Get Paid to Read: 18 Legitimate Sites That Pay Reviewers

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Get paid to read: 18 legitimate sites that pay reviewers.

Get Paid to Read: 18 Legitimate Sites That Pay Reviewers

Serious question: do you want to get paid to read? You might laugh it off at first, thinking that that sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. You can get paid for spending time on what you love: reading books. 

Of course, the key to this #hack is book reviewing, where you offer your personal opinion of a book after you’re done with it. (If you’d like to learn more, check out this post to discover how to write a book review .) Because books are constantly being published, book reviewers are generally always in demand. 

So whether you’re a voracious reader of nonfiction, genre fiction, classics, or indie books, there’s probably an outlet that’s willing to compensate you if you read (review) for them! Without further ado, here’s a definitive list of the 17 sites that will help you get paid to read. If you want to cut to the chase and find out which of them is the right fit for you, we recommend first taking this quick quiz:

Which review community should you join?

Find out which review community is best for your style. Takes 30 seconds!

Then read on for the full list of all of the ways to get paid while reading!

 1. Kirkus Media

💸 Pay: Freelance basis

👀 More information: Check here

If you’ve ever lingered on a book’s Amazon page before, you’ll have heard of Kirkus Reviews. It’s one of the most respected sources of book reviews out there, publishing many of the blurbs that you’ll see on Amazon, or on the cover of your favorite titles.

You have to wonder: where do all of these reviews come from? That’s where you come into the picture. Kirkus Media lists an open application for book reviewers. As of right now, they’re specifically searching for people who will review English and Spanish-language indie titles. Some of the qualities that they want in reviewers include: experience, a keen eye, and an ability to write about a 350-word review in two weeks’ time.

To apply, simply send your resume and writing samples! You can find out more about this opportunity here .

2. Reedsy Discovery

💸 Pay: Tip basis

A powerhouse in the world of indie books, Reedsy Discovery gives book reviewers the chance to read the latest self-published books before anyone else. You can browse through hundreds of new stories before picking one that piques your interest. And if you’ve built up a brand as a book reviewer on Reedsy Discovery, you can liaise with authors who contact you directly for a review.

Its application process is pretty simple: just complete this form to be selected as a book reviewer. Once you’re accepted, you can start looking through the shelves and reading immediately. One more thing: book reviewers can get tips for their book reviews. Readers can send $1, $3, or $5 as a token of appreciation (which, let’s be honest, all book reviewers deserve more of).

If this system intrigues you, you can “discover” more about how it works on this page .

3. Any Subject Books

Any Subject Books is a full-suite self-publishing service. More importantly for you, it hires book reviewers on a book-by-book basis to help them review new books.

They’re big on in-depth, honest, and objective reviews. No fluff here! They’re also happy to give you books in your preferred genres, so if you’re a voracious reader of war fiction, you won’t typically be asked to read the latest paranormal romance hit (or vice versa).

Sadly, Any Subject Books is not currently open to book reviewer applications, but check back again — this could change at any time.

4. BookBrowse

BookBrowse reviews both adult fiction and nonfiction, and some books for young adults. The site focuses on books that are not only enjoyable to read, with great characters and storylines, but that also leave the reader knowing something about the world they did not before. Reviewers also write a "beyond the book" article for each book they review.

5. Online Book Club

💸 Pay: $5 to $60

Online Book Club’s FAQ begins with a warning for all aspiring book reviewers: “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.”

That daunting reminder aside, Online Book Club’s setup is pretty reasonable, not to mention straightforward. You’ll get a free copy of the book and you’ll get paid for your review of that book. Moreover, it’s one of the few sites that’s transparent about their payment rates (anywhere between $5 to $60). To begin the sign-up process, simply submit your email here .

6. U.S. Review of Books

U.S. Review of Books is a nation-wide organization that reviews books of all kinds and publishes those reviews in a popular monthly newsletter. The way that it works for a book reviewer is simple: when a book title is posted, reviewers can request to read it and get assigned.

A typical review for U.S. Review of Books is anywhere between 250 and 300 words. They are looking particularly for informed opinions and professionalism in reviews, along with succinctness. To apply, submit a resume, sample work, and two professional references via email. But we’d recommend that you check out some previous examples of their book reviews here to first get a better sense of what they’re looking for.

7. Women’s Review of Books

💸 Pay: $100 per review

Women’s Review of Books is a long-running, highly-respected print publication that’s a part of Wellesley Centers for Women. This feminist magazine has been published for 36 years and is looking for more book reviewers to join their force.

If you plan on writing reviews for Women’s Review of Books , you should be aware that its reviews are published “in the service of action and consciousness.” Most of its writers are also academics, journalists, or book reviewers with some years of experience behind them. If you meet these qualifications and are accepted, you’ll be compensated $100 per review.

To pitch then a review, send them an email with a quick proposal. For more details, click here .

8. eBookFairs

eBookFairs primarily helps authors grow their author platforms, but it also has a Paid Book Reader program where readers can earn money by, you guessed it, reviewing the books listed on their site.

Note that they do have clear instructions on what qualifies as a review, so do read their guidelines carefully before applying to make sure you can meet them. For instance, the review must be at least 250 words, you must allow at least 3 days between reviews submitted, and it must provide helpful feedback for the author. There are also a limited number of paid reader positions available.

💸 Pay: Variable

If you’re a freelancer, you’re probably already familiar with Upwork! One of the biggest marketplaces for freelancers, Upwork has fingers in every industry’s pie. So it won’t be a surprise to learn that people who are looking for freelance book reviewers regularly post listings on its marketplace.

Because each job caters to an individual client, the requirements and qualifications will differ. It might be a one-time project, or the gig might turn into a long-running collaboration with the client. Generally, the listing will specify the book’s genre, so you’ll know what you’re getting before you agree to collaborate with the client on the other end.

To begin, you’ll need to sign up as a freelancer on Upwork. Find out more information on Upwork’s FAQ page!

10. Moody Press

💸 Pay: Free ARCs

Moody Press is a nonprofit publishing house of Christian titles and Bible study resources. If this is your niche, you’ll definitely be interested in Moody Press’ Blogger Review Program! As part of the program, you’ll get free copies of book published by Moody Press.

Like some of the other programs on this list, you won’t get paid for your review, but you will get a free book. Moody Press also asks you to write your honest review within 60 days of reading it. To get a feel for it, try joining the MP Newsroom Bloggers Facebook group , where you can directly interact with existing members of the program.

11. New Pages

💸 Pay: Variable 

Not interested in writing anything longer than 300 words? Are quick flash book reviews more your pace? If so, becoming a NewPages reviewer might be just your speed. is an Internet portal to small presses, independent publishers and bookstores, and literary magazines. More importantly, they’re looking for short book reviews (generally between 100 and 200 words) on any recent literary magazine or book that you’ve read.

If you’re already a fan of books from small presses or unknown magazines, even better: that’s exactly the kind of reviewer NewPages wants to work with. If you’d like to look through some of their past book reviews to see if your style matches, check out their book review archive here .

12. Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly is an online magazine focused on international book publishing and all that that entails. More pertinently, it regularly reviews both traditionally published and self-published books, which means that it does occasionally have a call for book reviewers. As of right now, it’s closed to applications — but if you check its Jobs page every once in a while, you might see an opening again.

13. Tyndale Blog Network

Tyndale Blog Network runs a program called My Reader Rewards Club, which is based on an innovative rewards system. If you join as a member, you can earn points for certain actions that you take on the site (for instance, inviting a friend to the program and sharing a direct link to on Facebook each fetches you 10 points).

Writing a review for a Tyndale or NavPress book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble gets you 10 points, with a maximum limit of 50 points in 30 days. In turn, you can use your accumulated points to receive more books off of Tyndale’s shelves. If this sounds like something that may be up your alley, check out their FAQ here.

14. Booklist Publications

💸 Pay: $12.50 to $15 per review

Booklist is the American Library Association’s highly respected review journal for librarians. Luckily for freelance writers, Booklist assigns freelance book reviews that vary from blog posts for The Booklist Reader to published book review in Booklist magazine.

As the site itself suggests, it’s important that you’re familiar with Booklist Publication’s outlets (which include Booklist magazine, the quarterly Book Links , and The Booklist Reader blog) and its writing style. Reviews are generally very short (no longer than 175 words) and professionally written. You can discover more of its guidelines here — and an archive of previous Booklist reviews here .

To apply, contact a relevant Booklist editor and be prepared to submit a few of your past writing samples.

15. Instaread

💸 Pay: $100 per summary

Not interested in writing critical takes on the books that you read? Then Instaread might be for you. Instaread has an open call for book summaries, which recap “the key insights of new and classic nonfiction.”

Each summary should be around 1000 to 1500 words, which makes it a fair bit lengthier than your average flash book review. However, Instaread will compensate you heartily for it: as of 2019, Instaread pays $100 for each summary that you write. You can peruse Instaread’s recommended Style Guide on this page , or download Instaread from your App Store to get a better feel for the app.

16. NetGalley

If you’ve dreamt about becoming an influencer in the book reviewing community, you may want to give NetGalley a look. Put simply, NetGalley is a service that connects book reviewers to publishers and authors. Librarians, bloggers, booksellers, media professionals, and educators can all sign up to NetGalley to read books before they’re published.

How it works is pretty simple. Publishers put digital review copies out on NetGalley for perusal, where NetGalley’s members can request to read, review, and recommend them. It’s a win-win for both publisher and reviewer: the publisher is able to find enthusiastic readers to provide an honest review for their books, and the reviewer gets access to a vast catalog of books.

The cherry on top is that NetGalley membership is 100% free! Simply use this form to sign up. And if you’d like more information, you can dip into their FAQ here .

17. getAbstract

Are you an avid reader of nonfiction books? getAbstract is a site that summarizes 18,000+ nonfiction books into 10-minute bites. Their Career Opportunities page often includes listings for writers. At the time of this post’s writing, getAbstract is looking for science and technology writers who can sum up the latest magazine articles and books. They pay on a freelance basis, so apply through their website to get further details.

18. Writerful Books

💸 Pay: $10 to $50

Writerful Books is an author services company that provides everything from beta reading to (you guessed it) book reviewing. As such, they’re always on the lookout for book reviewers with fresh and compelling voices.  

One of the benefits of this gig is that you can review any book that you want for them (although they prefer contemporary award-winning American, Australian, British, Canadian, Irish, and New Zealand authors). Getting a regularly paid gig with Writerful Books isn’t a guarantee, but if you regularly publish quality reviews for them, they may contact you. 

To apply, you’ll have to be able to provide previous book review samples. Here’s the job listing if you’re curious to learn more about this role.

If you're an avid reader,  sign up to Reedsy Discovery  for access to the freshest new reads — or  apply as a reviewer  to give us  your  hot takes!

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Best Paid Book Review Sites for Authors

Paid book review sites

Reviews are the lifeblood of your book’s success. Getting them is vital throughout your author journey, starting from before until long after you launch your piece of writing. Paid services are, of course, well aware of this fact. There are so many to choose from, so if you’re wondering what the best paid book review sites are, keep reading!

Dozens and dozens of companies are happy to take your money in exchange for the promise of landing you some good reviews.

With the many book review sites out there, you might be wondering which one should you choose.

Not All Paid Book Review Sites Are The Same

You can easily find plenty of companies out there that promises reviews in exchange for dollars. But, as much as you’d want them to be, not all of them will turn out effective. In fact, you may come across some that aren’t even legit.

Rather than take you through all the options available, I’ll share the tried-and-tested ones we use to help get your search narrowed down.

Here at Book Launchers, we use:

  • BookSirens, and
  • Booksprout for our authors.

Now, you might be thinking, “ A review is a review. So why so many different sites for the same thing?”

Well, if you haven’t noticed, paid book review sites aren’t all the same. Your book category, overall strategy, goals, and who you’re targeting are essential aspects to consider before going with a review company.

Still, every review site has the same ultimate goal: increase your exposure, find new readers for your book, and bump up those review counts.

Not all sites can make sense for every author. The best course of action would be to pick those that best suit your unique needs.

Here are the four best paid book review sites you can rely on for non-fiction authors, each with its distinctive features.

#1 goodreads.

Goodreads is the most popular review site in the publishing industry today. It remains the top on-line community for book lovers and authors alike.

Amazon runs it, so it boasts some perks for authors with books in the Amazon database.

Right through the site, you can claim your profile and earn a badge that verifies your identity. You’ll also be able to access a wealth of statistical information on your books listed on KDP.

So, how do you know if Goodreads is the way to go? Well, if you want your book to go viral and gain as much exposure as possible, Goodreads could be your ticket.

Here, the strategy is to get people to add your book to their virtual bookshelves, and of course, leave some reviews on it.

This way, your book gets raised visibility. Other users can now see it in their friends’ feeds, giving it a much better chance to be added to their reading list.

Think of it as like playing a giant book-fueled game of telephone with 80 million people.

Speaking of games, did you know that we have an entire YouTube channel dedicated to guiding authors like you to create an excellent self-publishing game plan. Check it out, and if you like what you see, let’s see how fast you can smash that subscribe button.

Back to our topic, you can also run a giveaway on Goodreads, a surefire way to get book reviews. It’s something we do regularly for our clients.

All active giveaways are listed on the giveaway section of the website. Your fans can link to it and encourage their friends to enter the giveaway.

Here’s a video dedicated entirely to helping you get all the goods you can get on Goodreads.

#2 NetGalley

Next up on the paid book review site list is NetGalley. NetGalley is a service that delivers digital Advanced Reader Copies, better known as ARCs.

This service provides ARCs of your book to professional readers. We’re talking about reviewers, media, journalists, bloggers, librarians, booksellers, podcast hosts, and many others.

These professional readers use NetGalley to access digital copies of your book, making it an effective marketing tool not just for your book but for your entire brand as an author.

It allows your work to be made available to people who want to read it in their professional capacity.

A NetGalley promotion offers your ARC three months to be highlighted in their database’s recently added and read now sections. The promo also lets you showcase your book to the sections specific to your title’s categories.

By opting for this promo, all users will see your book listed on the NetGalley website.

There’s a lot more to NetGalley when it comes to figuring out if it’s the right one for you.

To help you out, we have a video that goes into all the details of this review site. We also dive deep into costs because it can be pretty expensive and may not be worth it for all books. Stick to the end of this video to make sure if this review site is for you.

The following two on this list are similar to NetGalley. These two book review sites also deliver your ARC copy to both readers and reviewers. But, they focus more on getting your ARC securely to reviewers, bloggers, and your book army.

#3 BookSirens

BookSirens boasts over 10,000 readers across various genres with an average review rate of 75%, making it an attractive site to get book reviews.

The high average review rate is because their users are vetted and accepted as serious book reviewers. Before users can get approval to join BookSirens, they must have posted at least 20 starred ratings on Goodreads.

How this works is that you first need to send your book to the BookSirens team for evaluation. They will then confirm if it is a quality book – something that they want to offer to their users. Once approved, they will add your book to its appropriate category where users can discover it, download the ARC, and start reading.

A remarkable feature of BookSirens, which leads to their 75% success rate, is that readers can only download one ARC at a time. They can’t download a new ARC until they finish reading and reviewing their active one.

This feature is pretty cool for authors because your advanced reader is much less likely to ghost you without leaving a review. And they’re entirely focused on one book at a time.

BookSirens will also give you a direct link that you can send to your book army. So, those folks can hop on over there and securely download their ARC for free.

