Book Reviews: A Terrifying Process

nail biting terrified

Last Friday, it came.

Staring me down from its place in my inbox was the subject line:

Your review is ready to download.

The review of which I speak is the Kirkus review of my novelette, The Tale of Nottingswood.

kirkus review

Now, the internationally respected Kirkus, who proclaim themselves as “The World’s Toughest Critics,” is a big deal–especially for those of us who self-publish. A great Kirkus review means greater exposure and marketing possibilities, so you can imagine the jet-pack-wearing-butterflies in my stomach when, after 2 months of waiting, my review finally came in.

Even though Kirkus is a “pay-to-play” service, a glowing review is not a guarantee. What is guaranteed is an honest review, leaving the choice to publish the review up to the author.

But why was I scared?

  • Am I that neurotic? (Well, yes, but that’s beside the point.)
  • What if my book is not as good as I think it is?
  • What if the reviewer is not a good match for my genre?
  • What if they just don’t “get it?”
  • What if they find a typo?
  • What if, what if, what if, what if?!?!

Your book is your baby, so it’s natural to take criticism personally–especially when that criticism is coming from an organization who has been reviewing books for over 80 years!

What does a man do when he’s afraid to do something? That’s right. He calls his wife to do it for him.

ME: Hey, sweetie? The Kirkus review came in. I need you to read it for me, then call me back.


A few minutes later.


ME: Yeah?


That’s not a good start.

WIFE: …well, don’t they have to give you a good review because you paid for it?

Crap. A bad review.

ME: No. Why?

WIFE: Wow, then they really liked your book!

Excerpt from Kirkus Reviews’ review of The Tale of Nottingswood (emphasis added):

Young’s whimsical narrative is superb. He spins a fairy tale written almost exclusively in verse that flows beautifully throughout his short tale…. The fairy-tale elements, such as magical creatures and an enchanted cloak, will appeal to a young audience, while the underlying moral questions of good and evil, the privilege of free will, and the value of taking risks will intrigue readers of all ages. Grace’s cleverly drawn illustrations vivify the adventure, and those of the evil Ms. Grouse are particularly fun. While Young’s work feels inspired by Dr. Seuss and C.S. Lewis, he creates a story that is uniquely his own.

A touching fable that speaks to readers of all ages.Kirkus Reviews

The Tale of Nottingswood cover JR YoungA Novelette by JR Young. Experience the dystopian upside-down town of Nottingswood. Visit and read the first 28 pages of JR’s latest novelette, The Tale of Nottingswood, for free. Available now in print. Get the eBook on iBooks, NookKobo, and all other formats, including Kindle, right here.

Don’t forget to follow JR on Facebook.

Click here to join JR on Goodreads for Q&A’s, quotes and more. Read his interview with Smashwords here.

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