What Is The Role Of A Book Blogger?

Traveling With T What Is the role of a book blogger

A book blogger- what is their role exactly? I am a book blogger. I don’t work for a publishing company. I’m not an independent publicist. I actually make zero money off my blog. No ads. No sponsored posts. Over the last few months, I’ve been thinking more and more about the role of a book blogger- and what I want and can actually achieve for my blog, Traveling With T.

A few weeks ago, NoseGraze did a series of posts about bloggers making money- it was informative and got my brain thinking about things. Then she wrote this post about what bloggers think of making money– and several bloggers chimed in with their thoughts (my book BFF Rhiannon and I are quoted in the article).

So, confession: I want to make money from my blog one day. I put a lot of time into it, I put a lot of time into my social media- and my stats have really grown over the last 4 years.

But, back to the blogger’s role: What is the book blogger’s role? Am I a member of the publishing PR team? Am I a member of the author’s PR team? Should I start my own independent PR business? Where does a book blogger fit in?

Here’s the thing: We don’t actually fit in the above scenarios. While some book bloggers do make money from ads and sponsored posts- the majority of book bloggers do this for the love of books. Because we truly love books. We love to read. To talk to others about books. Our hearts are happy when we connect with people who loved the books we loved- and we even love a good and healthy discussion of why you didn’t care for the book we love.

The role of many book bloggers is this: We read books. We review said book in some way on our blog. We share the love of the said book on our social media accounts. We do this for 2 types of books: The books we own/check out from the library and the books we receive from publisher’s/authors (either ARC’s or finished copies).

Over a course of time- authors and publishers have started to look at bloggers for cheerleading efforts for their books.

But is that our role?

If you ask a blogger to think back about what he/she wanted when they started blogging- the answer is similar to  “I wanted to share my love of books. I wanted to find a community of people to talk about books with.”

Somewhere, as social media has grown exponentially in our lives, the role of the book blogger has become muddled in the minds of many.

This became increasingly clear to me as I read this article- Do Book Reviewers Charge Too Much? What Do You Really Get For Your Review? (to make things CRYSTAL CLEAR- it’s not the post that has me upset- it’s a comment)

The comment (an excerpt):

Surprised that I’m the only voice of dissent here. Mike makes a few interesting points, but let’s agree on a few things. Paying for a review is buying a review. It doesn’t mean that you’re buying a “good” review, but you are buying it.

Mike can rationalize this practice by saying you’re paying for bloggers to “blast their opinion” but that’s not correct. Bloggers do that anyway. It’s their job.


I’m unsure if the person making this comment is an author or not. But let’s discuss:

The whole “paying for a review is buying a review” statement is getting old to me. We have got to change the mindset. Why don’t we start by thinking about it as more of paying for the time for said blogger/book reviewer** to read the book, to write a review? Because, make no mistake about this, it is time. It’s time that bloggers could be spending in other ways.

But here’s where I really see red: “It’s their job.”

Let me break it all down for you: It’s not our job. Why? Because people- from authors to publishers- have never paid us. If you’ve made money in blogging- you did it with ads and sponsored posts.

A job is where I work a set number of hours every week. Where I get paid a salary. Where taxes are taken out of my check. That is a job.

What is blogging? For some- a hobby. Others a way to engage with a bookish community. For me- what I want out of blogging and social media is changing.

But, T, you said way back up there that you want to make money from blogging. Yes, yes I do. I’m not ashamed to admit that. I’m a social media wiz. I love to think of ideas to best showcase reviews- to make that link more clickable admist all the social media jibber-jabber. I do want to make blogging more of a job. I want to work with authors, actually work with authors and not spend time creating content that is unpaid. I actually would love for my job to be where I blast my opinions of books all over social media (as the above commenter seems to think).

But the mindset (for many) of the book blogger’s role needs to change. Book bloggers have voices that are helpful to publishers/authors. We are reaching the every day person- the average reader- the person who might flip through her People, Glamour or Cosmopolitan and see an ad for a particular book- and then turn to Google. Odds are, after she/he searches for a book on Google- it’s a book blogger’s review that convinces them to buy it.


