If you’re a bibliophile, I’m sure you’ve dreamed about getting paid to read books and use that money to buy even more books.
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Well, snap out of it because it’s now a legitimate side gig or even a home-based career opportunity!
You can become a book reviewer and earn real cash in exchange for your thoughts. If not cash, then you at least get to keep that book.
Summarizing and narrating books are other ways to get paid for reading.
Or, you can build passive income by doing what you love to do.
Read on for a list of sites that actually pay you to read books. Plus, I’ll share some bonus ways to make money from reading books.
Get Paid to Read Books From These 13 Legit Websites
The following websites pay you to read books with cash sent via PayPal, bank deposit, or check.
The US Review of Books has opportunities for reviewers to access a wide range of genres.
Book reviews are expected to run from 250 to 300 words long, follow the Chicago Manual of Style, and include factual, objective praise and critique directed at the book and not the author.
It can include a book summary, insights about the book, and with as little cliché as possible. Quotes from the book are okay as well, but casual tones are not recommended.
Reviews must be submitted 2–3 weeks after accepting the job.
The site posts book titles periodically. Members can then choose which titles they like to review.
To apply as a freelance reviewer, email the editor at editor[at]theUSreview[dot]com with your résumé, sample book review, and at least two professional references.
Payment: There isn’t any information on the amount of payment for each review, but the site states that reviewers are paid monthly (on the 5th of the month via check) for all reviews completed during the previous month.
This female-geared magazine has been conducting its ‘Women’s Review of Books’ for more than 35 years.
The goal of this program is to “publish reviews that draw on rich reservoirs of knowledge—based in organizing, discipline-based research, and personal experience—in the service of action and consciousness.”
Wellesley Centers for Women doesn’t publish a list of book titles.
Instead, you have to send your pitch including the book’s publication date and your angle to editor.wrb[at]gmail[dot]com along with your résumé, cover letter, and samples of published reviews. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.
For more information, refer to these writers’ guidelines.
Payment: Aside from a PDF of the issue where your approved review appears and a free one-year subscription to the WRB magazine, payment inquiries should be sent to Ian Mellanby, ian[at]oldcitypublishing[dot]com.
The website is a platform for authors to promote their books and receive quick and honest feedback on their work.
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New members initially review books without pay but will be sent paid opportunities once the first review is proven to pass their standards.
Payment: Reviewers receive free books and get paid from $5 to $60, depending on the reviewer’s experience and the book being reviewed.
4. Kirkus Media
Kirkus Media hires copywriters and editors regularly for its magazine. If you can write book reviews in either perfect English or Spanish, then you’ll love working here.
The company publishes these 350-word reviews on Kirkus Indie, a section of the magazine that features self-published or “indie” authors.
To join the roster of Kirkus reviewers, you must submit your résumé, writing samples, topic preferences, and books you like to review to the Kirkus Indie Editor at drapp[at]kirkus[dot]com.
Payment: There is no information about fees for reviews on the website, but past and current reviewers claim that they earn around $50 per review.
For an author who wants their book to get noticed, Publishers Weekly is the go-to weekly news magazine.
PW doesn’t list “book reviewer” often on their career page, but it does list spots for copyeditors and editors continuously. Make sure to check back here if you’re interested in reviewing books since PW is the best training ground for anyone starting out in this business.
PW has a good mix of non-fiction and fiction books both from traditionally-published authors and indies.
To apply as a future book reviewer, send your résumé and a sample of any book review you’ve recently written.
Payment: Publishers Weekly does not publish payment details, but reviewers are paid an honorarium.
Reedsy is a marketplace of publishing professionals that help aspiring authors self-publish their works.
Reedsy Discovery is a part of Reedsy where new books are available to be reviewed and recommended to subscribers of their newsletter.
Being a reviewer at Reedsy is a good way to get paid to read books by new authors.
If you’re interested, simply fill out this form.
Payment: Reedsy Discovery doesn’t pay a salary, but readers of your reviews can give you a tip from $1, $3, or $5.
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Writerful Books accept book reviews of contemporary novels from American, Australian, British, Canadian, Irish and New Zealand authors.
Note that all reviewers here begin as non-paid reviewers. Those who have proven skills in providing in-depth, fair, and non-libelous reviews can level-up to paid status.
Payment: Writerful Books pays its reviewers $10 to $50 depending on the length of the book and how in-depth reviews submitted are.
Top reviewers are rewarded with a $100 Amazon gift voucher.
Booklist Online is the American Library Association’s book review magazine. It publishes over 8,000 book reviews every year to help librarians from all over the US in selecting books for their shelves and recommending books to readers.
To help produce this many reviews each year, Booklist hires freelancers to write book reviews.
Interestingly, Booklist calls its reviews “the haiku of book reviewing,” which is a good thing for reviewers since you would only need to come up with 175 words per review. You can extend this up to 225 words, but you’d need the editor’s approval.
Send a pitch with your resume and writing samples if you want to become a book reviewer for Booklist.
Payment: Reviewers are paid $15 for accepted reviews and $5 for rejected ones.
Writing summaries is another great way to get paid to read books.
getAbstract periodically hires freelancers to write summaries (or abstracts) of a wide range of books and articles into 10-minute bites such that readers know what they’re getting at a glance.
