11 ways to make money from reading books
Do you forever have your nose in a book? We do too – so we decided to look into ways to make money from this wonderful hobby. Read on to find out how to get paid to read books.
You might think there's nothing better than getting lost in a good book. But it's actually possible to spend your time absorbed in your favourite stories and get paid for it.
From joining BookTok, to starting a literary blog, to narrating audiobooks, there are so many ways to make money from reading.
Some are good side hustles to do alongside your studies, while others are full-time career ideas. In our list below, you can find the money-making ideas that work for you.
How to make money by reading books
Here are the best ways to read books for money:
In the UK (and elsewhere around the world), TikTok has had a huge influence on the reading habits of loads of people. There have been reports of a surge in book sales due to recommendations on BookTok, which is the name for book-focused videos on TikTok.
You might also hear book-related content referred to as 'Bookstagram' on Instagram and 'BookTube' on YouTube. If you join BookTok, you can easily post similar content on Bookstagram and BookTube to grow your online brand across multiple platforms.
If you're keen to make a name for yourself as a book reviewer, launching a BookTok account is a great way to start. It lets you turn your reading hobby into a way to make money on social media.
When you're first starting out, it will probably be difficult to make much (if any) money from BookTok. But, once you've gained a strong number of followers, you could look into brand sponsorship and affiliate marketing opportunities.
At this point, there's the potential to earn a lot of money from reading books. In a Guardian article about BookTok, one content creator who remained anonymous said they can charge up to £8,000 for two videos.
However, there's a concern that not all sponsored content on BookTok involves genuine recommendations. Remember that it's possible to earn money for content that reflects how you really feel about books, and this will ensure viewers can trust what you say.
How to start a BookTok account
To get involved in BookTok, create a TikTok account that's dedicated to reading, with a username and profile photo related to books. Then, follow other BookTokers to see what they're reading and what trends they use in their videos.
The key to making great BookTok content is understanding which books and TikTok trends are popular within the community. Take influence from these, but make sure you still take a creative approach to your videos so they're reflective of you.
In your videos, try to review a combination of big BookTok books, as well as lesser-known ones. This way, the audience will see some books they've already read (showing you share their reading tastes), while discovering new titles to try.
And when posting videos, tag them with the relevant hashtags (especially #BookTok) so you can find the right audience for your content.
Popular BookTok books
Here are some books that are popular right now on BookTok:
Write book reviews as a freelancer
Love books? And writing? Look into making money as a freelance writer.
As a new freelancer, it can be difficult to get paid commissions, but it is possible.
To improve your pitches, it helps if you're able to link to examples of articles that you've already written. These could be published on your own website, or perhaps for a publication like a student paper at uni.
And when you do start pitching, focus on newspapers and magazines that suit your taste in books. For example, if you're keen to write about nineteenth-century classics, a magazine that focuses on the current bestsellers won't be right for you.
You could try writing reviews for a site like Reedsy Discovery. Payments there are made on a tip basis. If readers like your work, they have the option to send you a tip of $1 (around £0.85), $3 (around £2.50) or $5 (around £4.20).
We have more tips on how to pitch article ideas as a freelancer in our guide to earning money from writing.
Start a book blog
The beauty of starting a blog is that it gives you the freedom to write what you want, when you want. What's more, it's possible to make money from it.
Like the tips mentioned above, earning an income as a blogger takes time. But, gradually, you can begin to earn a steady income from it. The more the blog grows, the more money it will make.
A good way to earn money from your blog is through affiliate marketing. Essentially, this is when a publisher (i.e. you as the blogger) recommends a product or a service. Then, when readers make a purchase or sign up for a service based on your recommendation, you earn a small commission.
Other ways to earn money from your blog include on-site advertising and paid guest posts. Find out more in our full guide to making money from blogging.
Run a book club
Book clubs give you the chance to meet like-minded people and talk about books. Does it get any better than that?
Actually, it does. By running a book club, you'd also have the opportunity to make money.
Whether running the book club online or in-person, you could charge a small fee to members. The members will understand that time and effort goes into the smooth-running of the club, so will likely be happy to pay you a bit for your role as organiser.
If charging a fee, you do need to make sure the book club is enjoyable and well run. Otherwise, you will struggle to encourage members to return week after week.
It will also help if you have a strong knowledge of books and literary criticism. If you're studying English Literature at uni, for example, highlight this in any adverts for your book club.
As well as running traditional book club sessions (where everyone reads the same book and discusses it together), you could also run author events. This involves inviting an author to a Q&A session with the book club.
