When I started my very first book blog, everyone told me it was a fool’s effort. Over and over again I heard the same feedback: “You’ll never make money reviewing books. The margin just isn’t high enough.”
(Photo credit: Morguefile.com. Free to use.)
To a certain extent, some of this feedback was true. It’s three years later and I’m not making a full-time income reading books. But that’s OK with me. That was never my intention, and I think the people who gave me negative feedback in the beginning misunderstood what my real intention was.
I’m a reader, through and through. I’d rather spend my afternoon or evening curled up with a book than watching TV. So, without a doubt, I was going to read books anyway. Why not make a few dollars while I’m at it?
For the past few years, that’s exactly what I’ve done, and I feel it’s been worth my time. I’ve been able to cover the cost of many books, and in the process, I’ve even discovered ways to get books for free — before they’re available to the public.
How To Make Money Reading Books
So how do I do it? Once I’ve read a book, I sit down to write as many unique and original reviews as I possibly can. I think about all the different aspects of the story that spoke to me, that stuck in my mind, or that had a message. I write about them all. I might write about which character was my favorite and why. Sometimes I write about how the specific book compares to others written by the same author. If I find a thought-provoking discussion question at the end of the book, I might answer it and share my thoughts with others.
The point is, the number of ideas that can come from one book are endless. With a little thought, brainstorming, and practice, you can write several unique and complete reviews about the same book.
Once I come up with enough reviews that I feel are different from one another, I decide where each one will go, meaning that I post them to several different sites. Let’s look at a concrete example, complete with numbers.
How Much Money Can You Make Reading Books
In October, I read Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay. I wrote about it on seven different occasions. Three of them were published to Bubblews, one to Yahoo! Voices, one to my own blog, and one to Squidoo. Then, I mentioned it here once, as well. (I wrote about it three times on Bubblews because I shared my thoughts right at the very beginning of the book, immediately upon finishing the book, and then again after reflecting for a few days. My thoughts had changed dramatically.)
Here’s what the numbers look like today:
Blog: $2.25 (three sales)
Squidoo: $1.72 (four sales) Writedge: $0.25 (This is a guess based on what many of my posts are averaging. With the use of affiliate links this number could vary greatly.)
OK, so like I said, I’m definitely not making a full-time income writing book reviews, but I made more than enough money to cover the purchase of the book, since the Kindle version was only $2.99 when I purchased it. And since I read this with my book club, I would have purchased and read it anyway. I figured I might as well cover the cost while I’m at it!
Also, I’d like to point out that my numbers are sometimes relatively low compared to other online writers. I’m not great at social-media promotion, which can make a difference when it comes to earning money. If you’re a social-media pro, there’s a chance you could make a lot more than $11.22 per book.
Finding Books For Free
I mentioned earlier in this post that since opening my blog in 2011 I’ve been able to receive and review books before they hit the shelves for free. Primarily, I’ve used Netgalley.com to request advanced review copies from publishing houses, but on occasion authors contact me privately to send me copies of their books, as well. In a situation like this, it’s possible to profit even more since you don’t have to take on the initial expense of purchasing the book.
The library is another obvious choice for free books. Don’t discount it!
Sandra Johnson is a freelance writer with nearly 10 years experience. Her work has been published on Yahoo!, USA Today, CBS, and AXS.com, among others. When she isn't writing, she's running marathons, swimming, and spending lots of time with her daughters.