You also have the option of choosing whether your reviews are posted on Goodreads, Amazon, or both. Now if you’re wondering about getting book reviews from your book army (And how to keep them from being removed) – check out this article .

#4 Booksprout

Booksprout is another option to consider if your main priority is a prelaunch review push.

Similar to BookSirens, Booksprout is a review site that automates the delivery of your ARC to over 40,000 users.

Their average review rate is around 79%. Even your book army will find it challenging to beat that.

Before you get all excited, we’ve been testing this one for some time, and we’re getting mixed results.

Self-Publish and Succeed , well after launch, got four reviews from a single Booksprout listing. Yet, the other books we tested did not bring any results.

Right now, we’re playing with it to figure out whether it’s a timing issue, a topic, or something else.

We’ve experienced the same thing with BookSirens. My book wasn’t even accepted by them for their reviewers. So, I only used BookSirens for ARCs, but some authors from our client base have gotten good reviews.

BookSirens Vs. Booksprout

So what’s the difference between the two paid review sites? Which one is better for you? Let’s discuss the main differences between BookSirens and Booksprout:

  • Booksprout focuses on getting reviews by a specific date, while BookSirens focuses on getting a particular number of reviews.
  • On BookSirens, you can post your book and have the reviews roll in for as long as your little heart desires. But on Booksprout, your reviewers have a time limit to read and write their review.
  • Booksprout also limits the number of reviewer downloads depending on your subscription level. The more money you spend on their service, the more downloads you can do.
  • BookSirens is a fee-per-book service, letting you choose the number of downloads from as little as 5 to as many as 250.

On the plus side, you can request Booksprout reviews posted on up to eight different sites rather than just Goodreads or Amazon. They include options like Kobo, Apple Books, Google Books, and even BookBub.

Whether you go with BookSirens, Booksprout, or both, these two book review sites are easy to use. They’re effective if you need a little help building up your audience.

If this is your first book or your book army looks a little sparse on the prelaunch battlefield, one of these two review sites, or maybe both, could be your answer.

Now that you know some of the best sites that can help you get book reviews in bulk, maybe it’s time to get in touch with us. See what we can do to help you take off even further, even months post-launch.

Here at Book Launchers we help authors like you in every stage of the self-publishing process. Whether you write the book yourself or with our help, we’re with you every step of the way.

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What Are the Pros and Cons of Paying for a Guaranteed Editorial Book Review?

  • Advice for Writers , Being a Successful Author , Promoting Your Book

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Get the Facts to Decide Whether Paid Book Reviews Are Worth It for You

In the ever-competitive landscape of publishing, authors are continually seeking ways to stand out and gain recognition for their literary creations. One avenue often explored is paid book reviews, specifically guaranteed editorial reviews. These reviews offer a unique opportunity for authors to secure feedback and exposure for their works, but navigating this terrain requires careful consideration and leaves many authors wondering: Are paid book reviews worth it?

A Unique Avenue for Promoting Your Book

Paid book reviews, specifically guaranteed editorial reviews, present a multifaceted opportunity for authors to promote their work and gain recognition. However, whether they are worth the investment depends on various factors, and it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully.

On one hand, a guaranteed review can provide a sense of security and validation for an author. On the other hand, it can also be seen as a bit of a gamble.

First things first, let’s define what a guaranteed editorial review is. It’s essentially a service where an author pays a fee to have their book reviewed by a reputable publication or website. You are guaranteed to receive a completed review, regardless of whether it’s a glowing review or a scathing critique.

Are Paid Book Reviews Worth It?

So, is it worth it to pay for book reviews? Well, it depends on the publication and the cost. If you’re paying a small fee for a review from a well-known publication with a large readership, it could potentially be worth it. However, if you’re paying a large sum for a review from a lesser-known outlet, it may not be as beneficial.

One thing to keep in mind is that paid guaranteed reviews may not always be as objective as unpaid reviews. The publication or website may be more inclined to give a positive review in order to maintain a good relationship with the author. This can lead to biased or inflated reviews, which may not be helpful to potential readers.

Another thing to consider is whether a paid review will actually help boost sales. While a positive review can certainly help generate buzz, it’s not a guarantee that it will translate into increased sales. There are many factors at play when it comes to book sales, and a review is just one piece of the puzzle.

In this exploration, we delve deeper into the world of paid book reviews, weighing the potential benefits against the drawbacks to determine if they are indeed worth the investment. Furthermore, we provide insights into where and how authors can request editorial book reviews, ensuring that the process is both accessible and transparent.

PROS of Paid Book Reviews:

Security and Validation : One of the primary benefits of a guaranteed review is the sense of security and validation it provides to authors. Knowing that a reputable publication or website will review your book can boost an author’s confidence and reassure them that their work is being taken seriously.

Exposure : If you choose a well-known publication with a substantial readership, a positive review can significantly increase your book’s exposure. It can introduce your work to a broader audience, potentially leading to increased sales and a growing fan base.

Professional Feedback : Paid reviews often come from experienced reviewers who provide constructive criticism, highlighting strengths and weaknesses in your book. This feedback can be invaluable for improving your writing and storytelling skills.

Marketing Material : Positive reviews can be used as marketing materials. You can feature excerpts from the review on your book’s cover, website, or promotional materials to help convince potential readers of its quality.

CONS of Paid Book Reviews:

Risk of Bias : One significant concern with paid reviews is the potential for bias. Reviewers may feel inclined to write positive reviews to maintain a good relationship with the author, leading to biased or inflated evaluations that may not reflect the true quality of the book.

Cost Considerations : The cost of guaranteed editorial reviews can vary widely. While a small fee for a review from a reputable publication with a large readership might be justifiable, a significant expense for a review from a lesser-known outlet might not yield the desired benefits.

Uncertain Impact on Sales : Although a positive review can generate buzz and attract attention, it doesn’t guarantee increased sales. Book sales depend on numerous factors, including genre, marketing efforts, and reader preferences. A review is only one component of the overall marketing strategy.

Key Factors to Consider

Overall, paid guaranteed editorial book reviews can be a valuable tool for authors, but their worth depends on several factors. Authors should carefully research their options and consider the following:

Publication Reputation : Choose a reputable publication or website with a proven track record of honest and unbiased reviews.

Cost-Benefit Analysis : Assess whether the cost of the review is justified by the potential benefits, such as increased exposure and confidence.

Objectivity : Be aware of the potential for bias and select reviewers who prioritize objectivity and honesty.

Overall Marketing Strategy : Remember that a paid review is just one piece of your marketing puzzle. It should complement your broader marketing efforts.

Ultimately, while paid reviews can offer a sense of validation and exposure, authors should approach them cautiously and view them as part of a larger strategy to promote their work. Success in the world of publishing often hinges on a combination of talent, marketing savvy, and a bit of luck, and no single review can guarantee that.

Resources for Requesting Editorial Book Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews : Kirkus Reviews is a well-known and respected publication that offers paid book review services. Authors can submit their books for consideration, and if selected, they will receive a detailed review. Kirkus Reviews is known for its objectivity and has a substantial readership, making it a valuable resource for authors looking to gain exposure. However, their services can be relatively expensive.

BlueInk Review : BlueInk Review specializes in reviews of self-published books. They offer paid review services and provide authors with constructive feedback. BlueInk is known for its commitment to honest assessments and is considered a reputable source for self-published authors seeking recognition.

Foreword Clarion Reviews : Foreword Clarion Reviews is a branch of Foreword Reviews, focusing on providing editorial book reviews. They offer paid review services for both indie and traditional authors. Authors can expect detailed and professional feedback on their books.

Publishers Weekly BookLife : Publishers Weekly, a well-established industry publication, offers a paid review service called BookLife. Authors can submit their self-published books for consideration. While not all submissions are guaranteed a review, being featured in Publishers Weekly can significantly boost an author’s credibility.

Book Review Blogs : In addition to professional publications, there are numerous book review bloggers and websites that offer book review services. Some of these may review books for free or charge a nominal fee. While they may not have the same reach as established publications, they can still provide valuable feedback and exposure.

Example: The Indie View

Get the Book Marketing Help You Need

Deciding whether to invest in things like paid reviews to promote your book can be difficult. Luckily, you don’t need to make these decisions alone. Our book marketing team is adept at putting your book in front of the audiences most likely to adore your writing. If you’d like to learn more, take a look at our book marketing services !

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74 Publications That Pay Freelancers for Book Reviews, Interviews, and More

Book reviews aren’t as ubiquitous as they used to be, but as of 2022, at least 74 publications still pay freelance writers for book reviews and author interviews.

To build this exhaustive list as a free community resource, I collaborated with the wonderful Chelsea Leu to create a more detailed version for the National Book Critics Circle , including points of contact and some nonpaying outlets. Visit their page here .

For this abridged version, I’ve just included rates and links to submission guidelines (where available). Rates vary wildly from $15 to more than $1,000, depending on the outlet and the assignment. Another great resource is Who Pays Writers , and here’s an old thread of mine on how to pitch book reviews . Note that while the rates are accurate at publication, editorial budgets change all the time.

If you see any omissions or mistakes in the list below, feel free to contact me at adam[at], just keep in mind that this version of the list is only for outlets that pay freelancers .

4 Columns – Book reviews ( how to pitch )

The Adroit Journal – Book reviews and interviews ( how to pitch )

Air Mail – Book reviews, interviews, and features

AGNI – Book reviews ($20 per printed-out page, how to pitch )

Asymptote – Book reviews and interviews ( how to pitch )

The Atlanta Journal Constitution – Book reviews (~$250)

The Atlantic – Book features ( how to pitch )

The AV Club – Book reviews and features ($75)

The Baffler – Criticism and essays ($250+, how to pitch )

Black Femme Collective – Book reviews ($150-$300, how to pitch )

BOMB – Book reviews and interviews ($150 for web interviews)

Booklist – Capsule book reviews ($15, how to pitch )

BookMarks – Book review…overviews? ($35-$800, how to pitch )

BookPage – Book reviews and author interviews

Borderlore – Book interviews, features, essays

The Boston Globe – Book reviews ($450)

The Brooklyn Rail – Book reviews and interviews ($75, how to pitch )

The Chicago Reader – Chicago-based book reviews and profiles ( how to pitch )

The Chicago Review of Books – Book reviews, interviews, and features ($25, how to pitch )

The Christian Science Monitor – Book reviews and interviews ($200)

The Cleveland Review of Books – Book reviews ($70-$200, how to pitch )

Electric Literature – Book related essays, interviews, and lists ($100, how to pitch )

Esquire – Book features and interviews (send pitches to assistant editor Adrienne Westenfeld, awestenfeld[at]

Event mag – Book reviews

Foreword Reviews – Book reviews and interviews

Guardian (The) – Book reviews and interviews

Houston Chronicle – Book reviews

Hyphen – Book review and interviews ($25, how to pitch )

I n These Times – Book reviews ($0.25 per word, pitch Sherell Barbee at sherell.inthesetimes[at]

Jewish Currents – Book features and essays

Kirkus Reviews – Capsule book reviews and interviews ($50 for reviews)

LIBER: Feminist Review – Book reviews and features ($100 for reviews, $500 for features, how to pitch )

Literary Hub – Book features and essays ( how to pitch )

London Review of Books – Book reviews, essays, and features ( how to pitch )

Los Angeles Review of Books – Book reviews, interviews, and essays ($50-$100, how to pitch )

Los Angeles Times – Book reviews and features ($400)

Lux – Book essays ($0.50 per word, pitches[at]

The Markaz Review – Book essays ($120)

Millions (The) – Book reviews, interviews, and features ( how to pitch )

Mother Jones – Book features

Nation (The) – Book features ($950-$1250)

New Criterion (The) – Book essays ($100)

New Republic – Book reviews ($500-$2,000 for print, $250-$400 for web)

New York Post – Book features, occasional author interviews ($500-$1,000, pitch Mackenzie Dawson at mdawson[at]

New York Review of Books – Book reviews and essays

New York Times Book Review – Book reviews, interviews, and features

New Yorker (The) – Book reviews and essays ($0.75 per word for web)

Newsday – Book reviews and interviews

NPR – Book reviews ($300 for fiction)

Oprah Daily – Book reviews, interviews, and features ($2 per word)

Observer (The) – Book reviews and interviews (pitch Erin Taylor at etaylor[at]

Paris Review (The) – Book essays for The Daily ( how to pitch )

Paste Magazine – Book interviews and features ($100, who to pitch )

Pittsburgh Post Gazette – Book reviews

Ploughshares – Book reviews and interviews ($25, how to pitch )

Publishers Weekly – Capsule book reviews ($25-$50)

Puritan (The) – Book reviews ($100, how to pitch )

Reason – Book reviews ($500)

The Rumpus – Book reviews and interviews (pays small honorarium, how to pitch 1 and 2 )

San Francisco Chronicle – Book reviews ($165)

SFWA – Book reviews ($0.10 per word, how to pitch )

Shondaland – Book interviews and features ( how to pitch )

Slate – Book essays ($300-$500, how to pitch )

St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Book reviews ($85+)

Star Tribune (Minneapolis) – Book reviews ($150)

Tampa Bay Times – Book reviews ($150)

Times Literary Supplement – Book reviews and essays ( how to pitch )

USA Today – Book reviews ($300)

Wall Street Journal – Book reviews ($400-$1,000)

Washington Independent Review of Books – Book reviews ($25, how to pitch )

Washington Post – Book reviews

Words Without Borders – Book reviews and interviews ($100)

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3 thoughts on “ 74 publications that pay freelancers for book reviews, interviews, and more ”.

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Bless you Adam. There is so little out there in the way of transparency over pay to writers and that enables many outlets to underpay writers because they can’t be openly compared to reasonable payers.

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14 Legitimate Sites to Get Paid to Read Books

  • By Caleb Reed
  • Updated: December 3, 2021

Get Paid to Read Books

Disclaimer : This post may contain affiliate links . If you click on a link, we may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Are you interested in getting paid to read books? Believe it or not, there are several websites that will pay you to write honest reviews of the latest titles.

If you have a wonderful voice, you may even be able make money reading books aloud as an audiobook narrator.

According to Forbes , there are between 600,000 and 1,000,000 new books published each year in the United States alone. Considering this, the demand for book reviewers and narrators is higher than ever.

So, if you’re a bookworm, why not turn your favorite pastime into a side hustle? Whether you’re an avid reader of fiction or nonfiction books, there’s a website that will pay you to write reviews for them!

In this post, we’ll discuss the 14 best websites to get paid to read books, other ways to make money that involve reading, and much more.

How to Get Paid to Read Books

After doing some research, we have determined that the 14 companies listed below offer some of the best opportunities to monetize reading. Some of them pay you to write book reviews, while others will pay you to do things like read books aloud.

While the majority of them will pay you cash via PayPal, a few towards the end of our list will pay you in the form of free books.

1. Online Book Club

Online Book Club is a very popular book review website that was established more than 15 years ago.

With their platform, you can expect to earn $5 to $60 for each book review, depending on the book’s length, etc.

However, your first review will be unpaid but you will receive the book for free. This is their way of determining if you’re a good fit for their company.

To get started, all you have to do is create an account, pick the genre of books you’re interested in, and provide your PayPal information. Once you’re registered, you will be provided a list of books you can review.

If you don’t like a book you read, it’s important that you’re super honest. Online Book Club is looking for genuine and honest reviews and not just positive ones.

