Book bloggers have once again taken to discussing the question of whether we should be paid for our work. Are we doing this as a hobby or labor of love, or are we actually extensions of publishers’ marketing departments and deserve to be paid as such? Both sides have valid points, so for the moment I’m not taking a side. These are just my predictions of what would happen if book bloggers suddenly did find themselves being paid.
For most of us, nothing will change because only the top bloggers will be paid.
Think of any industry where people get paid for their work. Only the top athletes, fashion designers, chefs, etc. actually get paid; a lot of people still end up playing sports, designing clothes, and cooking simply as a hobby. The same will be true in the book blogosphere. The Big Blogs with lots of followers will get paid because they reach a large audience and have “influence.” The rest of us will still be blogging out of love.
The focus will shift to paying for promotional posts and photos, not reviews.
Paid reviews are uniquely open for criticism and suspicion because readers want an “honest opinion.” If someone posts a picture of a book on a bench on Instagram, people are less likely to question whether the photographer “really” likes the book or has no opinion on the book at all and just thought it looked nice on the park bench.
Promotional posts and photos appear more “neutral,” which will also make publishers and authors more willing to pay for them. As much as publishers and authors profess to appreciate honestly in reviews, it still hurts to pay for a review that ends up being negative. It can feel like handing over money to be insulted. People will be more willing to pay for a post they feel they have more control over.
We’ll still be debating what we’re being paid for.
Once book bloggers are being paid to promote books in ways other than reviewing them, the question will arise as to how much bloggers should be paid. Ideally, bloggers should read a book before they promote it; they should know they actually like it and want to recommend it to other readers. But if the blogger is technically being paid to post an Instagram photo (low time commitment), will they also be compensated for the hours it took them to read the book? Or will receiving a copy of the book to take a photo of count as fair compensation?
Some readers will leave, but most of them will stay.
Inevitably, some readers will feel that a paid blogger is a dishonest blogger. However, followers who were with the blogger for years before they made it to the Big Leagues will know to continue trusting their opinion and their integrity.
- Should Book Bloggers Be Paid? (Queen of Contemporary)
- Here’s What Book Bloggers Think about Making Money (Nose Graze)
- Should Book Bloggers Get Paid? (The Mile Long Bookshelf)
- Do Book Bloggers Know Their Worth? (River City Reading)
- Paid Book Reviews and Blogging (A Daily Rhythm)