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Kirkus will provide a review of an indie book for $425. Any thoughts?

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Nothing says "legitimate" like a $425 review.

Obviously, a Kirkus review will not carry you to the top of the literary world, but what choices does as unknown indie writer have? Kirkus does carry some weight as there is no promise of a good review in exchange for your money. Some indie writers have reported good results. Getting yourself known and read while sticking to an ethereal art-for-art's-sake purity can be a tough slog. 

The paid-for Kirkus Review is not the same as the regular Kirkus Review.  It is published separately.  It doesn't have the same reputation and will only fool the ignorant. It has a different name.


However, I suppose when independent authors quote these "reviews" as being Kirkus reviews, they add a layer of false advertising that will ultimately devalue all Kirkus reviews, whether legitimate or bought. 

(And since all of my books have been reviewed by Kirkus, let me add that I've never paid them a dime or even requested a review).

Thanks for your comments. I'm sure you are right about the relative prestige of free versus paid Kirkus reviews. I would love to get one free of course, but I have a couple of questions. Are you an indie author? If so, do you have any idea how you came to Kirkus' attention and why they reviewed your books without being asked?

I'm an indie author now, but up until this year I've been traditionally published.  Alas, it means that I'll get no more reviews.  However, there may be some online sites that review without asking payment.  That will be much better than a paid-for review.  Mind you, sadly, the online reviews do not yet carry much prestige.  I'm sympathetic with your plight, but I'd still not go with paid reviews.

"Review" implies an impartial assessment. That's going to be hard for people to believe if it's bought and paid for. 

Also, a Kirkus review itself implies a certain legitimacy. Again, buying and selling them won't help their brand, and will eventually damage the respect afforded those reviews.

I guess everything is for sale. Not reading commercial reviews when making reading selecitons bothers me less by the day.

For $425, you can write a press release about your book (and completely control the message) and distribute it via a national press release service (PR Web, Cision Wire), and get it in front of thousands of people - far far greater exposure than Kirkus will provide.

Research and spend your money wisely.

Thanks for your suggestion. It is at least helpful and to the point but I have never bought a book based on a press release. I checked out the services you mentioned and they do not seem to have any particular interest in authors. Do you have any experience with trying to sell a book this way?

I worked with one self-published author (I don't do much author PR since they usually can't afford my rates).

His book is non-fiction and is about fishing. Fairly niche. And it is self-published.

We wrote a press release  (2 pages), keyword rich and with a news angle, and with a link to his Amazon page. We distributed it via Cision Wire and also did some additional distribution (targeted, we created the list) of writers who cover fishing and the outdoors.

I do not know what the author's sales figures are - I've sent him an email today asking, and will let you know his response when I get it. I do know he was very happy (and I was very happy, because he paid his bill promptly).

His press release appeared on 19 online-only outlets, the websites for two broadcast outlets, and on the websites for 53 newspapers, AP, Reuters, and UPI when I contractually ceased monitoring about a week after we distributed the release. He was also listed in Google News, Yahoo news, and a few other streams.

Two important things:

  1. Since they were press releases and not reviews, we controlled the message.
  2. The website appearances allowed us to embed a live link to his Amazon sales page.

Of course, this is niche non-fiction, not mystery fiction, so I don't know how well it will work.

The press release - if done properly - absolutely can, definitely, increase traffic to your website, or  Amazon Page, landing page, etc. From there, if you have your "sales pitch" set up right, you will make sales.

Don't pay it! Knowledgeable consumers (librarians, bookstore owners, etc.) know how Kirkus distinguishes its paid and unpaid reviews, so they don't pay much attention to the paid ones when making purchasing decisions.

At this point, I am more interested in reaching individual readers than librarians and bookstore owners. Obviously, an unpaid favorable Kirkus review is preferable to a paid one but how does an indie author make that happen? Even better would be a review in the New York Times or even USA Today but that's not going to happen. If a paid Kirkus review produces results, then I'm interested. If not, I'm not. Any results would be better than the results from a prestigious review that never happened.


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