Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How To Become a Literary Critic

If you’ve read the ‘About Me’ page then you’ll know that I am currently working as an unpublished writer and that I have four children with a fifth on the way.

I have been scouring the internet researching possible jobs that I could do that would keep me as close to writing as possible while I continue to hone my craft.

One possibility that has crossed my mind is to become a literary critic and I thought that I’d share some information that I have come across.

There are a number of ways for a person to become a literary critic.  One way is for the person to attend a college or university to obtain a degree in English or Journalism.  They would then need to produce a portfolio of critiques they’ve published and then hit the pavement in search of a company to hire them.

The second way that I’d like to discuss is what I like to refer to as “The Back Door Method” where a person, like myself, finds themselves in a position where obtaining a degree proves to be beyond their reach; either because of financial constraints and obligations or due to prior family commitments.

So what is a literary critic and are they any different than book reviewers?

Let’s find out.

A literary critic analyzes books for their strengths and weaknesses and then comments honestly on those books based on their perceptions of the work.

One thing that you mustn't fail to understand is that it is extremely important that literary critics remain objective and unbiased while they take into consideration all aspects of a written work like: plot, character development, style and voice, and whether or not the book is informative or entertaining.

A book reviewer is defined as a person who presents a critical evaluation of a book.  They report on the genre or general nature of the subject. They give a brief summary of the plot and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the work in question and then make comparisons of the material with other related works.

In all honesty I see very little difference between the two titles but feel that the term literary critic sounds more official and important to me.

Now that I have a working definition of what is expected of a critic; I need to answer the question of how they apply those skills.

Start out small by offering your critiquing skills for free to non profit organizations, a local newsletter, or your public library.  Scour the World Wide Web in search of people looking for reviews or critiques and publish them on a blog. The important thing is to write and publish as many critiques as you can until you feel that you have accumulated a substantial amount of quality reviews.

Once your portfolio is established it would then be time to look for paying jobs.  Again, start small and approach your local newspaper.  Contact print and online magazines until you have enough work and experience to start approaching national publications and the larger publishing houses.

If you start small and think big, you’ll be able to accomplish anything.

Happy hunting!

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