Want to be a guest book reviewer for DIVA? Read on…
As the arts pages in print media shrink and unpaid opportunities proliferate, it’s getting harder and harder for talented reviewers from marginalised backgrounds to get a foot in the door.
The annual VIDA review looking at the number of female writers being reviewed and female critics doing the reviewing is demoralising reading and inevitably it only gets harder when you’re LGBT, BAME, trans, working class and/or disabled.
At the same time, books about diverse queer experiences are blossoming. In the 12 months that I’ve been DIVA’s Books Editor, I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of exciting, brilliantly-written books by and about QPOC, trans women and non-binary people, and LGBT women with disabilities.
Our reviews have been used in press releases and on book jackets and for both big and small publishers, even a single review can make a big difference. One bookshop owner told me that every month when the new issue of DIVA comes out, people come in, flick to the books page and then go straight to the shelves and buy the books we’ve reviewed.
At a time where culture is our biggest weapon in fighting back against an assault on the rights, lives and bodies of marginalised people, the current publishing scene is too important to put solely in the hands of one relatively privileged (white, cis, middle class, able-bodied) critic. This is why we’re bringing in a guest reviewer every month to make sure that critics from working-class backgrounds, women of colour, trans and non-binary people and people with disabilities all get a chance to have their say and contribute to DIVA’s amazing critical voice.
We’re offering the opportunity of one guest reviewer a month to write a review for our books page in 2019.
The fee for one review of 120 words is £25 – while we appreciate this isn’t much, it’s our standard rate for all our reviewers including myself and you will also receive an hour of mentoring, which can include a Skype discussion about career development, feedback on your work and support crafting pitches for DIVA and other publications.
How To Apply
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading Emerging Voices, and include the following:
- A sample review of no more than 120 words of a book by an LGBT female or non binary author.
- A short bio letting us know who you are and which criteria you meet. NOTE: This is so we know what groups we are and aren’t reaching. We don’t currently have set quotas, the info won’t make up part of your official bio unless you ask us to include it, and we don’t require you to go into detail in your application (although you’re welcome to do that if you want to).
- If you have a blog, Twitter feed or Insta you’d like us to check out, feel free to include that – however, if you’re social media-free then this won’t count against you.
Deadline: Midnight, 30 November 2018.
I don’t fit into the above categories but I am a lesbian and we’re underrepresented in the media – can I still apply?
Although DIVA is for all LGBTQIA women and non-binary people, this opportunity is just for those writers facing an extra layer of marginalisation.
I’d like to write a review but I’m not interested in being mentored – is that ok?
Yes. If you don’t feel like you need or want mentoring, let us know and we’ll donate the hour to someone else.
I’ve never had anything published before, can I still apply?
Absolutely! Everyone has to start somewhere and we’d love it if you started with us.
I have been published before, can I still apply?
Absolutely! There’s no hard and fast definition of “emerging” here – if you’ve reviewed extensively for websites or newspapers in the past then you won’t be eligible, but if don’t be put off if you’ve had a few things published but feel like you’re just getting started!
Can I use a pseudonym?
Yes. If at any point in the future you want to include the piece in your portfolio and someone wants to check it’s really you, we’ll happily vouch for you!
Will this be open to other art forms like music and film?
Right now it’s just for books, but watch this space.
Do I have to only review books from my “own voices” background?
No – we’ll offer you the option of being paired up with a book relevant to your own personal experience if you’re selected, but it’s not obligatory.
Is this just tokenism/identity politics/meeting a quota?
Emphatically not. We’re not looking for people from XYZ background to add to the magazine so we can pat ourselves on the back – we’re selecting applicants on the basis of talent alone, we’re just asking that they meet one or more of the above criteria.
Is this really going to help tackle the institutional elitism of the media?
You bet your ass it is. To quote Bruce Springsteen, you can’t start a fire without a spark – think of this as us helping to light 12 matches. See you on the barricades, comrade.
Only reading DIVA online? You’re missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It’s pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves.