Last week I published a post about the “taboo” subject of payment in the book blogging and publishing industry. Since then, I’ve had so many interesting conversations on the matter and I’m so happy that the conversation is opening up and people are sharing their honest opinions – no matter what they are. The general consensus, amongst bookstagrammers at least, seems to be that there should be more paid campaigns and the publishing industry is very far behind others in terms of influencer marketing. There is an abundance of free books, but for those with tens of thousands of followers who dedicate hours to their blogs and social media channels, this isn’t always enough.
I’ve asked some of my favourite book bloggers and bookstagrammers from across the globe to share their thoughts on influencer marketing in the book industry. Of course this sort of advertising is almost always going to be country-specific and location can have a huge impact on the opportunities that come your way as an “influencer”. However, I know that all the bookstagrammers featured here have been in contact with publishers from around the world, most notably those in the US and the UK, so we are still working in a similar sphere. NB, I have not included any US book bloggers on this list as I think things have evolved a little quicker out there but from what I’ve seen in my inbox, it’s still very much an issue for them too.
So without further ado, here are 11 snippets from some of the top book bloggers around the world with their thoughts on influencer marketing and the publishing industry.
It’s worth noting that I asked each person to give me their thoughts in 100-150 words, but pretty much all of them exceeded this limit by far. Clearly people have a lot to say on this matter so do join in the conversation in the comments section or on social media to share your ten cents!
50,000+ followers, Germany
Here it goes my ugly truth: more often than not I am clueless as to how to navigate being a big bookstagram account. Most of the times I feel like I have no flipping idea of what I am doing. And I am not even talking about content, I am talking about everything else. Collaborations, interaction with brands or publishers, business enquiries, rates for posts…
I’ll tell you something, I was never the best in my economics/business class and what it’s even worse, I suffer a severe case of being too nice and not yet believing my account has grown so much. Or in other words, I am so flattered by the fact that publishers or brands want me to work with them, I don’t feel like I am entitled to ask for anything from them. I am so grateful for a free copy of a book that I feel like I am not entitled to be paid for featuring it in my instagram or blog.
Yes, I am creating content and I know it can’t be that bad if thousands of people are following me with the sole purpose of seeing it or hearing what I have to say, but when it comes to asking for what I may deserve as a creator, I chicken out. I shut my mouth and I over criticise my content to justify my fears. And if I have doubts, who is going to believe me when I say that I should be paid as a content creator? There are no fixed rates, or guidelines that set any sort of standards. Does it depend on follower count? On reach? On interaction? On likes? I have no idea.
But what I know is that there are many other influencer markets – if that’s even a thing – where with the same follower count or reach accounts are expected to be paid. They are offered or asked right off the bat. Bookstagram’s popularity has increased exponentially in the last two years and even though instagram has become one of the most important marketing tools for publishers, in this last year my business relationship with publishing houses has not changed at all.
Even if I have grown from 10 to 50k, publishers have never asked about my rates for a post. Some may send more ARCs my way, but there is a silent agreement. I am still expected to receive the free copy as payment. The question here is, is that enough for the content creation process that comes with featuring a book on a photo or post? Post that, if I may add, will promote said book and serve as publicity.
Sometimes I guess it is enough, advance copies can rock my world and free books are a blessing for a booklover. But some others it just feels like we are silently expected to work out **ses off building up a community that relies on us, creating content and keeping our accounts alive – which in all fairness takes a tone of time and work – and be thankful that someone wants to promote something through us and our account. Which, don’t get me wrong, I am completely and absolutely thankful for.
I love working with Publishing Houses and it’s a dream come true but it always gets me thinking. Is it because of our love of books that we should be just grateful for a free copy?
24,000+ followers, United Kingdom
I do this because I love it, first and foremost, but it can be frustrating to see Instagrammers in other communities being compensated for their work when similar opportunities in the Bookstagram community are few and far between. I would never want to be paid for a review or a post where I was expressing my opinion on a book, but I do think that book tours and other types of feature posts should be paid for and that we should be offered a fair price for our followings and engagement rate.
I’ve done a couple of sponsored posts and had a good experience with the companies I’ve worked with, however, there have been some opportunities that I’ve turned down because the company was offering less than half of what I think is a fair price for a post.
