Breaking Books: How to Get Started as a Book Reviewer

Alessandro Sicioldr Bianchi

Welcome to “Breaking Books: How to Get Started as a Book Reviewer.” This course will walk you through the basics of writing, pitching, and publishing book reviews. We will discuss the many ways book reviews are valuable for literary citizenship, networking, and building relationships within the publishing community. Assignments will include submissions bombing (in which you will craft work for interested markets), drafting pitches, and mapping the ways that reviews can help accomplish one’s goals for one’s own creative work.

Book Reviews Methods

  • Begin with the first lesson at your convenience, each new lesson will be accessible daily;
  • Complete reading and writing assignments at your own pace;
  • Engage with other writers on your lesson page if you wish;
  • Submit chosen work to faculty for individualized, written feedback via our One on One option at the bottom of each lesson page.

Reviewing Goals

  • To help students strategize when writing reviews, publishing them in a way that furthers their professional development as both creative and critical writers;
  • To generate and revise publishable reviews;
  • To expose students to a wide range of approaches to the art of literary criticism;
  • To help students learn industry standards with respect to book reviews (such as the usual wordcount, deadlines, and formatting guidelines);
  • To help students craft convincing and persuasive pitches for book reviews.

Contributing Faculty

Kristina Marie DarlingKristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty collections of poetry.  Her awards include two Yaddo residencies, a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, and a Visiting Artist Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, as well as grants from the Whiting Foundation and Harvard University’s Kittredge Fund. She is currently working toward both a Ph.D. in English Literature at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo and an M.F.A. in Poetry at New York University.

Why Online Writing Workshops?

Online creative writing workshops present the best of both worlds for creative writers. Creative isolation and craft interaction. In “Show or Tell: Should Creative Writing be Taught?” (The New Yorker), Louis Menand not only asks should, but also if. Our stance at The Eckleburg Workshops is that writers can be shown craft writing skills. Writers can be encouraged to explore voice through the practice of these skills. Writers can observe and deduce authentic skills in both master and developing narratives. It is our job to sculpt and nurture creative writing and this is best done by published authors and experienced writing teachers. This is what we give you in each and every writing course and in our One on One individualized manuscript sessions.

The AWP Survival Guide: How to Have Fun without Making a Complete Idiot of Yourself

This AWP Workshop is a self-directed primer for enjoying, surviving and getting the most out of your AWP experience. In this survival guide you will find veteran “How to” tips, promotional advice and links for helpful apps and practical resources used and recommended by Eckleburg instructors. Whether you are new to AWP or an ol’ pro, this guide offers a knowledge base you will find both practical and geared toward your successful experience. 

Helpful Apps & Links


What others are saying about Eckleburg
Being a good lit citizen means supporting lit pubs. Donate. Buy. I’m going to show some #AWP17 mags that you need to support… .” Meakin Armstrong (Guernica)
The most exciting and adventurous and gutsiest new magazine I’ve seen in years.” Stephen Dixon
Refreshing… edgy… classic… compelling.” Flavorwire
Progressive….” NewPages
Eye-grabbing… fun… bold… inviting… exemplary.” Sabotage
Eclectic selection of work from both emerging and established writers….” The Washington Post
Literary Burroughs D.C…. the journal cleverly takes its name from the The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald….” Ploughshares

Proud member of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses.


The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review was founded in 2010 as an online and print literary and arts journal. We take our title from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and include the full archives of our predecessor Moon Milk Review. Our aesthetic is eclectic, literary mainstream to experimental. We appreciate fusion forms including magical realist, surrealist, meta- realist and realist works with an offbeat spin. We value character-focused storytelling and language and welcome both edge and mainstream with punch aesthetics. We like humor that explores the gritty realities of world and human experiences. Our issues include original content from both emerging and established writers, poets, artists and comedians such as authors, Rick Moody, Cris Mazza, Steve Almond, Stephen Dixon, poets, Moira Egan and David Wagoner and actor/comedian, Zach Galifianakis.

Currently, Eckleburg runs online, daily content of original fiction, poetry, nonfiction, translations, and more with featured artwork–visual and intermedia–from our Gallery. We run annual print issues, the Eckleburg Reading Series (DC, Baltimore and New York), as well as, the annual Gertrude Stein Award in Fiction, first prize $1000 and print publication, guest-judged by award-winning authors such as Rick Moody and Cris Mazza.

We have collaborated with a number of talented and high profile literary, art and intermedia organizations in DC, Baltimore and New York including The Poetry Society of New York, KGB Bar, Brazenhead Books, New World Writing (formerly Mississippi Review Online), The Hopkins Review, Boulevard, Gargoyle Magazine, Entasis Press, Barrelhouse, Hobart, 826DC, DC Lit and Iowa’s Mission Creek Festival at AWP 2013, Boston, for a night of raw comedic lit and music. We like to promote smaller indie presses, galleries, musicians and filmmakers alongside globally recognized organizations, as well as, our local, national and international contributors.

Rarely will readers/viewers find a themed issue at Eckleburg, but rather a mix of eclectic works. It is Eckleburg’s intention to represent writers, artists, musicians, and comedians as a contemporary and noninvasive collective, each work evidence of its own artistry, not as a reflection of an editor’s vision of what an issue “should” be. Outside of kismet and special issues, Eckleburg will read and accept unsolicited submissions based upon individual merit, not theme cohesiveness. It is our intention to create an experience in which readers and viewers can think artistically, intellectually, socially, and independently. We welcome brave, honest voices. To submit, please read our guidelines.

Over the ashheaps the giant eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg kept their vigil, but I perceived, after a moment, that other eyes were regarding us with peculiar intensity from less than twenty feet away. – The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Beats Workshop

Counterculture, experimentation, sexuality and rhythm mark the phenomena known as The Beat Generation. Seminal works such as Ginsberg’s Howl, Burrough’s Naked Lunch and Kerouac’s On the Road created national shifts that not only broke down aesthetic boundaries but also social boundaries.

Writing Goals

  • To understand the philosophies behind the Beat movement, the spirit and energy;
  • To identify and read exemplary works from The Beats as a foundational study to creating your own;
  • To generate new drafts of poetry and prose with a focus on rhythm and cadence immortalized in the Beat movement;
  • To provide critical feedback on work so you can revise and make it as strong as it can be;
  • To help you further strengthen your knowledge of form and to provide you with the environment to better understand your individual voice so you can apply this to future works;
  • To help you learn and improve on the techniques of writing and self-editing so that you are aware of your preferred forms and boundaries and be able to consider how you might push your preferred forms into your best craft.