I came out unscathed and the review had some very nice things to say. I excerpted the important bits and posted them in the Editorial Review section on Amazon and on my website.
The Kirkus site was easy to use and they met the promised schedule. The contact that I had with the assistant editor responsible for managing my review was excellent. When I sent mail with the problems I found in the original (and second) supposedly “ready for publication” review, he addressed them quickly, and the issues were resolved in a satisfactory manner.
I sort of feel as though I may have been shuffled off to someone who specializes in reviewing romance. There’s a couple of reasons to feel this way. First. I find it hard to believe a regular reviewer of military suspense or thriller would write, “Morgan and his dog prove to be a stabilizing force for Jenna as she adjusts to a new role under the supervision of her uncle Ted.” I just don’t see some guy saying anything about the dog. Admittedly, I do write terrific freaking dogs, but it just doesn’t seem to fit. Second. Everything mentioned until the end is about the relationships. Yes, I am aware that I write relationship stories, but there’s also a whole lot of other stuff going on. Third. They insist on referring to Jenna as a “police officer” rather than a deputy sheriff. Most folks that deal with military and law enforcement books pay attention to the details, rather than being generic. Last. “Unfortunately, with the dual focus on the drug trafficking and missing person storylines, it is hard to tell which matters more. Even the final pages don’t reveal a point or message.” Have you ever noticed that romance novels only have one plot, a limited number of characters, and a “solvable problem”? I’m back to another reason why I’m not categorized in romance. Catching the bad guys (if the reviewer needs one to be more important than the other, they’re welcome to choose), cutting off a toxic relationship, and facing your demons every day in order to heal and lead a healthy life apparently isn’t a message. I guess I could have dropped into first sergeant mode and had my heroine say something profound, but in real life we rarely come up with the profound until later. How about this for a message – “We’re happy to have done our jobs and come out alive.”
I paid a pretty fair size chunk of money for a quality product and it took three tries to get a review that didn’t contain errors. On the first run (which they claimed was ready for publication), the number of pages at the top was listed at 300 pp (printed pages). In the body of the review was the following sentence: “Hopefully, at 160 pages, the novel will be expanded further or kick off a new series.” The book is actually 286 pp. The sentence led me to question if the reviewer had only read 160 pages and if that was why the point was lost on them. The other major error was that the reviewer had written Jenna was about to be kicked out the Army Reserve rather than the state troopers. I requested the items be corrected for accuracy and they were. Once again, I received a supposedly ready to publish review only to find that in correcting the sentence with the page number issue, there was now a glaring error with a double word. I sent it back again.
For the amount of money Kirkus charges, these damn things should be polished and proofread with the same exactness they expect of the author.
Would I send another novel to Kirkus to review? I can honestly say that the quality of the review is no better than the reviews I see from the reviewers for the Kindle Book Review and those are free. They don’t have the prestigious Kirkus Review name, but they’re honest and well written. Unless I see a boost in revenue or interest that I can somehow attribute to this review, I’m doubtful that I’d be willing to spend the money again.