The issue of payment on social media is one that has been in the spotlight recently, and for good reason.
A recent New York Times article, outlining how Booktok videos are starting to influence the publishing world, brought backlash from many Bookstagrammers and bloggers. The article covered how a single 15-second video could sell copies (and even bring a book to the bestseller list!), as well as how Booktokers are beginning to be paid for their work.
Don’t get me wrong- I love that Booktokers are being paid for their work, especially since working on social media is often (wrongly) considered to be easy or just a little hobby.
But all this brings into question whether it is time for Bookstagrammers and bloggers, who have been promoting books (often for free!) for years, to be paid fairly for their work.
Collaborating with publishers
Within the book community, it has become widely accepted that Bookstagramming/blogging is a hobby; at most, a way to earn some pennies on the side.
The majority of Bookstagrammers have been working like this for as long as we can remember, and there is often stigma around asking for fair compensation. Almost daily, I am approached on Bookstagram asking to collaborate, and I can’t remember the last time any sort of payment was mentioned.
Most collaborations within Bookstagram work on a gifted basis- a publisher/ brand gifts a product in exchange for photos. It’s often only much further along the relationship (if ever) that compensation may begin to be involved.
It’s clear that publishers do not put anywhere near as much of their budget towards influencers than a lot of other brands.
Monetization on bookstagram
It’s clear to see that this particular niche is far behind most others when it comes to compensating and working fairly with influencers, especially when some of the biggest social influencers are earning well into six figures.
Of course, very few of us are ever going to get close to this level of earning from social media. But I can count on one hand the number of accounts I know that make a living from Bookstagramming, and most of them have been working at it for the best part of a decade.
So it’s understandable why a lot of us have felt discouraged by the lack of recognition Bookstagrammers and bloggers get from publishers, when it comes to shifting copies.
The taboo of payment
Unlike pretty much any other niche, there is an incredible taboo within the book community on payment and exchanging money. There certainly is not enough of a conversation on the double standards within the book niche.
A large part of this comes down to publishers being behind other industries. But another factor is that a lot of bookstagrammers are happy to post about books- we enjoy it, it’s what we’re on the platform for. Whether this is right or not, a lot of bookstagrammers don’t ask for payment simply because they enjoy reading and want to share books with their followers.
The issue with this is it means that there is very little advice on how to price our services on Bookstagram and the right way to go about asking for money.
A final note
To close off this discussion, I wanted to emphasise how grateful I am to be on bookstagram. The community has always been the most important thing to me, and if I never earn another penny from it, I’ll be completely fine with that!
But, I also believe there should be no shame in asking for compensation for your time. For me (and for a lot of Bookstagrammers), Bookstagramming and blogging is like a part time job. It takes up hours of my week, and therefore, it’s only fair to expect payment.
I’m seeing the beginnings of change as a blogger and bookstagrammer myself but I think we still have a long way to go in destroying the taboo around asking for payment, and making it as normal as it would be for, say, a lifestyle blogger.
Are you on Bookstagram? Have you been paid for your work or are you struggling with this? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic in the comments below or you can connect with me directly in my Instagram dms.