Since the beginning of my writing career 16 years ago, I have always known that to be heard I would need to put myself out there in the world. Yet, the power of a review from a major magazine like Kirkus Reviews can be like a double-edged sword. Such a review might be part of the foundation we require in order to build our future as novelists. Just so, a review can severely harm our chances of being heard if it is negative.
Nevertheless, I decided to get a Kirkus review because I am the kind of individual who always feels the need to confront fear. The stories I create are bigger than me. They are almost like souls of their own, each one forging a destiny beyond my comprehension. I’m sure many fellow authors can agree that there are times we write as though we were possessed. That is a sign of our absurd yet amazing passion. Was I skeptical of professionals reviewing my work? Of course. But I wasn’t about to let the unknown scare me away. Embracing fear, I submitted one of my novels to Kirkus for a professional review.
Was it worth it? My first indie novel, The Vagrant Chronicle, ended up receiving an incredibly positive review. It was, in fact, critically acclaimed by Kirkus, so much that the review was published in their January 15th, 2013 magazine. Such a review helped me with sales and ultimately impressed literary agents who started taking my work more seriously. Many even requested that I send full manuscripts of my novels after the initial, dreadful query. Even more astonishing, because I continued to get positive reviews from magazines like Kirkus Reviews, a traditional publishing house decided to publish my fifth novel!
In the end, we cannot stop because of fear or skepticism. Nor can we allow one subjective judge to bring us down should a negative review come our way. The spirit of writing is an eternal force within us, and such fiery passion to create can never truly be doused.
Paul Louis Centeno is an award-winning author, born and raised in New York City. During his early teenage life he wrote twelve short stories, several of which he used as a foundation to create his first fantasy novel, The Vagrant Chronicle. In 2012, he published two novels: Red Nova and The Vagrant Chronicle. In 2014 he won an award from Writers of the Future for his short story Steamwalker.