Policy for reviews on the Sunday Books page:
As the editor of the Books page, I get many requests from publishers, publicists and authors for space on The Roanoke Times Sunday book page. I would like explain the process I use to choose what books will be featured on the page.
The books and reviews:
Hundreds of newly released books and advance reader copies are mailed to the newspaper each month from publishing houses, publicists and occasionally from authors (uncorrected proofs are discarded.) The newspaper also has access to two wire services that features book reviews.
Reviews are chosen so that a variety of genres are represented (popular and literary fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, lifestyle, young adult books, etc.) with the intent to make the page relevant, timely and appealing to readers.
I match the books to the reviewers based on the reviewer’s reading preferences and their availability to read the book and write the review on deadline. While we do compensate our freelancers, it is a nominal amount –staff writers receive no extra compensation– so our reviewers write for the Books page because they love to read and share their thoughts on books.
Continuing the policy of my predecessor, I do not consider self-published books for review. In this age of on-demand and digital publishing, there are far too many self-published works for the limited space of the page. This has disappointed many local authors who have asked me to consider their books for review, but it is necessary to ensure both fairness and the quality of the page.
When a local author (someone who resides in Southwestern Virginia or has ties to the area) has a book released and mailed to the newspaper by an established publishing house or university press, I try – but do not always succeed – to match that book with a local reviewer. It can be a challenge to find an impartial reviewer since the writers’ community in Roanoke is a well-networked group. To ensure the integrity of the page, reviewers should not be a friend of the author and if the reviewer and author are acquainted, that will be disclosed in the review. I have used wire reviews of books by local authors to avoid conflict of interest.
Signings and readings
All authors, including those with self-published books, who have signings and readings in Roanoke and New River Valley bookstores and public libraries are encouraged to email details to firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured in the Books and Talks calendar that runs each Monday in the Extra section of the newspaper.