Why Critics Don’t Want To Read Your Self-Published Book

My reasons may have nothing to do with your writing and don’t involve a conspiracy against indie authors

Janice Harayda
Lit Life

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Photo ofsoliciting sign
“No Soliciting” sign from the Lone Star Art Store via Amazon

Until recently, I reviewed books regularly for national magazines and newspapers. I liked the work a lot, but I quit because the outlets were dying, the pay was poor, and the restrictions were getting tighter.

My bread-and-butter client was Kirkus Reviews, a venerable 93-year-old magazine that bookstores and libraries historically have used to guide their buying decisions. Kirkus hadn’t raised its pay in a decade and gave you just 320 words for a book that might have taken an author years to do. I wanted the freedom to follow a bedrock principle of good writing: Say what you have to say and then stop.

Since I gave up reviewing for Kirkus, I’ve kept writing for other media and hearing from authors — by email, on Facebook or LinkedIn, or by other means — who want me to read and review their self-published books.

Heartbreaking requests

Authors’ requests can be poignant, even heartbreaking. Writers insist their books are like no other, and if I read only a chapter or two, I’d see why they deserved a review. They often say how long it took to write a novel or how few…

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Janice Harayda
Lit Life

Critic, novelist, award-winning journalist. Former book editor of the Plain Dealer and book columnist for Glamour. Words in NYT, WSJ, and other major media.