Gabe Chouinard, prompted by this article on SF Diplomat, has started a bit of a wildfire in the blogosphere. This time the subject at hand is whether or not folk like me should get paid for what we do.
One recurring prompt in the reviewer/blogger discussion has been the factor of fatigue in maintaining a review blog. Some review bloggers have pointed out the distinction that reviewing is a hobby, but often and increasingly feels like work. I can’t argue with that; indeed, though this blog is only a month old, the labor of it is already telling.
As mentioned above, I think we’ve seen already that online reviews are sustainable. Beyond the paying outlets Jonathan champions, there is a vibrant community of bloggers that has expanded rapidly in the past few years. And while maintaining a review blog may not be sustainable for individual bloggers, it seems that for every review blog that comes to an end, three more pop up to take its place. This reviewosphere isn’t going anywhere.
So what can make it sustainable for individual reviewers?
When Jonathan suggests ARCs and review copies “aren’t enough”, I think he’s right. Anyone devoting the time and intensive labor to maintain a review blog that serves a worthwhile purpose (that is, one which gains traffic) deserves a little extra scratch on the side. To think otherwise is downright demeaning. And the truth is, there are ways of earning money off a blog.
Maybe I’m digging myself a hole by saying this, and maybe I’m pissing someone off by suggesting bloggers perform a service for publishers and readers that deserves payment. I hope not; I’d hate to suddenly flounder out here alone, with no relationships with the various publishers. But I wonder, is that a realistic fear? I somehow doubt it. And it’s just that unrealistic fear which drives review bloggers to burn out.
Aside from Gabe and SF Diplomat a few other bloggers have felt obliged to comment:
My own take?
An anonymous commentor on Gabe’s blog made a comment that summed things up pretty well,
“Being read is a privilege. People spend time reading your blog while there are thousands others…”
Essentially a lot of what we do, with regards to publishers and authors, is publicity. Free publicity. To that end, the publishers, in a sense, owe us more than we owe them, regardless of how many free books they might send us. As soon as someone starts to pay you, they
I work for myself, and only myself. Unless a publisher wants to officially hire me to run their blog, I certainly don’t want to be receiving money for them and having to deal with the fallout associated with that. I’m happy as a pig-in-shit about being my own boss, and wouldn’t want it any other way.
Thoughts? Should I be swimming through piles of coin, Scrooge McDuck-style? or does the poverty driven struggle of blogging make us better at the job?