Kirkus Review is Absolute Fail

While publishing my book Be Still, I was advised to purchase a trifecta package of reviews which was Kirkus, Blue Ink, and the last one I just don’t recall, but their big players.  Or so I am told. So I paid $1500 for all three reviews, and after six months I finally received my final review, which was from Kirkus, which in my opinion was an absolute fail, but I’ll get back to that.

First, my opinion on these high profile review houses: They aren’t worth the cost. seriously, I received better reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble from readers. Now, I’m not saying because they all left 5 star reviews, because some left less than that. God bless the world that everyone is able to have an opinion, and diverse ones at that.  I’m saying that the reviews left by John Q. Public were far more poignant–whether good or bad–than any three of the review houses I dished out for.

Second, being somewhat wet behind the ear as far as reviews went, i was under the impression that getting a good review from Kirkus, Blue Ink, or the other was going to send my career skyrocketing.  Not so.  In fact, Blue Ink and the other gave me wonderful reviews and I was very happy.  But they really do nothing to boost sales.  What I have discovered is that John Q. Public looks at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.  As do I.

Third, if I am going to dole out a small fortune, the least Kirkus can do is cite the correct book.  Their review states: Tania Ramos (not Tania L Ramos) author of When I Thought I was Tough 2011, writes about…. blah blah blah. And the review unfolds.  My vice: if I am paying you a month of my son’s tuition for school the least you can do is cite the correct book you are reviewing. For example, instead of speaking of When I Thought I Was Tough, 2011 you can cite the book you actually reviewed, Be Still, 2011. Am I wrong?

And my final rant about paid reviews: They spend an entire page giving a synopsis of the book (which is on the back of the book or inside jackets, by the way), and write a one sentenced opinion at the very end.  And sometimes the opinion is that of a fifth grader, “Two thumbs up.” Hmmmm. I paid for two thumbs up? Holy moly, that’s like $350 a word between three review houses.

Okay fellow readers and authors, this is what I ask of you: if you read a book, please leave a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads or anywhere else.  You all do a much better job at reviews than the paid for reviews. So what did Kirkus say? Well, after citing the incorrect book, they did a synopsis, and closed with “a heartfelt novel weighed down by melodrama.”

kirkus reviewLike I said, I don’t mind the review not being the best, but that was a lot of money for a one sentence bottom-line review.  I will never pay for another big name review again. Opinions on this? Is there really a reason to pay for these big reviews?


11 responses to “Kirkus Review is Absolute Fail

  1. I think you’ve answered your own question. Don’t pay for reviews. If you want to pay for advertising then pay for advertising.
    I also have a bit of a moral issue with any outfit that wants you to pay for reviews – it always seems slightly less than being honest with their readers. Like you say, there are plenty of wonderful people out there – and review sites – that will review your work for the pleasure of it.

  2. Wow, that sounds like a terrible experience. I review books from up and coming authors all the time and all I ever ask is that they give me a review copy, which I think is reasonable. $1500? I’d be able to pay for my college tuition with that kind of money.

    I’m glad you’ll be sticking with Amazon and Goodreads, and possibly smaller review sites like mine. 😛

    • I’d love to use your review site. I will look you up and let people know you are out there, as well. And, I always send a review copy signed unless it is out of the U.S. or Canada because it gets pricey to ship. In those cases I send I code to download to e-readers.
      Like I said, I was inexperienced, and still learning along the way, what to do, buy, and use and what not to. Live and learn, but that’s why I love blogs, because I learn from others too

  3. Sorry that this happened to you, but maybe your story will help others. I can see absolutely no value in paying for those kinds of reviews.

    Thanks for the post.


  4. That’s just ridiculous. If you’re paying that much money for something, it had better be damn good quality. That was my problem with the copy-edit I bought from iUniverse — they fixed all the little minor things, but there definitely weren’t enough fixes to warrant the $1800 price tag, not to mention 30% of the “changes” were just the editor deleting something, changing their mind, and then re-typing it. iUniverse can produce quality books, but all the extra stuff they ask you to buy really seems like a total rip-off. Including this Trifecta Review thing! (getting back on topic, lol). Did they fix the Be Still vs. When I Thought I Was Tough name mix-up? Because if not, contact iUniverse and get them to do something about it. That’s totally unacceptable! And while it sucks that you had such a bad experience, I do thank you for letting us know — I will definitely be avoiding the review services! Sheesh.

    • I sent my PSA an email, which is how i received my review. I used the Iuniverse service to get the reviews. Like, I said, and agree, love the quality and that I didn’t have to do any of the work, but won’t buy any extra services from them again.

  5. I had a Kirkus Review on my writing, The Delude. It was positive, they liked my work. Their view was surprising to me, I wonder if the reviewers can see a truly original work or just expect that everything fits a certain predefined
    mold that they recognize. Anyway, all ended well for me. I had a fine experience with KIRKUS reviews.

  6. Well, I’m another Indie author who just wasted $400+ on a Kirkus review. More than half of my short review consisted of just a very mundane synopsis of my story including spoilers(!) Kirkus defends the summary aspect of their reviews by stating it’s a “service to our readers”. Well, any reader knows they can just go to the Amazon site of the book to get a summary of what the story is about. If someone is going to pay $400+ for a review they should at least get an thoughtful analysis of the writing, characters, development, etc. Instead I received just a rudimentary, cold, juvenile, “skip-it” verdict that actually sported a big typo in the middle of the review. I can handle a negative review just fine, but at least make it a worthwhile critique that also shows some thoughtful analysis.

    • Matt, I agree with you. I do understand giving a small overview, it only makes sense, but to practically quote the back of the book and then write an actual two sentence review is disheartening. I was dumbfounded at what their review consisted of. I would have been happier with a simple two sentence review, good or bad, over a sloppy rewording of the back cover…yes, with spoiler. I’m sorry you had this experience, Matt, but feel free to post a link to your book here and I’ll share it on my FB pages. I’m always giving indie’s a shout out.

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