[DWJ] Any paid book reviewers out there?

Juliette Curtis jcurtis at harvestroad.com
Tue Apr 3 01:23:31 EDT 2007

I used to be a newspaper journalist. I reviewed books in addition to my
normal reporting duties. It was my choice to do this. Book reviews paid AU$1
per centimetre of published text in a standard width newspaper column. This
was in the late 1980s. I thought I was doing well if I got Au$50 for a

I got to keep the books. Sometimes I sold them.

I liked reviewing books because I got to see interesting books that I
generally would not have encountered otherwise, and I got free books. The
free books were the real attraction <grin>. The money was nice but it was
not a significant amount. I did not know any journalist who made a living
reviewing books alone - those who did it were, like me, doing it in addition
to their other duties. Features writers tended to do more reviews than
others, as did reporters assigned to the arts pages, but others did reviews
as well.

Your mentoree might find the kind of career she wants in publishing, as an
editor or agent. She might also find a good sideline as a publisher's
reader, but I would personally not expect to earn a living from it. 

She might enjoy the book "According to Mark" by Penelope Lively. It features
a man who tries to be "an old fashioned man of letters" - earning his living
by writing biographies, reviewing, and literary criticism. It makes it clear
that, although the character loves his work, his career has some serious
disadvantages: he is financially very insecure and sometimes has to
compromise his personal standards in order to get work or publish his
writing. There are some delightful phrases in the book, eg "he had been
writer in residence at anything that would have him".

obDWJ: I never got to review an advance copy of a DWJ book. Drat!


More information about the Dwj mailing list