When perusing through a bookstore, glancing over a friend’s collection, or scrolling aimlessly on a site for bibliophiles, it is typically that clever title or unique cover that first grabs one’s attention. And if that front cover makes the desired impression, the potential reader will likely make that crucial flip to check out the back cover where the author is given one chance to deliver the best pitch possible.

This brings us to one of the biggest questions for new authors: What could I put on my back cover that will hook the reader? Well, chances are that whatever the author writes will not seal the deal. Newsflash: all authors love the book they just poured months or, more likely, years into writing. However, including a third party’s point of view offers the reader something huge—credibility. (Which in this “age of misinformation” is more important than ever.) We know that word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising, and endorsements are gold in the industry. And ever since I became a voracious reader, I have relied on the gold standard of book reviews: Kirkus Reviews.

In my case, once I acquired that sophisticated Kirkus review for my book, The Dominican Experiment, the floodgates suddenly opened. The Kirkus review led to an endorsement from an editor of Rethinking Schools (the publication that was identified as the magazine most compatible with my target audience), which led to another glowing review from a professor in the field of social justice. Those reviews served as the driving force behind my book release campaign, and one early morning, I woke up to see my book ranked in the top 10 on Barnes & Noble’s bestseller list. I used that achievement to help me score the front page of a local newspaper’s “Today” section, which in turn helped land a book review in Teaching Tolerance Magazine. I submitted these highlights to my publisher, iUniverse, which led my book being chosen for the “Editor’s Choice,” “Rising Star,” and “Seasonal Spotlight” selections. Lastly, riding the wave of all of these accomplishments, I found the confidence to enter a book contest and wound up winning the 2016 National Indie Excellence Award (for Current Events). To this day, I often wonder: would any of those highlights have happened if I hadn’t started with Kirkus?

Michael D’Amato is the bestselling author of The Classroom, Roam Italy, and The Dominican Experiment. He is a former Teacher of the Year whose work has been highlighted in academic journals, magazines, newspapers, radio, and television. D’Amato also does ghost writing and editing for professional athletes.