Kirkus Reviews was one of a number of well-established review houses that I paid to review my first novel, Paul. It was money well spent.

Although I had received professional advice with the manuscript, I was determined to try a different structure to the normal novel. I really wanted to capture the voices of the other people in the Bible story that we do not hear, to give the reader some idea of the cities in which Paul lived and worked, and above all, the fusion of Jewish, Greek, and Roman ideas that made Christianity a world wide religion.

The Kirkus review was one of several generally encouraging about the subject matter and story but distinctly unenthusiastic about the confusion brought about by my idea of structure.

The only sensible thing to do was to take note of the critical comments and start again. With the help of publisher Xlibris, I reshaped the novel, following the main recommendations of my critics. As a result, publication has been delayed but I have made the novel more coherent and, I hope, more appealing.

My experience has shown me two things. Firstly, it is extremely arrogant for a new author to expect to get everything right the first time. There may be a few geniuses that do, but I guess that most would-be authors need constructive professional criticism to learn more about the craft they aspire to develop. Secondly, those that review for a living, spot fundamental flaws that we are too ignorant or too proud to admit.  

My final comment is about cost. I am not a wealthy person and do not have unlimited funds. I know from reading galley proofs how long it takes to read a novel and make relevant notes. I found the reviewer charges reasonable. If I write another novel I won’t hesitate to buy professional criticism as soon as I put down my own pen.


David Copp is a U.K.-based writer. He received his bachelor’s degree in European humanities at the Sorbonne, Paris. He currently works in the wine and spirit industry as a senior marketing executive. He is the author of four wine books.