In the olden days, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I had just published my first novel, purchasing a review was unheard of. Your publisher sent out review copies and you sat tight, waiting to either be savaged or praised, or simply ignored. But the explosion of self-publishing and resulting spew of new authors helped push those dinosaurs into extinction, and now buying a review or two is not looking like such a bad thing. How else can you hope to rise above the crowd?
So yes, I am setting aside some funds to assure that some professionals look at my book and give it some kind of fair assessment. The key word here is ‘professional.’ I will never buy reviews from an individual, nor any kind of shady outfit without a track record. Only recently, Amazon cracked down on that kind of practice, and deservedly so. Did you ever wonder why so many shoddy books end up with so many five star reviews? Now you know, and presumably, most of those reviews are gone now.
I mentioned Kirkus in my last post, and having overcome most of the emotional trauma associated with that publication, I am still considering them as potential reviewers. I say considering, because their asking price is very steep, and is considered quite controversial. They take pains to let you know the review will not necessarily be a praiseworthy one, and I think they have to do that, otherwise how could you trust their opinion? But is it really worth $495? I reached out to another author, Michel Sauret, whose fiction is in a similar bind to mine: Literary with some faith-based elements. Here’s the link to his post on whether Kirkus is worth it: Kirkus Reviews: Is it worth the money? | Michel Sauret – Award-Winning Army Journalist | Independent Author Not only is it a great post, he also lists affordable alternatives, such as the Midwest Book Review and the San Francisco Book Review. He does not mention it in his post, but I had a great experience with Publisher’s Weekly’s PW Select, which gave my book The Raven Girl a glowing review—for only $189, which included a year’s online subscription to PW.
I think Kirkus, alas, is still a publication many libraries and bookstores look to for help in ordering new books, so it might be worthwhile. Also, there has to be something you can pull from whatever review they issue and use as a promotional blurb. You know that old trick: “This book is a tremendous waste of ink…” can be modified to “This book…is tremendous…” Ha, ha! As for the price, well, that’s how much my daughter’s senior-prom gown cost, and she only wore it once, so…I remind myself of that when the Kirkus review seems too pricey.