Reviewing Books at Bewildering Stories
by Danielle L. Parker
The website Writers & Authors has sent some interview questions about Bewildering Stories to Danielle L. Parker, who has answered them in collaboration with the Managing Editor:
1. What is the aim of the Bewildering Stories website?
Bewildering Stories offers a home to all genres in fiction and non-fiction. We publish poetry and essays, and we love art submissions too.
Our first issue appeared in mid-2002, and publication has continued regularly every week since then. Our special issues include quarterly and annual retrospectives of our Editors’ Choices. Nothing goes out of date at Bewildering Stories: it’s all on line, all the time.
Our mission is primarily to help up-and-coming writers improve their craft. We also give each author their own bio/bibliography page, which is a nice feature that authors can refer their readers to.
Jerry Wright is the publisher of Bewildering Stories. Don Webb is the Managing Editor and Webmaster. Danielle Parker is its regular book reviewer and occasional contributor.
2. What features are available on site?
The regular issues consist of a fiction section, which can include serialized novels and novellas as well as short stories and flash fiction. Non-fiction may include poetry, essays, and memoirs. The Departments section usually includes introductions welcoming new contributors, a book review or excerpt, and a weekly Challenge. It may also have an editorial or The Critic’s Corner, for readers’ comments, as well as contributions to the Art Gallery.
We have many permanent departments. To mention a few: a forum; The Writer’s Craft, with helpful tips; an Authors, Titles and Genres index to all issues; and Special Features.
3. How are books picked for review?
Of course, works sent to us by the author or their publishers are considered. But other than that, it’s mostly what the reviewer likes to read that gets reviewed. We don’t get paid for this, you know. It’s nearsighted love.
4. Can authors submit their books to be reviewed?
Don Webb: Yes. Paper copies have priority, but Bewildering Stories reviews works published in other formats, as well.
We distinguish strictly between reviews and advertising. Veteran contributors to Bewildering Stories are invited to publish excerpts — usually from novels in print — as a form of free advertising; it’s a token of good will and a favor to our authors.
On the other hand, we expect third-party reviews to reflect honestly the reviewer’s personal opinion. We frown upon blatant sugar-coating and think readers will respect the reviewer and Bewildering Stories all the more for it.
Danielle: I really do find it hard to read electronic copies since I presently am off the grid and use a laptop. If authors send me a book to review on their own dime, I generally give them a chance to read the review and respond to it before it’s published. If the author strenuously objects to the review, I won’t publish it. But rarely do I change the content; and be aware: I tend to say something good and something critical about each book I review. I call it as I read it.
Jerry Wright is a little more easy-going a reviewer than I am, but his reviews are very informative. Don Webb’s reviews are relatively rare, but when he writes one, watch out: he may shred a work he considers a major disappointment or, if he considers the work important, he may write a full-fledged review article.
My advice to any would-be author who wishes to submit: choose a favorite author and read our past reviews of that author’s works at Bewildering Stories. Then decide if you want us to review your book. And accept the fact no professional review will be unmixed praise, though (as an author myself) I know exactly how it can feel.
5. What genres are considered?
Danielle: Bewildering Stories publishes all genres. That said, as a reviewer, I review what I like to read. In general, I am open to all speculative fiction (horror, fantasy, and science fiction), mysteries of all kinds, non-fiction works, and general literary or classic works.
I am far less fond of romance and rarely read any, except when I’m depressed or glum, which is probably when you don’t want to send me your book about the Handsome Stud I’ll Never Meet in Real Life. But even there I make exceptions: I love, for example, Gabaldon’s Outlander series, and I read urban fantasy and paranormal romance if the clichés are not too thick for me.
6. Anything else you’d like to add?
Check out our Reviews page!
Copyright © 2009 by Danielle L. Parker