7 Publishers That Will Actually Pay You to Write Book Reviews

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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.

Want to Get Paid to Review Books? Try These 6 Publishers

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. 

1. 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 deadline is critical, so if you get this gig, try not to wait until the last minute to make your review. They also note that “negative criticism is part of the business” so feel free to be honest, as long as you are factual, unemotional and discussing the book.

Pay: 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.

2. 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 honesty doesn’t end there, though, they also state that if you are the kind of person who has read a single book in the last year, it’s probably not for you. And that’s probably pretty true. But if you simply reads books to enjoy them and love finding new authors, this could work out great for you.

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.

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

3. Kirkus Media

A stack of books rests on a couch by someone's sneakers.
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 featured in its magazine, “Kirkus Indie”.

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

Reviews should be around 350 words and are due two weeks after being assigned.

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

Pay: The pay rate isn’t specified, but the book is free, so that’s a plus.

4. 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.

Booklist refers to itself as “the haiku of book reviewing” — all of its reviews max out at 175 words.

If you want to become a freelance book reviewer for Booklist, read its guidelines carefully and then fill out their application. As of early June 2023, they are not accepting any new applications for reviewers. But the application is noted to reopen again at the end of June during the ALA’s Annual Conference and Exhibition ‘23.

Pay: The pay rate is $15 per review and there is a $5 fee for a rejected review. Your pay will only be dispersed after it is published in print or online, so it could take a while to get paid.

5. 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 primarily written by and about women. The publication was 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 has been previously noted to be $100, but it remains unclear if it has changed, likely to due their editorial transition.

To become a reviewer, the website directs you to contact the Women’s Review of Books directly. However, as of early June 2023, they note that the “next issue of Women’s Review of Books is delayed due to editorial transition. Please direct questions to [email protected].” So if you’re interested in applying right now, go for it, but it may take some time on their end.

Pay: The pay rate for published reviews is $100.

A woman reads a book while sipping on coffee.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

6. 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 sometimes hires book reviewers in a wide variety of genres: Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror, Romance/Erotica, Comics, Poetry, Inspirational Fiction, Nonfiction, Lifestyle, Religion, Children’s and Self-Published.

Reviews are typically around 200 words.To apply, you’re going to need a resume, some clips of past work and a newly written sample review. Publisher’s Weekly isn’t currently hiring book reviewers, but they will post job openings on their site, so check back with them.

Pay:  The pay isn’t specified but the site says writers are paid “an honorarium per review.”

7. BookBrowse

BookBrowse has been around for two decades, providing curated reviews about the best fiction and nonfiction of modern times. Their reviews focus on books that engage, entertain and deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world.

Since BookBrowse really tries to focus on the best books, that should mean you get to read and review the best books, making this an excellent opportunity to read more, enjoy it and make some extra cash.

To sign up to be a book reviewer, BookBrowse directs you to submit an application on their site. They note that they receive many applications, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with their reviews before submitting an application. They want to see good, quality sample reviews of at least 300 words.

It’s also open to overseas applicants, but it can be difficult to ship a book directly to overseas applicants. This is because BookBrowse, most of their reviewers and their publishers are basically all American and will be unable to send print copies of books outside the USA. But reviewing an ebook is an option if you’re hired.

Pay: BookBrowse has its reviewers write a review about once a month and “receive a byline and modest payment.” So their payment is a little unclear.

Kaitlyn Blount is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Freelancer Dennis Lynch contributed to this report.