Reviews are crucial to establishing yourself as a successful author
Are Kirkus Reviews a scam?
The short answer is … No! Kirkus is a big player in the world of book reviews and has been in business since 1933. For a fee, Kirkus has a professional reviewer read the book and supply an unbiased review of 250 to 300 words. Over the years, Kirkus has established a reputation for independence and frankness, and there is no guarantee of a positive review. Seeking a review from a professional service such as Kirkus is a significant investment, and you should be sure both you and your work are ready to face the challenge before submitting it for a review.
In my research to decide whether or not to submit my newest work, Montagnard, to Kirkus for review, I found a lot of negative comments about Kirkus. However, after talking to my editor, I believe that these negative comments are likely over the price (Kirkus is not cheap) and/or disgruntled authors who didn’t fare too well.
Kirkus is Coveted for a reason
Reviews are notoriously honest, leaning toward brutal. The most common complaint by reviewers is that the book was poorly edited. Over expository dialogue is another big one. A fast pace can cover a lot of issues, but when the pace slows, reviewers tend to notice things. So, if you walk away from Kirkus with a decent review, it’s definitely a feather in your cap as an author.
Reviews can be kept private, which, if you do receive a negative review, might be the thing to do. However, it is still not wasted money if you take the reviewer’s comments constructively and work to improve your book. Of course, if you get a positive review, you will want to publish it to the Kirkus website and have it distributed to licensees, including Google, Barnes & Noble, and Ingram.
The Kirkus Star
Kirkus stars are rare and valuable. A Kirkus star is awarded to books of exceptional merit. Recipients of a Kirkus star are automatically eligible for the Kirkus Prize, a $50,000 prize awarded to the winning books published and starred in any given year.
Kirkus is the brand that gets the most attention from booksellers and librarians. When an author publishes a Kirkus review (whether to post the review is up to the author), it will be seen by agents, editors, booksellers, librarians, and book buyers. The Kirkus website receives approximately 1.5 million page views each month, so book reviews will undoubtedly get a lot of exposure. However, it still remains incumbent on the author to enthusiastically market their book.
A good Kirkus review opens doors.
Getting a positive review from Kirkus can help an author boost sales, find an agent and/or publisher, or even sell the foreign rights. An author also receives thoughtful feedback on their work from a professional reviewer. This feedback can then be used to garner more media attention.
So yes, I am submitting Montagnard to Kirkus for a review.
However, I will definitely wait until my editor is done with it, and any editing suggestions, corrections, or comments have been read, analyzed, and acted upon accordingly. I will do my best to ensure that Montagnard will not be one of those hit for poor editing.
I learned my lesson self-editing Serpents Underfoot. While it saved me money, it took far to many revisions to get it to a point where readers are no longer pointing out “minor typos.” While most reviews have been very positive, that was a painful process a good editor would have helped me avoid.
And, I do think I have a pretty darn good editor. Beth Werner, of Author Connections, has been a professional editor and marketer for over 20 years. She served as the former Director of Marketing and Sales at Kirkus and has worked with Random House, Penguin, MacMillan, Disney Hyperion, Chronicle, Scholastic, FSG, Wiley, and others.
I feel confident that if she enjoys the book, and I follow her advice, that submitting my work to Kirkus will be worthwhile whether I get a positive or negative review, and whether I post it or learn from it. And I will keep reminding myself, it is just one reader’s opinion.
And, if you are looking for something to read during the Coronavirus 30-Days To Stop The Spread …
Check out my reviews here! You will never know what you might find.