Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Do the Math

Jennifer Weiner knows why the New York Times doesn't review her books and she's not afraid to share. Her rant might have been more effective had she not spent so much of it bragging about being rich and popular. I'm reminded of the time I was collared at BEA by a joke-book author who complained that he had never been reviewed in the Horn Book Magazine even though his books had sold several hundred thousands of copies. "Why do you care?" I asked him.

I recently fielded a call from a publisher whose books have never (at least as far as either of us could tell) been reviewed in the Magazine, although they have received some good (and bad) reviews in the Guide. It was not a phone call that could end happily, as our premises (his that the HB deliberately snubbed his books, mine that we didn't) were unmovable and mutually exclusive.

The long answer as to why any particular book was not reviewed is that the Magazine is extremely selective, reviewing fewer than five hundred of the several thousand books we receive. (That's the long answer because it invariably provokes a response that the not-reviewed book in question should have been among the five hundred.) If the book is in hardcover, there's a very good chance the book was reviewed in the Horn Book Guide, thus often providing a print source for the short answer: sorry, we didn't like it all that much. But, on top of the five hundred books recommended by the Magazine are around 1600 more that get wholly positive reviews in the Guide each year. Frequently, those are your Jennifer Weiners: perfectly respectable books that no one needs to be ashamed of reading (or writing) but that don't command extended review attention, at least not from us. Have we ever simply missed something? Sure--I would rashly estimate that a dozen of those 1600 might have been reviewed in the Magazine had the weather or something been different. That, of course, cuts both ways, as in the case of a starred review of a book that no one can remember a year later.


Anonymous said...

Obviously, the writer of that piece has never actually eaten at The Olive Garden.

gail said...

If you keep following links, you'll find that Weiner was responding to an interview with the author of 10th Grade, a book I happen to have read. (It was published as adult fiction, though it sure read like YA to me.) The New York Times did review it, and I happen to have read that, too. However, I don't remember it being a very positive review.

So, it's all kind of interesting Weiner getting her knickers in a twist over being ignored by the NYT when the guy who initiated this response from her wasn't ignored but maybe wishes he had been.

If you go to her blog, you'll find that what she was really upset about was that the poor guy used the term "chick lit."

Clearly I don't have enough to do.

Laurel said...

I felt a *little* sorry for Weiner the first time I read one of her little pity parties.

No disrespect to her work, but I'm sick of her persona. She really does take issue with *anyone* who uses the phrase "chick-lit", and I think she needs to consider how damn lucky she is to ahve such a great career.

I lost respect for her when she had that little battle with Curtis Sittenfeld.

Roger Sutton said...

Which is here: http://jenniferweiner.blogspot.com/2005/06/in-between-unloading-my-galleys-and.html