Sunday, September 16, 2012

Credible Reviews and the Debut Author

It's no secret. My debut novel, A Stop in the Park, will be available for sale on September 20. Now that the release is near, I'm being bombarded with questions about my novel journey, and that's fine. I have plenty to share and much is about what happened after I typed "The End" on the final page of my first draft (A first rate kick back moment!). There's the self-editing, re-writing, finding an exceptional independent editor, querying literary agents, trying to find a traditional publisher, and making the decision to self-publish, just to name a few.

Regarding my decision to self-publish, out of the 56,450 members searching for a literary agent (a must-have in order to get a publisher) at, 924 success stories have been reported (.016%). Approximately half of those will end up finding a traditional publisher. Considering these odds, I decided to self-publish. Does that mean I've given up all hope of finding a traditional publisher? Absolutely not. In today's highly competitive publishing industry, independent authors are considered by many to be in the minor leagues. If a writer shows that he/she has written a quality book that is marketable, the possibility of making it into the major leagues is real.

How does a writer make that happen?

I feel the two most important factors are finding an independent editor with an eagle eye and credible reviews.

Independent Editor ~ If you think you can edit your book yourself, think again. Authors who publish traditionally, have at least two editors (developmental and copy). As an independent author, you want to be on the same playing field as the majors.

How do you find an "exceptional" editor?

Develop detailed interview questions that include: what style manual do you use (Chicago Style Manual is what is used in traditional publishing), experience, genre preferences, references. Ask the editors who passed the question test to actually edit a chapter from your book, gratis, before you say, "You're hired!"  Make sure there are a few grammatical errors, marginal word choices,
inconsistencies, etc. Does the editor catch them all? And I mean all. I was amazed, when I tested the waters, how many didn't. I even had one give me incorrect information (and that "one" had a beautiful website).

 I was fortunate that my fiction writing instructor, and owner of East Line Books & Literary Center (Clifton Park, NY), Robyn Ringler, agreed to edit my novel, and the cost was very reasonable. Not only did she edit my novel with extreme care, she was direct and sensitive with her critiques. In the end, I realized that I had not only found a great editor, but a gifted one. I am quite certain that I would not be doing as well in the review arena, if Robyn didn't go over A Stop in the Park with a fine tooth comb.

Credible Reviews ~ It's easy to get a stellar review from a friend or relative, but how about Publisher's Weekly or Kirkus. Just mentioning these esteemed literary review organizations makes most authors shudder. As frightening as it was, I knew I needed one of these reviews in order to be considered a credible author in the publishing world. In fact, some writers are obtaining Kirkus reviews and including parts of them in their query letters in an effort to attract a literary agent's attention.

How easy is it to get a review from Kirkus or Publisher's Weekly?

In a nutshell... 
Publisher's Weekly - Submit your self-published book to Publisher's Weekly Select (along with $149.00). They will decide if your book meets the standard to appear in their seasonal supplement that is distributed to traditional publishers, literary agents, etc. Twenty-five percent of those selected will receive a review, and it's still not guaranteed to be good. To learn more, click:

I wanted my review before A Stop in the Park was published for marketing purposes, so I went with...

Kirkus Reviews - Kirkus will review self-published books for a fee ($400+ for reviews that take 8-10 weeks; $500+ for reviews that take 4-6 weeks). That's a lot of money, but in my mind it was necessary. Did A Stop in the Park have what it takes to compete in the major literary league. Kirkus stands by its reputation and will not provide a good review just because you pay for it. Kirkus gives you the option of rejecting or accepting the review. If it's lousy, it will never see the light of day. If it's wonderful, you have a golden ticket. If I was going to ask people to purchase my novel, I wanted the golden ticket.

I'm sure you can imagine my fear when I received the e-mail letting me know that the "big" review was in. Guess what? Kirkus gave me the golden ticket. Talk about a kick back moment! The review gave me the confidence I needed to ask people to spend their hard earned money on my novel. It also opened doors. Because of the review, I have interviews with the press scheduled and the superintendent of my school district is supporting my novel with some excellent publicity.  

