Have you ever been curled up in your favorite chair or in your favorite coffee shop, hot drink by your side, enjoying a good book, and thought to yourself: “This is the life. Why can’t I just get paid to read books?”
Many have. Still more haven’t even dared to think such a thing possible. But it is possible. You can get paid to read!
1. Copyedit or Edit Books
Copyediting is reading through material, usually for websites, magazines, pamphlets, etc., looking for and correcting errors in spelling and grammar. Editing books is the same thing, but might also include recommending structural changes and, obviously, editing an entire book takes a lot more time than editing shorter content.
For either activity, you’ll need to have excellent grammar and spelling knowledge, and be able to demonstrate that to the potential employer or client.
You can get certified by taking a copyediting course online or at a local college or university, but you can also get to work right away. Companies like Kirkus Media, Publishers Weekly, Upwork, Contena, and Research Square, all offer freelance work.
2. Write Book Reviews
Reading books and writing thoughtful reviews about why you liked them – and a little that could have been better – is another opportunity. It probably won’t pay enough to cover all of your bills, but it can help.
Most book reviewing companies want honest reviews, but they want honest reviews about books that you like, not those you didn’t. The stereotype of the never-pleased critic doesn’t work here; these companies are part of the marketing process, so although they don’t want fake reviews, they want reviews by people who like the books so that others who like the same sort of thing can find them.
Check out Any Subject Books, Kirkus Media, Publishers Weekly, Online Book Club, The U.S. Review of Books, and Women’s Review of Books.
3. Convert Books into E-books
A lot of older books are now in the public domain. This means that anyone can copy and sell their contents – the intellectual property they contain.
You can take the contents, copied from an electronic form that is in the public domain, or even scanned from an old book and converted to text, and make a book to sell on Amazon, Goodreads, and other eBook markets.
This is a great way to start as a book publisher too, adding well-known titles to your own books or first clients’ books, to increase the gravitas of your company, and make some money doing so. Check out the next item for more on becoming a publisher.
4. Become a Book Publisher
Becoming a book publisher seems impossible at first, but with technology where it is, and huge commerce giants like Amazon at your fingertips, it has never been easier.
Being a publisher is perhaps the best way to get paid to read. It is literally your job to find out if new, unpublished books are worth reading.
As a very small business, you’d be doing the editing, proofreading, book design, and other work associated with taking a manuscript and making it into an appealing, saleable book.
Do this well, and rather than being a “publishing wannabe”, you’ll build a bona fide publishing house, and have the potential to make a lot of money if even one of your releases makes it big.
5. Market Books
There are a lot of self-published and indie authors out there, and more come on the market every month. Some are amazing at promoting their own work, but others want help from someone who will dig in and get their name and titles out there. If this sounds like the kind of thing you’d like to do, then opportunity awaits.
You’d get to read the books, probably before they are available to the general public, and determine which other books are similar. You can then set up advertising campaigns through sites like Facebook and Amazon, that target readers of those similar books.
This requires that you read widely and know your genre(s), so you can connect your clients’ books with readers who like that type or writing.
The side effect is that you get to read a lot, and get paid.
6. Layout & Design Books
Websites like The Book Designer will teach you how to design beautiful books. You can set yourself up as a book designer, have your own website, do some networking, and build your own business over time.
Some smaller publishers hire book designers when their volume is too much for them, and if you already have some reputation and references, you could become the go-to person for these companies.
There may not be a lot of “reading for money” involved in this one, but you’ll get paid to work with books, and have the side benefit of seeing – and getting to read – new books before they’re even available to the general public. That’s a pretty good deal.
7. Write for Magazines
There are tens of thousands of magazines out there, and many of them will pay writers to review books. Some of them pay very well, and you’ll get a byline – your name on the review which proves a publishing credit.
You can use a publishing credit as a credential to get another one, and the more of them you have, the more seriously your next client will take you – and the more seriously you will take yourself.
Start with magazines that interest you, local and then regional, national, etc. Get your foot in the door with one, then build your street cred in the industry.
8. Create Audio Books
There are more opportunities than ever to make money creating audio books. This can mean narrating books for another company, like Fiverr, or creating your own audiobooks and selling them on Amazon through ACX, or by using CD Baby, Feiyr or ClickBank.
You can even find stories that are in the public domain and record them as audiobooks. This is an excellent way to showcase your talents too, which will help you get paid work narrating for others.
You’ll need to have a clear voice, and some voice types and accents are more saleable than others, but there is a market for most.
You’ll need a quiet place to work. Some companies also need a certain quality of microphone, or higher, but you needn’t build a sound booth or anything that professional – though some do.
9. Proofread Books
This is a lot like editing, but has more of a focus on typos, rather than grammatical nuance. You will probably start proofreading articles or pamphlets, and once you’ve shown your mettle, you’ll be given larger assignments, like full-length books.
The pay is pretty good, usually somewhere near $15 per hour. Since this is remote work (you can do it from anywhere) some companies prefer to pay by the page, but the result, for most readers, will be about the same.
It is super flexible and mobile, and once you’ve done it a while, you might get to advance into copyediting and editing.
10. Be a Librarian
No profession is as surrounded by books as that of the librarian. What many people don’t realize is that a substantial part of a librarian’s job is reading books.
Some rely more on reviews than reading when it comes to recommending books, but there is still the expectation that a good librarian be familiar with several authors and books in most genres. That means you can read as much as you want in the areas you love, and rely on reviews for the ones you don’t.
If you’re looking for something interesting to read, and you like the idea of adding a few classics to your repertoire, you can’t go wrong with any of the following.
This Victorian novel is a true classic and a popular favorite. It has romance, style, and will transport you to the grand houses of the English countryside.
If you like things a bit darker, this dystopian classic takes a look at the dark possibilities of the year 1984 – as imagined when the book was written in the late 1940s – and you might find it chilling when it hits the mark… and amusing where it misses.
This book will take you to the Canadian wilderness, where a domestic dog becomes a sled dog during the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s. Gripping and exciting, this short adventure will hold you cover to cover.
This book mixes opulence and extreme wealth with relational dysfunction and ultimate tragedy. It is a book of love, and self-doubt, ambition and class divisions. It’s a must for anyone interested in high society in the American 1920s.
This classic by Harper Lee – for decades the only book she had released – has had a resurgence as her second book was released not long ago. To Kill a Mockingbird follows Scout, a six-year-old daughter of a small-town lawyer, who is exposed to the cruelty and prejudice of the era in which she lives. How will she deal with it? How will it form her development into an adult?
It’s a wonderful read.
Reading is great fun, and for many that’s all it will be, but if you want to augment your income – or even create all of your income – through reading and reading-related work, there has never been a better time to do it.
Explore the above options and make a short list of the ones that appeal to you. Give them a try. It may be that one of them – or a combination of more than one – will turn out to be the new job you’ve been looking for.
Good luck, and happy reading!