What do you think the book blogger’s role is? Is there a difference between reviewer/blogger?

** The author of the article used the term book reviewer. To me, that means a reviewer for a newspaper, online magazine, review site. The commenter used the term blogger- now he may have meant reviewer- but the simple fact that he used blogger, to me, means that the distinction between blogger/reviewer is getting blurred.

Happy Reading and Bookishly Yours,

T @ Traveling With T

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38 thoughts on “What Is The Role Of A Book Blogger?

    • YES. Like seriously- I want to turn my passion for book blogging into a way to make money. But until I see some green- make no mistake: it’s not my job. And that person’s comment had me so mad last night. I was like REALLLY?????????????

  1. Love your post. I blog because I love books. Am I looking to earn money from it no. But its not my job!!!! I’m your average reader who loves the books I read, I love to read other bloggers reviews and thoughts because I find new authors.
    I’m not above wanting to help authors, and quite happy just to spread the word without payment because leaves me totally free to read what I choose and say what I choose. And I think it is hard for authors to get their name out there and I really appreciate their writing.
    Okay I get some free books to review too and very happy to accept that, and I love to buy too!

    • YES! Not every blogger wants to make money- I do- but I want to make money in more of an adjacent way to book blogging as from actually blogging (if that makes sense). I think many are happy with how blogging is for them. But for those of us who are wanting to see some change or at least change our role- well that comment that started this whole post just made me see red.

      Blogging is an evolving thing, imo!

  2. I love this thoughtful post, T. I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to earn money from blogging but for me it’s a hobby. Kathryn’s comment pretty much sums up my feelings about book blogging. I know you put a lot of effort and energy in your blog and I think that deserves compensation. I hope you can make it work! Go you!!!

    • Thank you! Making money is not for everyone- I completely understand. I think just beginning conversations about making money in blogging, about what our role is, etc is a step in the right direction.

      I do put a lot of time into my blog. I love connecting with readers. Talking about books. But I’m also loving the more behind the scenes stuff of blogging! And I won’t even discuss my love for social media 🙂

  3. Book bloggers review all different genres, have ads or don’t, etc. on each of their blogs. If a blogger is paid for their reviews and always gives positive reviews, I’ll figure it out. If they always review British chick lit and suddenly they have a glowing review of a book about dragons, I notice. Readers will know if an entire blog is full of paid reviews and they’ll know if a blogger is enjoying sharing their opinion and nothing more. If I follow a blog and I enjoy a blogger’s opinion, I’ll continue you to follow and won’t mind a few paid reviews. What I will mind is if all reviews on a site are paid for or if I suspect a blogger is giving positive but inauthentic reviews.

    I’m paid to review and suggest books in several print publications. I also get paid for my professional writing. I enjoy my work, but it is work, not a hobby. I also write honest reviews on my blog. Why shouldn’t I be paid to craft a more in depth, thoughtful review on my blog? Why is my writing worthy of compensation in one situation but not another?

    • Yesssssssss! I, in no way, think that bloggers can start churning out everything for money. But a few paid reviews mixed in with their other reviews/posts? Now that I don’t have a prob with.

      And yes! I completely agree about the difference in thoughts of compensation- why, if I call myself a blogger, must my work be free?

  4. For a brief while I had a dog blog. The pet blogging community is wonderful and supportive, and something that was pounded into my skull from day 1 was “Never work for free”. When I would review products on my dog blog, I made it clear that they were not paying for my opinion. They were paying for the ridiculous amount of work that goes into making a post–from styled photographs to making sure the posts are search engine friendly–and for the access to my beloved readers. I try to take that same approach when I charge for book reviews. The book blogging world is much like the dog blogging world was a few years ago. People aren’t willing to pay for reviews because too many people see it as paying for your opinion.

    • What a lovely story! I think, for many of us, that book blogging started as a hobby and slowly morphed into more. I know that while I’m not compensated for my blog posts, I now spend more time than what I used to blogging- and I really want to explore the ideas of compensation for some of my time! Thank you for visiting 🙂

  5. Loved this article. You talk about the fears of many book bloggers. For me book blogging is a hobby. It doesn’t earn me money. But if it could one day, I would be really happy. Because this is what I love doing. Then again, reviews may lose their credibility if they are paid. I would always try to be honest. But in a reader of the blog’s ind it wold be echoing that the reviews will be biased. So its a very difficult choice/question.