They’re not currently training new freelancers for writing summaries on general topics, but if you’re a science writer, you can get jobs sooner.
Audiobooks have been increasing in popularity in recent years. Larger publishing houses normally have in-house narrators to create audiobooks out of print or ebooks, but self-published authors and smaller presses are often on the lookout for freelance voiceover actors they can hire on a per-project basis who can read their books out loud.
Amazon’s ACX connects narrators, sound engineers, and other producers that can create a finished, polished audiobook with self-published authors, literary agents, or small publishers.
So if you have excellent enunciation and a clear voice, this opportunity may be perfect for you.
Payment: Varies per assignment
Instaread provides 15-minute summaries of bestselling books in audio or text formats.
They occasionally have openings for book reviewers that can submit 1000- to 1500-word summaries that are written according to their style guide.
Payment: Instaread pays $100 per summary. They currently don’t have openings, but check back to see if there are open calls.
You Can Also Get Paid to Read Manuscripts
Literary agencies receive more book manuscripts that they can reasonably process.
Some agencies get around this problem by hiring freelance readers to read the manuscripts and compile “book reports” on them. Reports range from two to three pages at most, and the work is steady.
This site offers authors a place to find literary agents; however, non-author members can also reach out to agents and find out if they would be willing to collaborate with a book reviewer.
The site also occasionally posts book review opportunities; most requested reviews span no more than two to three pages.
Here, you can peruse the site’s extensive job board and usually find at least a handful of ways to get paid to read books each week.
If doing that doesn’t turn up what you’re looking for, you can also contact literary agents about working with them directly.
The Gray Market of Paid Book Reviewing
Whenever we talk about reviews, whether it’s for films or books, the reviewer should be someone impartial. But if the author, publishing house, PR firm, or any other person connected to the author hires people to write “glowing” reviews of the book, then this can be problematic.
Amazon has been trying to battle this at its expansive book section for years.
But no amount of policy changes or banning members have helped remove the gray market of paid book reviews.
There are even Facebook groups exclusive to buying book reviews directly from providers.
If you’re exploring how to get paid to read books and you discover the gray market of paid book reviewing, it’s going to be an ethical consideration for you if you’d continue with reviewing the book or not.
Bonus: 3 Other Ways to Get Paid to Read Books
Reviewing, summarizing, and narrating books are popular ways to earn money from reading, but there are other ways.
1. Get free books in exchange for reviews.
It’s not cash, but a free book is a free book, am I right?
If you regularly shop for books to read, you’ll be happy to learn that plenty of websites will give you copies of books free in exchange for your honest reviews.
Sometimes, you can even score books that haven’t been released yet.
The most popular way to do this is to get accepted into Amazon Vine.
Amazon Vine is an invitation-only program where only the most thoughtful, helpful reviewers on Amazon get accepted.
To be considered as a Vine Voice, work on writing detailed, well-thought-out reviews every time you make an Amazon purchase.
Here are a few other websites where you can get free books for your reviews:
- BookBrowse (USA residents only)
- Moody Publishers (for bloggers and Amazon users)
- NetGalley (not-yet-published books)
- Book Hub (for Amazon users)
- Readers’ Favorite
- Lola’s Blog Tours
- Bethany House
…among many others.
2. Blog about books
Writing book reviews for companies isn’t much different from writing book reviews and publishing them on your blog.
So why not start your own blog?
Starting a book blog allows you to make money from reading books through passive income.
Besides, as you can see from the previous item, publishers are more likely to send you free books to review if you have your own blog.
Aside from book reviews, you can also write about your favorite books and how they’ve impacted you, your favorite authors, book quotes that inspire you, and many more.
Here are more details on how to earn passive income from blogging.
3. Work in the book publishing industry
If you’re ready to move beyond passive income and turn your hobby into a full-time career, you can apply for jobs in the book publishing industry.
Here are some examples of positions you can apply for:
- Literary agent
- Literary scout
- Book editor
- Copy editor
- Art director
- Production editor
- Book marketer
- Book sales agent
There are plenty of other jobs in the publishing industry, but these are the positions wherein reading the books and manuscripts are a big part of doing your job.
I recommend starting your job search in FlexJobs, where you can find legitimate, hand-screened, flexible jobs in the book industry.
For a job board that’s specifically for the book publishing industry, you can start looking in Bookjobs.com.
The Bottom Line
Making money by reading books is an interesting side gig, especially for book lovers who can easily finish books.
While you’re not exactly going to get paid to make your way through the Best Sellers list, these are still legitimate opportunities.
Some of the websites I listed above don’t really require you to be professional writers, but a few of them do. You need to have above-average writing skills, though, since almost all of them will ask you to send writing samples.
Unless you land a full-time or part-time job reviewing books at a publishing house or magazine, you can’t treat this side gig as your main source of income.
But if you manage your expectations about book reviewing as a career and just enjoy exploring new books, then being paid an extra $10 to $100 for your opinion about a book is a great way to earn side cash.
You can always sell books on Amazon to earn some extra cash as well.
Do any of the book review websites interest you? Or maybe you were inspired to start your own book blog instead? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!