The last post was on options for people seeking review outlets for their publications on SF, or alternatively, looking for outlets for whom they might write such reviews. What it didn’t address was what those reviews actually do.
When you’re slogging through the writing of a book, it can be difficult to remain motivated sometimes, especially if that book is an academic text. Once upon a time, I was a journalist, and I would spend a few hours writing an article I knew literally millions of people would read. Now? I spend years writing something that perhaps measures its readership in the hundreds.
So, you find motivation where you can. Imagining a positive response from that small but focused readership is one way. You may dream, perhaps foolishly, that the book once finished will be truly understood by the few who encounter it. That it might persuade, change their thinking, provoke thoughts of their own.
Sometimes, if you are really very fortunate, your book will find such a reader. If fortune compounds itself positively, they may even be motivated to review it. And then you might have that extraordinary experience of seeing someone engage positively and constructively with your work.
I am thankful therefore to Rhodri Davies for being such a reviewer: critically astute, carefully analytical, and positively engaged in his encounter with my book on Science Fiction and Catholicism. I’m also thankful toFoundation, the journal of the Science Fiction Foundation, for publishing his review.
Unlike reviews of, say popular fiction, which are aimed at either enhancing or eroding sales, reviews of academic studies aren’t going to tilt the dial of books sold, and in any case, no academic ever made their fortune out of book sales. Few make anything at all. Rather, when you see your book reviewed, what you’re hoping for is that someone got what you were saying, whether they agreed or not.
Rhodri got it. I hope you will too, if you choose to read it.
Ok, so now you’ve published your book. It’s out. The beautiful hardcopy is in your hands. You want people to know that it exists. What do you do?
Well, firstly your publisher should have a publicity department or at least a person who assumes responsibility for that role. Speak with them. In fact, many publishers will be pro-active about this, and request that you provide some suggestions for publicity in your original pitch or proposal document. So by the time you’ve published your book, this is already something that you and your publisher ought to have thought about.
Again, depending on the exact nature of your book, there are potential outlets beyond the SF-specific niche of journals and publications. You know your book best, and should be able to identify some of those publications.
In relation to SF, potential review outlets fall into two broad categories – academic journals and non-academic journals. This is not a quality distinction so much as a technical one. Both will let potential interested readers know about your book. But academic journals will be aggregated in academic journal aggregators, which could trigger citations, which in turn may or may not be an important issue for you. If, for example, you’re trying to make a case for tenure at a university, this may be a big deal.
Anyhow, and as previously this is FAR from exhaustive, here are some potential review outlets for monographs or other books on SF criticism.
Foundation – This has been running since the early Seventies and is an official publication of the Science Fiction Foundation. As of the time of writing (ie January 2021), Paul March-Russell is editor, and Allen Stroud is reviews editor. That’s who to contact and their contact info is here.
Fafnir is a great little journal published out of Scandinavia. Dennis Wise, who is based in America (and who would like you to know is NOT the former Chelsea footballer!) is the current reviews editor and a good man to contact about your book.
Hélice is another Europe-based journal, and is associated with the excellent Sci-Phi journal. The distinction is that Sci-Phi publishes fiction and essays, whereas Hélice publishes reviews, in Spanish and English. You should look to contact Mariano Martín Rodríguez (email@example.com); Sara Martín Alegre (Sara.Martin@uab.cat) or Mikel Peregrina Castaños (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Vector is the critical journal of the BSFA and it is currently edited by Polina Levontin and Jo Lindsay Walton, along with occasional guest editors. They are open to submissions on a rolling basis. To query, contact email@example.com. They don’t have a standing body of reviewers, but it’s a great journal and worth speaking to them in the hope that a review might be able to be arranged.
Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts is a well-established stateside journal which looks at SF in all media. Jeffrey A. Weinstock is the current reviews editor, while for reviews of works in languages other than English, it is recommended to contact David Dalton.
MOSF Journal of Science Fiction is relatively recently established and closely associated with the Museum of Science Fiction in Washington DC. The journal’s managing editor, Aisha Matthews, is the best principal contact.
It’s also worth talking to some of the many SF publications out there too of course, and perhaps to other literary and even more general publications, depending on the exact topic and remit of your book.
It’s worth considering publications which do not specialise in SF too. For example, the general literary journal, the Los Angeles Review of Books is traditionally friendly to SF as a genre and has published many articles and reviews on SF themes over the years.
As always, do some due diligence by actually reading journals and publications before contacting them cold, and don’t be upset if a) they can’t find a reviewer for your book; b) have too many reviews pending to consider reviewing it or c) the review isn’t exactly what you hoped for. Such is life.
I hope this is of help, and as before, I will amend as I gather new pertinent information and attempt to keep this current.