As the conversation around diversity, and the lack of it, peaks in the publishing industry, the most effective solution remains not only the increased publication of non-White voices but the inclusion of non-White personnel behind the scenes, from executive and editorship positions to marketting and book reviewing. Publishers Weekly, noted for important pre-publication book reviews and known as “the bible of the book business,” is calling for reviewers, and it is important to get African voices in.
If you have been paying attention to the language of book reviewing in major outlets, you’d notice monotonous descriptions reserved for books by Africans; the books are praised mostly, and sometimes only, for their “themes” rather than aesthetics, as if the writers are sociologists and not artists. And more often than not, such books are misunderstood and, consequently, not fleshed out. This has been written about in a 2016 piece by Brittle Paper founder Ainehi Edoro, comparing reviews for the American David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah. And in response to the reviews in The New York Times, Edoro started a review series that has included books by Nnedi Okorafor, Wayetu Moore, and Jumoke Verissimo. How books are reviewed, either with insight or with passing acquaintance with a continent’s literature, affects how it makes its way into the world, whether it would get sales, more reviews, awards, whether it will get into bestseller lists, and, worryingly, whether more books like it would even get published. The call by Publishers Weekly, which publishes up to 8,500 reviews yearly, might be understood as an effort to make up for the disparity in critical focus on non-White voices.
Here is Publishers Weekly‘s call.
CALL FOR REVIEWERS
Publishers Weekly, the international news platform of the book publishing industry, is looking for freelance book reviewers with experience in the following subject areas:
- Essay collections
General fiction/Literary fiction/YA fiction (specifically: contemporary and historical African-American, Asian-American, Native-American, and Latinx narratives; LGBTQ stories; and immigrant narratives)
- Inspirational/Spirituality/Religion (of all types)
- YA nonfiction
PW pays a modest honorarium per review.
If you are interested in reviewing for PW, please send a resume and a sample review (approximately 200 words) of a recently published book to [email protected]. (Please look at published PW reviews for editorial formatting examples.) Use the email subject heading “Book Reviewing:” followed by the categories you are interested in. For example, “Book Reviewing: Psychology, Romance.” Applications submitted any other way will not be considered.
Members of diverse communities are highly encouraged to apply.
No phone calls, please.
Publishers Weekly, familiarly known in the book world as PW and “the bible of the book business,” is a weekly news magazine focused on the international book publishing business running for over 145 years. It offers feature articles and news on all aspects of the book business, bestsellers lists in a number of categories, and industry statistics, but its best known service is pre-publication book reviews, of which it publishes more than 8,500 per year.
Find out more HERE.