Meet Rebecca Vnuk of IndiePicks Magazine

Rebecca Vnuk


Rebecca VnukToday’s blog post is an interview with Rebecca Vnuk, Editor in Chief of
IndiePicks Magazine. Rebecca was most recently the Editor for Collection Management and Library Outreach with Booklist Publications and has an MLIS from Dominican University. Before her editing career, Rebecca worked for a decade as a public librarian, in a variety of positions from Readers’ Advisor to adult services management. She is the author of three reference books on the topic of Women’s Fiction, as well as a best-selling book on weeding library collections.

Please explain why IndiePicks was formed and what it hopes to accomplish.

Our publisher, Naomi Blackburn, is a huge fan of indie authors. She noticed that the review magazines she’d look at in her local library rarely mentioned indies and never mentioned any self-pubbed authors, so she decided she wanted to create a review magazine that would.

Do you see IndiePicks as filling a void in the industry?

Yes–it’s hard enough for librarians and readers to keep up with what the “Big Five” are putting out there, and many times, libraries won’t/can’t order books without a professional review.

Which categories or genres does IndiePicks consider? Are there genres that IndiePicks won’t consider?

Right now, we have started with ten reviewers who cover General Fiction, General Nonfiction, YA, Children’s, Romance, Horror, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Mystery/Thrillers. We hope to grow in the new year to separate out even more fiction and non-fiction categories. We’ll consider any book that’s well-written!

What is meant by the statement that “IndiePicks is a recommended-only resource”?

Some review sources do offer negative reviews, but we’d prefer to use our space to promote only books that our review team would recommend to readers or purchase for their own library collections.

Why don’t libraries include independently-published books? Or, do some libraries carry these books that you know of? Is there a process for considering them?

Some do, many do not. There are a lot of factors at play, from whether or not they are getting requests for these books to whether or not they are seeing reviews for them (can’t buy them if you don’t know about them!). That’s where we’d like to think we come in. Several of our reviewers are actively adding indie books to their public library collections, and that’s part of the reason they’ve been selected to review for us!

Why do you think some libraries are hesitant to include independently published books?

I would wager that it’s mostly because they don’t know enough about them. If they aren’t getting professional reviews, then librarians don’t know if they are any good or not. We are in tough times right now for most library budgets, and many librarians simply aren’t comfortable spending precious dollars on unproven works or unknown authors. It’s a difficult spot to be in.

What is your vision as editor for IndiePicks Magazine?

I hope that we continue to grow and add more reviewers, which equals more books that we can review each month! I also would love to see us branch out into a one-stop shop for indies. Who knows? Webinars? Lists? All kinds of opportunities await.

Who will review the submitted books?

We have a stellar, hand-picked team of ten librarians who are experts in the readers-advisory field. Readers can learn all about them here.

How many submissions are your receiving? And how are you handling the submissions?

Right now we’re getting a strong mix of both print galleys and e-galleys (we take submissions via our website). The review team also looks for books in their areas of interest on NetGalley and Edelweiss. In our first month alone we had over 100 submissions. As Editor, I go through the submissions and assign them out to the relevant reviewer. From that pile of books, they get to select what they wish to review.

Will authors be able to quote the reviews they receive from IndiePicks as they would a review from Kirkus?

Yes, absolutely. We encourage authors and publicists to use our reviews in marketing materials, as long as the review has appeared first in print or on our website.

Will your magazine only contain reviews or will there be other articles in them? Can you provide some examples?

We have a variety of feature reviews slated, including author interviews, publisher spotlights, Q&A with writers’ groups, and more. We also want to expand to cover indie films and music, so we’re starting off slowly on that front by doing interviews with indie bands and filmmakers.

When is your first publication date? What has it been like gearing up for your first publication?

Our first issue came out this month (November 2017). It was an exciting process –lots of hard work and late nights since we are a shoestring operation! We’ve now added a graphic designer to our team to lay out the magazine, so we’re happy about that!

Have you worked in the media before?

Yes, I was an editor at Booklist magazine before coming to IndiePicks. Before that, I was a public librarian.

How do you think your experience has prepared you for your current position?

Well, I have the unique vantage point of being both in the magazine industry–and book reviewing, specifically–and in the library world, as a noted readers’ advisory librarian. I hope that the skills and experience I have from those two dovetailing careers helps make IndiePicks a success!

Do you read independently-published books? If so, who are some of your favorite authors and what are some of your favorite genres?

I do! I have too many authors to list, but my favorite genre is women’s fiction (I’ve written a few books on the topic, in fact). So I love the books that are coming from Amazon’s Lake Union imprint, She Reads Press, Kensington, to name just a few!

Is there anything else about IndiePicks that you would like my readers to know about your magazine?

We have a robust FAQ section on our website if people want to know more! Advertising and subscription information is available there, as well.

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com, and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several social media books including the 2nd edition of Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.

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