Meet the Critics: Paul Constant, The Stranger

From time to time I’ll post profiles of book reviewers and critics. Look to these posts to learn what books they prefer to review and how best to pitch them.

The Stranger is an alternative newspaper covering politics, art and culture in Seattle, Washington. Its total readership is over 400,000, with a primary audience of affluent urbanites in their twenties and thirties. The majority of these, according to demographic material available via The Stranger‘s website, are single, college educated males. When queried whether they had bought a hardcover or paperback book over the last 30 days, 81 percent of its readership replied in the affirmative. It is distributed through over 2,000 distribution points throughout the metropolitan area, and is also freely available online. The website receives almost 900,000 unique visitors a year.

Paul Constant is The Stranger‘s Books Editor. In addition to his work with The Stranger, Constant’s work has appeared in the UTNE Reader, The Chicago Reader and The Progressive. Visit The Stranger‘s Book Section here.

When it comes to pitches, Constant said that one of his biggest pet peeves is when authors and publicists don’t seem to know anything about The Stranger or the kinds of books it covers:

The Stranger has not ever reviewed Christian books or self-help books, except perhaps to mock them once or twice. So why does your e-mail end  “…we believe that this Christian self-help book will be perfect for The Stranger“? Also: If you’re begging the review outlet to make an exception by reviewing your book, you are sending the book to the wrong outlet.”

Ideally, according to Constant, a review should consist of the following:

“A book in the mail with a very, very short letter explaining only the most useful information, such as when the book is published and when, if at all, the author will be coming to my city on tour.”

Constant said that pretty much anything else is extraneous:

“I do not need folders full of other people’s reviews. I don’t want to read other people’s reviews of this book. I don’t want to receive a pitch explaining how to write my review. I don’t want photocopies of the author’s blog, or a photo of the author. I want the book and pretty much just the book. ”

If you’re familiar with The Stranger, and feel that your book would be of possible interest to Constant and his colleagues, send your submission to:

Books Editor
The Stranger
1535 11th Avenue, 3rd floor
Seattle, WA 98122

n653213921_1671825_1056996Matt Staggs is a literary publicist and the proprietor of Deep Eight LLC, a boutique publicity agency utilizing the best publicity practices from the worlds of traditional media and evolving social technologies. He has worked in the fields of public relations and journalism for almost a decade. In addition to his work as a publicist, Matt is a book reviewer and writer whose work appears in both print and web publications.