Write for The Seattle Review of Books

We want interesting reviews of books that are themselves pieces of good writing. The books can be new releases, backlist, or out-of-print. Make it irresistible for us to reach out to you. Do it by showing your work.

There are three basic patterns to the kinds of reviews we love and want to run (although, if you surprise and delight us, we'll make yours the fourth): current releases that are notable, subjects that are topical to the day (although salacious only if you can really pull it off), and exploring evergreen ideas.

In all three, some advice:

  • Tell us why you are the right person to write this.
  • Disclose relationships with the author or publisher (rarely a deal killer, but we have to know).
  • Give us samples of your previous writing, even if you have never been paid for writing before. Go to Medium or start a free blog.
  • No plot summaries. Find an angle, and support it using passages from the book.
  • Keep in mind you are writing to both people who may not have read the book and people who have read it. Give the former some meat to chew, and the latter some perspective.
  • No Seattle connection is required by you or the author, but if there is one, we sure do want to know.
  • We shoot for a minimum of 1000 words in reviews, but you may go as low as 500, though we want you time to explore the themes and tease out the ideas and that's rarely long enough.

Here's more detail on the three patterns, with example pitches for you to crib.

Current releases

We err on the side of books that don't get attention in the bigger outlets, but a good angle on a big book is welcome. Example: Neal Stephenson's Seveneves was a large release from a popular Seattle author. Martin read it and wrote his review. His pitch might have read like this, if he had sent it in early March, before the novel's release.

Feel free to use this as a template:

Dear Seattle Review of Books,

Neal Stephenson's Seveneves, street date 5/19/2015, is his first novel after his involvement in Project Hieroglyph. In that fruitful side-project, many well-known authors came together to explore optimism and realism in science fiction. [Get to the point, and let us know you are aware of the author's work].

One cliche about Stephenson is that he doesn't write endings very well. I'd like to explore this new book by asking two questions: did he follow the protocol he laid out with Project Hieroglyph, and how is the ending of this book? Is that canard about him even true? Was it ever? [Give us the angle you'll be exploring the work from. A couple of ideas to play with may be good if you haven't read the work yet, and may want to pivot based on what you read].

If I can rely on your assistance acquiring an ARC, I can have the review ready do go by the street date. Otherwise, if I buy it retail, a few weeks to one month after. I'm imagining almost 2000 words, since I have a lot to say about Stephenson. [Even if you need to estimate, give us the parameters. We can request ARCs, but can't guarantee that we'll be able to acquire them].

About me: I've never been professionally published, but you can read my writing on Medium, or on my blog Seattle Book Lover Reviews Author Bios.

Sincerely,

You

Topical to the day

Example: recently, an American dentist was in the news for killing a lion in Africa. Paul used this opportunity to revisit the literature of the great white hunter, and how this model of masculinity is outdated. If his pitch was like this template we're providing for you, it would have gotten our attention:

Dear Seattle Review of Books,

You may be aware of the recent killing of Cecil the lion by dentist Walter Palmer. Did you know, however, that there is a long history of autobiograpies by African big-game hunters? [Get our attention by getting to the point right away!]

In a review for you, I would like to look at two: In Africa, by John Tinney McCutcheon (1910), and Death in the Dark Continent, by Peter Hathaway Captstick (1983), and explore how the narrative of the big-game hunter as a masculine model. Surely Walter Palmer thought he was enacting a masculine ideal, when in fact he was failing to recognize how that ideal is now as dead as poor Cecil. [Give a few sentences overviewing what you intend to write about and why it matters]

I'm estimating the review will be about 1500 words, and I can deliver a draft by next Wednesday. [Realistic is better than optimistic here, but since this topic was very of-the-moment, we pitched it for a quick turn]

My writing has appeared in So Soft! A Literary Journal, and the Canadian Poutine Almanac. Here are two recent links: Link, and Link. [Who are you? We love new writers, but if you have credentials, put them here. If you don't, link to some writing online that we can assess].

Best regards,

You

Evergreen

Example: We always love that Seattle angle. Paul wrote about a detective book by Jack Lynch from the 80s title Seattle. Here's our example pitch for you to crib:

Dear Seattle Review of Books,

Jack Lynch didn't win any awards with his detective book Seattle in 1985, but I sure had fun reading it recently. Spoiler alert: it's not great. [Down to brass tacks right away. Now we want to know why you're pitching us a not-great book!]

But it does take a funny look at Seattle before tech took over the town, when it was a sleepy burg that where nobody showed up when all those now-famous musicians played. In fact, the detective, Peter Bragg, spends most of the book complaining about how much his beloved city has changed since he left it. What would he say now, if he made it back? [A bit about your angle]

I want to explore that, and look at a book many have forgot. I'm estimating 1700 words can get me through what I want to say, with many quotes from the hard-boiled talk of the protagonist.

I'm a college student studying dance at Cornish College of the Arts, so I've never written professionally, but am bursting at the seams with a lot to say. Here are two links to Google Docs that have a couple of essays I just wrote, I'm hoping they'll give you a feeling for what I can do. [Who are you? With some samples.]

Thank you,

You

Poetry

We don't accept unsolicited poetry at this time; thank you for understanding. We work on a chain, from one poet to another. If you're interested in being featured in our Tuesday series, the best thing you can do is ingratiate yourself to all of your poet friends, so that hopefully they suggest you if the chain visits them.

Submit your work