    • Thank you! I’ve really been thinking long and hard about blogging- and while I understand the credibility issue- I think for many of us that as long as we properly disclosed that it was a sponsored review- it would be ok. However, that is just my thoughts!

      • YESSSSS! What I think ppl don’t understand about paid reviews is that many, many, MANY ppl are wanting to get paid for their TIME, not a guaranteed 5 star review.

  6. I can’t help thinking that there’s such a large blogging community, if some bloggers were to start requesting money for their time reading the book, reviewing it, and promoting the review (that adds up to a lot of time!), that publishers might just end up sticking with the ones who’ll do it solely as a hobby, for free. It’d be great if bloggers had a “union” and each blogger could have a rate per review – but you’d get bloggers who’d undercut competitors. And I can’t see publishers rushing to offer to pay for reviews from bloggers – the bloggers would have to open up that dialogue! I do feel they have more and more power and respect from book buyers as time goes on, though, and I’m in the UK, which I think is slightly behind the US in terms of trends in blogging. So I’ll be looking across the pond to see what happens with this issue. Best of luck, T. You can tell you put a lot of work and thought into your blog. I’m dreadful with technology though, which I know holds me back.

  7. I’m glad you wrote this post because I think there’s a lot of things all book bloggers can relate to here. I’ve been blogging since less than a year and honestly, I went into this rather spontaneously and because I love books rather than with an aim to make money out of it. Sure, when you see bloggers who are earning money out of their blogs it does make you wish the same would happen to you but I personally believe it’s not very realistic for me to think about earning a living out of blogging. Part of what I love about blogging is that it’s fun and that, too, especially because it does not feel like work. Once I make it my ‘job’ I know blogging will lose that fun element that got me into it in the first place. Great post ^^

    • Thank you so much! I understand completely your point about the fun of blogging being gone if this was work. I don’t know if I want to make a living- but having extra income coming in from something that I spend a lot of time working on would be nice. However I hope- even if I do find a way to monetize- that it never feels like “work”. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  8. As a reader and ‘someday wannabe blogger’, I thought that this was a very good article. I personally see a huge difference between a blogger and reviewer. The main difference — I trust the bloggers that I read are giving me unbiased opinions of the books that they read. When I read reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, I am never sure if they are honest or if they are written by friends, cousins or (for some new authors) the author themselves.

    • Valid point. I understand that for some it might raise ethical issues/can I trust this? But I think for many- as long as it’s properly disclosed- that it could open up a new world to bloggers. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  9. Thanks for sharing such a thoughtful post. You hit the nail on the head. That comment ‘It’s their job.’ is cringe worthy. I have affiliate links and ads on my blog – when i started blogging, knowing nothing about it, I thought that’s what people do. I keep a minimal amount of ads and have affiliate links mostly as a service to my readers. I make virtually no money. I hope to cover expenses for small things like custom blog themes and hosting costs. I consider blogging as a hobby – but sure I would like to make money at it, but won’t feel comfortable charging or getting paid for my reviews (at this time.) Great post and comment thread T! In my limited experience I think Blogging is definitely evolving.

    • It just made me SO mad. I love blogging- and I respect people who don’t want to monetize in any way. I don’t know if getting paid for reviews is quite where I want to head- but it’s something to consider!

  10. I’m so glad you wrote this – kudos to you for putting it out there! I participated in Nose Graze’s email series as well and it definitely got my thought process rolling. That comment you shared (“it’s their job”) is such a slap in the face. Why is it OK for Kirkus and Shelf Awareness to get paid for reviews, but individual bloggers shouldn’t?
    I got into blogging as a hobby, but would also like to figure out a way to make money from it. Mostly to prove to myself that it can be done. Ideally, I’d like to figure out a way to provide a service for a fee (my original idea needs work), but I’m also open to charging for some reviews. I think the culture needs changing. I do think a blog of 100% paid reviews would lose credibility, but I’m open to a mix. And, I’d like to think that those of us who have been blogging for awhile and have built up credibility wouldn’t lose it all by getting paid for some reviews.
    And – I totally understand those who aren’t interesting in getting paid. But, I think some openness to those that do would be a good thing.

