For literary citizenship, one project that we had to do this semester was write a book review and send it out to try and get it published.
The book had to be either just newly published or in the pre-publication stage and by an author who could really benefit from a review as a source of "advertisement."
Basically, the book couldn't be the latest Stephen King novel.
One suggestion made to us by our professor, Cathy Day, was to go onto a site called Netgalley.com where you can browse books and request them.
If Netgalley believes that you are a qualified candidate to review the book(s) you've selected, based on your profile, you'll be sent free books!
I requested quite a few books and was only sent three I believe, Kindle versions of the books, by the way, but luckily, they'd sent me the one I wanted:
Supercell by H.W. "Buzz" Bernard.
I got the Kindle app for my phone and was able to fly through this book because I enjoyed it so much.
At first, the review process was a bit difficult because I wasn't used to formally talking about a book in such a manner.
What I mean is that when I recommend a book to someone, I usually give a lot of summary and a generic overview of how the plot flows.
But for a review, you have to comment on the plot, structure, characterization, theme, etc. It's a lot more intricate.
At first, I of course used way too much summary of Supercell in my review. But with a few tweaks and the inclusion of more novel jargon, I was ready to start looking for places to send it.
For class, one of the books we had to purchase was The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing by Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards. Fortunately, they had quite the list of potential places to send book reviews to in the back.
I gazed over all my options, Googled a few of the places and finally settled upon the Midwest Book Review site for a couple reasons:
1. They accepted volunteer reviewers (like me!)
2. Even if they published my review, I still retained all the rights to it.
3. They had many different styles of reviews, some short and some long.
I felt I had a chance.
I composed my email to the editor, James A. Cox, and followed the guidelines for submission as he requested.
A few days later, I checked my email and had a response from him.
He said they would be publishing my review in the May 2014 section/issue of the site!
If there's a book out there that you think needs to be more widely known, consider reviewing it!
Really put some thought and effort into it and then do some research as to where you want to send it.
No harm will come from you trying to promote a book, and I promise, it's super exhilarating being able to finish a review and send it out.
Regardless of whether it gets published or not, it's an accomplishment.
And most of all...you've been one excellent literary citizen.