Paid Book Reviews – Dream Job or Frustrating Time Sink?

I mean seriously, can there be anything better than having someone pay you to read books? For those of us who love reading, that’s a dream job, and they’re scarce as chicken teeth, so if you get an opportunity to get paid to read, you grab it.

A gift horse | © Unknown

But… here’s the thing: I don’t get to choose the books that I read. Sure, I pick a book from the available list in the genre that I prefer, but other than that, I have no say over which books I spend my evenings with. And this is … problematic.

The books that I have to read and review are all written by indie authors, such as myself, and since I’m also independently published I don’t want to flack others who choose to follow the same route. However, by and large I am increasingly disappointed in the quality of these books. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I am trained to read critically (I have a Bachelor’s degree in Publishing and a postgraduate degree in English Studies) and many of these books read like first drafts, something the author slapped together, decided was brilliant as is and then let loose upon the world with nary so much as a spellcheck or a decent critique from anyone other than their mother. This tends to make me grumpy and overly critical.

The last thing I want to do in my precious free time is read a book that’s not ready to be read yet, no matter how much potential it may have. In the time I spent getting frustrated by a badly-written book I could have been reading an awesome book instead or, even better, writing and improving my own.

So here’s my dilemma – should I give up the dream job?

While I have discovered a few really amazing books and their talented authors this way, in general, the books I’ve had to review have been a chore to read. Sure, getting paid a few dollars for reading is nice, but is it really worth the time, effort and aggravation? What do you think?

What would you do? Would you grin and bear it and learn from it, or do you also think that time could be spent better? Do you think I’m being overly critical and should stop looking a gift horse in the mouth?

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