2. Kirkus Media

Get Paid to Read Books With Kirkus Media

Kirkus Media is a reputable and well-known American magazine that reviews over 10,000 books every year. In fact, if you have browsed Amazon for popular books, you most likely have seen Kirkus Review snippets in the descriptions.

To apply, you will need to submit your resume, a portfolio of your writing samples, and a list of book genres that you specialize in.

They are currently looking for experienced book reviewers to publish reviews of English and/or Spanish-language titles covering a wide-range of books in many different genres.

They also sometimes hire editors and copy editors as well, so you will have multiple opportunities to make money reviewing books.

As a book reviewer for Kirkus Media, you will be expected to submit a 350-word review within two weeks of being assigned a book.

3. Writerful Books

Writerful Books is an author services platform that provides freelance opportunities for book reviewers in all stages of their career, such as beta reading and book reviewing.

Contemporary titles by award-wining American, Canadian, British, Australian, Irish, and New Zealand authors are among the most reviewed. However, you can review any books you’re interested in

With Writerful, you will be paid $10 to $50 per book review depending on how in-depth they are. You will also receive a $100 Amazon gift card if you’re the reviewer who writes the highest quality reviews.

However, you won’t get paid when you’re just starting out so expect to put in a lot of time on their platform. Once you become an experienced and trusted reviewer with Writerful Books, they will begin paying you for your book reviews.

4. The U.S. Review of Books

The U.S. Review of Books

The U.S. Review of Books is a very well-known newsletter that publishes thousands of reviews of books in all kinds of genres. As a result, they are always hiring freelance writers to write book reviews for their website.

To apply, all you have to do is email them your resume, sample work, and two professional references.

If you’re accepted, the process to start reviewing books is rather simple. When a new book is listed, you can request to read and review it.

Whether or not you’re assigned the book depends if you’re a good fit based on your background, interests, and experience.

Reviews are due within 2 to 3 weeks of being assigned a book. The reviews are expected to be right around 300 words and edited in Chicago style.

Reviewers get paid on the fifth day of each month via check for all reviews written and published the previous month.

5. Women’s Review of Books

Published by The Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College, the Women’s Review of Books is a prestigious and long-lasting publication that reviews books by and about women.

The type of books this publication reviews are memoirs by women, scholarly works, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

To be considered as a book reviewer, you will need to email them your resume, cover letter, and a sample of your published reviews.

It’s also beneficial if you’re academic, journalist or an experienced reviewer with several years of experience, as these are a majority of their contributors.

As a book reviewer for WRB, you can expect to earn up to $100 for each written and published review.

WRB will expect your reviews to be lively, thought-provoking, and appealing to a broad range of potential readers.

6. BookBrowse

Get Paid to Read Books With BookBrowse

BookBrowse is an online magazine for bookworms that publishes reviews and other information on fiction and nonfiction titles.

If you’re interested in being a reviewer for BookBrowse, you will need to fill out their joining form by providing basic information about yourself and 2 sample book reviews with a minimum of 300 words each.

Once you’re accepted, you can browse through a selection of titles to see which ones you’re interested in reading and reviewing.

Whichever book you’re assigned, you will be required to write an honest review of around 300 words. You will also be required to write a “beyond the book” article, in which you will talk about one aspect of the book you found very interesting.

As a book reviewer for BookBrowse, you can expect to be assigned a book to review once a month and sometimes every few weeks. You will be paid once a month and can earn up to $50 for each review.

7. Any Subject Books

Any Subject Books is a full-suite, self-publishing website that will pay you cash to review individual books.

As a reviewer, you will work on a book-by-book basis to provide in-depth reviews of new titles. Considering this, you won’t have to make any long-term commitments.

They also make sure you’re reviewing books in genres that you actually enjoy reading. To do so, they will give you an outline of what the book is about before you commit to reading and reviewing it.

Once you have written an honest and objective review, it will be given to the author and they may post it on their website. If they do, it can’t be doctored in any way.

They pay you will receive for each book review will depend on multiple factors, such as the book volume and the difficulty of the book.

Any Subject Books doesn’t always accept new applications from book reviewers. If that’s the case while you’re reading this, simply check again later.

8. Booklist Online

Booklist Online

Published by The American Liberty Association, Booklist is a highly prestigious review journal for librarians, booksellers, and educators. They currently publish more than 7,500 reviews per year of books in all kinds of genres.

To keep up with this level of publishing, they are almost always hiring freelance book reviewers to write reviews on a book-by-book basis.

Booklist pays $15 for each review written and published. They even pay $5 for any review that is rejected.

Reviews are typically expected to be short (right around 175 words each) and written professionally. However, depending on the book and approval from the editor, they can be up to 225 words long.

These short reviews are why Booklist describes itself as “the haiku of book reviewing.”

If you’re going to apply to become a reviewer for Booklist, research their guidelines, have some of your previous book reviews on hand, and then contact a Booklist editor to submit an application.

9. Publishers Weekly

A weekly news magazine, Publishers Weekly focuses on international industry news, interviews, book reviews, and more across a wide variety of genres.

Their target audiences are authors, librarians, media, publishers, booksellers, and literary agents.

With that said, they are almost always looking for book and article reviewers. They also have a career page where they post job opportunities for copyeditors, proofreaders, designers, marketers, and more.

To write book reviews for Publishers Weekly, you will need to submit your resume, a work portfolio, and 200-word sample reviews of recently published titles.

If you’re hired, they will assign you one book at a time to read and review. As a reviewer, you will be paid an honorarium. However, Publishers Weekly doesn’t specify what amount this is on their website.

10. Audiobook Creative Exchange

Get Paid to Read Books With ACX

Audiobook Creative Exchange of Amazon (ACX) is an online marketplace that connects authors and publishers with audiobook narrators. With that said, their platform is a great way to get paid to read books if you’re interested in reading them aloud.

The books you can narrate are from all different types of genres, which are sold on platforms like Audible, iTunes, Amazon, and more.

To get started, just sign up, create an account, upload a portfolio of a few samples, and start giving auditions for books you’re interested in reading.

As an audio narrator for ACX, you can set your own pre-determined hourly rate. However, you can expect to earn $150 to $250 per hour if you’re a very experienced narrator.

You will also have the opportunity to earn royalties when people buy the audiobooks you narrated through Amazon and other platforms.

11. NetGalley

NetGalley is quite different than the other book review websites on our list. This publishing company focuses on connecting book reviewers with authors and publishers to write reviews of books before they’re even published.

Whether you’re a blogger, librarian, bookseller, or even media professional, you’re welcomed to sign up and start earning money by writing book reviews.

The process is super simple. Authors and publishers put digital review copies of their books on Netgalley for reviewers to see.

Once you find a book you’re interested in, you can request to read, review, and even recommend it.

This is a win-win situation for both the reviewer and author. You get to read books free of charge and the authors are able to receive constructive criticism to make changes as needed before publishing their books.

The sign up process is super easy and 100% free. All you have to do is fill out a basic form and then start picking books to review.

12. Findaway Voices

Get Paid to Read Books With Findaway Voices

Very similar to Audiobook Creative Exchange of Amazon, Findaway Voices is also an online platform that connects authors with audiobook narrators.

With their platform, you can register for free as an audiobook narrator and create a portfolio to showcase your work. After doing so, you will be automatically recommended auditions for authors across the globe.

During your audition, you will record a section of their book, which should only take a few minutes. Depending on your performance, the author may or may not choose you to narrate their entire book.

So, before you start an audition, make sure you’re fully prepared to demonstrate your skills to their fullest extent.

As a narrator for Findaway Voices, you can expect to earn anywhere between $150 and $300 per hour spent narrating. However, Findaway Voices will take 20% of all profits.

13. Bethany House

Bethany House has been one of the top publishers that specializes in Christian books for more than 50 years.

Considering this, they are always looking for fans of Christian fiction and nonfiction titles to write reviews to help promote Christian authors and their books.

Aside from the plot synopsis, reviews are required to be a minimum of 75 words long. They will also expect you to publish your review on your blog and sites like Barnes & Noble.

To become a reviewer for Bethany House, you will need an understanding of the Bible, familiarity of The Chicago Manual of Style, and several years of experience as a book reviewer.

To apply, simply email them your resume and a cover letter. Be sure to include “Nonfiction Editor” in the subject line of your email to receive the quickest response.

14. Moody Press

Moody Press

Moody Press is a nonprofit publishing house that also specializes in fiction and non-fiction Christian titles and bible study resources.

Similar to Bethany House, while you won’t make money if you participate in their program, you will receive free copies of the books you review.

To apply, simply fill out and submit their online application. If you’re approved, you will be allowed to select one title at a time to review.

Once you’ve chosen, Moddy Press will send you the title within 7 to 10 days through the U.S. Postal Service Media.

You will be required to submit your review within 60 days of reading the book. Moody Press will also expect you to share your review on your blog and retailer sites like Amazon.

Other Ways to Make Money That Involve Reading

If you’re not interested in writing book reviews for these websites, there are several other ways you can make money that involve reading. Unlike book review websites, these jobs and side hustles will also offer the opportunity to earn a full-time income.

Proofreading or Copyediting

A job as a proofreader or copyeditor are both wonderful opportunities for anyone that loves to read.

Publishing houses, self published authors, magazines, websites, corporations, and anyone else who writes any kind of content for public consumption all need proofreaders and/or copyeditors.

Proofreading involves reviewing written content for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization errors. Considering this, to work as a proofreader, it’s important that you have an unbelievable attention to detail.

On the other hand, copyediting requires a bit more specialization than proofreading. While copyediting also involves fixing typos and other errors, copyeditors make very substantial edits.

As a copyeditor, you will address consistency, accuracy, structure, style, clarity, and logic of the written material.

Whether you work as a proofreader or copyeditor, you should consider getting certified. You should also consider completing proofreading and/or copyediting courses, which many universities offer.

With the rise of platforms like Audible, books and other written content are being increasingly consumed through audio. As a result, the audiobook narration industry has exploded and the demand for narrators is higher than ever.

With that said, if you have a wonderful voice, can speak very clearly and can perform in different voices, you can make good money as an audiobook narrator.

There’s also not many startup costs or ongoing expenses and you may even have the opportunity to work from home .

As an audiobook narrator, you will get paid to read books and other written material aloud from start to finish.

To work as a narrator, all you will need is a computer, microphone, pop filter, headphones, audio recording software, a quiet place to narrate, and an audio sample of your voice.

While you don’t need a background in voice acting, a professional home studio or even vocal training to work as an audiobook narrator, they can definitely help advance your career.


Are you fluent in more than one language? Job seekers and freelancers who possess the ability to communicate in multiply languages are sought-after for this highly in-demand skill.

Considering this, if you’re bilingual and love reading, a job as a translator may be a wonderful opportunity.

Authors and other writers are always trying to enter new markets to reach a larger audience. As a result, books in all genres and other written material are constantly being translated into a variety of languages.

To work as a translator, you will need a well-rounded understanding and be very fluent in the languages you’re translating.

Depending on what material you’re working with, you may also need to have understanding of slang, idioms, terminology, and more to provide the best translating services possible.

You may even want to consider a degree in whichever language you’re fluent in. You can also consider getting certified with the American Translators Association .

Blogging About Books

If you’re interested in starting your own blog and are an avid reader, you should consider creating a blog about books.

Not only will you have the freedom to review any book you want, you will have the potential to make far more than you will reviewing books for any of the websites mentioned above.

As a book blogger, you can make money through affiliate marketing , display advertisements, partnerships, and even selling your own digital product like an ebook or a digital course.

However, blogging is a long-term money-making strategy. It will take several months of hard work to see a profit. But if you’re committed, consistent, and patient, you can make a lot of money in the long run.

Here are a few awesome book review blogs for motivation:

  • John Pistelli
  • Literary Hub
  • A Life in Books

Get Paid to Read Books FAQs

Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions about getting paid to read books:

How Much Do Book Readers Get Paid?

With the book review websites mentioned above, you can expect to earn anywhere between $5 to $60 for each book you review.

However, if you get a job that involves reading such as narrating audiobooks, you can easily make a full-time living.

Can You Make a Living Reading Books?

While these book review websites are all a great way to monetize reading in your spare time if you’re an avid bookworm, you shouldn’t expect to make a full-time living writing reviews for them.

Although, as mentioned above, you can definitely make a living with a job that involves reading. A list of good jobs that involve reading are provided below.

What Job Can I Get if I Like Reading?

If you’re an avid reader, there are several jobs you can get that include reading.

Here is a list of some of the best:

  • Proofreader
  • Book publisher
  • Book scouter
  • Content writer

How do I Get a Career Out of Reading?

To get a career out of reading, first spend some time researching jobs available that involve reading. Once you have a good idea of what’s out there, consider your interests and what you would enjoy doing most.

For example, if you also enjoy writing, you should consider a job as an editor, copywriter, technical writer or even blogger.

If you enjoy listening to books on Audible, you should consider a job as a narrator. If you enjoy teaching, you should consider a job as an academic.

Whatever you enjoy doing, there’s a wonderful job out there that involves reading!

Lastly, you should also consider getting a degree in English or a related field. Having a degree will definitely help you advance your career.

Final Thoughts on Getting Paid to Read Books

There you have it, the 14 best websites you can use to get paid to read books. Most of them allow you to read and write your reviews in your spare time, making them a great side hustle for anyone that likes to read in their pastime.

While you won’t get rich, they’re all a wonderful way to monetize reading if you’re an avid bookworm.

However, if you’re interested in a full-time job that includes reading, you can consider a career as a typist , proofreader, editor, narrator, translator, researcher, freelance content writer, and much more.

You can also consider becoming a publisher, opening your own book store, or even starting your own blog about book reviews.

Once you figure out how you want to make money that involves reading, do some research to determine the next steps you need to take. With a bit of action, you’re sure to succeed!

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Dubliners Review Books that have been Nominated to their City's Literary Award: The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

In Dublin, attending readers' groups, or book clubs, is an old way to socialise that has taken on a new burgeoning of popularity in recent years. This growth happily contradicts fears about society's decline in reading. Many people will say that they joined a readers' group in order to read books they might not otherwise have read and to also experience the pleasure of sharing something they enjoy with others. Reading group members come from all age groups and all walks of life and an extraordinary range of books is read, ranging from contemporary fiction, to the classics.

By 2003 thirty-six adult reading groups met in, or were affiliated to, branches of Dublin City Libraries and there are book clubs for children in six branch libraries. It is a phenomenon that will grow and grow.

Walkinstown Library Reading Group Dublin City Public Libraries also promote reading on an international level and are delighted to be involved with The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, which is the largest and most international prize of its kind. It involves libraries from all corners of the globe, and is open to books written in any language. The prize has been offered since 1995.

The Award, an initiative of Dublin City Council, is a partnership between Dublin City Council, the Municipal Government of Dublin City, and IMPAC, a productivity improvement company, which operates in over 50 countries.

The Award is administered by Dublin City Public Libraries.

Dublin City Public Libraries would like to thank the readers from several of the Dublin-based reading groups that over the next few web-pages review some books that were short-listed, in recent years, for the IMPAC award.

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Jane Friedman

Are Paid Book Reviews Worth It?

paying for book reviews

Paying for professional book reviews is a controversial topic throughout the writing and publishing community, and it’s hard to find practical, unbiased information about the benefits. In fact, it’s not even well-known that paid book reviews exist, and even less is known about the value of such reviews.

Before I discuss the pros and cons of paid reviews, I want to define them (strictly for the purposes of this post).

