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How I Got My Break as a Book Reviewer

Writer, editor, and book reviewer Wendy Noble is our guest today at Blood-Red Pencil.
Years ago a speaker at a writers’ workshop I attended encouraged us to build up our writing portfolio with short stories, articles and reviews. I had the short stories and articles under control but I had no idea how to get a review published. As far as I knew, newspapers and magazines had their own staff. I couldn’t see a way to break in. Neither could I figure out how to get a book early enough that it hadn’t been already reviewed by someone else.

In 2004 a friend of mine, Rosanne Hawke, invited me to the launch of her first picture book, Yardil. I realised there was a strong possibility it hadn’t yet been reviewed. Time to bite the bullet! I searched Google for the terms, “magazines + book reviews” (I’ve since discovered Writers’ Marketplace). I found Good Reading and thought, “Why not?” I sent them a query by email and to my amazement they asked me to send them a draft. I wrote an 800 word review, but then cut it back to 350 words and sent it off hoping it wasn’t too short. The editor wrote back, “That’s very nice, now cut it down to about 120 words and we’ll take it.”

I then sent Good Reading, unsolicited, a review of Rosanne’s next book, Soraya. (Thank goodness she was having a good year!) This, too, was accepted. When I queried them about a third book by Rosanne, they said, “How about we send you the books?” I’ve been in every issue since then.

I was blessed to have a friend with books to review, and a kind-hearted editor who was willing to give me a go. There have also been plenty of times when I’ve had my submission rejected, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying again. Sometimes sheer perseverance will win the day.

Wendy Noble (Adv Dip T; Grad Dip CS; MA Creative Writing) reviews Young Adult and Children’s books for Good Reading Magazine in Australia. She is also a writer, editor, and public speaker. Visit her blog at

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  1. I love this story. It just goes to show that when writers help each other out, even just through support and friendship, everyone wins.

    HearWriteNow & Blood-Red Pencil

  2. It's helpful to hear about other's successes as well as great writing opportunities. Thanks.


  3. So nice to read about your perseverance and success. I have always been a firm believer in tenacity. And I have always appreciated editors who are willing to support a new writer. I have been lucky enough to know a few in my career.

  4. Welcome, Wendy. My experience in this area is at a newspaper, where book reviewers perform this service because they are passionate about reading and promoting excellence in literature. But they do it for free, receiving the book in payment for the review.

    I'm curious: Do you (or any other commenters) know of any markets that actually pay for book reviews?

  5. I'm always amazed by book reviewers ... as a dyslexic, by the time I've finished reading a book, the author is on to a another career.

  6. I'm sure it helped that you're reviews were thoughtfully written. :)

  7. Kathryn, I too get "paid" with a copy of the book and a copy of the magazine. If you want to be paid actual money you have to be a bit more "creative". What's worked for me are longer articles that are part review/ part author profile. I intend to write another blog on why I write reviews, so keep watching this space!

  8. Great story. Love hearing about someone who perseveres and triumphs. You saw an opportunity and made it happen.

  9. I have a feeling that more than perseverance got you were you are today. You've earned it.

    Morgan Mandel


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