About Kirkus Reviews

Since 1933, Kirkus has been one of the most trusted and authoritative voices in book discovery. When Kirkus was started by Virginia Kirkus (1893-1980), it was an innovation in the publishing field. Virginia arranged to receive advance galley proofs of books from publishers — only 20 or so at first, but eventually nearly every firm of any size in the industry. She read the galleys and wrote brief, critical evaluations of their literary merit and probable popular appeal. Initially, the reviews were sent only to subscribing bookshops in the form of a bimonthly bulletin. Bookstore managers were thus given an informed and unbiased opinion on which to base their orders and promotions. Two years later, the service was also made available to libraries. Now, 80 years later, Kirkus Reviews is distributed to more than 5,000 industry influencers, including bookstore buyers, librarians, publishers, agents, film executives and foreign publishers.

Kirkus’ Indie program was started in 2005 when the editors wanted to expand their coverage to include the fastest growing segment in the book industry — self-publishing. To meet scale, selection and financing challenges, Kirkus created a review service for self-publishers called Kirkus Discoveries, now Kirkus Indie. Like the original bulletin published by Virginia Kirkus, Kirkus’ program for self-publishers was an innovation in the industry. Authors could finance the review themselves and guarantee selection for review, but the books would be held to the same high standard as books published by the major houses. The program gave self-publishers the chance to earn honest critical acclaim from one of the most prestigious brands in publishing.

In 2011, after the company was acquired by its current owners, Herb Simon and Marc Winkelman, Kirkus began expanding its audience in other ways. First, Kirkus launched a consumer-facing website, growing its audience beyond the industry insiders who subscribe to Kirkus Reviews magazine. Traffic to the site grew quickly, and as both the website and the Kirkus Indie program evolved, self-publishers reviewed by Kirkus started getting discovered by consumers.

Meanwhile, Kirkus grew its coverage of traditionally pubished books and enhanced Kirkus Reviews magazine. Today, Kirkus reviews more than 7,000 books published by traditional houses and more than 3,000 self-published books every year. The magazine is published on the 1st and 15th of every month, and because of the scope of our coverage, our authoritative voice and the timeliness of our reviews, Kirkus Reviews is revered by many as the first indicator of a book’s potential. One of the most significant changes to the magazine was the addition of Kirkus Indie as a full-fledged section in Kirkus Reviews. With this change, self-publishers gained immediate exposure to our loyal readership of industry influencers, such as publishers, agents, film executives and foreign publishers. Today, Kirkus Indie is the leading source for unbiased, professional reviews of self-published books and is a powerful platform for authors to get discovered. To read about writers’ experiences with Kirkus Indie, visit What Authors Say.


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“The starred review I received from Kirkus won the attention of both my agents, film and literary, which in turn has led to a fantastic publishing deal in North-America, the sale of foreign rights in several countries, as well as a film option with one of Hollywood’s major studios.”
— Sylvain Neuvel, author of The Themis Files

“Kirkus’ review of The Mill River Recluse played an important role in encouraging readers to take a chance on a first novel by an unknown author.”
 —Darcie Chan, independent author of The Mill River Recluse, which sold more than 600,000 copies
 Read more about Darcie’s success in the Wall Street Journal >

“Kirkus definitely played a major role in making this happen!”
— James Bannon, author of I2, when his novel hit #1 on Kindle‘s best-selling fiction list and #1 in overall Kindle downloads

”When I sought a review for my book I was selective in choosing what I thought was a highly regarded and fair source. Noted for being thorough, unbiased and a “tough critic,” I knew if I received a positive review from Kirkus it would open doors to new possibilities. It didn’t take long before that started to occur. Thank you for opening the world’s eyes to otherwise unknown authors. We are making a difference and paving the way to the future of publishing.”
—Lori St John, author of The Corruption of Innocence

”Thanks to Kirkus’ review, we have seen a dramatic surge in sales and an increase in both bookstore and publisher interest. Kirkus' reputation as a credible, unbiased reviewer has made all the difference. This has been the best investment we have made.”
—Janet and Ed Howle, authors of The Long Road to Paris

“Getting a positive review from Kirkus gave me a huge boost in my search for a literary agent. After amending the opening sentence of my query letter to reference my Kirkus review, I noticed a dramatic increase in the attention I was receiving from agencies. Less than two months later, I had my agent!"
— Anderson O’Donnell, author of Kingdom

“Receiving my Kirkus review was one of the most validating and moving moments of my life. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants an honest, thorough, careful evaluation of their work.”
— Carolyn Nash, author of Raising Abel

“The endorsement gave consumers a meaningful recommendation that they could trust.”
—Guy Kawasaki, bestselling author of 10 books, including Enchantment and The Art of the Start, as well as the self-publishing guide APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur

“Your indie review service provides a beacon in a black shroud, putting a spotlight on worthy books that may not otherwise be as visible because they've taken the indie passage.”
— Jesse Leong, author of Expanagrams

“Recognition from Kirkus really opened doors for me. Suddenly I was a Kirkus-acclaimed author, which sold books, led to other reviews as well as feature articles, made it much easier for me to book author events, and left me well positioned for my sequel.”
— Steven Drachman, author of The Ghosts of Watts O’Hugh

“Everything started with the Kirkus review. It gave me instant credibility.”
— Deborah Henry, author of The Whipping Club

“My Kirkus review arrived sooner than I had anticipated. As I read the review I realized and appreciated the professionalism of the review. The accuracy, in-depth knowledge, fairness and honesty in describing my book succinctly summarized in a paragraph took me by surprise and I found myself sitting in my chair for several minutes thinking about what I had just read. I then thought to myself, what a great service this is, what better assurance could I offer my readership than a review written by Kirkus Reviews? They provide a valuable service to authors and readers, and I will willingly use their service again for my second book.”
— James Lythgoe, author of The Golf Swing: It's All in the Hands

“Kirkus Reviews has been an instrumental part of the success of my book, A Father's Angels.  As one of Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012 Indie book selections, numerous doors have now opened in the traditional publishing industry.  This was one of the best strategic decisions I made as a self-published author.”
—John Waldron, author of A Father's Angel

“As a first time novelist, it was extremely important to me that I set the right expectation for my book, Songs for the New Depression.  I wanted people know that it was both quality, in terms of substance, and LGBT-themed.  Prior to publication, I approached only two sources for reviews, Kirkus Indie, known as the 'World's Toughest Book Critics', and The Advocate magazine, given its name recognition in the LGBT community.  Happily, I was able to use these two terrific reviews in pre-publicity, on the jacket cover and in marketing materials, which helped establish an immediate audience for the novel.  With my forthcoming title, I plan to do the same.”
—Kergan Edwards-Stout, author of Songs for the New Depression 

“As you know, it's always hard to say whether a particular review helps sell books. But the Kirkus review (IMO) was crucial to legitimizing my author-published book and bringing it to the attention of libraries. Interestingly, nobody seems to notice that it is an "indie" review- they do notice, though, that it's a starred review from the "notoriously unpleaseable Kirkus!" as one reader exclaimed. I've been around this business long enough to know just how important it is."
—Susan Albert Wittig, author of A Wilder Rose