  • Trade book reviews. Trade publications are those read by booksellers, librarians, and others who work inside the industry (as opposed to readers/consumers). Such publications primarily provide pre-publication reviews of traditionally published books, whether from small or large presses. Typically, these publications have been operating for a long time and have a history of serving publishing professionals. However, with the rise of self-publishing, some trade review outlets have begun paid review programs especially for self-published authors. Examples: Kirkus Reviews and Foreword Reviews .
  • Non-trade book reviews.  Because of the increased demand for professional reviews of self-published work, you can now find online publications that specialize in providing such services. These publications or websites may have some reach and visibility to the trade, or they may be reader-facing, or a mix of both. Examples: Indie Reader , Blue Ink Review , Self-Publishing Review .
  • Reader (non-professional) reviews. It’s considered unethical to pay for reader reviews posted at Amazon or other sites, and Amazon is actively trying to curb the practice.

This post is focused on the first two types of paid reviews; I recommend you stay away from the third.

Some of you reading this post may be looking for a quick and easy answer to the question of whether you should invest in a paid book review. Here’s what I think in a nutshell, although a lot of people will be unhappy with me saying so:

The majority of authors will not sufficiently benefit from paid book reviews, and should invest their time and money elsewhere.

However, this can be a more nuanced issue than this broad statement indicates. Here are three questions I ask authors when advising about the value of paid reviews:

  • Do you have a well-thought-out marketing plan that targets librarians, booksellers, or schools?
  • What is your overall marketing budget, and does it include hiring a publicist or outside help?
  • What’s your book category? Are you trying to market a children’s book?

Let discuss each issue in more detail.

1. Are you targeting the trade?

It makes little sense to pay for a trade book review if all you’re going to do is make your book available for sale on Amazon or other online retailers and consider your marketing job done. This is a huge waste of your money, yet this is what many authors do, because what they’re mainly after is validation, not a marketing tool.

Ask yourself: Do you want this review because you feel it’s part of having “real” book published—that having it gives you some additional credibility? If that’s your only motivation, you are paying to feel better about yourself and your work, not to sell books.

A better way to sell more books on Amazon, or through online retail, is to generate as many reader reviews as possible. Some might argue that having a professional review as part of the book’s description on Amazon (and elsewhere) adds a sheen of professionalism and leads to more readers taking a chance on the book. But I believe readers are generally not persuaded by one professional review when there are few reader reviews and/or a low star rating. Like it or not, purchasing behavior online is driven by quantity of reviews that help indicate a book is worth the price, assuming no prior exposure to the author.

However, if you have an outreach plan that involves approaching libraries to consider your book, or if you’re trying to reach independent booksellers, then having a positive review from a source they know can help you overcome an initial hurdle or two. It will not guarantee they will carry or buy your book, but it may help make a favorable impression. (That said, they may know your review was paid for if your book is self-published. This probably won’t matter to them as long as they trust the review source.)

Another thing to understand is that even if you pay for your trade review, that doesn’t mean it will have as much prominence or visibility as other (unpaid) reviews from that publication. Paid reviews are typically segregated and run separately from unpaid reviews, so a bookseller or librarian may have to actively seek out reviews of self-published books. How much attention these reviews receive from the trade, in aggregate, is anyone’s guess. One thing is for sure: there’s a ton of competition even just among traditionally published books.

All of this assumes that the paid review you receive is positive or will make a good impression. The review may, in fact, be negative, and you won’t be able to use it. (In such cases, the trade review outlet allows you to suppress publication of the review altogether.)

If you are targeting the trade, and you’re operating on a professional level, then consider approaching trade publications just as any traditional publisher would: four to six months in advance of your book’s publication date. (Since the focus of these trade publications is on pre-publication reviews, they won’t review your book if you don’t send the copy several months in advance of your pub date.) Send an advance review copy along with a press release or information sheet about the book, and cross your fingers that your book is selected for review (for free). If not, later on you can consider paying for a review if necessary.

If you’re not targeting the trade, sometimes a paid review can still be helpful. That brings us to the second question.

2. What does your overall marketing plan look like?

If paying for a review consumes all of your marketing and publicity budget, stop. This isn’t what you should spend your money on. You’d see far more sales from spending that money on a BookBub promotion or on other types of discounts or giveaways to increase your book’s visibility.

On the other hand, if the paid review is just one piece of a larger marketing plan to gain visibility, then you’re in a better place to capitalize on a positive paid review. If you can see it as a steppingstone—as a way to get people on board quicker—that’s the right mindset. A positive review from a known or trusted source can help lead to other reviews—or interview opportunities, or other media coverage. Or you could use the review in advertisements to the trade.

With paid reviews, remember: steppingstone. It’s not paid review = book sales . A good marketer or publicist can help open doors for you, and they could have an easier time if they’re armed with some good blurbs or coverage (including that paid book review) to start.

If all you intend to do with your paid review is add it to your book cover, your website, your Amazon book description, or other online marketing copy, then it is not likely to have any noticeable effect on your sales. (And frankly, in such cases, there is no way to measure if it really did make a difference.)

3. What’s your book category?

The children’s market is one area where I think paid reviews can make the most sense, because you’re not typically marketing directly to readers (children) but to educators, librarians, and schools. The children’s market highly values trade publications such as School Library Journal  or  Publishers Weekly ; these publications help them understand what’s releasing soon and make good choices about what to buy, often on a limited budget.

Here’s the rub: you can’t buy a review in either of those publications I just mentioned. You would have to submit to them through the traditional channels at least a couple months (or more) in advance of your publication date.

I spent more than a dozen years in traditional publishing and oversaw the publication of hundreds of books. During that time, only a handful of our titles received professional trade reviews. By and large, our company did not submit books for review, and pre-publication reviews did not perceptibly affect our sales when they did appear. That’s because our books were mainly in instructional or enthusiast nonfiction categories, where sales aren’t typically driven by professional or trade reviews.

If you don’t have industry experience, it may be difficult to figure out if a paid review might make a difference for your particular book category. Here’s what I recommend: Using Amazon, find books that would be considered direct competitors to yours. Take a look at their Amazon category or genre (e.g., paranormal romance, cozy mystery, etc.), then look at the bestsellers in that category over a period of a week or two. (If you can, make sure you research a good mix of both traditionally published and self-published titles.) Read the books’ Amazon page descriptions and see what review sources are quoted. Many times, you’ll find (free) blogger reviews and a variety of (free) niche publication reviews, rather than reviews from the companies I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Taking the time to pursue free reviews or reader reviews is the preferred method of established, career indie authors; they’re rarely concerned about courting the traditional gatekeepers, unless their work is of a literary bent.

Paid Book Review Benefits That Don’t Really Mean Anything

Most paid review outlets promise that your review will be distributed to Ingram, online retail sites, and all sorts of important-sounding places. This type of review promotion doesn’t discount any of what I’ve discussed above. Again, just because the review is distributed or available doesn’t mean it will be seen or acted upon. And I don’t recommend that you pay these companies for extra promotion or advertising of your review unless you really know what you’re doing and a marketer or publicist thinks it will get your book in front of exactly the right audience. Too much of online advertising is like flushing money down the toilet—whether it’s done through these companies or not. If you’re interested in quality and targeted advertising for your book, consider  M.J. Rose’s AuthorBuzz service , but even then, make sure it’s only one part of a larger marketing plan, not the only part.

Are Paid Book Reviews Tainted?

Yes and no. As I said at the outset, this is a controversial topic, and perceptions about the practice widely vary. I’m not typically an advocate of paid reviews, because in most cases I think that authors fail to capitalize on them and also that authors can achieve much the same results if they put in the (time-consuming) effort to secure the many types of free reviews available to them. It’s not that I’m morally against paid reviews, although I do think paid review services can make it sound like all sorts of wonderful, influential people will suddenly take notice of your book when that’s seldom the case.

If professional trade reviews are very important to you or your work, I highly recommend (as suggested before) that, rather than paying for a review, you send advance review copies to trade review outlets four to six months in advance of your publication date and proceed through the process just as other publishers would. While your chances of getting a review might not be as good as the chance a recognized press would have, you still have a shot if your work appears to meet professional standards in every other way. Darcy Pattison has shown that it’s possible , and so have many others. Too many self-publishers don’t have the patience to wait, yet still want the same review consideration or coverage as traditionally published authors. Fortunately, I think many self-publishers don’t need the same kind of professional review coverage or attention that traditionally published authors receive; you have other tools at your disposal that can be just as effective in driving sales.

I’d love to hear in the comments from authors willing to share their experience with paid review services—positive, neutral, or negative.

Additionally, The Alliance of Independent Authors has posted their anecdotal findings and research into the issue in the following two posts, which have interesting comment threads. So far, they’ve only focused on Kirkus.

  • Is a Kirkus Review Worth the Price?
  • Is Kirkus Selling Dreams—Or Do They Deliver?

In October 2022, publisher and author Ian Lamont wrote about his Kirkus Indie review for the Harvard Business Review. Be sure to read it before paying for a Kirkus review.

Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman has spent nearly 25 years working in the book publishing industry, with a focus on author education and trend reporting. She is the editor of The Hot Sheet , the essential publishing industry newsletter for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2023. Her latest book is The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), which received a starred review from Library Journal. In addition to serving on grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund, she works with organizations such as The Authors Guild to bring transparency to the business of publishing.


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[…] The majority of authors will not benefit from paid book reviews, and should invest their time and money elsewhere. Here's why.  […]

TK Greenleaf

I bought a paid review from Kirkus for my speculative fiction novel, Duo. While the review was largely positive, so much of it was devoted to outlining the plot, I felt anyone who read it would be be deprived of enjoying the discovery of the story for themselves. And, I could be wrong, but the tone of the comments led me to believe that the reviewer had speed-read the book (which, if they’re getting paid by the review, would make sense), and that led to conclusions that none of my other reviewers, who had read the story for enjoyment, agreed with. Overall, I did get a couple of good quotes to excerpt on the book jacket, etc., so it was worth it for my marketing mix, but I think there are probably better ways to spend marketing dollars.

Jane Friedman

Much appreciate you sharing your detailed results here. Thank you!

Diane O\'Connell

One of my authors (I’m an independent editor) had the same experience with Kirkus. The review was positive, but was 90% devoted to detailing the plot, including spoiling a major plot twist. There was nothing really “quotable” in the review, so the author was unable to use it — even though he got a good review.

Jean Hoefling

TK Greenleaf, I’ve found this endless synopsis thing to be true with many of these review sites, whether paid or free, and I don’t get it. I write reviews for Blue Ink Review, and we are required to read the entire book, and I spend as little of my word count as possible on the synopsis, and always read the whole book, for better or worse. My guess is that any of the bigger review sites require the same of their reviewers, whether individual reviewers follow through or not. That client is shelling out a ton, and it’s just unethical not to respect that.

Sivuyile Daniel

Thank you for your honesty.

Marcy McKay

My novel has been all of five weeks, and I have 43 reviews…all four-and-five stars. Not one of those has been paid, and it’s fun that so many reviews came from strangers. I’m VERY proud of what I’ve accomplished, but getting those reviews has been harder than writer the book (not really, but sort of).

I’m trying to get 60 reviews and saving my money for BookBub for the very reasons you laid out. It’s interesting because my first inclination about “paid reviews” was it’s unethical, but I do respect Kirkus. Thanks for really making me think, Jane.

Cathey Nickell

43 is fantastic! I’ve only gotten 23… it is HARD WORK! You’re right.

Thanks, Cathey. I knew it’d be hard, but even so much harder than I expected. I can name 8 people who’ve read my novel and liked it (they told me through email, Facebook, Twitter) and SAID they would write review, but haven’t. Grrr.

Good luck with you and gathering reviews.

C.David Gierke

I also had multiple individuals say they really liked my book, but didn’t write a review… even after I sent them a detailed description as to how it could be done on Amazon, B & N and Goodreads!

Stanley C Straub

I’ve found the same thing. I’ve had readers tell me how good the book was, said that they would write a review, and yet they haven’t written one. I thought writing a book was hard but I think unless you’re willing to shell out lots of money for reviews, the getting of reviews is much harder. I’ve begged for reviews and I’ve only gotten one or two by begging. I’ve written to reviewers who said that they would review my book if I sent it to them. I’ve sent it to them and then waited for their review. Out of many that I wrote to, only a couple actually wrote a review. So far I’ve gotten eight reviews on my latest book in over a year of trying to get them. I write a blog, use twitter, and facebook. I’m not willing to pay for reviews and maybe that’s my problem. All of the paid review sites tell you how great they are and how well they work. However, I personally think that they only work great for them to make money. Thank you Jane for bringing up this issue. There must be a trick without spending lots of money that we’re not aware of. I hope that if anyone finds out what it is, they’ll let us know.

Bruce Hartman

Stanley, You are so right! Lots of people will promise, but it takes time. Jane’s article gives great advice, and is my go to for any self publishing advice. It is a lot like running for office, you have to all the little things, as hard as that may be.


Hey there, can you give me some advice on getting reviews? I’ve approached a metric ton of bloggers, emailed 800 top reviewers, posted on all sorts of communities asking for reviews over the last 4 weeks, and I have 5 reviews total.

C. David Gierke

My findings, exactly! Getting honest reviews is harder than the writing… by far.

Frances Caballo

I am so glad you published this post. There’s something about paying for a review that has never appealed to me. And when authors promote a Kirkus review, I tend to dismiss it. I would much rather promote my readers’ reviews than a review I had to purchase. Reader reviews are authentic, more meaningful, and, of course, provided without compensation.

Paul Ottley

Thanks for that Frances, I think I will follow your lead. I write books, and of course I also want to sell my books, to help people get inspired by what I have written for them.

Cate Baum

As an expert in paid reviews, and the COO of Self-Publishing Review, one company you linked to, I feel I need to get into this – you could have come to us, the specialists in the field for advice and comment; instead you have drawn conclusions without reliable data. I saw your post on Facebook where writers were saying paid reviews were useful to them, but I’m not seeing that here. You have not reported it. Some said it wasn’t useful as well, but this seems to be a blanket dismissal of something that works for a lot of writers, or it wouldn’t be increasingly commonplace.

To start, this paragraph doesn’t make a lot of sense:

“I believe readers are generally not persuaded by one professional review when there are few reader reviews and/or a low star rating. Like it or not, purchasing behavior online is driven by quantity of reviews that help indicate a book is worth the price, assuming no prior exposure to the author.”

People get an editorial review to put in the Editorial Reviews section on Amazon so that people might be more inclined to buy the book and add a customer review. Amazon have done this officially because expert reviews are more valued by consumers more of the time than a customer review – I have independent studies to prove this. This is because an expert reviewer can judge a book’s viability, readability, and the writer’s talent much more astutely than someone who reads a few books a year. We have scientific data on this I would have been happy to share if you had asked.

Another: “If all you intend to do with your paid review is add it to your book cover, your website, your Amazon book description, or other online marketing copy, then it is not likely to have any noticeable effect on your sales.”

You don’t understand the reason an author needs an editorial review. Reviews of any kind cause a cumulative effect and not a direct sales to review ratio. The main difference between an editorial review and a customer review is this: A customer buys the book before they write a review. The editorial review is written before a customer buys the book. So you’re working back to front if you want customer reviews to sell books.

