Growing A Writing Career

Success stories are built on relationships. Does that mean writers shouldn’t pay for reviews, publicity, or conferences?

Foster Rudy
4 min readAug 15, 2019


The creative dance shouldn’t depend solely on your friends’ approval.

First, a few things about me. I’ve been a professional book reviewer since 2009. I review work from independent presses and self published authors. My reviews are absolutely worth $500 a pop. (Though that’s not what I charge.)

In addition to writing reviews, I’ve edited manuscripts for Simon & Schuster as well as many self published and indie authors. I’ve read submission slush. My first book was published by a micro press in 2016. My second is forthcoming from indie powerhouse Interlude Press in November 2019. The books I co-author and ghostwrite have been published by large and small houses, including St. Martins Press and A&G Press. I think it’s fair to say I have some insight on the industry.

Bear in mind that not every author has the privilege, time, network, or desire to be a one-person show. Self publishing produces some incredible, unique work: it can also devour your life.

It is true that there are marketing companies out there that prey on authors who are frustrated by whatever limitations they’re currently facing. However, painting all publishing support services with the same brush is an immature perspective.

Publishing is an ecosystem. Authors, publishers, editors, reviewers, publicists, proofreaders, lawyers, distributors, booksellers — it’s huge. Writing off one part of that ecosystem doesn’t mean it stops existing. It means you’re signing up to take that role on, yourself.

What does that mean? Well, in this case, it means you’re willing to leverage every relationship you have in order to get your work reviewed. (For free, I might add.) Rather than hire an impartial reviewer, you capitalize on your friendships and convert friends into free labor.

That may be OK for some authors, but not everyone wants to make their relationships transactional. Codependency is a serious problem in the creative community; feeding into it for your material benefit is exploitative and icky.

Something many self published creators seem to struggle with is the concept of consequences within the publishing ecosystem…



Foster Rudy

Author. Your favorite uncle. New York Times, Washington Post, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, Catapult. Buy my book: