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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:

  • Business
  • 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)
    Health/Fitness
  • Inspirational/Spirituality/Religion (of all types)
  • Mystery/thriller
  • Psychology
  • Romance
  • Science
  • SF/Fantasy/Horror
  • Technology
  • 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 reviewers@publishersweekly.com. (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.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he is a judge for The Gerald Kraak Prize and was a judge for The Morland Writing Scholarship in 2019. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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