When noted American author Stephen Crane self-published his first novel Maggie A Girl of the Streets in 1893, he tried to generate sales, so the legend goes, by hiring men to be seen reading the book on New York’s subways. Sadly, it didn’t work. Too bad Crane didn’t have Kirkus Indie reviews to jumpstart his career.
Today, because writers do have the Kirkus Indie review option, those of us who self-publish or publish with small independent presses have an additional means for getting our books noticed and sold. But a good review isn’t guaranteed for those who choose this option. Knowing this, I considered an Indie review several times and each time dismissed it as possibly not worth the investment. But when little seemed to be happening with my new novel A Stone for Bread, I reconsidered and took the plunge with the understanding, according to the Kirkus agreement, that if I found the review not to be what I had hoped, it would never be published.
Of course, what I’d hoped was that the Kirkus Indie review of my novel would be positive. But the review I received was not only positive but amazing! A Stone for Bread received a starred review followed by an additional honor when later the novel was chosen as a Kirkus Indie Books of the Month selection. Following publication of these accolades in the Kirkus magazine, my book sales dramatically increased and, according to the latest word from my publisher, sales continue to go well.
So as a happy writer with a happy publisher, I’m delighted to share my Kirkus Indie story. I don’t even need to be asked, because I share it often now with other writers who, like me, know the odds against a book’s success in today’s intensely competitive environment.
I also believe there’s something more important here than the incredible boost my novel received from Kirkus. Unlike most major national reviewers, the Kirkus Indie option offers gifted beginning and unknown writers a means to have their potential recognized and their books discovered. These reviews also benefit the millions of readers out there who would otherwise never know about a book they might come to love or a book that significantly influences their lives.
So thank you, Kirkus, for offering me and other writers the Indie review platform. Had it been available in 1893, I like to think Stephen Crane would have leaped at the opportunity.
Miriam Herin's first novel, Absolution, won the 2007 Novello Press Literary Award and was cited by Publishers Weekly as an "impressive" debut. A native of Miami, Florida, she has been a social worker, taught composition and literature at two universities and three colleges and has been on the editorial staffs of Good Housekeeping Magazine and the Winston-Salem Journal.