Review Guidelines

Book, photo by Erich Ferdinand

Spiral Nature is dedicated to exploring occult alternative spiritualities, practical magick, and occulture. This can include innovative explorations of personal philosophy, religious territory and magickal practice, as well as media focusing on more traditional routes. For an idea of what we’ve reviewed in the past, please see our Reviews section.

While we mostly review books, we also cover audio and video media, as well as rune sets, tarot and oracle decks. I’m also interested in reviews or essays on cultural events where alternative spirituality, magick and occulter intersect. (For articles and essays, see our general submission guidelines.)

Please note: We very rarely review fiction, poetry, or self-published material.

Publishers & authors

Please inquire for the address to send catalogues and review material.

Due to the volume of review material we receive, we cannot guarantee that all unsolicited material will be read or reviewed, though we will do our best.

Join our freelance review team

Most our reviews come from a few regular contributors, but Spiral Nature is always looking for new reviewers. Spiral Nature is especially excited to hear from reviewers who are queer, trans, people of colour, and/or awesome.

If you’re interested in writing or reviewing for the site, it’s a good idea to sign up for our free newsletter to get an idea of the kind of work Spiral Nature publishes.

Our bi-weekly magazine goes out to all subscribers, with two side newsletters for writers and reviewers. The writers’ newsletter sends suggestions for story ideas we’re looking for (though we also accept pitches for other stories), and the reviewers’ newsletter lists the titles available for review that month.

Your selection(s) on the sign up form will trigger automatic emails with more information about writing and reviewing for the site.

Book review style

Consider the book’s intended scope and audience. You may not be the target audience, but in knowing who the book was written for, whether it’s an introductory book for a novice on a topic you’re adept at, or an academic work in a field you’re less familiar with, you can construct your review with this in mind.

Give the reader a sense of what’s covered in the book. If it’s a beginner’s guide, does it have enough information to get the reader started? If it’s aimed at experts, does new information, or present a novel take?

And, please, review — don’t just summarize. Have an opinion and justify it. If an author has contributed something insightful or novel, say so, with examples. Give the reader a reason why they should care about this book. If misinformation abounds, cite examples and correct them. Opinion alone is not enough.

The late great literary critic Northrop Frye wrote:

The critic has always been called a judge of literature, which means, not that he’s in a superior position to the poet, but that he ought to know something about literature, just as a judge’s right to be on a bench depends on his knowledge of the law…The critic’s function is to interpret every work of literature in light of all the literature he knows, to keep constantly struggling to understand what literature as a whole is about.

This goes for nonfiction reviewing as well. Review in the context of all literature on the subject. If you’re not familiar with the subject matter, review it in the context of what you do know. Comparisons to other books on similar topics can be helpful to readers, though this isn’t necessary in all cases.

Take notes as you read. Write what you think of passages as you read them, note interesting points, passages you agree or disagree with, what inspired you, what annoyed you. Try the exercises. Test the recipes. Record your results.

If you do this the review tends to write itself. You won’t necessarily include everything you’ve noted, but you will have a better understanding of your overall impression of the book.

Oracle kit reviews

Most tarot, rune sets, and oracle decks come as kits: cards or stones with an accompanying book that explains the origins of the system and its symbolism.

The review should give a sense of the oracle: what it’s like, the artwork, how well the symbolism tracks with what you know, how the author presents it, etc.; as well as a sense of the accompanying book: what covers, how well it works with the images, how easy it is to use; and so on.

Play with the oracle, give the reader a sense of what it’s like to use it in its intended way, and as you feel inspired to do (meditation, etc.). Share what it felt like in your hands, your head, and how it resonats with you.

How does it compare with others of its kind? If it’s a tarot deck, is the imagery derived from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, or does it focus on the Thoth Tarot, or the Marseilles?

With each oracle different elements may be more important, and your review will want to focus on what strikes you as the most significant factors.

Things to include

All reviews should be accompanied by the following information:

  • Title and subtitle
  • Author(s) name(s)
  • Illustrator(s) (if applicable)
  • Publisher
  • ISBN
  • Page count (note if it includes appendices, a glossary, a bibliography, resources, and/or an index)
  • Publication year (noting first publication date, and current edition date, if applicable)

Look at past reviews on the site, and format this information accordingly to our house style. Title and author are bolded, and the rest of the information appears italicized on the following line. Your review follows this.

Footnotes

When quoting from the text please cite the page number. Footnotes and page citations should be enclosed within double brackets.

Images

Images are typically sourced by the editor, and won’t be the writer’s responsibility.

Links

If you have a link you’d like to include, place it between square brackets before the text you’d like to link, e.g. [http://www.link.com].

Length

Reviews should be between 700 to 1,000 words in length, but we’ve been known to publish reviews in excess of 1,400 words when the reviewer gets deep into a text.

Disclosures

If you are familiar with the author(s) or artist(s) in some way, please disclose the relationship in your review, and you must let your editor know prior to requesting the item for review.

It’s generally best not to review the works of friends or family. If you really want to see this book reviewed, it might be best if it’s assigned to another reviewer who can give a more impartial consideration of the text.

Editing

Editing is a collaborative process, and there are usually a few questions and sometimes minor rewriting. Writers always have a chance to look over edits prior to publication.

It’s certainly not necessary to have these committed to memory, especially as each publication will have their own internal standards, but for those word nerds who are super interested in how and why things are edited the way they are on Spiral Nature, check out:

Rights & copyright

For new material, Spiral Nature asks for first Web rights for the first 12 months, after which you can republish it elsewhere, with a note indicating it was first published with Spiral Nature.

Copyright remains with author of the piece.

Compensation

Spiral Nature pays $10 per article or review, or offers compensation in trade for a small one month sidebar ad (a $20 value).

Questions?

Please feel free to contact the editor with any questions you may have.

Image credit: Erich Ferdinand

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