Authors today are faced with perhaps more choice than ever before with regards to how best for their book to reach market. Not only are there more options than ever before but there are also more companies offering each option than ever before.
It is critical then that writers do their due diligence and take the time to fully understand the company or offering they are considering working with, in order to ensure it is a good fit. Otherwise, if a writer merely jumps at the first search result online or the first company they stumble across, the likelihood is they will be underwhelmed and may have to start from scratch to find the right option.
This review then will aim to tick off one company from what is likely an endless list, in order to assist writers in their evaluation process. Chicago Review Press is an independent publisher that’s been in operation for close to 50 years. Below, we will take a close look at their backstory, what it is exactly that they do, the criteria writers need to meet to work with them and whether or not they are worth consideration for writers seeking to get their work published.
What is Chicago Review Press?
Chicago Review Press is an independent publisher founded in 1973 by Curt and Linda Matthews. Working at the time as a poetry editor for the Chicago Review, they came across some works they deemed exceptional and initially published them by themselves out of their basement.
In the nearly 50 years since Chicago Review Press has grown from strength to strength and now publishes works that they consider to be of lasting interest, as well as titles that they consider to be groundbreaking and innovative as opposed to merely following trends.
Any publisher as established as Chicago Review Press is a key part of the publishing industry ecosystem and therefore plays a critical role in shaping the cultural conversation and determining which stories are ultimately heard. Chicago Review Press openly state that they strive to contribute to a culture of inclusivity and representation and wholly condemns all forms of racism, prejudice, and injustice. They are also committed to championing voices from underrepresented communities and working with authors and agents whose race, colour, sex, national origin, age, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, military or veteran status, or disability bring diverse perspectives to their publishing program.
At present, Chicago Review Press has upwards of 1000 titles currently in print and publishes roughly 50 new titles annually under their five separate imprints.
What does Chicago Review Press Publish?
Chicago Review Press only publishes non-fiction, but within that is open to many different themes and topics. These include but are not limited to, music, film, pop culture, history, feminism, LGBTQ+ interest, true crime, and outdoor and nature. Chicago Review Press state that they are also the proud publishers of four noteworthy imprints: Lawrence Hill Books, Parenting Press, Interlude Press, and Amberjack Publishing.
Lawrence Hill Books publishes nonfiction books that centre and highlight Black experiences and voices.
Amberjack Publishing is committed to commercial and literary fiction by and for women.
Parenting Press publishes practical titles for parents, focused on presenting up-to-date information on problem solving, emotional competence, and kids’ personal safety issues.
Interlude Press is an award-winning boutique publisher of LGBTQ+ general and romantic fiction.
A selection of titles available by Chicago Review Press can be found below to further colour in their ethos.
Birthing Liberation – Sabia Wade
We Set The Night On Fire – Martha Shelley
Power Hungry – Suzanne Cope
Heart of Atlanta – Ronnie Greene
Reaching Ninety – Martin Duberman
Scribble Art – MaryAnn F Kohl
Rainbow Warrior – Gilbert Baker
The Boys of Fairy Town – Jim Elledge
The Star Host – F T Lukens
Running With Lions – Julian Winters
How to Submit to Chicago Review Press?
Chicago Review Press state that they are interested in publishing high quality non fiction that will sell year after year.
They suggest that to commence the process, writers should email a brief query to one of the acquiring editors. From there a full proposal can be submitted which should include all of the expected information such as summary, synopsis, author biography etc. A full list of requirements can be found on the Chicago Review Press website.
There is unfortunately not any timeline guidance on when writers can expect to hear back from the editor but there is a full list of FAQs that cover a range of questions regarding the submissions process as well as the email addresses for each specific editor depending on the book for the writer to send their query and proposal to.
What are the Alternatives to Chicago Review Press?
Broadly speaking a writer will have three main alternatives as opposed to making a submission to Chicago Review Press.
The first of these would be to make a submission to another traditional publisher. This may be because the writer feels that for whatever reason Chicago Review Press does not align with their work or does not resonate with them. It could also be due to the restrictive nature of only publishing non fiction.
The second option would be to use a hybrid publisher. This is where the writer maintains the autonomy of the project and creative control but enlists the help and expertise of a company. To do so, however, requires an up front free from the writer which often puts people off.
Finally, a writer would have the option of self publishing. Once considered the last resort, it is now often the first choice due to the freedom it provides as well as the ease of the process.
Ultimately each writer will have to weigh up the pros and cons and balance those against personal preference and individual circumstances to ascertain which route is right for them.
Chicago Review Press – Final Review
In conclusion then, perhaps the easiest way to judge Chicago Review Press is by how long they have been in business. In such a competitive market it is simply not possible to survive for nearly 50 years unless the work you are doing as a publisher is both high quality in its output as well as beneficial to the writers they work with. This should give great confidence to writers thinking of making a submission.
However, there are some things that may mean Chicago Review Press are not the best option for every writer. Primarily, the restriction regarding publishing non fiction will rule out a large number of writers and their work.
Secondly, the very nature of a submissions process which is not specific to Chicago Review Press can be arduous and given the prevalence of self publishing, this may well be the best route to go down.
Finally, as they state on their website, they publish roughly 50 books annually which is certainly a healthy number for an independent publisher, but from the writer's perspective does not result in a huge window of opportunity for their submission to be accepted particularly given what is likely to be incredibly fierce competition.
But if a writer is set or at the least open to making a conventional submission and their work falls into one of the brackets that Chicago Review Press are looking for, then making a submission could be a rewarding and beneficial path to take.