Money rules the world, whether you like it or not. You need money to survive and you definitely need it to live a comfortable life in 99.9% of the world. That’s pretty much an acknowledged fact. In order to get money and by extension survive, we sometimes work jobs that we hate because they’re the only ones around.
But what if you could get paid for doing what you love? What if the thing you love most is reading and writing about reading? What if you’re an avid reader like me and could get paid for doing what you love the same way writers get paid to do what they love?
Tempting, isn’t it?
Okay, sorry, I’m done with the rhetorical questions for now. But seriously, it has tempted me on more than one occasion to charge for reviews. It’s tempting to ask for a $5 fee for every book review you do, even though considering the amount of time I put into reading and reviewing that’s not even a living wage. It’s tempting to charge a fee but still review honestly (because even I won’t sink that low for money). Part of the temptation is the fact that getting paid to do what I love would be awesome, but another part shows my more practical side. I’ve done some calculations.
The average Young Adult book is about 300-400 pages long. Some are significantly more, some are significantly less, but that seems to be the most common range I come across. I read approximately 100 pages per hour, which is apparently considered pretty fast. Therefore, for every book I review for authors I need to spend 3-4 hours of pure reading. Writing a book review takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on whether I really liked a book or had mixed feelings or just loathed it. Okay, so for an average book that means I’m spending anywhere from 3.5 hours to 5 hours.
Now, in Saskatchewan the minimum wage is $10 an hour. If I were to charge minimum wage for the average book, authors could end up paying $35-$50 for a review that’s not necessarily flattering. On my end, it would be awesome to be paid for reading, but if I were to give in to the lure of paid reviewing it wouldn’t just affect me. It would mean there is one less free reviewer out there when there aren’t exactly a whole bunch of scrupulous, but free reviewers out there currently accepting reviews. It would also mean that you guys, my readers, might not trust my honesty as much because there is the chance that the fact I’m getting paid makes me more likely to give a good review.
I put in a minimum of 20 hours per week into this blog. That includes reading, reviewing and publicizing. Essentially, all of the things necessary to keep this blog running and to make sure I’m reaching a wider audience. Even when you love something, from my perspective it’s hard not to think of a way to monetize it. Yet there’s still the honesty factor and honesty is incredibly important to me.
There are some people out there that make money from ads and promoting works and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as they’re open about it. A couple times I’ve thought of doing that myself. But then I examined the reasons why I started book blogging in the first place:
1. I love talking about books with like-minded readers.
2. I like supporting my favourite authors.
3. The occasional free book.
Just writing that down brings home the reality: when I started out I definitely wasn’t in it for the money. In all honesty, I’m still not. If I got into blogging because I wanted to make money, I’d be in the wrong profession. That’s why I won’t be charging for reviews now or ever. There are other ways for me to make money without making me feel like I’m betraying myself and my readers.
So what do you guys think? If you’re a reviewer, would you ever consider paid reviewing? What about running ads? If you’re a reader of book blogs, would you trust a reviewer who is charging authors to review their books? Why or why not?