If reading is your great love in life, why not turn it into a side hustle and get paid to read books?
One of the best things about the book publishing business is that thanks to the internet, it adapts well to copy editors, designers, and even editors looking for a home job, as well as voice talent for narrating audiobooks.
And if you’re simply a book lover who gets excited about free copies of new young adult lit or interesting nonfiction, you can turn your passion for reading into pocket change by writing a book review.
So settle in, my excellent bookworms! I’ve got some great ideas that’ll let you read books and make money in a remote job.
Make extra money with book review opportunities
If you aren’t necessarily looking to pay all your bills by reading books, you may be able to find work as a paid book reviewer or at least get a free book in exchange for an online review. Here are some sites where you can provide paid book reviews or get a new book.
- Online Book Club requires your first review be unpaid, but you’ll still get a free book to review! After your initial review, most projects offer $5 to $60. As you can see, book reviewing really isn’t a gig that compensates well for the time involved. You really need to love to read — and quickly — and consider any compensation a bonus while having fun.
- Kirkus hires freelance reviewers and expects a 350-word review within a 2-week time frame.
- Booklist accepts freelance book reviews – assigned reviews only. Freelance opportunities are limited but pay $12.50 for a blog post and $15 for a full book review.
- The US Review does pay reviews, though their website does not say how much. Reviews must include a short book summary, be turned around within 2-3 weeks, and follow a style guide.
- Bethany House specializes in Christian books and is specifically looking for reviewers who have an existing online platform like a YouTube channel, a book blog, etc. There is no mention of compensation, but you may be able to use your affiliate marketing link within your review on your own website or channel.
- Writerful will allow you to submit an honest review of any book of your choosing. You just won’t get paid as a new reviewer, so expect to put in some time on the site. Paid book reviewer opportunities are offered if you become a trusted, experienced reviewer. These paid opportunities compensate $10 to $50 per review.
- Moody Publishers is another publishing house specializing in Christian titles. They do not pay for your reviews, but you will receive free books.
If you need to earn a living from your side hustle, you’ll probably have to do more than review books. Here are some additional opportunities that pay more and will still have you reading.
Also see: How to make money as an Amazon reviewer
Become a narrator
Audiobook narration is an industry that has been picking up steam in the work-at-home world in recent years. With so many books now being consumed through Audible and similar services, even self-publishers are publishing their works on various platforms.
To become an audiobook narrator, you’ll need a great voice, the ability to perform in different voices (training as a voice actor helps), and editing skills (most narrators do their own post-production file editing). You can mark up the manuscript or printed book with tips to help you avoid problems when narrating.
Audiobook work also requires the right equipment, such as a microphone, a pop screen filter, good-quality headphones, a tablet or e-reader, and recording and editing software. Learn more about becoming an audiobook narrator here.
Copy editing and proofreading jobs
Large and small publishers — not to mention websites, magazines, and corporations — often outsource online proofreading jobs as well as copy editing jobs. If you’d like to copy edit for a traditional publishing house, it will most likely require you to have a professional copy editing certificate, which you can get by completing a copy editing course. Universities often offer these courses, and many can be completed online.
If you aren’t able to get a certificate right now, don’t worry! You can still land a professional proofreader job or copy editing position from someone else, such as a website or corporation. To apply for a copy editing or proofreading job, simply demonstrate your superior grammar and spelling skills! Also, get a copy of The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications by Amy Einsohn. (Be sure you pick up the latest edition.)
With a little bit of luck, you can score an editing work-from-home job. These opportunities are not that common, but you’ll periodically find websites or online publications looking for assistant editors and even managing editors. A small traditional publisher may also work with remote editors. Bookjobs.com is one great place to keep an eye out for book editor openings; you can also keep a tab on Indeed, and make it a habit to regularly check the Careers page on your favorite websites.
Or you could develop your own freelance editing business, selling your services to authors seeking a professional evaluation and polish of their manuscripts. This will take some time and legwork on your part. You’ll need to build your business from the ground up: decide your rates, design your website, and gather customer testimonials. Then you’ll need to land clients!
You may want to look for editing jobs via other services while you work on your own base of operations as a freelancer. You can find a remote editing job on various low-paying job boards (such as UpWork) or via better-paying Virtual Assistant companies (like Time Etc). This work-while-you-build strategy serves two purposes: First, it brings some money in, and second, it lets you collect testimonials about your performance. Be careful when employing this tactic, however. Make sure you don’t poach customers from another service or violate the terms of your agreement with any virtual assistant platform.
If you are fluent in a second language, you may find online opportunities for translation jobs. These gigs are plentiful on sites like UpWork in addition to translation services and marketplaces such as:
Layout and design
There are a lot of emerging opportunities to work with writers who are self-publishing these books. While these folks may have a great story to share, they may not be as passionate about formatting their book or graphic design needed to create a compelling book cover.
You can learn how to do book layout and editorial or graphic design for free at sites such as The Book Designer. And many great desktop publisher computer programs, such as Adobe InDesign, Quark XPress and Microsoft Publisher, can help you with the actual book layout.
Then just hang out your shingle as a designer or formatter! You can create a website to advertise your book layout and design services, network with authors and publishers on social media, and look for designer gigs in all the usual places.
Some smaller publishing houses even hire freelance book designers, giving you the opportunity to establish a lucrative business relationship. Or you can actively seek out self-publishing authors getting their books ready for print-on-demand and ebook stores like Kindle. (The latter will likely be your primary clientele.)
Become a book publisher
This is the ultimate “get paid to read books” job.
Let’s say you’ve been building all the skills I outlined above. You’ve maximized your opportunities in the book business. You can recognize good writing. You’re a good copy editor and overall editor. You know how to make a book look beautiful on the page and on the screen. So why not start publishing books yourself? Go into business to create your own publishing company!
If you’re a writer, you could start by self-publishing your own work. Once you’re established as someone who can turn out a beautifully designed and cleanly edited product, you can start looking for other authors to publish. You’ll need some start-up capital to land your first author, but you’ll have all the skills and a golden opportunity to create a book that you believe in. And be sure both you and the author make some money, of course!
Marketing and public relations
One of the key tools in your arsenal is knowing how to market yourself, your skills, and your products. Not only is this crucial to making your own freelance editing or publishing business work, but you can also turn book marketing and public relations into its own business! With so many self-published authors new to the field every month and traditionally published authors who are struggling to come up with their own PR strategy, there are tons of opportunities to step in and help them out. You can become their freelance book marketing and publicity pro, who lines up blog tours, plan author interviews, and really gets the word out about their books with viral marketing.
Where can I find these jobs for book lovers?
- Kirkus hires book reviewers as well as several of the positions mentioned above.
- Freelance Writer’s Den offers a job board specifically for writers and editors.
- Publishers Weekly offers several freelance publishing positions, such as book reviewer and editor.
Are you a book lover who’s excited about these opportunities? I’m excited for you! There is so much remote work for you to turn your love of reading into a livelihood, and now you know how to look for it. Whether you’re reviewing books for extra cash or narrating the next best-selling audio book, I’d love to hear from you about any and all jobs you land and businesses you begin from here!