I laid down five hundred and seventy-five dollars for a three hundred and fifty word review.
Given that I was feeling a little sheepish at somehow – I still don’t quite understand it – throwing away thirty dollars on two copies of a proof that I knew needed correcting, chucking the better part of six hundred dollars at a short review does seem a little odd. So let me try to explain, for my own benefit as much as anyone else’s.
I’m coming at this from a standing start. I have no momentum whatsoever (merry-go-rounds just about starting to turn notwithstanding), so I have to drum up interest somehow. CreateSpace has a link to Kirkus Reviews, who appear to be a legit organization. For cold hard cash they will give books short reviews and publicize them through their various channels – website, magazine, newsletter etc.
To make the whole exercise worthwhile they review your book properly. That is to say, they actually review it, coming to a conclusion good, bad or indifferent. Let’s face it, reviews from http://www.wegivegreatreviewsinexchangeformoney.com wouldn’t be worth reading.
Apparently, once your review is in you have the opportunity to bury it. You can say, ‘Oh. Let’s keep that quiet, then,’ and everyone discreetly looks the other way.
So I came to be thinking: What will I do if I get a terrible review?
It’s a tricky one. Given where I am, I think maybe even a terrible review might be better than nothing. I know I’ve read terrible reviews and gone on to read/watch/play whatever it was being reviewed despite, or even perversely because, of the review. In fact, I went through a stage of seeking out video games with dreadful reviews, and I enjoyed quite a few of them (Damnation is a bad/good favourite).
Given that I will have paid north of a pound per word, I wonder how dreadful the review would have to be for me to decide that it should never see the light of day. And how about this: what if the review is merely luke-warm or even, whisper it, good?
However it turns out it will be interesting to have an opinion from an honest broker, someone without a dog in the race, as it were. I’ve had some feedback from a work colleague and my partner. They both seemed to say my book is not terrible, but how would they say it is terrible, if they thought it?
I guess that’s why I laid the money down; because I need to know. This whole project comes crashing down if the book is not up to snuff, and ultimately that is something you cannot hide from. At this point – publishing – you have to lay your cards on the table, and if you have a bum hand there’s not much you can do about it. It is what it is now, good or bad, and it will be out there for people to judge.
At least one lucky person gets to pass judgment with a fraction of my six hundred in their pocket. So yes, that’s what I did. Paid money to a stranger to call me out on my delusions – maybe.