For the vast majority of self-publishers, where KDP is their bread and butter, libraries and “the trade” aren’t important. Honestly, this seems sort of old-fashioned and print-centric for today’s industry. What authors mostly want is a review to get the ball rolling with readers directly. Authors are much more concerned with Kindle sales than library distribution, which they can get anyway with Smashwords or with KDP extended distribution. This is your core argument, but there’s a really small percentage of writers who even have a book in hard copy these days. Seems really out of touch to be talking about this as a main concern.

You’re underestimating how difficult it is to get reviews for free. If you send a query to 100 book blogs and don’t receive many responses, or get a badly written 100-word review on a low-traffic site, that does nothing for sales. Additionally, a review from a higher-profile source can help get a foot in the door with book bloggers than a book that has no reviews from other book sites. Even if you do get free reviews, again, these don’t look professional on your Editorial section, and do nothing to augment your book selling plan.

I have worked with thousands of indie authors so I know what they want – library exposure is not one of the wishlist, especially given many libraries are closing and don’t have money for trad books, let alone taking a shot on a self-publisher. Sales and ranking are the main concerns these days, both of which are helped with an editorial review. It’s about getting a manuscript critique that’s live on the site/social networks, and making an Amazon page/author site/marketing materials as enticing as possible.

We get reviews in front of nearly a quarter of a million readers when someone buys a review from us. That’s not nothing.

It’s strangely narrow minded to dissuade writers from any useful tool when bookselling is becoming increasingly more difficult. It’s highly fashionable to criticize paid reviews without really researching the plus points, but it’s really a lack of understanding of how hard it is to promote a book among the millions of titles available, and honestly, this article does not reflect your findings on Facebook, which I monitored, that were clearly as positive as they were negative, with authors reporting good sales after paid reviews – something I can corroborate.

I’m sorry you thought you had to join in the paid review bashing. Unfortunately you did not report the facts from your research correctly, and although you linked to us, did not ask us or any of the other companies listed for our opinion, comment, or advice. We have loads of facts and figures from independent studies conducted by marketing experts, universities, and even Amazon that we could have shared with you instead of your points in this post, that are honestly kind of misleading and yet again don’t give the right up-to-date information for indie authors today.

The amount of professional care and attention we give to reviews is beyond just writing a few paragraphs, and I deeply resent the myth being perpetuated by articles like this that as book professionals we don’t do everything in our power to make sure authors get the most they can out of their review package. This whole idea of rejecting book marketing experts in self-publishing has to end. It’s just silly, and smacks of being stubbornly against the tide of progress for no reason. There are going to be a lot of noses cut in spite littering the self-publishing industry floor at this rate, and a lot of disappointed writers who read articles like this and think it’s fine to scrimp on professional tools. It’s not.

Thanks for adding your perspective, Cate. If you’re willing to share links to the independent studies and scientific data here in the comment thread, I know my readers would welcome them, as would I.

I think it’s extreme to characterize my post as bashing paid reviews or rejecting book marketing experts. I stated what I believe are the limitations of paid book reviews, and clarified that some authors can benefit from them with a well-thought-out marketing plan. I’ve worked with self-published authors for a long time as well (since 2001), so I’m not without experience of my own. This is my professional opinion, not a journalistic investigation.

If anyone would like to review the full comment thread at Facebook where I asked authors to share their experiences with paid reviews, here’s the link:

I wish that when bloggers blog about paid reviews they would use hard fact instead of opinion. I work with paid reviews every day for 16 hours a day. I see hundreds of authors making sales as a result. Some have even gotten trad book deals from our reviews.

Here are the independent study links I collated into a piece 2 months back. Research comes from the UK government, several universities and well-known marketing sources used in the book industry.

Henry Baum

I really think you’re looking at self-publishing through the lens of traditional publishing. Most self-publishers have very little interest in the library market – they’re interested in Kindle sales and online marketing. So, yes, a paid review won’t necessarily help you reach library buyers, but if that’s your main argument against paid reviews, it’s a very narrow lens. And then you say this:

“If the paid review is just one piece of a larger marketing plan to gain visibility, then you’re in a better place to capitalize on a positive paid review. If you can see it as a steppingstone—as a way to get people on board quicker—that’s the right mindset. A positive review from a known or trusted source can help lead to other reviews—or interview opportunities, or other media coverage. Or you could use the review in advertisements to the trade.”

Then what’s the argument against paid reviews, given that the majority of authors use a review exactly like this?

You mention in passing things like back cover copy/Amazon Editorial review/marketing materials like those are small issues – those are huge parts of a book release. I obviously have skin in the game of paid reviews, but this really isn’t looking at what paid reviews offer in the current market.

You’re conflating paid review and “professional trade review” like they’re the same thing – as if the main reason people buy paid reviews is to be recognized by mainstream publishing. It just isn’t. This is a Kindle world now – that’s where most self-publishers want to be recognized.

My opinion in this post is based mostly on these 2 things.

1. Customer reviews (quantity and star rating) matter more to a book’s visibility and sales success on a site like Amazon. This is fairly well-established in the Amazon self-publishing community and emphasized in all the how-to guides. This is why indie authors-marketers, such as Tim Grahl or Sean Platt, tell authors why and how to get as many reader reviews as possible on the first day or week of a book’s release. An example:

2. A broader societal trend has questioned the role and meaning of the professional review or critic in light of recommendations from non-professional sources (user-generated reviews, social media, and other word of mouth). I don’t think it’s possible to attend a publishing conference today without a panel on “Is Book Criticism Dead?” Don’t get me wrong—there IS a place for professional reviewing and criticism, but the landscape isn’t the same as it used to be, and I believe professional editorial reviews matter mainly to people in the profession. There are always exceptions, of course, which I believe are driven mainly by the category of book we’re talking about.

I don’t know whether a majority of authors use paid reviews or not (although that hasn’t been my impression). But if there is a large number of authors who use paid reviews, I don’t find that a convincing argument for their sales and marketing benefit. Indie authors often lack experience in marketing, or don’t know what to buy or what’s helpful for them. You can see this play out clearly in the types of over-priced publishing services and marketing packages that exist out there (e.g., AuthorSolutions). Just because such services get a lot of customers doesn’t mean that they sell books.

Addressing your points.

1. Editorial Reviews are listed before customer reviews on Amazon, so Amazon itself prizes them more. In the study Cate links to, it’s determined that a reviewer with an established reputation has a greater impact than customer reviews. Obviously, customer reviews are hugely important, but a good Editorial Review can help get that process started. You’re linking to Tim Grahl – someone with an established reputation and fan base. Many self-publishers do all of the things he says and come up empty. It’s the kind of thing that’s encouraging to read, but doesn’t always work in the real world.

2. I really don’t think paid reviews and “professional criticism” are nearly the same thing. In my experience – and that experience is 100 hours a week working with self-publishers – the people who care about professional criticism and “the trade” are approaching zero. This isn’t about gatekeeping, it’s about exposure. There’s more exposure on a site with good traffic. And there’s more clout with an established service than Bob’s Book Reviews.

3. If you’re conflating paid reviews with Author Solutions, that’s pretty low. To not just me, but everyone who uses the service, which comprises all types of writers. Our lowest priced review is $69 – it’s hardly a rip-off to get book cover copy, Amazon Editorial Review, social media posting, etc. I just really think you’re underestimating how hard it is for so many authors to get any sort of coverage. There are millions of books all vying for attention, so authors need every tool they can get. If having an Amazon Editorial Review is better than not having one, then you’re steering authors away from something that can help them.

Henry, I apologize if it appeared I was conflating SPR or paid reviews with AuthorSolutions. That was not my intention, and I don’t think that SPR (or paid review services) are ripping off writers. The price charged for the review is more than fair—that’s not the issue in my mind. Rather, I don’t agree with the argument that popularity of an offering equates with its usefulness or appropriateness.

I’m well aware of how difficult it is to for any author or book to get coverage, but I don’t believe paid book reviews are the best or only solution to that challenge. It’s one solution, and I’ve tried to address the limitations of it.

This IS a good point for all of us to remember, Cate, when you say, “Reviews of any kind cause a cumulative effect and not a direct sales to review ratio.” I think that’s important to remember. I just really love all the information I’m gathering here. Thanks.

Millicent Hughes

Perhaps thou doth protest too much.


Thank you. As a self published author this comment is very helpful (and encouraging)

Thank you for all this information, Jane! What a great article. I’m an indie author of a children’s picture book, and I’ve been working hard to get free PR wherever I can. It pays off; I got a big story in our newspaper, but I just got lucky (my news release hit the right person at the right time). I’ve gently prodded my book buyers to provide free reader reviews, and it does start gradually paying off. But it’s gradual … it’s hard to get a reader to sit down and write a review. I’m now considering purchasing a Kirkus Indie review, only because it is one of the requirements for a Texas book contest I want to submit my book to (a favorable review from one of 5 outlets is required, and Kirkus is one of those; the others wouldn’t accept a self-published book). And of course, I’ll just have to hope that the review is favorable, if I do decide to pay Kirkus. It’s a gamble, but this book contest is an important part of my marketing plan — realizing of course that I might not even win. You’re so right – it’s not just about sales. It’s also about networking with libraries, schools, local bookstores, etc. I’m doing all that, and it seems to be working. Keep writing great articles like this, I appreciate it very much.

Appreciate you taking the time to share your experience here, Cathey. Best of luck with your ongoing marketing and PR push!

[…] Are Paid Book Reviews Worth It? […]

[…] Are Paid Book Reviews Worth It? (Jane Friedman) Paying for professional book reviews remains a controversial topic that very few authors have practical, unbiased information about. In fact, it’s not even well-known in the author community that paid book reviews exist, and even less is known about the value of such reviews. […]


Anyone considering paid review services should read a recent article in The Huffington Post entitled “Book Reviews: Should You Pay for Them?” which you can find here:

It’s a very refreshing article that concludes that “if you have the money to pay for a review, and feel comfortable doing it, then do so. It pays to remember that getting reviews for your book is akin to getting publicity for it. Time, effort, some money spent, and being tenacious are needed.”

Self-publishing authors are at a big disadvantage over traditionally published authors. So is it any wonder they pay for book reviews to help get visibility of their books?

The reason I like the article is because it is brutally honest in admitting that authors do pay for book reviews published on Amazon, Goodreads, and in blogs.

Many authors may not like the idea of paid book reviews, but as long as they are honest, and not misleading the reader, it’s just part of modern day ebook marketing. Just like many were against shops open on a Sunday, or advertising on football shirts, it’s just the way it is right now. To ignore it, is simply to get left behind.

Authors don’t select to use paid review services because they want to cheat or mislead the reader. They do it because indie authors today play on an uneven playing field which is stacked in favor of the traditionally published author.

Unlike traditionally published authors, self-published authors have practically no presence in actual bookshops. Print distribution and lack of shelf space in bookshops and other stores is literally stacked against the self-published author. While indie authors continue to hit the bestseller lists, their presence in bookstores remains negligible if non-existent. This is a shame because it is clear that indie authors can write books as well as any traditional authors.

The second major challenge or barrier facing indie authors is the lack of traditional media coverage. Despite self-publishing authors making the big-time bestseller lists both on Amazon and the New York Times, and having lots of social media support, recognition from the traditional literary community is practically non-existent. Few, if any, top book reviewers published in the traditional newspapers and magazines will cover indie titles.

Thankfully, there are some very reputable and established review services like Kirkus and Self-Publishing Review that will support indie authors. Yes, they are paid review services, and they are honest ones with strong reputations.

So I say hallelujah to these great champions of the self-publishing world. Without them, indie authors would have very few other places to go to help them promote their books and get honest reviews.

[…] one of her regular posts for the author corps, Jane Friedman titled a Monday article Are Paid Book Reviews Worth It?. Friedman is the former publisher of Writer’s Digest and Scratch magazine. She is teaching at […]


Paid Book Reviews: Are They Worth it? (All You Need to Know) | Favbookshelf

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  • Post author: Chandana Padala

Hey there, let’s dive into the world of book reviews today – ain’t they like the secret sauce for getting your book out there?

You’ve probably seen them on Amazon, Goodreads, blogs, and even those quick little snippets on the back cover. They’re like the guideposts helping us decide if a book’s a yay or a nay. Plus, they’re the ultimate wingman, making a book famous and boosting those sales.

But wait up, what’s the deal with paid book reviews?

I have been in this industry for years now. What I feel is paying someone to review your books is not wrong, but you should be mindful of how you approach it. This is mainly on the author’s part. Paying general readers to write reviews for your book can be many a times waste of money as they are not as committed, and it is not their priority; because of that, authors have to take many, many tiring follow-ups with the reviewer, even to publish a review.

Now, let’s see why authors opt for paid book reviews.

Paid Book Reviews

Why Pay For Book Reviews?

So, when authors reach out to us for promotional services, a lot of them already get why they should be investing in promotions. It isn’t a big deal to them. But some still raise the question: “Do I really need this?”

And in those moments, I just break it down for them with a simple example:

Think about your book like any other product out there. Yep, it’s a product too. Now, picture this: there are millions of products competing for attention. So, how do you make your book stand out in that bustling crowd? Well, it’s a no-brainer – by promoting and marketing it, so readers know you’re on the scene. It’s that straightforward.

(Also, a quick disclaimer: Just because we have promotional services, that is not the reason we are making this post. Haha! We genuinely want to give authors all info and help them select what is best for their books. No hidden agendas here – we’ve got your back!.)

Now, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty benefits:

#1 Professional Feedback

A professional viewpoint

Paid book reviewers often have a wealth of experience in literature, writing, and storytelling. They can provide nuanced feedback that goes beyond general comments like “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it.” These reviewers are like the fairy godparents of your writing journey. They’ll tell you where your story shines like a shooting star and where you might want to do a little happy dance to make it even better.

For example, a paid reviewer might delve into the structure of the plot and point out how certain events could have been better connected for a smoother flow. They might also discuss character motivations, suggesting ways the characters’ actions could be more consistent with their personalities.

Example: A paid reviewer might analyze a mystery novel and provide feedback on how the clues were revealed, the pacing of suspenseful moments, and the effectiveness of red herrings in keeping the reader engaged.

# 2 Exposure

Alright, picture your book as a star in the night sky. Now, imagine if that star suddenly shone even brighter than the others. That’s what positive paid reviews can do for your book’s visibility.

When people see a bunch of reviews raving about your story, they’re curious. They’re more likely to pick up your book and give it a whirl.

It’s like your book stepping into the spotlight and saying, “Hey, I’m worth your time!”

# 3 Credibility

You know when your cool friend recommends a restaurant, and suddenly you’re excited to try it out?

Well, think of paid reviewers as those cool friends, but for books.

When a reviewer who’s known for their good taste says your book is a winner, it’s like getting a stamp of approval that readers trust. It’s like your book getting the nod from someone who really knows their stuff, and that can seriously boost your book’s street cred.

#4 Constructive Criticism

Constructive feedback

Let’s face it, we all need a little tough love sometimes, especially when it comes to our writing. That’s where paid reviewers shine.

They’re not afraid to point out the spots where your story might be losing its sparkle. Maybe they noticed your dialogue is a bit clunky, or your plot twist needs a bit more oomph. But guess what? That’s gold for you!

It’s like having a personal coach who’s helping you fine-tune your writing game.

#5 Marketing Tool

Imagine you’re shopping for a book, and you see a quote on the cover that’s like a mini-review, saying your book is “a rollercoaster of emotions” or “a must-read for fantasy fans.” That’s the magic of paid reviews.

Those quotes are like little teasers that catch readers’ attention and make them curious about your story. It’s like your book getting a shiny badge that says, “Hey, I’ve got something special!”

