About ARB

Ancillary Review of Books is an experiment in utopian criticism—both in what we publish about and how we go about doing it.


What Is ARB?

Ancillary Review of Books or ARB is a review of literature, culture, power, and speculation founded in 2020 to address the radical possibilities of criticism. ARB is devoted to genre fiction, world literature, literature and media from below, cultural studies, and writing about systemic injustices and utopian impulses.

ARB is created by a diverse editorial collective in collaboration with a network of brilliant contributors, which anyone with the inclination and desire to work on their writing is encouraged to join.

ARB’s outlay is to provide criticism that offers utopian responses to the realities of our collective histories, presents, and futures. We serve multiple writing communities—genre fiction, world literature, indie presses, comics, nonfiction, and so on, so long as the texts we review are about justice, power, and belonging—while also working with critics of all skill ranges to help them craft pieces they are proud of.

In addition to being led by a diverse editorial collective that makes group decisions on behalf of ARB, we also strive for a transparent process of author selection to combat the sense (and, too often, the reality) that professional criticism unfolds as an arcande, behind-the-scenes process. ARB provides information about commission history (including method, date, and editorial responsibility for the commission) at the bottom of each piece in order to hold ourselves accountable to our audience and contributors. And we also work hard to invite people of color, queer, disabled, and other folks to review work about them or by a member of their community, spearheading #ownvoices reviews in response to the publishing industry’s production of #ownvoices fiction.

ARB seeks to build a community of radical thinkers writing about amazing, speculative, global writing.

For a good sense of what we’re looking for in a contribution to ARB, visit the Write for ARB page, or browse our contributions to date.

Is ARB a Paying Market?

At present, ARB is not a paying market.

Why not?

Simply put, ARB makes no money. ARB’s upkeep on the web is paid for out of pocket by the editorial collective and no money is made by ARB’s publication. We are not currently set up to receive any advertiser revenue.

ARB emerges from a largely academic world in which payment for reviews, essay, hell, and even books! is not standard practice. ARB’s editorial collective recognizes, however, that this is an unfair practice at best and a predatory practice at worst. We only work with contributors who are comfortable contributing to ARB while no pay is possible, are thankfully to those who do, and 100% respect the decision of any potential contributor not to write for ARB on this basis.

Will ARB Offer Payment in the Future?

The short and simplest answer is: We sure as hell hope so! ARB does not have a source of income to support it, but will hopefully be able to as the online magazine grows in audience.

How Will ARB Work to Offer Payment in the Future?

First, we hope as our audience grows (if it does?) that we can monetize our website.

Second, we are open to donations from those who want to support our work (please contact the editors directly!).

Third, starting in 2021, ARB will partner with READ / REBEL (see below) and will receive all revenues generated by the Bookshop.org affiliate for sales beginning in 2021.

Our goal: In mid-2021, if these above sources of revenue are successful, ARB editors will asses the state of the magazine’s finances, measure these against the average number of pieces we expect to publish, and set a pay rate. ARB will continue to reassess revenue and pay rates every six months.

So…What Does that Mean for Me?

On the one hand, it means that ARB is essentially a fanzine per the WorldCon guidelines for the annual Hugo Awards. On the other hand, it means that, at present, if you contribute to ARB you will not be paid except in the form of a the review copy sent by the publisher. We acknowledge that this sucks and will work to build a funding base for ARB in the coming years in order to pay contributors.

For a sensible discussion of the lack of paid SFF non-fiction markets, check out Aidan Moher’s thread here and responses (including by editor Sean Guynes).

Partnership with READ / REBEL

At present, ARB partners with with the Bookshop.org affiliate READ / REBEL. All of our links to in-print books resolve to READ / REBEL’s affiliate store page. Sales through Bookshop.org support local bookshops everywhere; if purchased via our hyperlinks, 10% of your receipt goes to READ / REBEL, who donates it 50/50 to (1) a prison book project and (2) a diverse SFF magazine. Read more about READ / REBEL and Bookshop.org here. As of July 2020, after just 7 months of operation, READ / REBEL has donated all proceeds to the tune of $1800 to support radical reading and writing.