2. What do you find to be the rewards and challenges of running a book review outlet? We do this because first and foremost we love books. We love the written word. One of the major benefits of an operation like ours is that we get to see so much of what people are doing in literature--we only get to review maybe 1/100 of books we receive, and wish we could give many more the attention they deserve. We're fortunate to get to witness how thriving, and constantly surprising, writers continue to be, year after year. As for challenges...dealing with the pettiness, egomania, and back-scratching that some writers and publishers fall into while trying to get attention for their work.
4. Does it surprise you to see two polar opposite reviews of the same book between various publications? Not at all! Reading is a personal, subjective experience. I personally have had polar opposite reactions to the same book, depending on my mood going in. On occasion, we've run simultaneous reviews of the same book just to give a picture of how disparate reactions can be.
5. How does one become qualified and trained to review books? Read a lot of books, and write about them. Part of good reviewing is knowing what else is going on, knowing how a particular book fits into the overall conversation that text is addressing. And part of it is general command of language--syntax and structure and those goodies. That said, we've published reviews by people just starting out in their careers, still learning the ropes, you might say, as well as by some of our era's greatest writers. There isn't a test you have to pass to become "qualified"--it's evident in the writing and in the approach.
6. Any advice to writers who get a bad review? I don't know about advice, but I'd congratulate them on getting any attention one way or another. As I said, we can only review a tiny fraction of the books we receive for consideration, so someone discussing your work is a payday regardless. Of course, this won't soothe any wounded egos, so I'll reiterate my thoughts about subjectivity. One man's Tolstoy is another man's Twilight. You can't control readers' reactions, all you can do is work to express your authentic self in writing. Don't write to your reviewers, don't censor your impulses. Contribute your voice to literature and don't worry about the rest of it.