#6 Time and Effort

Imagine having a friend who’s always up for a long chat about your favorite TV show. Now, think about a paid reviewer doing the same thing but with your book.

They’re not breezing through it; they’re savoring every chapter, taking notes, and really diving deep. It’s like having a buddy who’s as invested in your story as you are.

#7 Diverse Range of Opinions

Paid reviewers come from different walks of life. Some might be history buffs, others science nerds. This mix of backgrounds means you’re getting a full-spectrum review.

It’s like having a bunch of friends with different tastes all telling you what they love about your story.

#8 Encourages High-Quality Work

Imagine your book is a cake you’re baking for a big celebration. Paid reviews are like that finishing touch of frosting that makes your cake look amazing.

Knowing that your book will be reviewed by pros can light a fire under you to make sure every chapter, and every sentence is the best it can be. It’s like wanting to present a cake that’s not just delicious but looks stunning too.

Well, well, lets talk about negatives as well:

Cons on paid book marketing:

# 1 the paid factor.

The paid factor

Ah, the big “P” word: paid. Let’s talk about money.

For authors, dishing out cash for reviews can feel like a hefty financial commitment, especially if you’re aiming for reviews from multiple sources. And here’s the kicker: there’s no guaranteed return on investment. You might not always see a direct correlation between those paid reviews and a surge in book sales or newfound fame.

You know that myth where people think paid marketing is like waving a magic wand, and boom, you’re a bestseller? Well, that’s not exactly how it works. Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s like keeping the lights on – it requires a steady flow of money over time.

#2 Uncertain Outcome


Picture this: you’re hiring someone to judge your book. But here’s the catch – their judgment might not be what you’re hoping for. Even if you’re footing the bill, the reviewer’s opinion remains their own.

So, brace yourself for a rollercoaster of uncertainty. There’s always that “what if” hovering around – will the review be a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down for your book?

#3 Does Not Guarantee Sales

Okay, here’s the deal: even after investing money in reviews, it doesn’t always mean more sales. Sure, more reviews bring in feedback, get your book in front of a bigger crowd, and introduce you to new readers.

But hold on a second – just because more people see your book doesn’t mean they’ll all rush to buy it. It’s like hosting a party. Lots of guests, but not everyone’s raiding the snack table.

Yes, there’s an indirect connection – more exposure leads to more sales, but it’s, again, not a guaranteed equation. You’ve got to win readers over with your story’s charm and keep them coming back for more.

So, there you have it, friend!

Paid book reviews are like having a squad of experts cheering you on, giving you pointers, and helping your book shine brighter than ever. Just remember, it’s all about keeping things transparent and ethical to make sure the magic of storytelling stays alive and well!

It’s essential to have a clear vision of your book’s goals and how to achieve them. After weighing the ups and downs we’ve talked about, you can decide if hiring a professional for paid book review services is the right path for you.

Are you an author or a publisher? If yes, then you must check our servic es for promotions and marketing. They will undoubtedly benefit you.

Got questions? Drop them in the comments below. We’re here to chat and connect with you!

Articles you might like:

  • Why are book reviews important to authors? – Favbookshelf
  • Free Vs Paid Book Marketing: Which Is Better? – Favbookshelf
  • Book Review: The Sun Is Also A Star (Spoiler-Free) – Favbookshelf
  • Is kindle unlimited worth it? (Basic Questions Answered) – Favbookshelf

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Top 5 Paid Indie Book Review Services Compared


It’s difficult to know exactly what you’re getting when you shop for a professional review, so Self-Publishing Review decided to commission a study to look at eleven factors that have been brought to our attention by SPR clients most often, and compared our services to the competition.

Here at SPR, we consider that we are one of five review service big-hitters, and therefore we compared ourselves to each of those: BlueInk Review, Foreword Clarion, Kirkus Reviews, and Indie Reader. We chose these because they use professional writers, have good quality websites and a sizeable brand presence in the indie book arena.

We were firstly glad to see that we are the most economical review service out there, and also the speediest. We also offer the most words in a single review, and we were one of three services to offer provable testimonials straight from clients on our website.

There are however some other favorable assets to some of our competitors, which may balance out the reasons behind the bigger price tags.

ForeWord Clarion

Foreword Clarion are one of the set-in-stone services on the block, and do offer a solid review service with a star rating and links on a clean and bustling website; but Clarion don’t offer any extras. At Clarion, it seems your review may be shared on their Facebook but they currently have only 68 likes. Foreword’s main Facebook does not share reviews as a rule, it seems. They come up second-speediest for their regular review turnaround time at six weeks.

USP – Clarion promises to share your review with “our partners, such as Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Cengage, Bowker, and EBSCO [who] will spread the word to thousands of librarians and booksellers.” Their reviews are written as formal copy giving you the opportunity to use sections accordingly, and have the sections stand alone, such as their “Money Quote”.

Downside – Cost

Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Indie Reviews do offer some flimsy promises of sharing your review on their newsletter, with 50,000 readers, but it seems the word “may” instead of “will” implies it’s at their discretion, as is the glimmer of a chance to be featured in Kirkus Reviews Magazine, and apart from being shared on the usual platforms (Google is mentioned, but that’s anything on the web) there doesn’t seem much else, so you are paying for the privilege of adding the review to your Amazon or Goodreads author section and showing off the stars Kirkus have given you along with a quote. Depending on what sort of writer you are this may or may not work for you sales wise. Kirkus is renowned for having professional reviewers, and the tryouts are tough for the job, so you will certainly get a well-crafted review for marketing purposes. Having said that, at 250 words priced at up to $575, it seems rather short of a good deal. You are definitely paying for the name at Kirkus.

USP – Biggest name in indie books means you get to quote Kirkus on your author page and get a chance to be in an industry print magazine. Copy is likely to be decent and very useable, and written in a formal copy format so you can use various parts of your review for different purposes.

Downside – Cost, time and the site features all kinds of books mixed in, meaning your self-pubbed has a lot of work to do to get seen if not picked up. See ALLi’s article on Kirkus reviews here.

BlueInk Review

BlueInk Review, our seasonal partners, offer more of a literary package. Their extras include sharing on library lists and in publishing circles, and considering that co-owner Patricia Moosbrugger is also a seasoned literary agent, the review becomes a small part of a promising kickstart for any author. You can also be sure of a fully edited and proofread review from a professional at BlueInk, and their service remains personal and prompt. BlueInk also share select reviews on their flourishing Facebook page as well as Pinterest and Twitter. Only exceptional books will receive a star rating.

USP – Literary connections and library listings are a plus, reviews are well-written and customer service is impeccable, often do deals with partners, such as SPR, that give discounts and offers.

Downside – No sales links to book


IndieReader has just put prices up by as much as $100, so it seems that their claims of being “the most cost-effective” review service need some further examination. Personally I think their star system comes off kind of snarky instead of encouraging: one star apparently meaning, “Really bad; there’s a reason this book is self-pubbed.” which seems mean-spirited for a community-based industry. However, their site is clean, smart and modern and their mailing list is really informative. Again, you don’t get any “extras” so you are just paying for a review that takes up to 9 weeks depending on what service you choose.

However, IndieReader is an incredibly good read and a go-to for industry news, so it’s definitely worth looking at some exposure with IR as part of a marketing plan.

USP – Bustling website means your review will get seen. The second-lowest priced service.

Downside – Star-rating and review style may be a little terse for some, turnaround is slow.

We’ve got three review packages, starting at $69 if you need a quick fix of exposure within 2 weeks. Both our SPR review packages deliver in 4 weeks and have 500 words, and there are a ton of extras and discounts for members.

If we combine our readership of around 37,000 on social media allowing for repeats, plus our 7,000 subscribers, it seems we are doing pretty well on getting reviews seen, and we share the actual URL of the review on social media, our homepage and newsletters as part of the service.

We definitely score on cost, speed, plenty of copy, plenty of extras for marketing and exposure, and we provide lots of testimonials for potential clients to see what we do.

Have a look at our review packages here.

Looking at this study we’ve learned about developing our brand, and that is next on the agenda.

Until then, remember, a paid review is not just useful on the site you bought it on, but it offers a great advantage for having press release copy, back of book copy, star ratings and editorial reviews on all your sales outlets. Paid reviews are an essential part of a professional book marketing plan, and we’re all here to help you discover your target audience and to use the right language to sell your book as an indie author.

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Get Paid to Review Books: 5 Book Review Jobs Sites That Pay Reviewers

Get Paid to Review Books 5 Book Review Jobs Sites That Pay Reviewers

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Writing book reviews is one of the best ways to get paid to read books online.

As a book reviewer, you’re tasked with reading and reviewing books, which in return can earn you a paycheck.

This blog post will show you five of the top-paying book review sites where you can submit your pitches and get hired for book review jobs.

To review books effectively, having a good education is important. EduBirdie can help you improve your skills and knowledge, making you better at reviewing books.

Book review jobs sites that pay reviewers

So, if you want to get paid to review books online , here is a list of five websites that you can explore to find book review jobs:

1) The US Review of Books

The US Review of Books has fair terms for reviewers, and the pay is usually between $25 and $75. To be accepted you’ll need to submit your resume, samples, and references. You’ll also be asked to do a sample review.

The site doesn’t have tough guidelines, the reviews can be half summary, half commentary. Most of the reviews requested will be around 300 words and you can expect to earn $25 for each. For longer reviews that are around $600 the pay can be as high as $75

The first review you will do will be treated as an application and you are compensated nonetheless, whether you’re hired eventually or not.

The pay might not seem much especially when you factor in the hours it will take you to read a book. However, if you are a faster reader, you can easily lock in $250-$750 doing 10 reviews a month.

Another added benefit of writing reviews for The US Review of Books is that you will be listed in its directory of reviewers that you can use as social proof and also get a backlink to your site.

The site pays via PayPal. US Review of Books encourages readers and authors alike to visit their website.

2) Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus Reviews isn’t transparent with their rates but some people claim that it’s usually $50 per review.

The media company has been in existence since 1933, so it is a legitimate company. That said, the reviews from Glassdoor seem to suggest that the editors will ask you to change your review if it’s negative, thus interfering with your work ethics as a book reviewer.

The reviews are around 350 words long with 2 weeks turnaround time. If you still want to apply, simply head over to this page and contact an editor.

3) OnlineBookClub

Though a popular book review website, many people do not recommend OnlineBookClub because of its tough and demanding guidelines with extremely low pay.

While they claim to pay up to $60 per review, most reviewers earn their lowest rates, which is actually $5 per review.

Reviews are easily rejected and can affect your review score. When you join, your score will be below 35, meaning that you will be bagging home $0 per review as they only begin to pay beyond the 35-point mark.

There are no clear guidelines on improving your score apart from the fact that you will have to engage in a forum and give shoutouts on social media. The editors aren’t as responsive either.

4) Booklist Publications

Booklist Publications is a book review website whose pay is not as appealing. Booklist pays $15 per review and only upon publication. This means that even if your review is accepted, you might have to wait a while

For published reviews, you will get one line credit and you can also be listed as a reviewer on their directory page.

To get started, you will need to fill in an application form answering basic questions and if you are fit the team will get back to you.

5) Women’s Review of Books

Women’s Review of Books is a publication of Wellesley Centers for Women, a part of Wellesley College, and reportedly pays $100 per review.

The publication specifically reviews books about women or written by women.

They expect their reviewers to have journalistic, academic, or strong book review backgrounds.

So if you believe that you can develop thought-provoking reviews you can start pitching your idea to them.

They pay on a review basis. To get started, send in a review pitch proposal about the book you want to review, its publication date, and your angle to the editors. You can find contact details on this page.

You will be paid upon review publication and you also get 12 months of subscription to their monthly issues.

You can also find more writing guidelines in this document . Make sure you adhere to them when writing the reviews.

Ready to begin your book reviewer job?

Book reviewing is a lucrative yet demanding career.

However, if it’s something you love doing and have a passion for writing, then book reviewing can be another source of income for you.

If this isn’t the case, I would advise you to look for other ways to earn money online such as freelance services, info products, or affiliate marketing.

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Get Paid to Read Books: 9 Top Companies for Book Reviewers

September 30, 2020 by Jane 19 Comments

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Some people enjoy reading books as a hobby. But others do it to make some extra income too. So if you can bury yourself in a book, reading it chapter after chapter, and can write an on-point book review, then you can get paid to read books.

This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn from qualifying purchases at NO extra cost to you.

How to become a book reviewer

Table of Contents

get paid to read books

Right now, you’re probably asking: How do you become a book reviewer? Do you need to hold a specific degree or earn a particular certification? Do you even need training for it?

Fortunately, there’s not much that you need to become a book reviewer. First, you need to be a voracious reader. You must really love reading books. If you spend a good time in the library reading books or always made a point to visit the bookstore to check out books from your favorite author, then you’ll most likely qualify to become a book reviewer.

However, you also need to be a good writer. After reading the book, you will have to write a book review. You should be able to follow the guidelines of the editorial staff. Most editors are busy, so they’ll appreciate book reviewers who can create concise, onpoint, and objective perspectives about the book. Make sure not to give out spoilers or discuss the plot twists. Book Trust has a fantastic guide in writing book reviews  here .

Additionally, having a sample book review, resume or CV, and website or blog link ready would bevery useful when you’re hunting for book review gigs. Some companies require one or all of these, so it’s best to have them digitally stored when you apply. If you want to specialize in this niche, it’s a good  to place all your book reviews in one place so that publishers and authors can easily see if you’re a good fit for them.

How much do book reviewers make?

Reading a book can take some time and writing a review will also require some effort and brain energy, so you’re probably wondering how much you can make as a book reviewer.

There is no standard rate for book reviewers. According to  Career Trend , you may earn zero dollars plus a free book, or $300 per review from top publishers. Those who are employed full-time by a publisher can make a more predictable income.

So as you can see, being a book reviewer isn’t always lucrative, and it won’t promise steady income. It’s a good side hustle for people who enjoy reading books as a hobby, but it probably won’t pay your mortgage.

Most people who love reading books also love writing. If you also want to make money writing, I highly recommend starting your own blog! I make a full-time income from this blog and I can help you do the same!   Check out this detailed, step-by-step guide on how to start a blog and make money from your blog as a beginner. 

Get Paid to Read Books: Top Publishers That Pay You For Book Reviews

Now let’s get down to the list of publishers that hire book reviewers, how much they pay, what they require, and what it’s like to work with them.

Related:  15 Inspiring Hobbies that Make Money

  • Online Book Club

One of the most popular book review sites is Online Book Club. Joining the Club is quite easy: just sign up and pick a book you’d want to read and review. The first review you write that’s accepted by the editorial staff isn’t paid, but all the subsequent book reviews will earn you somewhere between $5 to $60, plus a free copy of the book. Additionally, Online Book Club awards a $25 Amazon gift card for every 30 book reviews you write. .

  • Reedsy Discovery

If you want to get your hands on the best new books even before they hit the market, joining Reedsy Discovery will help you get paid to read books online. Reedsy has a massive library of books by self-published authors, so you’ll most likely to find books that you enjoy reading. You won’t get paid much, except for tips from authors ($1, $3 or $5). But as you build your reputation as a book reviewer, you can connect with authors directly for book review gigs.

