Tag Archives: book reviews

Making Money as a Book Reviewer

by Helen Gallagher


By its nature, the life of a freelancer requires adaptation to changes circumstances, markets, and the

all-important bank balance. Like most freelancers, my list of services is often expanding. It grows to meet the needs of clients who request services I’ve never offered before.

One field that is apparently lucrative for freelancers is writing book reviews. Some of us write reviews without pay to stay current with the literary marketplace, grow our library with all the free books sent by publicists, and of course, to expand our visibility and popularity. Reviews can be posted on blogs, review sites, even national newspaper and magazines.

A recent Sunday New York Times article might enlighten you further — writing book reviews can be lucrative. The article, The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy, covers the growing landscape of reviews for the explosive amount of new books published.

“For decades a largely stagnant industry controlled from New York, book publishing is fragmenting and changing at high speed. Twenty percent of Amazon’s top-selling e-books are self-published. They do not get to the top without adulation, lots and lots of it.”

With self-publishing increasing, it creates more opportunities for good reviews to spread the word about a new title.

“It used to take the same time to produce a book that it does to produce a baby. Now it takes about as long as boiling an egg.”

Consider all the facts, ethical as well as financial, before saying yes to becoming a paid reviewer. But done well, it might be a wonderful late-night sideline that can bring you and the author greater notoriety, in a good way.

BIO: Helen Gallagher’s no-fee book reviews appear at BlogCritics.org, New York Journal of Books and Open Salon. She  blogs at Freelance-Zone.com to share her thoughts on small business and technology. She writes about, coaches and speaks on publishing. Her blogs and books are accessible through www.releaseyourwriting.com.

Arts & Letters Daily


This is a don’t miss resource. Arts & Letters Daily is a compilation of news, reviews, articles, essays and new book announcements that makes for a great read. There are some great links here as well, such as a “breaking news” section, a “newspapers” section and a very large “book reviews” section. Careful though–you could get lost sifting through all that this site has to offer…

John Updike’s Writing Wisdom (part I): Book Reviews

by Erin Dalpini

I’m working on a new project—a book review of a contemporary novel I recently read; although I’ve done this before, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes a fantastic book review.

Last fall, when I was doing some research for a review of Toni Morrison’s newest novel, A Mercy, I dabbled around on the Internet to see what others were saying about this book so that I could join in that conversation. I’d already read the book and had formed an impression of it, but I knew I needed to know what the experts thought.

One of the first pieces I found, a review in the The New Yorker caused me to sit up and take notice—it was an engaging, entertaining, and also gave me some new insight into the novel. When I looked for the byline, to my surprise, it was the literary legend John Updike. Updike, though best-remembered for his extensive body of fiction (short stories, novels, poetry), produced an equally-impressive array of literary criticism and essays. In short: the man was prolific. And he had an extraordinary way of making a book review anything but mundane. This piece was sharp, witty, informed, concise—essentially, it was the best book review I’d ever read and it left quite an impression on me.

So, returning to the writer’s block, I was curious: what did Updike have to say about writing book reviews? And what do modern day writers do when they have an obscure question like that?

Right. Turn to Google.

I was fortunate early on to stumble across a post (from a book blog I promptly bookmarked) pointing to hidden treasure: an older post, from the blog of the National Book Critics Circle, citing helpful tips from the master himself (one that’s so dated it redirects readers to the new host that, from what I can tell, does not have the piece archived). The advice is from Updikes’s Picked Up Pieces, a collection of his assorted prose. Three points (of six) I found incredibly helpful… Continue reading John Updike’s Writing Wisdom (part I): Book Reviews

Paper Cuts

Papercuts: A NY Times Blog

Written by the editors of Book Review, Paper Cuts is a blog about books and publishing. Here you’ll find things such as book reviews in podcast format, author interviews and other great tidbits. I love the NY Times; it’s a great paper, and this is one web feature I think is a good example of value-added content. A step in the right direction?