Should people be paid for their ARC reviews?

This is going to be a question that is not as easy to answer as you feel once you read the points made in this article. Should people like book bloggers, booktubers, booktokkers and bookstagrammers be paid for their reviews of advanced review copies?

Confessions of (Another) Book Reviewer |

When this thought came to me I immediately had the same thought that most people probably have. No. Why should people be paid when they’re getting a free book? A free book is really payment enough, especially when you factor in that you might be getting these books 3-6 months earlier than anyone else. It’s a privilege some might say.

Let me just go straight into what I think now since the ‘no they shouldn’t be paid’ argument is quite easy to put together. I would say that yes reviewers should get paid for their arc reviews. An average book takes maybe 6-8 hours to get through plus you have to then write/film the review, post it to your social media site and then add the review to the two big sites that publishing houses like: Amazon and Goodreads (plus Netgalley if you’ve taken the arc from there). If you add up the time of the book and the review you get anything between 7-10 hours.

For argument’s sake let’s say it takes the lower time of 7 hours of reading and review work to get from point a (receiving the book) to point b (moving onto the next book). The current minimum wage in England is varied by age but if we go for the oldest bracket, 23 and over, then it comes in at (as of April 2021) £8.91 per hour. If we take the 7 hours and multiply them by the £8.91, we get £62.37 which is almost a full day at work in your job. If you work in retail this can be especially hard work for minimum wage as the retail sector is notoriously draining.

Let’s say on the flip side of this the publisher has hardback copies and they retail for £20 at Waterstones (UK Barnes & Noble equivalent). Even better the publisher is going to send you one of these hardback copies. That £62.37 now becomes £42.37 since you’ve been “paid” with the book. That still means, at the minimum amount of work for the book (7 hours), you are technically out of pocket for £42.37.

Now obviously you could argue that it’s a hobby and if a person doesn’t want to do it they shouldn’t do it. You could also argue that they are being paid with a book and that it’s not an actual job so they should appreciate the ‘freebies’ but lets take a little comparison to Instagram. Accounts on Instagram of varying levels can ask for payment based on the amount of followers they have. Why is this any different for bloggers/booktubers/booktookers/bookstagrammers?

I personally think that as one of the aforementioned book reviewers we are advertising the book, garnering interest, getting the book spoken about and added to various TBRs, forever helping the book with our reviews since we don’t go back and delete them. They are infinite. The publisher, not the author, is responsible for marketing the book in an ever-increasing competitive world fighting for the money and time of its consumers and reviewers should be adequately paid. The publishers are gaining free marketing and only in this sector is this overlooked by people.

I don’t know how much we should be paid. Maybe it could be done on a scale of followers since if you did it on how well the review was people would lose all honesty for money, handing in glowing 5* reviews for everything they absorbed and this would potentially turn the book review community into a bribing competition between publishers with discreet payments being slid across tables in seedy bars to willing reviewers happy to sell their morals.

Publishers could potentially pay the reviewers by follower number, analytic hits proven by a website tool or screenshot or maybe a set fee regardless of followers would work best like a fixed cost. This would mean that publishers may have to reduce the amount of books they send out because each book would come with a £10 – £20 reviewer charge but when they’re sending out eBooks, what cost is there other than the advertising (through the reviewer) they would pay for the book if it was on a bus/billboard/tv advert/radio/paid ad on Instagram…

I really think there is an argument here to have people, who review books in their free time for the love of what they do, paid for their time and services. Some won’t agree and that’s fine – this is a debate and I respect other’s opinions always.

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