An Installment in the Saga of DRAWER NO MORE!
>> View all posts in this series.
In fairness to Kirkus Reviews, I’ll readily admit that they have some fine employees. When I wrote to express my disappointment with the review I’d purchased of my novel, Our Orbit, I was surprised to encounter a very helpful young man. I assume he was young since he was working as a first-line responder to email inquiries like mine. I’ll call him Thad.
Among Thad’s helpful reminders was this: “Our reviews are required to meet a minimum word count of 250 words.” So at 348 words, my review was laden with gravy.
Point taken, Thad…although nearly 100 of those words were mine rather than the reviewer’s—quotations from Our Orbit padding the lukewarm remarks.
Nonetheless, in spite of my jaundiced attitude, I was impressed when Thad stated that he would, “present your concerns to our editors.” In case you didn’t read DRAWER NO MORE! last week, my primary complaint was that the review I’d bought so dearly contained a spoiler revealing a major plot point. I felt this made the whole thing unusable due to Kirkus’s policy requiring permission to publish the complete review if the buyer quotes so much as one phrase (which is, of course, the point).
So I pricked up my ears when Thad suggested that senior editors might actually consider the issues I’d raised and offer some solution. Three weeks went by without further word. When I wrote again to ask Thad if I should expect a reply, his answer came the next day:
“The Indie Editors … have decided that we cannot alter the review. It is Kirkus Indie’s policy to only address those matters related to factual inaccuracies …
“Regarding the point about the [spoiler], very often our reviewers are not able to elaborate on each and every plot point found in a given work… However, they must inform a reader of certain points… We do understand your frustration and disappointment, but we have certain editorial guidelines that we follow.”
Do I detect a bit of circular reasoning? Kirkus reviewers cannot elaborate every plot point, but they must inform readers about certain points. And just because I withheld a plot twist until page 191, treating it as an elaborate family secret, that was apparently no reason to select some other point to elaborate for those demanding readers.
Okay, okay. As friends have assured me several times by now, I’m making much ado about very little. Are spoilers such a serious thing? Goodreads.com accommodates spoiler alerts on reader reviews, but Amazon has discontinued that practice. Even if an author objects to revealing statements in a review, Amazon will do nothing to post an alert. (Guess how I know.)
Moreover, millions of people know how such books as To Kill A Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby turn out. Or Gone Girl or The Secret History or The Hunger Games. And that does nothing to keep new readers away. So, yes—I’m overreacting. I should be so lucky as to have fans clamoring over Our Orbit, discussing the plot twists and characters, accidentally spilling the beans about what happens on page 191.
Maybe I’ll go ahead and put that brief, mildly flattering, quote from my Kirkus review on the back cover of my book. Maybe I’ll even publish it here on my blog.
If Kirkus responds by putting up the full review, complete with spoiler, in some obscure corner of their website—so much the better. If one or two people stumble upon it and find the secret—don’t tell anybody, please?
And thank you, Thad, for making an effort to talk to those “Indie Editors” on my behalf.