DESI BOOKS REVIEW GOALS
The goal of Desi Books Review is to provide interesting ways to approach and engage with particular books; to explore what the writer has aimed for and understand whether they’ve achieved it. It is not to tell readers whether a book is good or bad or provide a summary. For more, see this manifesto for literary criticism at Poets & Writers.
Books by writers of South Asian origin are certainly given review space at many venues, including those that aren’t desi-centric. Occasionally, however, there is what Maxine Hong Kingston has described as “cultural misreadings”, no matter how well-intentioned the reviewer or the editor might be. At Desi Books, we want to place our books within our particular literary traditions (Anglophone and regional language ones; local and diasporic ones; contemporary and classic) and explore related sociocultural, historical, and political interpretations in an accessible manner for a general audience.
WHICH BOOKS TO PITCH
The books being pitched must be by writers of South Asian origin and traditionally published. Apologies, but no hybrid or self-published books at this time. Genres supported right now: adult fiction; literary translations; creative and narrative nonfiction; graphic works; poetry collections. Apologies, but no cookbooks, self-help, business, gardening/home decorating, religion, kid lit, young adult, romance, or horror at this time. NOTE: This isn’t about being non-inclusive but about focusing on present, limited areas of knowledge and expertise with limited resources. As Desi Books grows, it will be possible to bring on experts in other book genres and compensate them.
Desi Books will always welcome books from big publishers as well as independent, traditional presses. As a starting point, please look through the #DesiBooksReco channel, where new and notable books are listed monthly.
While approximately 70% of the reviews will be for new books (published within the last six months max), at least 30% will always be dedicated to backlisted books (published more than six months ago) or literary essays that look across a writer’s oeuvre or a particular theme or subject. Some books require a certain time and distance before we can do them justice.
WHO CAN PITCH REVIEWS
A majority of the reviews will be commissioned but pitches can also be submitted (see the link below.) Desi Books is a small, growing venue with limited resources. Reviewers who’ve already published at professional venues are preferred. Please include links of previously-published reviews in your pitch (see below) as reference.
The desi community of writers and reviewers is rather small. Many of us know each other. Please avoid pitching books where you’re friends (or enemies) with the writer. If unsure, be upfront about any connections or potential conflicts of interest in the review pitch. If you’ve accepted any favor or compensation from a publisher or author to blog or share or otherwise write about their work, please do not pitch a review. If you’ve already blurbed a book, please do not pitch a review for it.
Please ALWAYS send a review pitch rather than the entire review at first. NOTE: Longer literary essays may be commissioned at different rates separately.
WHERE TO SEND REVIEW PITCHES
Pitches can be sent by reviewers using this Google form. The questions there are to ensure a good fit between reviewer and book. A poor fit does a disservice to both the book’s author and the reviewer.
If you’re a publicist or an author looking to get a book reviewed, you can send review requests here.
Simultaneous review pitches are fine but, if your review is accepted elsewhere before you get a response, please email to withdraw your pitch.
GENERAL REVIEW GUIDELINES
- Send in a Word docx file: Times New Roman; 12 point font; double-spaced; PLEASE use the Oxford comma and follow the Chicago Manual of Style (see major style differences here.)
- Keep to a 700 minimum and 1000 maximum word limit (you could go over if you need to, it’s just that we cannot pay more at this stage.)
- Add the book title, author, publisher name, main country of publication, and publication date under the byline at the top.
- Add a proposed one- or two-sentence summary of the review under the byline at the top.
- When using quotes from the book, include the page numbers in parentheses.
- Write in an accessible versus an overly scholarly way and for a general audience.
- Although we all bring our personal tastes and cognitive biases to our reading, a professional review should be about more than our personal response to a book (note: also this is not a bibliomemoir essay, which is a valid and lovely literary genre in its own right).
- Include your one-paragraph author bio at the end of the review text.
- Avoid four-letter or swear words.
- Avoid italics or other odd fonts for non-English words.
- Avoid these and similar book review bingo words whenever possible. 🙏
TIMING AND COMPENSATION
Please allow at least ONE business week for a response to a review pitch. Given limited resources, while all pitches will be read, only those accepted will be sent responses. Please do not send follow-ups as all pitches will definitely be read and considered, just not responded to. You can always pitch a different book.
If a review is accepted, a contract will be sent for signatures, etc. It will be valid for two years in case you’d like to pitch more reviews during that period.
All reviews, once accepted, will go through an editorial process before publication. However, please proof-read for typos, grammar, punctuation, etc., before submitting.
At this time, there is a $50 honorarium per review. Payment will be done via Paypal within ONE business week of the review’s publication. No invoice is required.
Reviews will be published on the Desi Books website for a limited period of time. After that, there will be a migration to a very economical monthly subscription model.
If you have any other questions not answered above about Desi Books Review, please contact here.
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