Friday, May 10, 2013

RNFF Commenting and Submission Guidelines

My thanks to everyone who chimed in after last week's blog post about the pros and cons of establishing an open submission policy here at RNFF. After reading through your posts, and thinking about the issues they raised, I've decided to conduct a 3-month experiment, accepting ARCs or e-galleys of romance novels for review from authors, publicists, and/or publishers who believe their works suitable for discussion within a feminist context. At the end of the summer, I'll report back and let you know if the policy will continue.

Before you as writer, publicist, or marketing person decide to submit to RNFF, I'd ask you to think about whether your book contains feminist ideas or encourages feminist values. If someone were to ask you, "is your book feminist?" would you be able to say more than just "it has a strong female protagonist"? If not, then RNFF might not be the best review site for your project.

I also feel duty-bound to inform authors that I've worked not only as a book reviewer, but also as an editor and as a professor of first-year college writing. Because of these experiences, the technical aspects of a book's prose inevitably impact my impression of it. I'm not a member of the grammar police; I will never toss aside a book because of a few stray typos, or a simple comma splice (though I have been known to pencil in edits on signs in bathrooms public and private demanding women not to flush their unmentionables down the toilet—if, of course, they expressed their warnings of the dire consequences which would inevitably follow in ungrammatical prose).

But if a book's grammatical errors are frequent enough to distract me from its story, I'm unlikely to review it. Nor am I likely to be won over by writing which, though grammatically correct, falls into the category of "bad writing" for me—writing with awkward or repetitive sentence structures, word choices that are frequently not quite right, writing that takes 50 words to say what could have been said in ten, and the like. Good books make a reader unaware of their prose; great ones allow a reader to take pleasure in it. Romances of either kind are far more likely to be reviewed here than ones with prose that would benefit from a reading of Ben Yagoda's How to Not Write Bad.

If, after ploughing through all of the above, you would still like to submit your romance for reviewing consideration, here are the official guidelines:

RNFF Submission Guidelines

If you are interested in submitting an advanced copy of your novel for reviewing consideration, please contact RNFF at romancenovelsforfeminists [at]

• RNFF welcomes submissions from all subgenres of romance, including contemporary, historical, fantasy of all stripes, science fiction, young adult, new adult, and erotica.

• RNFF accepts self-published books, if they have been professionally edited and copyedited. Books submitted by publishers, whether independent, academic, or commercial, should also have been professionally edited and copyedited.

• RNFF reserves the right not to review any book submitted for consideration. The choice of whether or not to review a submitted book is at the discretion of RNFF.

• RNFF strives to review only books that in its opinion espouse and/or encourage feminist values. Books which strike RNFF as problematic in feminist terms may appear in Friday's posts, which focus on general topics related to romance and feminism, but will rarely appear in a Tuesday recommended book review.

• RNFF does not rate, grade, or star books; rating systems often shut down, rather than open up, conversations about the complexities of fiction.

• RNFF grants permission to authors, publishers, and designated agents to use RNFF reviews, in whole or in part, for purposes of publicity. Editing of RNFF reviews is not permitted.

On a different, but related subject...

RNFF has experienced its share of spam postings in its comments section, but until recently, discourse has been remarkably polite. But a few recent posts, which focused on denigrating the poster rather than engaging in intellectual debate about the topic at hand, made me realize that it might be time to establish a blog comment policy as well as a submission policy. So here is a first stab at said policy:

RNFF Comment Policy (DRAFT)

Reading comments can be the most enriching aspect of a blog. But a blog's comments section can all too quickly become a site of controversy, especially when you write in response to a comment with which you vehemently disagree. To encourage thoughtful, vigorous, and respectful debate, RNFF has established the following guidelines, and asks that commenters abide by them.

1.  Comments should be relevant to the issues at hand. Personal attacks against individual commenters, or groups of commenters, are not allowed and will be removed.

2. Links relevant to the topic are welcome; links to unrelated posts or sites will be deleted.

3. Spam posts will be deleted.

And to appear below the "comment" box on each post:

Discussions of feminism and romance often lead to vigorous debate, especially when they intersect with topics such as politics, sexuality, or public policy. To help maintain a civil discourse community, RNFF asks that when you are commenting, you address the questions and ideas posed by a commenter, and not the commenter. Comments that do not follow this policy will be deleted.

What commenting policy will best serve your needs, readers? Any and all suggestions for additions or edits to the above are more than welcome.

Illustration credits:
Duty calls cartoon: The Big Picture

Next time on RNFF
Individualist Feminism in
Julie James's Love Irresistibly


  1. I came across your site while surfing the net for publishers willing to take on a contemporary feminist romance. I dug up precious little but was delighted to come across your blog site. There aren't too many of us who write about feminist romance--many seem to think feminist romance is an oxymoron. Mine, started in May, 2012, deals mainly with my books.

    I would love for you to look at a post I wrote: Margaret of the North: Searching for Gaskell, the Feminist (

    I will be visiting often. I won't be feeling so alone anymore in my little niche on the internet.

    1. Welcome to the small but growing group of feminist romance readers!