    • There is so much YES in your comment!
      Why is it ok for others to get paid and for bloggers to not? Excellent question. I have a few ideas after reading Ashley’s post- and while I’m not saying that I absolutely want to charge for reviews- it’s an option that needs to be seriously thought about.
      I think if you aren’t interested in getting paid- that is fine. You do you and let me do me. 😉 The blogging community prides itself on support- so we need to be supportive- even if the choices that others are considering aren’t our personal goals.

  11. I’ve been thinking about this a lot too, especially after seeing Ashley’s post. Though I think a lot of book bloggers would like to make money from their blogs (because it DOES time a A LOT of time, effort, and even money to blog), right now this is still a hobby for most of us. I think that, at least, needs to be respected and publishers, authors, etc. need to stop thinking we owe them publicity or our time, money, etc. because it’s NOT a job.

    • I think I should add that I’ve seen authors act really aggrieved that bloggers email them asking them for interviews, guest posts, etc. declaring that they write for money, their writing is worth something, etc. 1) If you’re the author, you have two ways of marketing–using your time to market yourself or paying someone to market for you. I don’t think writing guest posts is a wasted effort for authors. 2) Isn’t MY writing valuable, too, or is that reserved for “special” writers? If they don’t owe me guest posts (and they don’t), then I don’t owe them a free review or a free cover reveal, etc.

    • YES. Disclaimer: The publishers/publicists that I am in contact with frequently do not make me feel like this is a job. But, I’ve noticed some that I only interact with sporadically acting like it’s a job for me. It’s not. I do want to make money- I’m smart. I have ideas. But I’m not going to spend allllllll my time building someone else’s empire.

  12. As a reader, not a blogger or author, I am so glad T, that you wrote how you feel about blogging. Its a great post, and offers a lot of thoughts for consideration. For sure, you have generously shared your opinions over the years, and written great and honest reviews …and not for money! I agree with the idea of blogging/reviewing line is getting blurred. You certainly deserve compensation for the time and effort you get for blogging and I hope you find a way that rewards you. I am thinking that paid reviews could be just as slanted as unpaid reviews, its up to the integrity of the reviewers to do an honest job. Marketing is a big competitive industry and changing with social media. Would paid reviews be marked as such or mixed in with unpaid reviews – another blurring? I can see how you see red with the idea of “its their job ” – great post T, and I love your blog!

    • Thank you so much for this. I’m so glad you understand the “why” behind the compensation. Paid reviews would be marked in some way- for complete transparency- but I’m not completely sure how I would mark them. It’s a lot of food for thought! Thank you again!!!!!

  13. Great post, T! I think the line between reviewer and blogger can certainly be blurred – some paid reviewers may also blog, and vice versa. Personally, I don’t make money from One Little Library, either. I blog and review books mostly as a way to process my thoughts about a book after I’ve read it, and to help others find something to read. It’s kind of like being in college again, where I got to have debates about the meaning of literature on a regular basis. If it benefits the author and/or publisher, awesome. It’s certainly not my day job, though. 🙂

    • YES! SO much yes! I do like the fact that I can review what I want when I want (I rarely reviewed in Dec- though I did have A Month of Faves postings). But- I feel I work hard on my blog- so some compensation would be nice. I just want there to be open discussion about ways to monetize- and no shaming of the people that who want to monetize.

  14. Great post! I agree that it’s important that we make it clear that if bloggers are compensated for a review, the compensation is for their time investment, not for the review. I honestly don’t get why some people see this as so different from getting a review copy. Either could theoretically bias a book reviewer, but we all accept that ARCs don’t prevent a blogger from being objective.

    • YES. YES. I think as long as it’s disclosed and you don’t turn into one of those bloggers who only does sponsored content- then it’s worth looking into. And YES- for me- the review would be for the time (the writing, the reading, the planning of the social media plan!) NOT for a 5 star review.

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