When I decided to go indie, I wanted to give my books the same treatment they would have received at a small- or medium-sized press. I have high-production standards in terms of editing, covers, and interior design. I wanted my books to look like all the other books on the shelves at my local bookstores. That meant I needed a few juicy quotes to put on the cover. So I did my homework and found out what to do to obtain those quotes. I wrote to a dozen established authors in my genre asking if they might be willing to consider reviewing my book. Two gracious women, M. Louisa Locke and Karen Harper, agreed and actually liked my book. Their support has been invaluable.
Established authors are great, but their kind words are less authoritative than those of the professional reviewers. And this is where I got stuck. I dutifully sent advance copies to every entity with submission instructions. In most cases, I might as well have dropped them off a bridge over a high-traffic freeway. Kirkus Reviews is the only professional resource that treats indie books with same consideration as traditionally published books.
Smaller outfits eager for your dollars will write a positive review for anyone who pays their fee. But if they like everything they see, then they’re obviously not very discriminating. Worse, they are often not very good at writing reviews. It can be a challenge to find a blurb-sized quote even when it’s clear the reviewer really did like my book.
My Kirkus review, on the other hand, was a pleasure to read in its own right. It has supplied me with the best quote for my back cover and book descriptions. I use it everywhere. It’s more than just flattering; it recognizes what I value most about my books. It has become part of my brand.
Being named one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Indie Books of 2014 did not have a direct effect on my sales, but it has repaid the fee over and again by supplying the credibility sorely needed by a debut author and, as a bonus, a truly snappy quote, short enough even for a Facebook ad. It was well worth it.
Award-winning author Anna Castle writes two historical mystery series: the Francis Bacon mysteries and the Professor & Mrs. Moriarty mysteries. She has earned a series of degrees—B.A. in the classics, M.S. in computer science, and a Ph.D. in linguistics—and has had a corresponding series of careers—waitressing, software engineering, assistant professor, and archivist. Writing fiction combines her lifelong love of stories and learning. She physically resides in Austin, Texas, and mentally counts herself a queen of infinite space.