Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Can Kirkus be trusted?

First, here is your P5 for the day:

(3) COOKIN' FOR LOVE: 48,798
(5) RATED F: 299,105

What has happened to Kirkus? The long esteemed objective reviewer of books (and has been doing so since, like, 1930 or something) has gone down the long dark path of revenue-centered promotion. Almost, dare I say, doing for reviews what POD has done for publishing.

They take your money and you sort of get something in return.

Firstly, there was the Discovery series, where Kirkus agreed to review self-published/non-traditional (sorry--they call them overlooked) books. They promise to give a full, accurate and unbiased review of any book, POD or otherwise.

For $300. Paid by the author.

How unbiased can they be? So far, I have read maybe 60 or 70 Discovery reviews and though I agree with some of them (as in the case of WAITING FOR THE WORLD TO END) I have yet to see a glimmer of negativity in any of them.

Secondly, we have the VIRGINIA KIRKUS LITERARY AWARD. Here's the deal: Submit your unpublished book to Kirkus by November 1st (bound, no less) and you have the chance to win publication. From the website:

"The winner will be awarded a standard publishing contract with Back Bay, the trade paperback imprint of Time Warner's Little, Brown. The book will be published in the fall of 2006." Wow. Sounds great!

Just don't forget to include the $150 entry fee.

So, by the time you are done making a copy of your manuscript, binding it, shipping it and including $150 smackers, you'll be out about $200.

Insane. Let's say 1,000 people enter (they'll get more). That's $150,000. Nice.

What is the author really winning? Publication with an admirable publisher.

With no advance.

And no hardback release.

It's just like the Macmillan New Writers program, except you have to pay $150-200 to get in the game. At least Xerox/Lulu are giving away $5,000 to the winner of their contest (with no entry fee!)

And people say POD publishers are scammers. Kirkus should be ashamed.