Bookworms like you and me can get paid to read books.
Yes, you read that right. And yes, it is actually a legitimate side cash opportunity.
You can become a book reviewer, earn real cash in exchange for your thoughts, get to keep that book, or build passive income just by doing what you love to do.
4 Ways to Get Paid to Read Books
Before you get too excited, you need to understand the different ways you can make money reading books and the corresponding rewards you’ll receive from each type of job.
1. Gather Freebies
If you hunt for books to read and actually buy e-books regularly, you’ll be happy to learn that plenty of websites will give you copies of books free in exchange for your review.
This is fairly similar to getting paid to test products.
It is rare to find companies or websites that pay you money, but one thing’s for sure – you’ll never run out of books to read.
Examples of these websites include NewPages, Springer, Book Browse (USA residents only), Story Cartel, MoodyPress (for Amazon users), Net Galley (not-yet-published books), Civitas Press, BookLookBloggers, and Tyndale Blog Network, among many others.
2. Get-Paid-To Sites
With these kinds of gigs, you can expect some sort of payment for your time. It may be in exchange for gift cards, credits to a store, or a direct PayPal payment.
The amount would depend entirely on the piece you’re going to review (mostly due to the length) and the site you’re working on.
Check below for all the websites that pay people to review books.
3. Book Review Jobs
You have part-time and full-time options, but both jobs entail book editing, writing or even creating ebooks.
All other options in this list are freelance, while book review jobs are the only one that provide more stability. Of course, it will depend on the job and your contract if you can perform the job from home. Check Upwork if you’re interested in this kind of work.
4. Affiliate Marketing
The difference between affiliate marketing and the rest of the “jobs” listed here is that you don’t know how much you’d be making from your affiliate marketing efforts.
However, imagine selecting one of the millions of books from Amazon, writing either a negative or positive review about it on your blog, and putting an affiliate link going to Amazon. Every time a person clicks on that link and shops around Amazon (even if he/she didn’t end up buying the book you recommended), you’d still earn a commission from that sale.
Get Paid to Read Books from these 8 Legit Websites
The following websites pay you to review books with cash sent via PayPal or checks.
The US Review of Books has opportunities for reviewers to access a wide range of genres.
Reviews, which is supposed to be around 300 words, must be submitted 2-3 weeks after accepting the job. It can include a book summary, insights about the book, constructive criticism and with as little cliché as possible. Quotes from the book are OK as well, but casual tones are not recommended.
The site posts book titles periodically. Members can then choose which titles they like to review. Unfortunately, you’d have to submit your “application” and US Review of Books picks the reviewers for a particular project based on past reviews and personal preferences.
Payment: There isn’t any information about 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 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 pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org along with your resume, cover letter and samples of published reviews. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.
Payment: Aside from free subscription to the WRB magazine, each review is paid around $100, or fourteen cents per word (for senior reviewers).
The website is a platform for authors to promote their books and receive quick and honest feedback of their work.
New members initially review books without pay, but will be sent paid opportunities once the first review is proven to pass the standards.
Payment: Reviewers receive 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 part of the magazine that features self-published or “indie” authors.
To join the roster of Kirkus reviewers, you must submit your resume, writing samples, topic preferences, and books you like to review to the Kirkus Indie Editor.
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.
Publishers Weekly is the go-to weekly news magazine, especially if you’re an author who wants his/her book to get noticed.
PW doesn’t list “book reviewer” often at the career page, but it does have continuous spots for copyeditors and editors. Make sure to check back here if you’re interested in book reviewing, 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 resume 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.
Any Subject Books has a ton of genres available for honest and objective reviews.
You’d have to send an application to become a book reviewer for Any Subject Books. Once you’re accepted, they will send you book titles for review (including synopsis of the book). You then decide whether to accept the job or not.
When reviewing books for Any Subject Books, you’d only need to fill-up a form they give you to use.
Note that the company matches your genre preferences with new titles up for review.
Payment: Review payment varies on a book-to-book basis, depending on length, genre, and other factors.
Writerful Books accept book review jobs from authors of contemporary novels from American, Australian, British, Canadian, Irish and New Zealand.
Note that all reviewers here begin as a 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 pay 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 American Library Association’s book review magazine. It publishes over 8,000 book reviews every year as a way to help librarians from around the US in selecting books for their shelves and advising readers.
To help produce this much reviews each year, Booklist hires freelances to write book reviews.
Interestingly, Booklist calls itself “the haiku of book reviewing,” which is a good thing for reviewers since you’d only need to come up with 175 words for your 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.
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 the reviewing the book or not.
The Bottom Line
Making money online through reading books is an interesting side gig, especially for book lovers who can easily finish books.
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 turn this side cash into 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 extra $10 to $100 for your opinion about a book you just read can be a good thing.