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Word Riot Inc.: Kicking Small Press Into High Gear
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Book Review Lessons #6 by Lucy Biederman

For my final column, I will offer some suggestions for moving forward from publishing your first or your first few book reviews, and some general thoughts on book reviewing.

This week in my online travels I discovered some items of interest for book reviewers: a searchable feature on Poets and Writers for book review markets, and some advice for the prospective book reviewer at Queen Mob’s Teahouse from the dependably excellent Reb Livingston.

And here are two stray thoughts, that didn’t seem to merit entire columns of their own, but that I think are important nonetheless:

If someone sends you a review copy, you are

» Continue reading Book Review Lessons #6 by Lucy Biederman…

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Book Review Lessons #5: Morality and the Reviewer by Lucy Biederman

The first poetry reviews I published were at a review blog. The last review I wrote for the site was for a poetry book that had received unilaterally glowing reviews. There were things I loved about the book, and things I had reservations and questions about. I was honest in my review: I pointed out what I didn’t like about the book in addition to adding to the praise it had received elsewhere.

The morning the review went up, the author of the book sent me a friends request on Facebook. No sooner had I accepted the request did the author write on my wall telling me, in no uncertain

» Continue reading Book Review Lessons #5: Morality and the Reviewer by Lucy Biederman…

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Notes From Elsewhere: The Cost of Writing, Harper Lee + More

Greetings, Rioters. This week is primarily about the struggle and the hustle within our writing lives, but we’ve got some fun stuff too. Let’s get started.

Seems like everyone has thoughts on the Ann Bauer Salon essay about how her husband supports her writing life. Me? Here’s the short version: Chronic illnesses prevent me from holding a “regular” job, so I’m working around my health instead of a 9-5. The mister, who also does various creative things (including writing), is the one who has to work full-time (and then some) to support us and our two kids — for not a lot of

» Continue reading Notes From Elsewhere: The Cost of Writing, Harper Lee + More…

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Book Review Lessons #4 by Lucy Biederman

The good thing about sending out a book review for possible publication is that the rejection rate for book reviews is very low. There have been some strange publication scenarios (which I will go into next week) and very strong editing suggestions, but of the dozens of reviews I have submitted, none has ever gotten outright rejected (yet). Editors of literary journals usually seem excited to get a book review, and they are often looking to add a new book reviewer to their regular stable of reviewers.

So where do you send your review? One possibility is to send it to a journal or site that has already

» Continue reading Book Review Lessons #4 by Lucy Biederman…

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Book Review Lessons #3 by Lucy Biederman

Some of Henry James’s first publications were book reviews in the North American Review and the Nation, and, though he didn’t even receive a byline, it was probably clear to anyone who read them that these were composed by no ordinary brain. As James’s great biographer Leon Edel puts it, “The young critic was not intimated by greatness. What is important for him is his search for a viable theory of fiction.”

One of the many reasons I look up to James as a reviewer is because he could not be intimidated—not by greatness (Dickens), or friendship (William Dean Howells), popularity (Harriet Beecher Stowe), or notoriety

» Continue reading Book Review Lessons #3 by Lucy Biederman…

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Notes From Elsewhere: National Readathon Day + Shedloads of Wisdom

Shedloads of Wisdom: That’s what we all want, right? A bit of wisdom in our lives, particularly when it pertains to our profession? Let’s get right into this week’s Notes From Elsewhere, Rioters.

This Saturday is National Readathon Day, where people are encouraged to make time to read from noon-4pm in their respective time zones. There’s a charitable element as well, if you’re interested. Or if you need an excuse for telling your household to leave you alone for four hours: “It’s for a good cause!”

How about some essays?

I really enjoyed “Changeling” by Stephen Policoff at The Rumpus about health, myth, and when

» Continue reading Notes From Elsewhere: National Readathon Day + Shedloads of Wisdom…

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Book Reviewing Lessons #2 by Lucy Biederman

Welcome back to Book Reviewing Lessons. If all went according to plan this week, you have selected a book to review. If not, don’t panic. Since last week, I thought of two other ways to find books to review:

The websites of independent bookstores often have Staff Picks, or tend to highlight interesting small press books. Or you might have chapbooks lying around that you bought out of guilt, social pressure, or confusion, and have never gotten around to reading. Chapbooks seem to have a longer statute of limitations when it comes to reviews, so even if the chapbooks in your possession were published several years ago, look

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Five Reasons Writers Hate List Articles by Christopher Dale

For about a year now, I’ve been writing essays and articles — generally between 1,000-2,000 words — and am fortunate to have enjoyed some initial success placing them. To build upon this momentum, I decided to try my hand at a few list articles. “There’s certainly a market for it,” I reasoned. “The damn things are everywhere.”

Somewhere between numbers 6 and 7 of the resulting “Top Ten Ways to Use Facebook to Actually Strengthen Friendships,” I felt like I was typing in mud. Despite knowing it would almost certainly get placed somewhere (and it did), I absolutely hated it. I felt like

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[New Column!] Book Reviewing Lessons by Lucy Biederman

When I was young and knew very little, on my first attempt to get an MFA in creative writing, a professor rounded up us unpublished grad students and lobbed at us what was intended to be an insider tip: “Write book reviews.” It’s easier to publish book reviews than it is to publish creative work, he explained, and that way you get your foot in the door.

I puzzled over this advice for literally years. How do you just “write book reviews”? Choosing an appropriate book to review (and do you buy it? Do you ask the publisher for a review copy?), writing the review in

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Notes From Elsewhere: 2014 Lists, Writer Profiles + More

Greetings all! And Happy New Year. Why don’t we round up a few End of 2014 lists that caught my eye? Besides those, we’ve got a few other odds and ends, so let’s get to it.

At The Butter, Roxane Gay has “An Incomplete List of Interesting Moments From 2014 Reviews, Profiles, Etc.”

I always enjoy reading The Millions’ Year in Reading series, and Garth Risk Hallberg’s contribution this year is not only full of interesting-sounding books, but it’s a lovely tribute to his father.

Carolyn at Autostraddle has a great list of Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books of 2014, including Janet Mock, Daisy Hernández, and Women in

» Continue reading Notes From Elsewhere: 2014 Lists, Writer Profiles + More…