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From proofreading to reviewing, how to get paid to read

A customer browses at Village Well Books & Coffee in Culver City.
A customer browses the shelves at Village Well Books & Coffee in Culver City. There are plenty of websites where sharp-eyed readers can monetize that skill.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

If you’re good at spotting grammar and spelling errors, you can get paid to read. Several sites enlist freelancers to copy edit and proofread everything from business documents to books, resumes to college essays. A few also pay for reviews of fiction and nonfiction books.

Here’s how you can get paid to read, how much you’ll earn and where you can find these jobs.

Get paid to read

Many freelance sites that pay you to read are seeking copy editors and proofreaders. Clients of these companies include independent authors, academics and businesses that need a second look at proposals, letters, brochures and documents sent to investors.

With some sites, you set your own rates and reading specialties. You could, for instance, charge $2 per page to read investing and economics copy but charge just 50 cents per page for fantasy fiction and romance. Or vice versa.

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However, other sites determine how you get paid. They set the rates, which are usually based on the type of document, the number of words and the turnaround time. Pay is set per project, not per hour. So, the faster and more efficiently you read, the more you earn per hour. With these sites, the only choice the freelancer gets is whether to accept or reject an assignment.

Here are the best sites to find work, according to SideHusl.com:

PenguinFreelancers

Two factors make PenguinFreelancers our top choice for freelance copy editors and proofreaders. The first is that Penguin Random House publishes great books. Collaborating with bestselling authors, noteworthy celebrities and politicians, you’re sure to find interesting reading.

And you are paid reasonable rates — $31 to $36 per hour, depending on what type of editing you’re doing. There is a copy editing or proofreading test to qualify that will probably include familiarity with the Chicago Manual of Style. The site expects editors to read at least 10 pages per hour. Because the copy is probably in pretty good shape when you get it, that shouldn’t be too difficult. If you’re accepted at PenguinFreelancers, you can pick the literary genres that you prefer to read.

Reedsy

Reedsy helps aspiring authors find ghostwriters, writing coaches and all types of editors. The site encourages seasoned editors to apply with a resume and portfolio. If you pass the site’s screening, you’ll create a profile that explains your experience, specialties and the publications that you have edited.

You determine what type of editing services to provide — developmental editing, copy editing, proofreading, etc. The site will send you appropriate projects to bid on. You decide what to charge based on the length, scope and difficulty of the project. The site takes a commission on each sale.

The best platforms for tutors are also likely to be the best places for parents to find skilled educators.

Fiverr

Broad-based work platforms are often tough places to find good work, but Fiverr is an exception. The site has evolved from a low-rent job platform to one that allows professionals to charge professional rates for limited-service packages.

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Freelancers delineate what they do and what they charge, narrowly defining the scope of the work. One freelance editor, for example, says she’ll correct spelling and grammar on a 500-word document for $25. If the project requires an edit to improve clarity and language, it cost will $50 for the same document. Rewriting and feedback can be had for $75. Of course, if there are more words to edit, that will cost more.

This structure is intended to create cost transparency for both worker and client.

Scribendi

Like many straight proofreading and copy editing sites, Scribendi pays by the job specifications, work count and the time you’re given to edit. (Rush jobs pay more.) The site posts a description of each available job, the pay and the deadline. You can decide whether to accept the work or pass. The faster you edit, the more you earn.

Editors say they earn between $5 and $50 per hour. The most common complaint? Because the site specializes in helping English as a Second Language students, many editors said, editing their assignments can be a time-consuming process. And even a simple edit can take more time when the copy needs more work.

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That said, if you’re picky about the jobs you accept and are skilled at editing at a rapid pace, you could earn good money here.

ProofreadingPal

ProofreadingPal enlists graduate students and doctoral candidates to proofread and copy edit everything from business documents to academic research papers. However, the site has a complex pay structure and poor pay for new editors. ProofreadingPal also appears to strong-arm editors into signing up for “guaranteed availability” hours, when editors must accept any assignment that comes in. If there are no assignments during those hours, you don’t get paid. But if you miss your guaranteed availability shift, you are fined.

This arrangement appears to be unfair and a potential violation of U.S. labor laws. ProofreadingPal said its proofreaders are independent contractors who are not subject to minimum wage laws. But U.S. government definitions of employees vs. freelancers pivot on worker control. The lines are murky, but this appears to stack the deck in favor of classifying proofreaders as employees. You can learn more about federal definitions of freelancers and employees by taking this quiz.

SideHusl.com does not recommend this proofreading site.

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U.S. Review of Books

If you’re more interested in simply reading for pleasure, you may be able to make a few bucks reviewing books.

U.S. Review of Books is among a handful of sites that will pay you to read and provide brief reviews of independently published books and authors. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t pay much. But it also has reasonable rules about what ought to be in a review — half summary, half commentary — and length. Reviews generally run 250 to 300 words and pay $25. Longer reviews of 500 to 600 words pay more — up to $75.

Another site called OnlineBookClub also promises to pay for reviews. However, reviewers said the site has a litany of ways to deny pay for completed work.

Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, an independent website that reviews moneymaking opportunities in the gig economy.


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