There are many benefits to reviewing. Reviewers get early access to titles every month and of course, your name appears in print! Moreover, you would belong to a community of reviewers. Reviewing for some publications is purely volunteer-driven whereas others, such as Booklist, pay a stipend for each review submitted. In either case, reviewers are occasionally sent final publications of books that have been reviewed. It’s a great way to build your personal library. Depending on your school district, you may earn professional development hours or credits that can be used towards a lane change and salary advancement. Additionally, VOYA Magazine is distinct in that they publish submissions from teens alongside adult-written reviews. It is crucial to be careful with where you share your reviews. Even as a volunteer reviewer, the sponsoring magazine usually reserves the right publish your review and ask that you refrain from posting your opinions until the timeframe in your contract has elapsed, usually 6 months after publication. While these magazines are independent of the book publishers, your review may be released to the publisher of the book you reviewed for use in promotion. The book publishers often use this review as one of the editorial reviews on Amazon.
Reviewing books can be a daunting responsibility. Your opinions will shape another librarian’s choice in purchasing or skipping a title. To this end, reviewers need to strike a balance between finding aspects to compliment while still providing an honest assessment of the title. School Library Journal is especially helpful in shaping better reviewers through newsletters, webinar sessions, and making editors available to reviewers for any questions or concerns. Topics include how to write a review for a bad book, nuances of reviewing books with pictures, special considerations of nonfiction reviewing, and the logistics of reviewing non-print material such as audiobooks or DVDs. Reviewers are a critical component to the publication industry and therefore, many of these magazines strive to shape and support reviewers to the best of their ability.
Ready to become a reviewer? First, you need to pick your publication. If you’re new to reviewing, try School Library Journal (apply at: slj.com/about-us/guidelines-and-application-for-reviewers) or Library Journal (apply at: reviews.libraryjournal.com/about/review-for-library-journal). If you are already reviewing titles, try Booklist (apply at: booklistonline.com/writing-for-booklist). Want to involve your high school students in the process? Aim for VOYA Magazine (apply at: voyamagazine.com/reviewers/reviewer-application). If you like to use another publication in your library, try applying with them! Most applications require the completion of a brief form as well as the inclusion of sample reviews. Familiarize yourself with the reviews found in that particular magazine and shape your sample reviews to reflect that mentality. A good way to refine your reviewing skills would be to post reviews online of books you have recently read. A book blog is a great place to house your reviews and you can include the link on your reviewer application in case the publication would like to see more examples of your writing. Most publications look favorably upon potential reviewers who are recommended by current reviewers, so talk with your fellow librarians to see if you know any current reviewers who would support your application.
After submitting your application, sit back and await your first assignment. Once you’ve enjoyed a book very few other people have read, let your own words flourish as you write the review. Before you know it, you’ll see your review published in the magazine and online, ready to aid your fellow librarians!