In March, I purchased a professional review of The Case for Killing from Kirkus Reviews. I received it last week. The final sentence: “A slight variation on the whodunit—a whomightdoit—but with all the trimmings of a satisfyingly complex murder mystery.” —Kirkus Reviews. The full review is here.
This blog is part of my stream on how to self-publish. I thought it more relevant to discuss why I chose to pay for a review when the review was released rather than when I blog about self-promotion.
First about Kirkus. They’ve provided reviews of traditionally published books for many years and are recognized as tough book critics. Users of their reviews are booksellers, librarians, film producers, editors, book clubs, and others. Their Indie program “curates the self-published segment of the industry to help consumers and industry influencers discover books they may otherwise never find.” The indie author gets a review from a professional reviewer in their genre in Kirkus’ traditional format.
From the author’s perspective, the key is that they choose whether the review goes public (presumably a good review) or stays private (a not-so-good review). A public review goes on Kirkus’ website; is distributed to their licensees, Google, BN.com, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and others; and may be included in Kirkus Reviews magazine and/or their email newsletter. And Kirkus allows authors to excerpt the review consistent with their guidelines.
For this, the author pays $425(US) for 7-9 week delivery. Not cheap. Is it worth it?
So far, my take is yes. I thought it important to know how I stacked up in the Kirkus world. If I’d gotten a negative review, I would have taken my lumps for a few days, then extracted what I could to improve my writing. With a positive review, I have validation and a promotional tool. The expense is significant, but it’s part of my marketing budget, which any author needs to have. Also, there are cheaper review services available.
Some doubt whether a Kirkus review translates into sales. Others worry about the subjectivity of the Kirkus review. And still others see an ethical issue in paying for a review. I’ll let you know on the first count in a year. On the second count, reviews are always subjective, but you need them for word-of-mouth promotion. And as for the “ethical” issue, which seems to relate to Kirkus cross-selling editing and promotional services, their pitch seemed low key and part of running their business.
Thanks to my good friend and amazing artist, Peter Fischer, for the drawing above.
Copyright ©2014 Peter Fritze