I was wondering if anyone had experience in getting a short story reviewed by review sites like Tangent Online and Locus Online? Is this something best left to the magazine one is published in or should an author actively be trying to get stories into review websites?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
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Tangent Online reviews all science fiction works published by stable publications -- ones that have been around for at least a year and appear to be forward-active. Locus only reviews works its reviewers feel are noteworthy and that have come to their attention, mostly, best-of's.
Other promotion strategies include prompted promotion at member-driven review sites, like Goodreads, where anyone not a work's writer might review a book and post the review. This could be from prompt an acquaintance who is a member to review a work. The peril of note there is such a review might come across as astroturf, artificial sod, vanity review. For that matter, such sites' reviews often do contain content that is dubiously close to vanity reviews.
A rigorous review best practice notes shortfalls a reviewer notes, what doesn't work in the reviewer's estimation, plus, in the reviewer's estimation, are shortfalls for an implied audience overall, and merges the two positions. A balanced, thought-out review best practice includes strengths, what does work in a reviewer's estimation, and constructs the content in an orderly, focused organization craft suited to the review arts.
The review craft structure resembles somewhat the business and personal introduction letter structure; that is, starts with a sincere encomium, which is a "teaser" to entice further reading, positive or negative. If negative, next comes a positive comment section, or vice versa, and oscillates less visibly throughout.
A next section contains a rationale for the claim asserted, what is of substantive relevance about the claim. For a promotional review, a rationale could be that a work meets a target audience's tastes and expectations, like lively action, robust tone, vigorous craft, matters of motif appeal, like appeals for "escape from tyranny" fans, yet doesn't ever assert this work is a "must read."
In no event, in any way, should a review merely summarize a work's superficial action, the tangible action, like a grade school book report assignment: This story is about a kitty who fell down a mineshaft. Nope. Rather, should drill into a work's intangible appeal merits as pertain to an inferable target audience. Some poignant highlights and cites are warranted, though no plot spoilers allowed.
The main body of a review contains substantive support content that speaks to the main claim asserted in the thesis introduction statement section. Next section is anticipated objections and rebuttals thereof.
Last section is a conclusive wrap-up that might reassert the original claim in a different context, an actual conclusion based on the claim and support, like not "Such-and-such is worth a read," more like "For prison escape story lovers, Such-and-such delivers on the promise," or a surprise conclusion, like "Who knew atheists are true believers, too, just not in the one God?"
In short, review craft structure is the standard argumentation essay format, albeit the structure is disguised by insightful and lively expression craft, as is apropos of all writing, prose especially.
Mindful review comes in several flavors: promotional review intends promotion, therefore, contains few negative points and which are rebutted in a rebuttal section; critical review is not per se negative, rather, critically analyzes content, structure, method, meaning and interpretation, or standout expression features. The latter, for example, Sci Phi Journal's "Food for Thought" story requirement and feature could be the basis for a critical review, an analysis of a philosophical tenet of a work.
Lifestyle reviews are popularity pageantries as much as vanity reviews are, though about the reviewer's popularity more than, if at all, the work reviewed's popularity appeals. Vanity reviews are vacuous praise, often gushing and effusive and, in fact, lack substance. Oh my! what a wow story that you must read, certainly, now if not yesterday! So-and-so is the best writer since So-and-so a long time ago and this story proves it and . . . if I didn't say it strong enough . . . and you must read it now and again and again and tell your friends and family and workmates and anyone it's here and to read, a must read for everyone and they will love it! Exclamation marks, pointless ellipsis points (sic), and weak grammar are dead giveways of vanity reviews.
Prompting reviews by publications is an art, too. Prompting succeeds less likely in fantastic fiction culture, more so in other genres, due to, generally, fantastic fiction review venues only review on their own initiatives. Other genre cultures' reviewers might accept unsolicited review requests, though are about as likely to review any given work as an agent or an acquisition editor might consider acceptance of a work below expectations.
Some self-promotion activity, by actively seeking review venues, is warranted, though. Like where to submit prose in strongest hope for publication acceptance, one of several best practices, starts with starter venues. Goodreads is such a starter review market, or actually, a reader recommendation market for books. Short stories, well, maybe Goodreads, or its short prose likes; though the short story review market mostly, again, pertains to individual venue and reviewer initiatives. Alas, writers bombard reviewers with review requests that reviewers ignore by default. Tel est la vie de escritur: Such is the life of writing.
So what to do? Stet: "Let it stand" on its own merits, speak for itself in its own good time. Tangent Online will read and post a summary review of each publication and short work within its purview, Sci Phi Journal is one, for example. Tangent runs about a month or so behind publication dates. Whether, say, Locus picks up on works from Tangent's reviews remains to be seen. Locus has on occasion, of otherwise noted and noteworthy works. Generally, Locus reviewers will consider review of any work that garners noteworthy attention elsewhere.
Outstanding! Seems to me the promotion and self-marketing tableau is ripe for a story, and timely, relevant, and timeless. The two challenges of want-problem complication and an intangible moral contest, also ripe for moral truth discovery, are built in. A concrete enough tangible contest and a stakes-conflict, though, those are not inherent and are of near infinite possibility. Their challenges are to be less than obviously a moral tableau and of higher magnitude stakes than mere acceptance and rejection, which means either-or invokes a greater risk peril. What are the rewards and hazards of acceptance-rejection? Financial? Reputation? Best practice aligns personal stakes with public stakes.
If rejected, world order collapses, a menace goes unthwarted, a stockpile spoils. If accepted, the self glories and becomes more corrupt: power corrupts, absolute power . . . How many accomplished writers develop a personality cult from which to launch a bully pulpit or even a religious cult? The acceptance invokes public peril, too, say, blunts social order. The first all out global war for resource hoarding breaks out due to a misperceived statement.
I think this type of story is within any writer's wheelhouse, certainly within your emergent aesthetic, Osiris, evidenced by "Platinum Blonde." I'd consider an other than prose writing tableau, though, that parallels the urgencies and jeopardies and loathes of self-promotion and is relatable for a wide audience. What? Politics? Religion? Commerce? Science? Technology? Something tangible and concrete object-oriented social science science fiction yet down to Earth and probable near future. Even some scenario where everyone strives to stand out from the fray and no one does or can, therefore. Our agonist invents a device and app software that exposes persons to each's Andy Warhol fifteen minutes of fame, each's allotted share in due time.
A bureau, corrupt culture, of course, ensures each person only garners a timely and due share of genuine fame, no more no less, and assures no one is overlooked -- except our contending agonist, who strives to stay out of the marquee limelight, wants invisibility, wants rejection yet is all the more famous for the mystique of having rejected acceptance. Today's 10:45 a.m. fifteen-minute spotlight falls on Janey Lowe for voluntarily planting an azalea hedgerow next the backwoods town hall curb. Meantime, our covert anti-fame hero migrates, escapes, hah! to a Maroon enclave heretofore unknown.
This anti-fame persona becomes the target of a global search and seizure effort, a personal nemesis of the other agonist, for upsetting the imposed social order. Hah! Rich satire potentials, complication motivations, high conflict stakes, tangible surface action and intangible moral subtext contests. And who doesn't want fame's accompaniments? And how many regret it after the fact? Widely relatable, right? And what a contest for readers to take sides over and urge one agonist or the other to win.