Creating one post takes about 3 hours from start to finish (planning, photographing, editing, writing the caption), if a brand or publisher was hiring a photographer or wanting space in a magazine they would have to pay, I don’t think that working with an Instagrammer should be treated any differently.
43,000+ followers, United Kingdom
I work a lot with publishers taking pictures for Bookish Photography and on campaigns and I love all the work I do. I also work as an Influencer with other brands. From working with both, I can see that the publishing industry is quite a way behind on the influencer marketing trend and I feel it stems for a lack of understanding. There seems to be no account for followers, engagement and creativity in the way they pay bookstagrammers. They will pay every bookstagrammer the same despite the amount of followers and engagement, which can sometimes be frustrating as I often spend hours on my photos.
The going rate for an influencer is £100 per £10 k and if you are highly creative and have good engagement you can ask more. The rate I accept from publishers is much lower than what I would normally accept for working with brands. However, I don’t feel bitter about this at all, I understand this is how the publishing world works as they are promoting a much lower priced product.
I take on book campaign projects as more of a challenge for myself and I’ll sometimes take on unpaid projects because I like the sound of the book or I have a picture in mind. That is my choice and I’m good with that.
I have never felt exploited, sometimes frustrated perhaps at some of the demands and the short time frames, but never exploited, it’s my choice to accept these projects.
14,000+ followers, United Kingdom
Time wise, I probably spend about 10 hours or so on my Instagram and blog per week, if not more. That’s about another day and half’s worth of work on top of my full-time job.
In the two years that I’ve had my Instagram account, I’ve only been offered one paid book campaign. The fee was fairly good, but the book wasn’t the right fit for my account so I actually turned it down.
I think I’m only just becoming aware now of just how much work I’m offering publishers for free when I agree to include a book on my social media for no payment. In particular, I feel blog/Instagram tours should be paid, especially when I’m asked to post on a specific day. This involves planning my whole feed around that one photo and it can take a lot of time and effort in order to rejig other scheduled content.
11,000+ followers, United Kingdom
I put a lot of work and energy into my blog @pardonmywritings – and sometimes resources by way of props bought to photograph. In the past I have been approached by publishers to take part in paid campaigns in return for monetary compensation. Having done these campaigns across several markets on Instagram – publishing, lifestyle and skincare – I feel I’m at liberty to say that a value of £100.00 was a standard rate for bloggers’ payment. You could usually negotiate higher or lower as blogger or the business depending on how many posts are agreed or the terms needed to be met.
When I first started doing paid campaigns, I had no clue whether it was the “fair” amount except what I understood from discussions with blogger peers. Through these conversations, I realised the large disparity between “traditional” bloggers on Instagram getting paid versus book bloggers.
No one really anticipated the book community exploding as it did on Instagram and while it’s fantastic that publishers are raising their heads finally and involving us in pr campaigns, I do wish they put in a monetary investment. The content we create as book bloggers is valuable and our impact getting the word out about books across the globe great. But as publishers continue to increase their demands for a book post or blog tour, they should compensate the blogger.
36,000+ followers, Saudi Arabia
I really think it’s about time we get paid for advertising books on our blogs. One of the reasons why publishers are able to get away with not paying is books are expensive and a lot of times these are ARC’s or new releases and the only way to get our hands on one where I live is through publishers. Bookstagram is a great marketing tool and the main objective of them sending us books is for advertising, it’s business for them.
One thing we might fail to realize is that every single one of our followers is interested in books and is a potential customer, unlike, say a cat account where a majority are following just because they think cats are cute and not because they would actually buy cat products.
While free and exclusive books are great but I think over the past year or two since bookstagram has grown so much and more publishers are taking it more seriously there isn’t a lack of publishers who are willing to send free books. I have started declining new publishers due to two reasons, I don’t have enough time to read the book and second it takes time to create content. There are a couple of publishers I will continue to work with without a fee for because my relationship with them over the last year has grown a lot.
37,000+ followers, Saudi Arabia
This is such an important issue to me because I recently left my highly stressful job to focus full-time on my Bookstagram. The money I’m making is from non-bookish campaigns and it’s not enough to be called an income.
I put in at least 2-3 hours into my Bookstagram daily, and I consider those as my office hours. Would it help if publishers paid me for using my platform for publicity? Of course. I’d feel more financially secure, but instead what I have is piles of books that keep getting bigger and higher.
