Using reviews from Kirkus and Foreword

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Foreword is a publication. The magazine reviews books and interviews authors. It’s got a circulation that’s built heavily upon the authors who submit works for review, or enter Forword’s contests. However, some part of its readership runs bookstores, publishes books, and the other traditional exploits of the Literary Industrial Complex.

Foreword reviews are not often used in blurbs, compared to Kirkus. Foreword has Clarion as a paid review arm. The Kirkus name is well known and remains so because Kirkus also has a paid review arm—but its paid blurbs do not appear labeled any differently than its editorial coverage. This is not a scam; every single review source that’s credible has a commercial side. Even the Des Moines Register needs subscribers to review books — although it does little of that anymore. Paying for play in the Register gets you on the same pages as the editorial. We used to call it advertorial. Paying for play in Kirkus lets you use their name.

Kirkus also publishes a review digest. It’s a massive, approaching-200-page tome. It sells ads for books inside that digest. My memoir Stealing Home made its way into a review digest, catalogued in the Indie section.

In contrast, Foreword rarely reviews a book that doesn’t have a publisher attached. And no, those little “imprints” we all create when we self-publish don’t count as publishers when a publication like Foreword chooses which .005 percent of submitted books they will cover. Serious consideration from review sources is one of the things that we win as authors when we get our publishing contracts, however small. In exchange, we lose control of the schedule, pricing, final creative say-so, and all the rest. 

If you have a publisher, have them submit to Foreword. Their review publication also runs ads. Have the publisher build a small ad. You get serious consideration — but only if you and your publisher pitch for this earned media coverage.

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