentence to hook the reader, while longer reviews may require a detailed plot description. Be aware of your client’s requirements (or hypothetical client) as you craft the summary.

Evaluation

Complex reviews will often do a deep literary analysis of the book being reviewed. Shorter reviews may only briefly discuss the themes of the book. Try to compare the book you’re reviewing to other books like it on the market to offer a fuller picture to the reader.

Recommendation

Finally, any book review must include a recommendation to the reader, whether they should go out of their way to read this book or not. You may not always like the book you’ve read, but if you can see how someone else may get value out of it, definitely mention that. Your job isn’t to make someone want to read it. Your job is to tell the reader whether it’s worth their time.

How to Get Paid

Now that you understand what a book reviewer does, here’s how you can earn real money writing about books.

Things to Consider

As with most writing opportunities, every book review publisher has different demands and benefits. Make sure to read any application, submissions, or contact pages thoroughly to understand what you’re applying for. Some have a required level of reviewer experience or genre-specific qualifications, and they all pay differently.

A writer’s time is precious, and you don’t want to waste any of it by applying for reviewer opportunities that you don’t qualify for or don’t compensate you fairly. Here’s what you can expect when looking through paid reviewer opportunities.

Basis of Payment

Different publishers offer different arrangements for commissioning, receiving, and paying for quality book reviews. Most of the opportunities on this list are paid on a freelance or project basis, meaning the reviewer gets paid a specific dollar amount per review written.

Even among freelance review opportunities, however, the process of selecting or receiving a book for review can be very different. Some publishers allow their available reviewers to select their book and return a review within a particular deadline. Others assign books to their reviewers, usually based on the reviewer’s stated preferences and expertise.

Some publications accept unsolicited submissions of completed book reviews. These are rarer and riskier opportunities than a freelance arrangement because they require work upfront with no guarantee of publication. Once submitted, the completed review waits in limbo to be accepted or rejected, often with little to no explanation.

There’s an upside to this added risk, though. For reviewers willing to review a book they’re passionate about without the guarantee of payment and wait up to six months for a verdict, the rewards are great. The pay for accepted reviews can be excellent, and in many cases, the reviewer retains most of the rights to their work for republication.

Finally, certain publications will commission reviews that have been pitched to them by interested reviewers. If you’ve read a book recently that you think deserves a review, for example, you could pitch that book and your qualifications for review to an editor. If they like your pitch, they offer to pay you an agreed amount of money for your review.

This splits the difference in terms of risk and reward between the freelance and unsolicited submission options above. However, not all publications offer this opportunity, and it’s unclear how many pitches are accepted and how many never go anywhere. It does leave reviewers plenty of time to pursue other opportunities in between commissioned reviews, though.

Amount of Pay

As you scroll through the list of paid book review opportunities below, you’ll probably notice that most of them don’t disclose exactly how much they pay per review. Some offer a range of pay, and others are on exactly how much reviewers can expect to receive for a completed review. Most are utterly silent on how much they pay, only hinting at how “modest” it may be.

All of the opportunities on this list offer some monetary compensation in the form of dollars, and many offer free ARCs (advanced review copies). If you’re a voracious reader, you may be willing to accept a smaller fee for a review of a book you received for free. Other potential reviewers may prefer to hold out for higher-paying opportunities.

Genres

Most of the options on this list are from publishers that accept book reviews from various genres. In particular, the United States Review of Books claims that it publishes reviews of books from all genres and viewpoints. Other publishers are more limited in the genres of books they’ll review.

Writers who have a particular interest or genre, such as science or technology, can make more money by focusing on their area of expertise. Genre-specific opportunities typically pay a little more than more general-interest book reviews. On the other hand, they also usually require more advanced qualifications to justify that extra pay.

Of course, you should only apply to review for a genre-specific publication if you have an interest or expertise in that genre. There are enough multi-genre opportunities out there that you should never fake interest in a topic for the sake of an article. Reviewers who don’t have a specialty interest can still make money reviewing other books.

Even among more general publishers, though, the way books are assigned to or selected by reviewers varies by publisher, so be aware of that as well. Even if you choose the right publisher for your interests, you may still get assigned the occasional flop. That’s just part of the review writing business, but you can improve your odds by choosing the right publisher, to begin with.

Experience Level

Writing book reviews is an excellent way for people new to the writing industry to begin expanding their skills and (in some cases) portfolio. Many book review opportunities are open to people of all experience levels, including totally new writers. If you don’t have a ton of book review experience, some applications let you write a sample review to show your skills.

Some publishers will say they accept reviewers of all experience levels, but they require more writing samples even to consider your application. While the idea of doing free work may not sound super appealing, you can write your own unpaid reviews of books you’ve read for your portfolio. Most publishers don’t require published samples.

Others are very upfront about their quality demands and required experience and won’t accept reviewers without the proper credentials. These are generally genre-specific, scholarly publications, although some general review publishers are just that strict. As a rule, be sure to read each opportunity’s guidelines thoroughly before you submit your interest to them.

10 Book Review Opportunities That Pay

Finally, we have ten publishers who pay for quality book reviews. These opportunities have a wide range of experience requirements, pay, and other factors. We hope that there’s an opportunity for anyone interested in writing reviews to make money. If any of them are of interest to you, follow the links for more information.

1. Kirkus Media: For Experienced Book Reviewers

  • Basis: Freelance / Project Basis
  • Pay: Undisclosed
  • Genre: Indie

Kirkus Media has been providing pre-publication book reviews to its subscribers since 1933. If you’ve ever read the product description for a book online or on the book jacket itself, you’ve probably read a review from Kirkus Media. They are well-known in the publication world.