  • Kirkus Media

Do you want to know how to become a book reviewer for Amazon? Join Kirkus Media! It is the prime source for book reviews  for books  that are sold on Amazon.  Kirkus Media is often hiring book reviewers, so it’s great to try your luck here before anywhere else. In your application, mention any relevant experience you have as that may increase your chance of being noticed. Once you get in, you’ll have thousands of books from across genres that you can read. After which, you need to come up with a 350-word book review in two weeks. Payments are not specified and will be sent to you by check 60 days after the review is submitted.

  • Book Browse

Book Browse is another legit company that hires people to read and review books. This company aims to help readers pick out the best books for them by publishing book reviews. If you’re wondering how you become a book reviewer for Book Browse, you’ll need to fill out  a short online form and send them two sample book reviews. According to its website, Book Browse gives book reviewers a modest payment and a byline. However, most reviewers only get to review one book each month.

  • Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly is a weekly news magazine with a core focus on the publishing industry. The company has a long list of book genres that are open for book review  including children’s books, mystery/thrillers, religion, lifestyle, and tnonfiction, from self-published as well as traditionally-published authors. To work with PW, you need to send your resume and a sample 200-word review. Book reviewers are paid an honorarium, but the amount is not disclosed publicly.

  • Any Subject Books  

Any Subject Books is a book review website that aims to supply honest and objective book reviews to readers. To do this, the site provides a standard form that book reviewers need to fill in, evaluating the book’s style, characters, plot, etc. Any Subject Books is also generous in sending reviewers books in their desired genres. The deadlines for book reviews are mutually decided by the book reviewer and Any Subject Books, and payment varies accordingly.

  • Women’s Review of Books

If you love to read books written by women authors for women audiences, then it’s a great idea to work for Women’s Review of Books. Women’s Review of books has been around for the last three decades, reviewing a wide range of literary works, including poetry, fiction and memoirs, among others.

If you wish to apply, attach one of your best book reviews as a sample as well as your resume. You will be compensated with a PDF issue where your book review appears, one year subscription to their magazine and $100 for every successfully approved book review.

  • U.S. Review of Books

Another reputable book review website is the U.S Review of Books. The company hires freelance book reviewers who can write professional objective reviews of their books. The U.S Review of Books has an extensive selection of books spanning different genres, and they’re looking for reviewers who can provide an honest yet objective critique aboutthe book, and not the author. Book reviews should be around 250-300 words and are formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style. Payment is not disclosed, but according to most sources, the company pays via check once a month.

  • Booklist Online

Booklist is owned by the American Review Association, striving to help readers pick the best books that are worth their time. There are over 8,000 books published on Booklist, so the magazine constantly hires book reviewers. Books are of a wide variety, including fiction, nonfiction and young adult. You can write a book a review of 175 words to 225 words, and receive $15 for every approved book review. Make sure to follow the editorial team’s guidelines for writing book reviews to make sure you don’t get rejected.

Get Paid To Read Books: Is It Worth Becoming A Book Reviewer?

If you want to get paid to read books, you should first look at these nine places and see where you can possibly land a book review gig. Some of them pay more than the others, but of course, you also have to consider the selection of books they offer. You probably won’t enjoy reading memoirs if you love romance novels, right? To make your work as a book reviewer more pleasurable, try to find book reviewer jobs where you can get access to your favorite kinds of books.

All in all, working as a book reviewer is a great way to get paid to read books. You are not just enjoying your hobby, but getting paid for doing what you love. It isn’t very lucrative though, so it’s probably best to keep this as a side hustle and not your main source of income.

Have you tried working as a book reviewer? If so, how was your experience?

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Reader Interactions

Muhammad Ayyaz

August 06, 2021 at 11:52 am

I am a mechanical engineer I worked in a university as a mechanical engineer from 1981 to2019 so my interest is in mechanical technology. I am also a master in education from the University of Punjab Lahore Pakistan.

August 08, 2021 at 12:26 am

I’m interested in doing this. I love to read. I’m just not sure about my writing skills.

Donna Rice-Saffold

September 18, 2023 at 7:51 am

I like to read and am interested in a we ork from home advrnture. I sometime serve as a substitute teacher im my local school area and have grans who love to hear & read good stories.

November 25, 2023 at 4:03 pm

I am a CPA who loves to read. I was in a number of on line reading/book club groups when I was approached to write reviews after reading books sent to me. As these were advanced copies, I could not sell them, but was allowed to keep any and I generally chose which books I wished to read and review as well as which genres I was interested in There were deadlines for the reviews and the only payment I received was the free book. I did nothing to arrange this gig and loved doing it, allow eventually the deadlines interfered with tax season hours and I let the reviews end. Worthwhile? Yes. Better now though with payments for the reviews, but I would still do them, even just for the free books!

Ms. Amber Naz

March 15, 2024 at 9:16 pm

How to join this opportunity???

August 21, 2023 at 10:34 am

I’m interested in this

Tammy L Thompson

September 04, 2023 at 3:39 pm

Is this legitimate I mean the date says Jane 3rd?

March 14, 2024 at 12:16 pm

I love reading books and so interested to start writing reviews also ….

September 17, 2023 at 3:18 pm

That’s not a date, it’s the poster’s name (Jane) and the number of comments before you made yours – it would have said “Jane 3 Comments”. If you look closely, you can see that “Jane” is a link, and “X Comments” (it says 4 right now) is a separate link. It should read “5 comments” after I post mine.

October 14, 2023 at 2:38 am

I am really interested in reading.

October 22, 2023 at 10:16 pm

Hi I am interested in reading a book.

Rosana Correia

October 26, 2023 at 5:49 pm

This might be interesting. I read books like a madman and I write as much. This might be the time to start doing something about it.

Carole James

January 02, 2024 at 7:29 am

Hi I have a medical background and qualifications in alternative therapies as well. Educated to Masters level I am happy to read medical/nursing and social textbooks. I am from the Uk so useful to check for English and American spellings

Thobelani Nkomo

December 21, 2023 at 8:15 am

I’m up if you looking for someone

January 02, 2024 at 3:40 pm

Books have always been apart of me. I love that I can get lost in the story, escape yor troubles. I can’t wait to start.

Anusiya Kirubaharan

March 18, 2024 at 2:34 pm

I am available to read a book. A book review can be done. I am in Canada.

January 07, 2024 at 1:54 am

I am interested

March 20, 2024 at 6:24 am

Funny how people who say they want a gig reading do not read the article that tells them how to get a gig reading.

Maria Bagwell

April 11, 2024 at 6:22 am

More information about this please

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The Country That Tried to Control Sex

Clair Wills’s memoir is a timely warning that sexual morality can be enforced only with violence.

St Mary’s Holy Well in County Leitrim

When the cultural historian Clair Wills was in graduate school at Oxford in the late 1980s, she became pregnant by accident. She was 25 and single, with little money and no job. Still, she decided to keep the baby. “By then, getting pregnant and keeping the baby was almost a tradition in our family,” she writes in her memoir, Missing Persons . “My eldest sister had done it; so had one of my cousins. In fact, throughout the 1980s, these were the only kind of babies born in our family—‘illegitimate’ ones.”

What Wills didn’t know at the time, and what she would come to discover over the course of the next several decades, was just how vexed and long-standing this tradition was. Around the same time she fell pregnant, Wills learned that her maternal uncle Jackie had gotten a neighboring girl pregnant in the mid-1950s, when he was living on the family farm in West Ireland. Caving to social custom and familial pressure, Jackie abandoned his lover, Lily, and their unborn child and immigrated to England, losing his job, his country, and his family of origin in one fell swoop. Lily, meanwhile, was forced to enter the state’s network of mother-and-baby homes, where unmarried pregnant women lived and labored. Though some women resided at these institutions for several years, most stayed only until they gave birth, at which point many of their babies were put up for adoption—if they survived infancy. (Along with the infamous Magdalene Laundries , similar establishments in which women and girls, some of whom were pregnant, were consigned to unpaid labor, the mother-and-baby homes helped “render illegitimacy invisible.”)

paid book reviews ireland

At Bessborough, one of the largest homes, Lily gave birth to a daughter, Mary, the cousin Wills never knew. (Mary died by suicide in 1980 shortly after getting pregnant out of wedlock herself.) The irony, Wills eventually discovered, is that Jackie himself was the product of premarital sex: Her maternal grandmother, Molly, became pregnant with him in 1920 and only barely managed to render the child “legitimate” by marrying three months before giving birth. Proud of her hard-won “respectability,” Molly was horrified by the news of Lily’s pregnancy and did everything she could to cover it up, including by insisting that her eldest son leave the country forever. These scandals are among the family’s many secrets, known but never directly discussed.

Read: A masterful depiction of male cruelty

In this brilliant and moving memoir, Wills works to expose such secrets. She does so by decoding the cryptic stories of violence and shame handed down from one generation to the next like an heirloom gun. She learns about Jackie, Lily, and Mary, but also about other missing or ill-fated relatives: a maternal aunt who died in early childhood; a maternal uncle who took over the farm after Jackie left and, according to Wills, was “buried alive” by it; and an illegitimate baby who might have been born to Molly or who might never have existed at all. Through archival research, conversations with family members, and reflections on her own childhood, Wills pieces together a more complete family portrait, one that includes “all those who were lost or discarded along the way.” The result is a riveting study of a “typical” 20th-century Irish family, one both destroyed and bound together by its secrets. And, in revealing the suffering that accompanies any effort to enforce sexual morality, it serves as a cautionary tale to those who want to uphold chastity and the nuclear family at all costs.

Wills has written several books about 20th-century Ireland, including one about sexual propriety in Irish poetry, but this is the first book to blend her personal experience and her scholarly expertise. Aware that “pregnancy and childbirth don’t happen outside history,” she shows how her pregnant relatives’ options were shaped by historical circumstances—and not always in the ways one might expect. In some respects, Molly, pregnant during the Irish War of Independence, actually had more options than Lily did, more than 30 years later: The mother-and-baby homes were not yet functioning, and it was more common then for a marriage to take place mere weeks before a child’s birth. By the time Lily became pregnant, the mother-and-baby homes, which offered only meager support for the women and children who lived there, and which seemed not to care if babies lived or died, had come to seem like the best option: a way for families to hide away pregnant daughters and hopefully get ahead of gossip.

Throughout the book, Wills demonstrates that supposedly traditional practices—forgoing sex until marriage, for instance—are usually historically contingent and far from universal. As she writes, it was only by the early 20th century that the Catholic Church had “consolidated its campaign to control sexual habits, in the name of Irish purity.” (Prior to the 1890s, there simply weren’t enough priests or churches to serve the country’s population.) Priests started to sermonize against sex outside of marriage or for pleasure, and 90 percent of Irish citizens were in the pews listening. The result was a shift in the cultural understanding of sexual morality: Wills writes that by 1920, when Molly was pregnant, “sexual lapses were not accepted or understood with anything like the same spirit as fifty years ago.” Questions of sexual legitimacy that had once been more private became a matter of public and moral concern.

But even as Wills understands how Lily and others like her—some 56,000 women in all from 1922 to 1998—were sent to live in the homes, she can’t quite accept it. “Why did people—why did we—countenance all these missing persons?” she asks. How could families and communities enact such violence on people they knew and loved? How could a woman like Molly, who would have known in her bones the fear that comes with being pregnant and unmarried in a small, socially repressive country, reject her son’s lover and unborn child, and thereby inflict that terror on someone else?

This is a moral question, but it’s also a methodological one. Archival records can’t fully account for human motivation; a death certificate doesn’t tell you why a vulnerable child was allowed to die. (From the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s, Wills reports, 25 percent of babies born at Bessborough died, many from malnutrition.) Like scholars and writers before her, Wills finds that she must abandon the official record and consult less reliable but perhaps more revealing sources: her family members and her own memories. Her conversations with her mother are fascinating, both for what they disclose and for what they refuse to name. Wills doesn’t tell her much about the book she’s writing; in return, her mother offers tantalizing tidbits of family lore, “gingerbread crumbs” for Wills to follow. Wills senses that her mother wants the family’s story told but doesn’t want to take responsibility for the telling. “It’s as though I’ve been employed as a ghostwriter,” she writes. “I’m compelled to tell a story on behalf of ghosts, that even the ghosts don’t understand.”

Despite Wills’s strenuous efforts, her absent family members remain mysterious and unknowable. As it progresses, Missing Persons becomes less an effort to recover those missing relatives and more an inquiry into the mechanisms of disappearance, the ways that communities conspire to erase certain people from public life and collective memory. At mid-century, the Irish were not just “the best Catholics in the world” but also the best secret keepers: They knew how to lie, how to say nothing, and how to say something while seeming to say nothing at all. “A whole society learnt not to look, or not to look too closely,” Wills writes. She also insists upon the agency of those who “dismembered” the past, blaming everyone from the nuns who ran the mother-and-baby homes to the family members who refused to acknowledge Lily and Mary: “There is an active element to the refusal, or inability, to remember or to know.”

Ultimately, Wills finds that although she can understand why her relatives acted as they did, she can’t quite forgive them. Perhaps this is fine: Historians, she writes, are not “in the business of dispensing forgiveness.” But what makes this book so compelling is Wills’s ability to be at once a historian and a human, to provide a valuable record of common social practices in 20th-century Ireland without ever becoming inured to the pain they caused. Each time Wills asks, with seemingly undimmed outrage, how people she loves, and who loved her in turn, could have acted so callously, she reminds us about the many ways that state and social repression can warp family life.

Read: Ireland’s great gamble

It’s a timely warning. Early in the book, Wills muses about the “chasm” between her own generation, with its happily unwed mothers, and the generations that preceded her. “Only a few decades ago it apparently made sense—as a parent, or a sibling, or a lover—to allow your daughter, or your sister, or the mother of your child to be effectively incarcerated,” she writes. “To us, now, it seems pretty much unthinkable.” Perhaps it does to those living in contemporary Ireland or in the U.K., where Wills lives. But for those of us living in the post- Dobbs U.S., such practices might seem less far-fetched. The ways that states across the country are denying bodily autonomy differ from the ways 20th-century Ireland did, and yet, all too frequently here, someone’s parent, sibling, or lover is deprived of life-saving or life-sustaining medical care , or forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term . There are news stories about women who have faced criminal charges for miscarrying , or have been blocked from terminating a dangerous pregnancy . Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about the accessibility of mifepristone , a drug used to induce abortion that has been deemed safe by the FDA for more than 20 years. This week in Arizona , the state supreme court granted permission to move forward with the implementation of a law from 1864 that bans nearly all abortions.

Some on the political right might believe that with more state oversight of sexual practices and without access to abortion care, people will become more chaste and family-minded. But Wills’s book gives the lie to this idea. She shows that sexual morality can be enforced only through appalling acts of violence, which harm the perpetrators as well as the victims. “Irish people were not more sexually continent than any other people,” she writes; they were just “better at covering it up.” In trying to deny sex, Wills’s relatives merely compounded their own suffering. The pain they experienced was so deep, and so damaging, that the only thing they could do was look away.

​When you buy a book using a link on this page, we receive a commission. Thank you for supporting The Atlantic.

Book Review: Dark humour and incisive analysis elevate Denis Bradley’s Northern Ireland peace memoir

The former priest’s book, Peace Comes Dropping Slowly, is a humane, unpretentious affair

  • Andrew Lynch
  • April 17, 2024

paid book reviews ireland

Denis Bradley has spent his life wrestling with the moral dilemmas involved in bringing peace to Northern Ireland. This typically humane, unpretentious memoir includes an imaginary dialogue he once wrote between a Provisional IRA leader and a Catholic priest over the execution of a young boy. One character is partly based on Martin McGuinness, the other is clearly a self-portrait.

