>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.