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Calling All Bookworms: These Publishers Will Pay You to Write Book Reviews

A woman reads a book while sitting on a window.
The U.S. Review of Books hires freelance writers to create book reviews. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder


I remember the first book review I ever wrote. The year was 1999 and my second grade teacher, Mrs. Sanderson, had just assigned the class a morning journal entry with a topic of our choosing.

So I pulled out my composition book and wrote about the last book I read, “Anne of Green Gables.” To be honest, the review was mostly me talking about my pride over finishing a long, chapter book on my own, with a bit of rudimentary plot analysis thrown in here and there.

Probably not a review worthy of publication, but hey, I was 7.

If you’re a fellow book lover and can write better reviews than 7-year-old me, we might have a new side hustle for you: online book reviewing.

We’ve rounded up some websites and publishers that will pay you for your literary analysis skills. That’s right, you can take part in a favorite pastime — reading — and actually get paid for it.

The U.S. Review of Books

The U.S. Review of Books regularly hires freelance book reviewers. To apply, just send your resume, samples of your previous reviews and two professional references to the email address listed here.

Once your application is accepted, you can start writing paid reviews! You can indicate which books you’d like to review. Titles are then assigned based on the order of requests and how well the project fits the reviewer’s skill set.

Completing reviews should take no longer than two to three weeks, and the final product should be between 250 to 300 words.

The pay isn’t listed, but the site does say reviewers are paid on the fifth of each month. Plus, you’re getting the books for free.

Online Book Club

The Online Book Club website greets you with this sentence: “First of all, this is not some crazy online get-rich-quick scheme. You won't get rich and you won't be able to leave your day job.”

You gotta appreciate the honesty, right?  

Full disclosure: You won’t be paid for your first review — you’re only getting the free book in exchange for an honest review. But after that, you become eligible for paid reviews in addition to the free book.

The website pays between $5 and $60 per review.

I signed up for Online Book Club to check out the process, and it was pretty simple. To make an account you create a username, choose what book formats you like and supply your PayPal email (so you can get paid!). After that you can browse the site’s list of books waiting to be reviewed.

Kirkus Media

A woman reads a book while lying on a couch.
Reviews for Kirkus Media should be around 350 words and are due two weeks after being assigned. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

As a book reviewer for Kirkus Media, not only will you be paid for your hard work but your reviews will also be also featured in its magazine, “Kirkus Reviews.”

The company looks for experienced applicants to review both English and Spanish titles, usually from self-published authors, across a wide variety of genres.

Reviews should be around 350 words and are due two weeks after being assigned. The pay rate isn’t specified, but the book is free, so that’s a plus.

To apply, submit a resume, writing samples and a list of your reviewing specialties to the email address listed here.

Booklist Online

Booklist is a book review magazine published by the American Library Association. It’s mainly used to help librarians with book selections and with advising readers.

Booklist publishes around 8,000 book reviews a year. To help produce such a large amount, the publication assigns work to freelancers.

The pay rate is $15 per review and $5 for a rejected review.

Booklist refers to itself as “the haiku of book reviewing” — all of its reviews max out at 175 words. But if a book is outstanding and the reviewer wants to wax poetic about its accomplishments, they can write a review of up to 225 words — with the editor’s approval.

If you want to become a freelance book reviewer for Booklist, read its guidelines carefully and then email a pitch with writing samples.

Any Subject Books

A woman reads a book while sipping on coffee.
Any Subject Books looks for honest readers who can provide an analytical take on book reviews. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

If you have your own book-review blog or you’ve got experience publishing reviews on sites like Amazon or Goodreads, this site might be a good fit for you.

Any Subject Books looks for honest readers who can provide an analytical take on book reviews. So no regurgitated or basic “I loved it, 5 stars!” types of reviews.

The pay rate varies on a book-by-book basis. For example, a review on a quick read like “Green Eggs and Ham” would earn you less than a review on a 1,225-page behemoth (looking at you, “War and Peace”).

As a book reviewer for Any Subject Books, you’ll be contacted with a book to review. If you’re game, you can accept it and get to work. If you don’t have time or any interest in the title, feel free to pass.

Now, here’s the bad news: Any Subject Books isn’t accepting new reviewers at this time. But it doesn’t hurt to keep tabs on this site so you can apply when they reopen applications.

Publisher’s Weekly

Publisher’s Weekly is a news magazine devoted to the book publishing business, featuring articles from bestseller lists to industry statistics to book reviews.

And who writes those book reviews? Freelancers! You could be one too.

The magazine is hiring book reviewers in a wide variety of genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, American History, Christian Living, Occult, Indigenous Spirituality, Sports, Entertainment, Memoir, Psychology and Ecology.

And if you’re reading this from the Great White North, they’ve got roles specifically for you: Canada-based reviewers are needed for Crime Fiction, Science & Math, Poetry and Health.

Reviews are typically around 200 words. The pay isn’t specified but the site says writers are paid “an honorarium per review.”

To apply, you’re going to need a resume, some clips of past work and a newly written sample review.

Women’s Review of Books

As Shania would say, let’s go girls.

As you can probably guess, Women’s Review of Books publishes reviews on books written by and about women. The publication is created by the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College.

Women’s Review of Books looks for contributors who are experienced reviewers, academics or journalists. The pay rate for published reviews is $100.

To apply, send some pitches to the email listed here.

Kaitlyn Blount is a junior staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She is an avid reader of book reviews, but she occasionally makes book decisions based on the cover. *Gasp*

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