I'd like to share the review with you. In case you are considering buying A Stop in the Park, I want you, the consumer, to know what Kirkus has to say. It's listed on the Kirkus website in the Coming Soon Category:

If you decide that you would like to buy A Stop in the Park, please do so on September 20 at One way minor league authors make it into the major leagues is to spike into the top 100 selling books at Amazon. It's a long shot, but I'm going for it.

It's my turn at bat in the tryouts for the major leagues. Help me hit a home run. I'll post the Amazon link to A Stop in the Park on Kick Back Moments by midnight on September 20.

Thank you for being part of my beginning! 

"Writing is an adventure."
                                                     Winston Churchill
To all my writer friends: Here are links to websites where you can obtain other credible reviews:
Readers Favorite:
Amazon's Top Consumer Reviewers (Many of these reviewers have their e-mails listed and a short description of what genres they prefer; Write to them to ask if they'd be willing to review your book):
Association of Independent Authors lists several credible review sites:


  1. Thank you for sharing about your journey, how you came to various decisions, and some recommendations. I used Beaver's Pond Press, which is self publishing and traditional publishing. I have been very happy with the company.
    My non-fiction book is "Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir." It came out in early March 2012 and is available on many book sites. I feel things are going well, but it is a lot of work. I have one biographical novel that is ready to be published, but I am going to wait a few months.
    I will look for your book on Amazon. Good luck and again, thanks for sharing.


    1. Hi Karen ~ Thanks for stopping by. I will also look for you on Amazon. I'll check out Beaver Pond Press too. Thanks for the info. ~ Peggy

  2. Thank you for sharing valuable information for aspiring authors. I'm sure you're right about the necessity of a professional editor, as well as a credible review, as requirements for a self-published book. I'll bookmark this blog post and refer to it again when my book is at that stage.
    I'm looking forward to reading A STOP IN THE PARK. It's on my calendar.


    1. Glad it was helpful, Sandy. Can't wait for your second novel. "I.O.U. Sex" was so good! ~ Peggy

  3. This is very helpful information. Congratulations on your Kirkus review. I love your book cover too. Thanks so much for sharing all this. I'll be stopping by to pick up a copy of your new novel.

    1. Thanks Lynn. I hope you enjoy it. ~ Peggy

  4. Congratulations Peggy on your success! This is an excellent blog post! It's having so much information and interesting decisions about how you work! Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. WOW--that is most definitely a "Golden Review!" I've marked my calendar for the 20th and will buy your book on Amazon. Please mark your calendar for the 25th for my Amazon Bestseller Launch and I'll send you more info later. Again, CONGRATULATIONS and may this be just the beginning of great things to come!

  6. These reviews are so expensive--I wonder what the New York Times Book review charges. I think you need to sell 1000 books to even try. I'd like to go for Publisher's Weekly review--Kirkus is way over my head. Anyway Peggy, congrats to you and I hope these reviews make a difference in your sales. I was thinking of going for the Pulitzer lol--I like to start at the top and work back down. This was a big help and I've saved the sites you listed. Thanks so much for the info you've given us.

    Hugs, Micki

  7. I agree with Micki. The Kirkus Review is expenisive. I cringed when I wrote the check. Thank goodness my sons are out of college, then again, one text book costs about the same as a Kirkus Review. I'm just glad it was positive. Can you imagine spending all that money for them to tell you your book is lousy? Thanks to all for the congrats. Many hugs to everyone. ~ Peggy

  8. Hi Peggy, congraulations on your shining review and all the best with your Amazon launch tomorrow.
    I really appreciate you sharing all this review informaion-I had no idea about many of these options.


  9. Hi,

    To say that I am extremely happy for you is an understatement. Fact is that I am screaming with joy over your debut. It is absolutely fantastic Peggy, and I am proud of you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help promote your book.


  10. Made the rounds reposting - Google+, Twitter and FB♥