I don’t expect payment for reviews because that’s unethical, but I would like to get paid for whenever publishers want to use my platform to promote the books they’re launching. Its obvious they’re asking for publicity to boost their book sales. In my case I’m giving publishers access to the book community in the Middle East, that’s a demographic that helps me standout in terms of what I can offer.
So why shouldn’t a book blogger (with a significant audience) get some compensation for all the work that goes into introducing the book to their audience? This includes but is not limited to doing the photoshoot, writing an informative caption and scheduling the post for the release date, week, or the requested time period.
Blog tours fall under this category when a review is not expected. There’s a very fine line and that is the reviewing aspect. Books are a commercial commodity, and I think bloggers who are helping publishers reach a wide audience deserve to get paid for publicity.
I’d really appreciate if publishers could be a little more sensitive when requesting access to our platforms for their publicity. It’s a relationship that can be developed positively.
56,000+ followers, Canada
In my opinion, I do believe that publishers and/or authors requesting you to promote a book via social media is a type of digital advertising/marketing for the book and should be paid for. Many people including myself put lots of work and countless hours of our time into our accounts including photography, thinking of a good caption, and engaging with other accounts & followers.
For many of us, it’s a part-time job with we should be compensated for. I have done some paid book campaigns but to be honest there are not many out there offering to do paid campaigns. I think there aren’t too many paid book campaigns, unlike other industries, because lots of people are willing to do it for free in exchange for a book.
29,000 followers, India
All industries, except publishing, that utilize blogging pay for the work done for their product. A free book is only a gifted product in strict terms and does not mean that it has to be shown on a social media channel or reviewed. It depends on the time at hand for the blogger since it is an unpaid collab and not a paid one. Also when a book is given for free, the other party cannot impose a deadline for when a photo/review should be up. Everything depends on the blogger.
When I receive books for free, I often put them up on social media or review them when I read them. I don’t mind doing this. I love reading. But at the same time it is up to the blogger or me which book to pick up and what to read or even skip it if it isn’t promising. I tend to work less with those publishers who send a free book (or books from genres I don’t read) and keep sending reminders to put up a post. I’d mostly decline future requests from them. This used to happen in the earlier days. Now I work with only those who I am very comfortable and who know the way I function. And I accept books that I think I’d love to read instead of unsolicited copies I might not be interested in.
I’ve seen many smaller bloggers complain about constant nagging by which they are forced (kind of like blackmailed) to use their social media presence to promote books that they have no interest in. This is totally unfair. These smaller bloggers fear they won’t get future collabs otherwise and some publicists take advantage of this fear.
I think being compensated for the work done to photograph or review a book is justified. You put in a lot of hours for this and also your brand is what you’ve built in many years. I have done sponsored posts on my Instagram. But I haven’t done paid reviews for books yet. If an opportunity presents itself, I’d definitely be happy to do it. And deliver within the deadline agreed upon. It only seems fair.
Some people believe paid reviews tend to be positive only which is positive only. This is wrong. The payment is for the brand and exposure you’ve built, not for a positive review. And bloggers would not tweak their honesty because it affects their credibility.
11,000+ followers, Austrailia
I do think that book bloggers and Instagrammers have a right to expect to be paid for their content, and have certainly felt exploited by publishers in the past who have wanted confirmed coverage in exchange for a free book. I spend a lot of time on my blog, on building and growing an audience, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to hope that publishers would be prepared to pay for you to publicise their books. I think there’s a real stigma around it because lots of people (some book bloggers included) think we should be doing it for our ‘love of books’, not something you would ever hear being said about beauty, fashion or travel bloggers.
53,000+ followers, United Arab Emirates
YES!!!! It’s unfair because Book bloggers spend too much time and effort (reading and writing) to make ONE review. I think a 30$ book alone is not enough. Also, book bloggers are the most passionate bloggers ever! They should be paid as much as the others.
What are your thoughts on the subject of book bloggers getting paid? Share this post and join the conversation!
If you liked this post, check out these:
It’s Time for Book Bloggers and Bookstagrammers to Get Paid.
My Bookstagram Evolution: How I Got Started on Instagram
Behind the Scenes on Instagram with @whatshotblog
The Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing for Book Bloggers
10 Beautiful Instagram Accounts for Book Lovers