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  • Writer's pictureSusan Carr

When a dream comes true … and then sucks.

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

Ten years.

Ten long years.

That’s how long I’ve been dreaming of working as a book reviewer for a well-known company.

For almost two decades, I worked as a book club manager for a business that provides reader advisory services for public libraries and publishers.

I LOVED my job. I was paid a nice salary to preview books daily. Granted, I usually only previewed 20-25 pages of each book, which means my “to-be-read” list is long, but I was being paid to read books. Cheesecake job. (I don’t care for gravy, so I choose ‘cheesecake’ as a descriptive term instead.)

One of the companies we relied on to provide us with suggestions for books that would engage the readers of our 12 online book clubs was Publishers Weekly. PW is a weekly publication that provides publishers, librarians, booksellers, and agents with information on the best books available. They’ve been doing this for 150 years, making them one of the most continuously running weekly magazines in the U.S.

They offer book reviewer positions frequently, and I have been applying to be one for ten years. I received a couple of emails from some great people who were so kind and encouraging, and after some pleasant conversations, they finally hired me to review books in the cookbook and nonfiction genres, two of my favorites.

A dream come true.

I was so excited.

And then I wasn’t.

I received my first assignment and the guidelines for writing the reviews. Not only did I have to read a 256-page book entirely, but I had to follow the reviewing guidelines TO THE LETTER, with no deviations. The review only needed about 200 words, but there were three pages of rules to follow.

I recognize that PW has been doing this work for years. I understand this means they know what they’re doing. And they produce content that helps a multitude of book lovers.

But to do everything, included with writing one review, just one, it took me eight hours.

And I made $25 for eight hours.

$3.13 per hour.

This dream sucks.

I told Bertrand about this dream and how it didn’t turn out as I expected.

He seemed to indicate that his dream was faltering, too.

He started to visit our backyard months ago, and then I began to put out seeds and nuts for him and the birds.

Recently, though, 2-3 other squirrels have decided to pull up a table at our backyard café, and Bertrand is not exactly happy about this.

He’s chasing the other squirrels away from his burying spots and then losing his place because he’s been distracted.

He’s having to share his stash of food with others who are the new kids on the block and is frustrated that they are decreasing his share.

We discussed his woes, and I’ve tried to help him see that the dream can still exist, it may just need some tweaking.

The same goes for my dream; that didn’t turn out quite as I expected.

When a dream changes, it offers other opportunities.

  • Freedom – I don’t have to worry about spending another eight hours for minimal money.

  • Wisdom – I know now that if I’m going to be a book reviewer, I need to work for a company willing to compensate their reviewers with a bit more income.

  • Self-confidence – It’s not easy to get on the PW list of reviewers; obviously, ten years of trying taught me this. But I was selected. And that made me recognize that, with perseverance, I can be at the top of a list.

  • New Chances – There are other opportunities out there for me. Today I put in proposals to write history articles, review a STEM curriculum, and copy-edit many documents for a fantastic immersive training program. There are a lot of new adventures out there.

I may not be continuing to pursue this dream, but it sure was nice to see that it came true at least for a little while.

I hope Bertrand can adjust his dream expectations. He might just make some new friends along the way.

** I still support Publishers Weekly. I think their content is fabulous. Me not being a good fit for them as a book reviewer does not indicate anything negative about them.

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