Submitting material for review / Statement of Principles

To submit material for review, please send an email to driftlessareareview @ hotmail . com.  I will send you the snail mail address.

My interests reach far and wide, including everything from science fiction to natural history to decorative arts.  All genres are welcome. I will review works published by mainstream publishers, small presses, and self-published / Publish-On-Demand works.  From DIY zines to high-gloss, I will review anything you put in front of me.  I enjoy well-crafted work regardless of the source.

cuttlefishSomething I probably wouldn’t review.

Please take a look at my previous reviews to see if I would be a sensible match to your work.  Reviewing books, TV and web shows and film is all about being surprised, amused, challenged, and comforted.  The most rewarding aspect is sharing these experiences with readers.

For me, reviewing is a passion.  I review at my own speed and at my own discretion.  Between reading books I’m reviewing, reading books for my own pleasure, the day job, and occasionally having interpersonal relationships and going outside when their is sunlight, I’m kept pretty busy.  If you send me a message telling me about your book or show or whatnot, I promise to respond in a prompt manner.

hudsucker27Ah, the Day Job …

I consider myself a deliberate reviewer. If it is a book, I do not skim the material in order to churn out a review in record time.  That does a disservice to the work.  For me, reviewing is about reading and digesting the book, thinking about it, and then writing a careful thoughtful review.  Even if I didn’t personally like the book, as a reviewer, I feel it is my obligation to direct the appropriate audience to the work.  I will recommend the work to those who would enjoy it.


1. Avoiding Conflict of Interest


As I related in a previous Metapost, I am now Senior Editor at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography (CCLaP). I will be editing a work of fiction due out this October. Because of this new role, it is important to clarify the specifics of my various roles and to avoid any possible conflicts of interest.

I am both Senior Editor and Senior Book Reviewer at CCLaP, in addition to reviewing books for the New York Journal of Books and poetry for thethepoetryblog. As a reviewer, I can wield a poisonous pen and will pull no punches regarding how I think about an author’s work. It is important to keep “critical distance” from the author. The flip side is as an editor. Editors work to cultivate the work of an author. Both reviewing and editing involve a certain degree of relationship building, although the nature of these relationships are radically different.

2. Reviewing

Reviewing is about making an honest and subjective assessment of an author’s work. It can be either negative or positive. The integrity of these reviews is based on preserving “critical distance” from the author. Ideally, I try to read a work “cold,” thus avoiding any preconceived notions or bias that might skew the review. I’m reviewing the work, not the author, so don’t take it personally if a review is less than gushing. I can be generous when I review a work, except when spelling and grammatical errors become gratuitous. Whether through a publisher or self-published, there is no excuse for that lack of professionalism.

For those writers interested in submitting work to CCLaP, send your manuscript to cclapcenter @ gmail . com.

I don’t post my reviews on Amazon. So don’t bother asking. But you can freely quote me in blurbs, with the caveat that you cite this blog, The Driftless Area Review, and/or me by name.

3. Editing

As a Senior Editor at CCLaP, my goal is to cultivate a positive relationship with the author I am editing. I am also on the lookout for new talent, finding authors who could offer novel-length works for CCLaP to publish. Send your manuscript to cclapcenter @ gmail . com.

In the editing process, Jason and his crew of Senior Editors and Editorial Apprentices read submissions in the slush pile and offer our opinions. Jason has final say on the submission and the ignominious honor of writing rejection letters.

If I reviewed your work, I will recuse myself from the slush pile discussion.

If your work is accepted, I will read your previous published works (if I have time), but I will not review them.

If your work is accepted, I will help promote your work, but I won’t review it. The difference should hopefully be obvious.

The role of editor is that of a partner in the creative process. Polishing and perfecting the work, achieving the quality standard befitting the CCLaP catalog of authors. (Reviewing, by contrast, is assessing a finished work that is available to the public.) Editing works to burnish the flaws in a work that reviewers might jump on. Editors and authors have important discussions about various aspects of the work. When the work is published for public consumption, there are no more opportunities for discussion. And an author or editor chewing out a reviewer for their negative review is declasse. Once it is published, it belongs to the public and whatever public discussions it generates. The editor and the author share equal responsibility for whatever quality product they publish.

While reviewing and editing are similar, they are not the same.


If you see me doing something that might be construed as a conflict of interest, let me know! We’re only human and we make mistakes. But the challenge is to catch them as soon as they appear, lest they mutate into something rather unpleasant. Remember the scandal over the fake reviews of those Rob Schneider movies? Let’s all try and avoid anything similar.



2 thoughts on “Submitting material for review / Statement of Principles

  1. I enjoyed your review of Conor Bowman’s THE LAST ESTATE in a way that goes beyond appreciation for your enjoyment of his novel… because it was so well expressed, with a different point of view that the other reviews I’ve seen.

    We only publish 13 or so books a year (for the past 31 years), Conor’s being one of them–mostly quality fiction, and I’d welcome the opportunity to send you advance galleys of our forthcoming novels. One of the joys of publishing is finding people with similar aesthetics, so I’d also like to know who you are and how you got into this blog thing.

    Started my own blog a year and a half ago, and it’s largely been a critique of both the book business and of mainstream critics. I think you’ll appreciate the last few of my monthly postings.

    Hope to hear back from you.



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