Kirkus currently seeks experienced reviewers to write 350-word English- and Spanish-language Indie book reviews with a two-week deadline. Interested writers should submit a resume and writing samples, as well as a list of book reviewing specialties. For more information on this opportunity, visit their careers page.

2. Online Book Club: For New Book Reviewers

  • Basis: Freelance / Project
  • Pay: ARCs, $5 – $60 per review
  • Genre: Various

Online Book Club’s application process is a little less formal than Kirkus Media’s, which can be good for newer reviewers who want to gain some experience. Simply submit your contact information via their online form, and they’ll be in touch with additional details. You’ll only receive the book for free for your first review, but Online Book Club will pay for subsequent reviews.

They’re upfront about the fact that this isn’t an opportunity to quit your day job. You’re not going to get paid an outlandish amount of money for your time. But their reviews do include byline credit, which will allow you to use it in your portfolio. We know exposure doesn’t pay the bills, but it might help you find something that will.

3. The U.S. Review of Books: The Democratic Book Reviewer

  • Basis: Freelance / Project
  • Pay: Undisclosed, monthly checks
  • Genre: Various

The U.S. Review of Books is a publisher of paid editorial book reviews of all genres and points of view. They proudly proclaim that they’ll review any book submitted to them “in the freethinking, democratic spirit of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine.” They say that there’s nothing more threatening than a book that’s denied the opportunity for public discussion.

They periodically release a list of available books for review and call on their reviewers to select titles they’re interested in. Interested writers should submit a resume, writing samples, and two professional references via email. You can find more information on this opportunity and The U.S. Review of Books on their website.

4. The Women’s Review of Books: For Those with a Feminist Perspective

  • Basis: Freelance / Project
  • Pay: $100 per review
  • Genre: Various

The Women’s Review of Books is a subscription-based print publication from the Wellesley Centers for Women. They review a wide range of genres, including scholarly works, fiction, and memoir, most often authored by women, though not always. Their reviewers likewise are typically educated people with a female experience and a feminist perspective.

Their writer guidelines are pretty specific, so be sure to read those before submitting interest. Those interested in reviewing for the Women’s Review of Books should reach out to the editor. You can find contact information and writer guidelines here.

5. Booklist: An Opportunity to Shape America’s Libraries

  • Basis: Freelance / Project
  • Pay: $15 per review
  • Genre: Various

Booklist is a publication of the American Library Association. Their stated aim is to help guide school and public library professionals in their book selections. No library degree is required to be a reviewer, but they prioritize reviewers familiar with libraries or Booklist’s publications.

Booklist assigns books to review based on your stated preferences, and they give you byline credit in addition to payment upon publication. Their reviews are only 150 – 175 words, which makes the $15 payment a pretty great value, but they have relatively specific writer guidelines, so be sure to check those out. Interested writers can apply at Booklist’s website.

6. getAbstract: For Nonfiction Fanatics

  • Basis: Freelance / Project
  • Pay: Unspecified
  • Genre: Nonfiction, Magazines

getAbstract provides professional summaries of nonfiction and magazine titles to businesses, including one-third of Fortune 500 companies. They produce professional, comprehensive summaries that make it possible for companies to consume more information faster.

getAbstract is accepting applications from reviewers who specialize in any topic they cover, but they’re mainly looking for science and technology writers. Their application is straightforward and includes a brief sample summary based on an article they provide. Interested applicants can familiarize themselves with getAbstract’s summaries and apply here.

7. BookPage: The Book Lover’s Book Review

  • Basis: Freelance / Project
  • Pay: Unspecified
  • Genre: Various

You can find BookPage’s publications in libraries and bookstores in 48 states. Their mission is to connect every reader with a book that they’ll love. The reviews on their page are brief and to the point, and they offer byline credit to help you build your portfolio, which all writers know is so important but incredibly difficult.

Their website doesn’t specify whether they’re currently looking for reviewers. However, their contact form has a specific option for interested writers. You can submit your interest and receive more information by completing that form at Bookpage’s website.

8. VQR Online: For Writers with Patience

  • Basis: Unsolicited submission
  • Pay: $500 for 2,000 – 2,400 words
  • Genre: Various

VQR Online is a national journal of literature and discussion that accepts unsolicited independent manuscripts, journalism, and reviews for publication. Their only standard for publication is excellence, and topics of all sorts are accepted.

Their pay per review is enticingly competitive, but their submissions page advises that they can take up to six months to review unsolicited works, and they don’t guarantee publication. Still, writers retain rights to their work, including the right to resell after 90 days of exclusivity. Interested writers can find more information at VQR’s Submissions page.

9. Astronomy.com: For Science Writers with a Pitch

  • Basis: Freelance / Project
  • Pay: Unspecified
  • Genre: Non-Fiction

Astronomy.com is the online arm of Astronomy magazine, a periodical dedicated to all-things astronomy. Their Submissions page says that they don’t accept unsolicited reviews. Instead, interested reviewers should submit a pitch to review a recently published book they’d like to review.

Along with basic information about the book, you’ll want to tell them why you’re qualified to write a review of this particular book for them. If they like your pitch, they’ll send you a commission proposal with their writer guidelines and pay. Astronomy.com recommends familiarity with its publication before pitching a review.

10. BookBrowse: For Experienced Book Connoisseurs

  • Basis: Freelance / Project
  • Pay: Unspecified
  • Genre: Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction

BookBrowse understands that there are entirely too many books out there for a voracious reader to choose from. That’s why they only provide the highest quality reviews of the most exceptional books being published.

BookBrowse is very clear that their standards for book reviews are very high. They recommend interested reviewers familiarize themselves with their publication before expressing interest. They also require two sample reviews of at least 300 words (not links to published reviews) to consider applications. Interested writers can find more information here.

Related post: A Complete Guide for How and Where to Get Paid to Read Books

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