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09/01/2022

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newly tt

I suspect having a friend or two who will organize and submit author meets critics sessions on your book helps get more reviews - among other kinds of attention (including some equally helpful for tenure, I expect). In my sub-discipline, the most-reviewed books tend to have the most of those sessions.

K. Brad Wray

I am one of the two editors of Metascience, a Springer/Nature journal that publishes only book reviews of books in the history, sociology and philosophy of science, broadly construed. We encourage authors to alert us to their new books. If they fall within our subject areas we will generally try to get the book reviewed. But, it takes time to secure reviewers, and if a number of invitations to review a particular book are declined then we will not persist. Obviously it is a lot easier to get people to write reviews of books by the leading publishers in philosophy of science, OUP and CUP. It is also generally quite easy to get reviewers for books in history of science by Univ. of Chicago Press. So if you publish with a less prestigious press, we may not easily find a reviewer. Further, it is also generally easier to get people to review books by quite famous and influential scholars. So we are constrained in a number of ways. But we do review between 100 and 120 books a year, about half of which are in the philosophy of science broadly construed (to include cognitive science, philosophy of mind, ethical theory that draws on science, applied ethics relevant to scientific issues, etc.)
Authors can encourage (even pressure) their publishers to send review copies to a few journals. Take this opportunity very seriously. Pick the journals wisely - who is likely to commission a review of your book? Last year, the journal had about 60.000 downloads. And we send copies of all our reviews to the book publishers, many of which then cite a flattering passage from the book review on the publisher's page. If you have a new book and you want it reviewed, please feel free to contact me. Incidentally, Marcus, the Cocoon host, has both reviewed for us, and had his own book reviewed by us.

Michel

When the time comes, your publisher will send you a form asking for a bunch of marketing-relevant information, including which outlets should be contacted about reviews. I can't say whether they'll contact them all, but do take the opportunity to point out appropriate venues!

As for the reviewer side of things... I've written four, and have a fifth in progress. Two were directly solicited by the journal, two were solicited by the journal but at someone else's suggestion (one was my PhD supervisor, the other the author), and one was the result of me asking the journal whether they'd be interested in having me review the book (I wanted a copy, and I was particularly well suited to reviewing it).

It seems to me like most reviewers are solicited by the outlet in one way or another, but I, for one, don't see any problem with asking a reviews editor whether they'd be interested in having you review some book. I suspect you're more likely to be successful in doing so if (1) you're a known quantity in your subfield/at that outlet, and (2) if you aren't proposing to review a book that's likely to have people clambering over each other to review it.

As for using the review as a networking opportunity... I don't think that's a good idea. For one thing, it's unlikely to work out that way (it's going to be hard to get assigned a fancy book in a fancy outlet, and while saying nice things might stoke the author's ego a bit, I wouldn't count on it doing much for you without substantial further legwork which would do it independently of the review anyway). But also, it seems to me that doing so is more likely to (1) taint your review, or (2) backfire (e.g. if you're particularly critical of some aspect).

Not every book I've reviewed is great. I've taken something away from all of them, and quite enjoyed most of them. But a couple have been seriously flawed. It's easy to review a book you think is great, but it's a lot harder to strike an appropriate balance when it's not. So much work goes into writing a book that even light criticism can be hard to swallow, let alone sustained negative comments. For that reason, it's something of a risk on the networking front, and not one to take too lightly.

Reviewing books does an invaluable service to the profession, because it gives the rest of us an easily-digestible glance into the book which can help guide us in the research process. That, I think, is the best way to approach the task. Forget about forging connections; that may happen, or it may not. Instead, focus on gifting everyone else in your subfield with a handy research shortcut.

RJM

I've written quite a few reviews. Sometimes I have been asked to, but other times I just approached the journal. At least in my experience, Analysis (or rather Analysis Reviews) and Philosophical Quarterly are happy to hear you want to review a book for them (presuming it is the kind of book they would want someone to review for them in the first place, of course!).

Malcolm Keating

The following is my answer for Philosophy East & West (re South Asian philosophy, which is the area I edit).

Re: Getting invited to write a review

- email me your CV and express interest in reviewing specific books (listed in the journal under "books received") or an area (I prefer that to unsolicited reviews)
- be findable online: be sure I can get your email through Philpapers or your university/personal website (and I can clearly determine what areas you work on)

Re: Getting attention for your books

- Sometimes it takes months to find a reviewer
- Sometimes I cannot find a reviewer because everyone says they're busy
- Sometimes reviewers are extremely late in sending their reviews
- Sometimes reviewers "ghost" me even after accepting
- Sometimes reviews aren't publishable, even after revisions

Getting through all of that means a book published in 2020 might not have a review out until 2022, if it ever does.

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