The Power of a Rave Review
A BookLife Prize entrant lands an agent.Perseverance, talent—and the BookLife Prize—led to a writerly milestone for indie author Carrie Rubin. Using her BookLife Critic's Report to help speak to the quality of her work, she recently signed with an agent.
Rubin is more than familiar with the landscape of self-publishing and the options available to writers, but has long hoped to publish a book traditionally. Rubin, a pediatrician, has been writing medical thrillers that “blur the genre’s margins a bit” since 2001. Rubin’s first book, The Seneca Scourge is about a pandemic flu outbreak, but with a sci-fi twist. In 2012, Rubin published the novel with indie publisher Whiskey Creek Press, which has since been bought by Start Media. For her next two books, Eating Bull, a suspense novel that integrates themes relating to obesity and the food industry, and The Bone Curse, a thriller about a deadly infection with supernatural origins, Rubin sought out representation. But like many authors, she became frustrated with the often grueling and disheartening process of submitting to agents. So Rubin decided to take an alternative publishing route this time, hiring the services of boutique hybrid publisher Science Thrillers Media, which was an ideal fit for Rubin's medical thrillers. While Rubin “thoroughly enjoyed this relationship and the increased control over my books it gave me,” she still aspired to land an agent and a traditional publishing deal.
Rubin's fourth book, Fatal Rounds, is a psychological thriller about a recent med school graduate who has antisocial personality disorder. Rubin had the novel professionally edited and had a cover designed, and she set out to snag reviews for promotional purposes.
Rubin is no stranger to BookLife; in 2018, PW reviewed The Bone Curse. That positive review inspired her to enter her newest book into the BookLife Prize, which earned Rubin substantial praise. Rubin’s critic’s report assigned Fatal Rounds the highest possible score in each of the four categories: plot, prose, originality, and character development. Calling Rubin’s story “mesmerizing,” the report lauded Rubin’s “bold, intelligent voice enhanced by sharp wit.” The book’s blurb goes on to say that “the champion of this murder mystery will hold readers in her grip—even when she sometimes has slips of judgment—and she won't let go until she has finished wringing the truth out of every question.”
With her Critic’s Report in hand, Rubin felt emboldened to pitch to agents face-to-face at ThrillerFest this July—and you could say that it went quite well. “Several agents asked to see the manuscript, and within a week of sending it out, I had more than one offer of representation...I think the Critic’s Report might be what helped me finally garner the interest of agents,” Rubin said. Rubin ultimately signed with Victoria Skurnick of Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency. She added that Skurnick also plans to use the blurb from the Critic’s Report as she submits the book to publishers. While the BookLife Prize may not always yield such life-changing results for indie authors, Rubin’s experience is proof that it certainly can.