If you are an avid reader, chances are you share your opinions on the latest novels and nonfiction releases with friends or even a book club. Professional book reviewers do the same thing, except their audience can be thousands of readers in print or online.
A book reviewer is a writing professional who reads books and objectively reviews them for a publication's audience. This helps people choose what to read, what not to read or to explore elements of something they've already read, as outlined by a professional critic. The best book reviewers bring a deep knowledge of literature, literary trends, authors and styles to the table. They summarize the book for the reader, indicate the book's stylistic elements and what makes the book great or not so great.
Like most writing jobs, the world of the book reviewer is being upended by the Internet. That means pay for book reviewers is uncertain. Patricia Ann Jones, a professional book reviewer for "The Tulsa World" tells Business Know-How, a business website, that the pay for a review can range from $300 for top publications to nothing at all. However, book reviewers employed full-time by a newspaper or magazine can receive more money. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the middle 50 percent of full-time journalists made between $25,760 and $52,160 in 2008.
Unless you are hired as a full-time employee at a publication, consider that your reviews will be written on a freelance basis. That means rates can vary dramatically depending on the publication. Jones tells Business Know-How that "The New York Times" and "The Los Angeles Times" pay the best, but newbies may have to work for free to build up a portfolio. A good way to do that is to start a blog or website dedicated to book reviews. It may not pay, but it can hone your skills and gain you exposure.
For avid readers (which you should be if you want to be a book reviewer), there are other perks aside from the pay. Often, reviewers are sent free books, which means you save the $20 or so you would have spent for the hardcover release. Also, book reviewers are paid to do what they love: read and write. Even nominal pay for a review means you get to read books for a living, which is a powerful motivator for many who enter the field.