To find members for the book club, try Meetup. On this site, people in your local area (or anywhere globally if the sessions are virtual) can find you if they're searching for a new book club.The book club can cost just a few pounds per week for each member. For a group of 10 or more, that should cover your groceries for the week if you use our meal plan.
Proofread books for money
If you already spend your spare time reading novels and non-fiction books, why not get paid for it? As a proofreader for authors, you can.
You could potentially start proofreading books for money while still at uni. On sites like Fiverr, freelance book proofreaders advertise their services from as little as £4.43 as a basic plan. This usually involves proofreading a small sample of text.
To proofread novellas or novels, the fees sometimes increase to £700+.
For this work, you'll need to have excellent attention to detail and a solid grasp of spelling and grammar. You'll also need to be able to meet tight deadlines, so it helps if you're a quick reader.
New to freelancing? Our beginner's guide to freelancing will answer your questions.
Become a book podcaster
By starting a podcast about literature, you'd have the potential to earn money by talking about your favourite stories and novels. Ideal.
If your podcast takes off, you could look into advertising and sponsorship opportunities. Getting to that point can take a lot of time and work, but if you're committed to making your podcast a success, it can pay off.
A successful podcast could potentially earn you £900+ per month.
But, there may be costs involved. To become a professional podcaster, you'll probably need to buy audio recording equipment at some point.
When first starting out, though, it could be worth recording the episodes on your phone to save money. Then, if your audience starts to grow, that could be the time to invest in higher-quality equipment.
Get paid to narrate audiobooks
If getting paid to talk about books isn't enough for you, you could go one step further and make money by reading books aloud as an audiobook narrator.
Narrating audiobooks is similar to voice-over acting.
For this job, it will help if you have relevant experience. If you've studied drama at uni, worked in student radio, volunteered as a book reader for charity or done anything similar, these will all develop your narration skills.
A good way to get started in this line of work is by auditioning to narrate audiobooks via the ACX website. Audiobooks that are produced through this site are then sold to Audible, Amazon and iTunes.
The amount you'll earn for the narration will vary, depending on what you agree with the audiobook's author. You could be offered a one-off payment or a share of the royalties.There are loads of ways to get free audiobooks – including by reviewing them.
Work as a book editor
Earlier we mentioned proofreading as a way to make money from reading. Working as a book editor involves proofreading, but it usually goes beyond surface-level checks for typos to also look at the overall development and production of the book.
Book editing roles within publishing houses are usually full-time graduate roles. It will help if you have a degree in English Literature, or something similar.
According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a book editor in the UK is around £36,000.
Pursue a career as a literary agent
Literary agents play a big role in the successes of published authors. A good agent will spot authors with potential and support them throughout their writing careers.
Their work often involves reading and editing book manuscripts and negotiating book deals with publishing houses.
This is a full-time job that would suit an avid reader who knows what it takes for a book to be successful (both commercially and critically).
It will help if you have a relevant degree, such as English Literature.
And, according to Glassdoor, literary agents in the UK earn an average salary of around £28,500.
Design book covers
An amazing way to combine a love of reading and art is by designing book covers for authors. In fact, illustrating book covers has made it to our list of the best ways to sell art.
Check what other designers are charging on Fiverr and Upwork to get an idea of how much to charge.
Or, if you're hoping to pursue book illustration as a full-time career, you could consider working for publishing houses.
As an entry-level role, you could be joining the publishers as a design assistant. As an example, Glassdoor gives the average salary for a design assistant at Macmillian Publishers as around £23,000 – £25,000.
Translate books into another language
If you're keen to make money from your language skills, working as a book translator can be a challenging, but incredible, career.
There's a lot more to book translation than simply understanding the meaning of the text and rewriting it in another language.
Translators often have difficult literary decisions to make due to differences in the syntax of each language. Essentially, their translations need to be reflective of the writing style of the original text, while following the rules of the language it's being translated into.
Sometimes, the original author will use words or phrases that are unique to their language. As the translator, you'll need to decide what the best way to approach this is – both from the author's and the reader's perspective.
This might involve leaving in certain words in the original language if you're confident the reader will pick up the meaning, or translating them into words that are similar, but not exactly the same.
Next time you read a translated novel, see if it includes a translator's note at the end. These notes can give fascinating insights into the challenging word choices the translator faced.
For this work, it will help if you have at least an undergraduate degree in a second language.
The Society of Authors suggests that translators often earn a rate of around £95 per thousand words. And, out of the author's share of royalties, 20% will usually be given to translators. However, it can vary depending on individual contracts between translators and publishers.
We also know of loads of great ways to make money from writing.