“How do you live with yourself, being part of an organisation that shoots its own ...

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How America bought up Britain

From assets to businesses, the high street to the internet, US investors have a stranglehold on Britain’s economy.

By Will Dunn

paid book reviews ireland

In the summer of 1913, the newly appointed US ambassador to Great Britain, Walter Hines Page, wrote to a friend back in Washington: “These English are spending their capital… what are we going to do with the leadership of the world presently when it clearly falls into our hands?” Page was an Anglophile, but he saw that the realignment was already happening, as America’s huge natural resources and new-found economic might allowed it to replace Britain’s dwindling empire. In 1930, the American journalist Ludwell Denny summed up his country’s approach to imperialism: “Too wise to govern the world, we shall merely own it.” Denny believed capitalism would enable the US to take over other countries without ever needing to invade: “What chance has Britain got against America?” he asked. 

Nowhere has America asserted its economic dominance more strongly than in Britain, where around two million people now work for US companies. Tens of billions of dollars per year are transferred across the Atlantic in the form of dividends paid on the proceeds of British work, conducted on behalf of American owners. A jaunty little map on the Office for National Statistics website gives the good news that our goods exports to America actually outweigh our imports by a few billion. Go, Global Britain! But a less accessible chart, found in the deeper reaches of the website of the American tax authority, the IRS, tells a different story: in 2020 (the latest year on record) the revenue recorded by American companies in the UK was over $707bn, more than ten times the amount made in the entire continent of Africa. In 2019, large US corporations made an (aggregated) profit of £2,500 from every household in the UK.  

Under the direction of Angus Hanton, economist and co-founder of the Intergenerational Foundation, Vassal State takes the reader on a dizzying tour of an economy that has come to resemble Orwell’s Airstrip One (the title refers to Angela Merkel’s description of Belarus, the smaller and financially subservient partner to Russia).

Every British high street has obvious American outposts (KFC, McDonald’s) but the average shopper probably does not realise how many products that we might think of as belonging to British culture – Mars bars, Weetabix, Innocent smoothies, Andrex loo roll – are ultimately owned in dollars. We do not question the little Union Jack sticker that reassures us we are buying “British chicken” – was the unfortunate bird issued a blue passport before it was mechanically separated? – and so we fail to understand that we buy much of our meat from conglomerates that are controlled from across the Atlantic.

The British characters we assign to shops – Morrisons, the working-class supermarket from Bradford, or Gail’s, the blousy bakery from Hampstead – are fictions; both are owned by US private equity firms, as are the middle-class temples of Majestic Wine and Waterstones .

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The “digital economy” beloved of our politicians is a means of extending the American economy into our own: British consumers use American technology (Apple, Google, Microsoft) to shop on American websites (Amazon, eBay) hosted by American internet companies (Amazon, Google). We find these sites using American search engines. When we’re not working (usually on Microsoft software) we watch American TV and films on US-owned streaming services; all three of the main streaming services in the UK are American, and seven of the ten most-watched titles on Netflix one recent week were made by US companies. British kids are more likely to watch Google-owned YouTube (where all five of the top English-language channels are based in the US), or to play games bought from companies in Seattle, or to scroll Californian social media platforms. British teachers and parents increasingly observe children in the UK speaking with American accents, because most of the media they consume comes from across the Atlantic.

It’s true that British culture also heads the other way. America has been buying up the UK’s artworks at a rate of £5bn a year for the last decade, furnishing museums in Los Angeles and New York with those paintings that cannot be “saved for the nation”. There is a great deal of debate about the extent to which our universities educate students from overseas; far less is said of the thousands of gifted British students and researchers who are chosen to transfer their intelligence and energy to American universities and businesses.

Britain has been singled out for special treatment. The investment made by the US into the UK outweighs its spending in the rest of Europe combined. This is not just because we have a shared language and we were on the same team in the Second World War. Our political leaders have actively courted this takeover. Voters have been told that foreign direct investment, or FDI, is an unequivocal good; it means foreign investors building new factories for grateful British workers. The reality is that a lot of this “investment” is US private equity firms helping themselves to British companies that are cheaper to buy (thanks to our less buoyant financial markets) than American businesses. This is good for the financial sector, which profits from the boom in buyouts – in 2022-23 alone, US private equity firms bought 181 British businesses – but it means swathes of companies come to be owned by people for whom local employment is not a concern. The UK has lost two million manufacturing jobs since 1991.

Our political class is well aware of this. Our Prime Minister worked for an American investment bank and a hedge fund based in California; his personal wealth today is largely predicated on how the New York Stock Exchange values his father-in-law’s company, Infosys. The Chancellor is a multimillionaire because the company he founded, Hotcourses, was sold to a foreign (Australian) buyer. Unlike France and Germany, which have laws to prevent foreign takeovers of strategically important companies, Britain – ever the butler – has made a virtue of being the “junior partner”, as David Cameron described our role in the special relationship in 2010.

Sometimes it is the government itself that sells our assets overseas. Hanton highlights the 5,000 railway arches, home to thousands of small businesses, that Philip Hammond (as transport secretary) compelled Network Rail to sell at a very affordable price to the US private equity giant Blackstone. Rents promptly doubled, putting many small companies out of business and destroying jobs, but Hammond was satisfied to have created decisive change: the civil servants who had previously managed the commercial property were, he told Hanton, “hopeless people” who were “bureaucratically unable to ever get anything done”. Lord Hammond is now a partner at the private equity firm Buckthorn and a person with significant control of seven property development companies.

Blackstone’s treatment of the railway arches is one example of why private equity has been so successful. Private owners have fewer requirements for transparency and accountability than publicly traded companies. Negative publicity doesn’t really affect them. They can aggressively reshape companies and increase their margins as their fiduciary duty dictates. This might mean simply running the company better, or it might mean loading it with debt, or sacking large numbers of workers, or avoiding as much tax as possible.

This last point is also true of publicly traded companies. Last December, HMRC estimates indicated that US multinationals had underpaid tax in the UK by £5.6bn. Amazon’s main UK division paid no UK corporation tax at all in 2021 or 2022; the company’s net sales in the UK for those two years exceeded £48bn. In the last five years 6,000 British shops have closed permanently, according to the British Retail Consortium, and more than one in ten shops are vacant. In 2020, the UK attempted to defend its ailing shops by placing a new digital services tax (DST) on the US online giants. The previous year Donald Trump responded to a similar plan by France: “ We tax our companies; they don’t tax our companies.” In October 2021 the UK agreed to “transition away” from the DST in favour of a “global system” (guess who benefits).   

It was Trump, with his weird grasp on the hand of a painfully embarrassed Theresa May, who made a mockery of the special relationship, although on one side of the Atlantic it was already a joke. When Gordon Brown visited Washington in 2009 he was presented with a DVD box set of old films that would only work on a US machine, the kind of gift that comes from a hasty trip to the nearest petrol station.

It is time, Hanton writes, to see this relationship for what it is, and to write new rules that favour British work over the financial interests of American investors. This involves rethinking the tax system, regulating takeovers and aggressively supporting the growth of businesses and skills that are incentivised to sell shares in London rather than New York. Hanton writes with admiration and fondness for America; he is “not arguing for nationalism”, he writes, “but against abject dependency”.

Vassal State: How America Runs Britain Angus Hanton Swift Press, 304pp, £25

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Watch CBS News

The key players to know in the Trump "hush money" trial

By Graham Kates

Updated on: April 15, 2024 / 7:38 PM EDT / CBS News

When former President Donald Trump's criminal trial began in New York on Monday, it marked the culmination of a yearslong investigation and open a new chapter of a story that goes back even further, to an alleged affair in 2006.

It's a tale that weaves together presidential politics, tabloid headlines and the mundane intricacies of corporate ledgers. The trial will feature a unique cast of characters, some of whom are already household names, while others are stepping into the spotlight for the first time.

These are some of the key figures to know as the first ever criminal trial of a former president begins.

The defendant and key witnesses

  • Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media in the hallway outside a courtroom at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Monday, March 25, 2024.

Trump , who has locked up the Republican presidential nomination once again, is the defendant in the case, charged with 34 felony counts of falsification of business records. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on April 4, 2023. He has since raged against prosecutors and the judge, accusing them of conspiring against him for political gain. 

Prosecutors say he took part in a scheme to conceal reimbursements to his then-lawyer, who paid $130,000 in "hush money" to adult film star Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 presidential election. Daniels alleged she had an affair with Trump in 2006, which he denies. She signed a strict non-disclosure agreement in exchange for the money. 

Trump has said he would be willing to testify, but it is unclear if his lawyers will call him to the stand.

Michael Cohen  

Michael Cohen walks through the lobby at Trump Tower in New York on Jan. 12, 2017.

Cohen is the former lawyer whose payment is at the center of the case. 

The 34 charges against Trump represent 11 invoices, 11 checks and 12 Trump Organization ledger entries that all allegedly characterized reimbursements from Trump to Cohen as monthly payments for ongoing legal services in 2017 and 2018. 

Prosecutors allege that in fact they were reimbursements for $130,000 Cohen paid to the adult film star in 2016. The reimbursements totaled $420,000, prosecutors said, allowing Cohen to recoup tax losses and walk away with a bonus. Cohen, who in 2018 entered a guilty plea in a related federal case, is the key witness against Trump.

Stormy Daniels

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels exits the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on April 16, 2018, in New York.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is the adult film star whom Cohen paid in October 2016.

The 2016 agreement in which she agreed to remain quiet was orchestrated by Cohen and Daniels' attorney. Trump used an alias, "David Dennison," and Daniels was called "Peggy Peterson." An accompanying letter identified the pseudonyms' true identities. 

Cohen wired the $130,000 to Daniels' lawyer through a shell company called Essential Consultants LLC, which he established just days earlier.

Keith Davidson  

Davidson was Daniels' attorney. In 2016, he twice approached executives of the National Enquirer about clients who claimed to have had affairs with Trump, and secured payments in exchange for the rights to their stories.

Karen McDougal 


McDougal was a former Playboy model who also alleged an affair with Trump . In 2016, the National Enquirer's parent company paid $150,000 for the rights to her story but never published her account, a tactic known as "catch and kill."

David Pecker and Dylan Howard

David Pecker, Chairman and CEO of American Media

Pecker was the CEO of the National Enquirer's parent company, and Howard was the tabloid's editor. Both looked out for negative stories about Trump during the 2016 campaign, purchasing the rights to particularly salacious ones — "catching" them — and keeping them secret — "killing" them. Davidson contacted the pair before ultimately negotiating with Cohen personally to iron out the deal for Daniels' story.

American Media And Genesis Media Present Cinco de Mayo Party

Jeffrey McConney 

Jeffrey McConney, controller for the Trump Organization, leaves New York State Supreme Court on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023.

McConney is no stranger to the witness stand in Trump-related cases. The former controller of the Trump Organization, McConney oversaw the logging and processing of payments and other company finances for decades. Prosecutors say he instructed a payroll supervisor to log reimbursements to Cohen as monthly payments due under an ongoing retainer agreement. Prosecutors say no such agreement existed. He is not accused of wrongdoing.

The prosecutors

Prosecutors Joshua Steinglass and Susan Hoffinger listen as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg gives a brief comment on Dec. 6, 2022, in New York City.

Alvin Bragg

Bragg was elected as the Manhattan district attorney in November 2021 and soon after took over the investigation into Trump, which was already more than two years old. Bragg's early tenure was marked by high-profile resignations of prosecutors who worked for his predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., and had pursued a sweeping financial crimes case. 

By the time Bragg took office, two Trump Organization companies and their longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, had already been charged with felonies relating to tax fraud. His team secured a guilty plea from Weisselberg in August 2022, and in December of that year, the companies were convicted at trial. 

On March 31, 2023, a Manhattan grand jury indicted Trump in a case narrowly focused on alleged falsification of business records in connection to reimbursements for the payment to Daniels.

Susan Hoffinger

Hoffinger was hired by Bragg as his office's chief of the investigation division and executive assistant district attorney. She led the trial team that secured the conviction of two Trump Organization companies in 2022, on 17 felony counts related to tax fraud.

Joshua Steinglass

Steinglass was also a key member of that team, questioning key witnesses and delivering the closing argument. Steinglass is known for prosecuting high-profile murder and manslaughter cases.

Christopher Conroy  

Conroy is a veteran prosecutor whose work on major white-collar crimes includes half a decade leading the D.A.'s Major Economic Crimes Bureau.

Matthew Colangelo 


Colangelo is a former senior Justice Department official, a fact that Trump has cited in an effort to portray Bragg's investigation as tied to the Biden administration. Colangelo was hired in December 2022, partly because he was involved with the New York attorney general's civil investigation of Trump prior to working for the federal government. That case ended this year when Trump was ordered to pay the state more than $454 million to recoup "ill-gotten gains" from fraud.

Rebecca Mangold 

Mangold is a prosecutor in the District Attorney's Office's Major Economic Crimes Bureau. Previously, Mangold represented high-profile clients in complex financial fraud cases as a private attorney.

The defense attorneys

Todd blanche.

Todd Blanche arrives at Trump Tower in New York on Feb. 15, 2024.

Blanche was a partner at an elite New York law firm until the day before Trump's arraignment in 2023, when he resigned his post. He wrote in his resignation letter that working for Trump was "an opportunity I should not pass up." In addition to Trump's New York case, Blanche, a former prosecutor, leads Trump's defense efforts in his Washington, D.C. and Florida federal criminal cases. As a defense attorney, Blanche was no stranger to Trump's circle, having represented Trump lawyer Boris Epshteyn and former campaign manager Paul Manafort, as well as Igor Furman, a former associate of ex-Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. 

Susan Necheles 

Susan Necheles arrives at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Monday, March 25, 2024.

Necheles has been a core member of Trump's New York legal team for years. She represented the company during its 2022 trial. She and her law partner, Gedalia Stern, are the only attorneys from that case defending Trump in his upcoming criminal trial. Necheles' previous clients include organized crime figures and leading local Democratic politicians, such as former state Sen. Pedro Espada.

Emil Bove 

Jury Selection Begins In Former President Donald Trump's New York Hush Money Trial

Bove was a federal prosecutor for nearly a decade in the Southern District of New York, where his roles included co-chief of the National Security and International Narcotics Unit. Bove worked as a defense attorney for two years before Blanche hired him in September. At the time, Blanche described Bove as "an expert in white collar" cases, and said "his trial skills are among the best in the business."

Juan Merchan

Judge Juan Merchan poses in his chambers in New York on March 14, 2024.

Merchan has been a judge in New York courts since 2006. Prior to that, he spent more than a decade as a litigator for the New York attorney general and as a Manhattan prosecutor. 

As a jurist, his high-profile cases include presiding over the Trump Organization's 2022 criminal trial, a 2012 case against the operator of an upscale prostitution ring and a 2011 case involving a police officer who lied in court about illegal searches he conducted. 

Merchan has been the focus of a long series of social media tirades by Trump, who accused the judge of bias, citing work Merchan's daughter does for a Democratic-aligned consulting firm. In 2023, a state ethics panel concluded her work did not compromise Merchan's impartiality.

Graham Kates is an investigative reporter covering criminal justice, privacy issues and information security for CBS News Digital. Contact Graham at [email protected] or [email protected]

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Trump's "hush money" trial is getting underway. Here's what to know.


  1. Paid Book Reviews: Are they Worth it?

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  2. Paid Book Reviews: Are They Worth it? (All You Need to Know)

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