Article for Kirkus Reviews
August 11, 2016
When I first heard of Kirkus, I went straight into research mode to check them out. Nothing during it caused me to believe that using them would be a poor decision. I even looked up the negative stuff, and mostly, came up short.
After I purchased my review, the criticisms for “paying” for a review poured in on social media. I’m a realist and know to get a free review from a credible source could take a long time… if ever. I was also clear that just because I paid for a review was not a guarantee it would be a good one, but I had enough faith in my work, and that was the final decision to submit it to you.
Yes, the process is agonizing, but wait, what about all that faith in your work crap? Who doesn’t have faith in their work? But in my heart, I knew that mine had a chance to stand out. There are millions of novels out there, and if the 80/20 rule is valid, then 80% of anything out there is garbage I have to compete with.
I’d always considered myself a skilled marketer, but this business is tough. Writing is easy for me and coming up with a good story line just takes a lot of history, but marketing the work is murder! One thing I am certain and that is a good Kirkus review will be added to my marketing strategy. I also understand that a positive review doesn’t mean instant success, but it’s a lot better than a bad one.
Unlike the “good ole’ days”, today anyone with an idea and a few bucks can get published. I am a relatively late bloomer as a writer. I wrote and finished my first novel at 50, second at 58, and now at the ripe old age of 60, about to release my third, which is the one you reviewed. The point is, I don’t have the same luxury of time as my younger counterparts, so I have to take every opportunity to make my mark in this business and benefit from any tool that might give me a slight edge, and I believe Kirkus Reviews is part of that edge… if it was a good review.
I felt like a kid again and excited for Santa to arrive, but with my review, it was more like waiting to get my execution date! When I checked my email inbox and saw the message line; (Kirkus Indie) Your review is ready to download, I froze. I couldn’t open it, I just stared at the message line. I called my wife into my office, she sat on my lap, I opened it, and she read it aloud.
As she continued to read, I could tell she was getting a bit choked up with pride. Me on the other hand… shock, but felt a tear rolling down my face. Then she asked, “Well, what do you think?” My answer was short. “I’m not sure, but I know one thing… they use big words!” We both got a chuckle, she left, and I studied it some more. It sounded good, but I wasn’t certain. Are they using some sort of reviewer coded language? Are they saying that this is the worst thing they ever reviewed, and that it hurt their eyes just reading it?
A few days later I reread it, and one statement stood out and was highlighted in my mind; “… unavoidably inspiring.” Those two words made every cent I spent on the review worth it, and I am using it as a cover quote.
I have referred Kirkus to many of my colleagues, and I’m sure several of them will contact you. I hope they purchase your review service if for no other reason so I can sit back, watch and enjoy them squirm about the same torment I endured waiting for the outcome.
I will definitely use Kirkus Reviews in the future, hopefully the next one with less anxiety.
Mark Anthony Waters
Author— “Suicide by Death.”