Kirkus Reviews (2.2.18)
Have you ever read the reviews and blurbs on the back cover of a book you were considering buying? Well, I have not currently designed the Mommy Moo Moo Board Books to promote those kinds of reviews, but that’s how publishers nudge customers to take the plunge and buy their book. My board books are going to be very simple, short books to read, therefore I am hoping that a customer in a retail setting will be captivated by the story and the illustrations and make up their own mind as to whether or not to purchase the book. Am I too naive? Do customers really rely on other people’s opinions rather than trust themselves to make up their own mind to purchase a board book? I hope not. Plus, I would rather have an illustration on the back cover of the book rather than 5 blurbs of various professional organization’s opinions about my books.
So, I took the plunge. I asked Kirkus Reviews to review my first board book called Loblolly, Loblolly, You’re So Tall. Surprise! You have to pay them to review your book. I paid $425, which included a rush fee, for the professionals to review my work. I just received the review yesterday. BTW – Kirkus Reviews does not guarantee you a positive review. Yikes. They have 200 people from various walks of life reviewing manuscripts. My manuscript was a board book. I was instructed to ship 2 copies of the book to their headquarters for them to review. Why 2 copies? I don’t know. Maybe in case one of them gets coffee spilt on it and it becomes illegible?
Overall, I am very thankful and grateful for my investment – it was a positive review, however there were 6 mistakes in the review. And these are professionals. First of all, they do not have a space between the period and the letter “b” in “Illus.by” and I know that “Illus.” is short for “illustrated.” That’s not a crime, but if you write for a living, you should notice details like that. Second, they changed my illustrator’s first name from “Dave” to “David.” I don’t know about you, but I like my name acknowledged and spelled correctly. Third and fourth, they noted the format of the book as an “e-book for $3.99” with the ISBN number for the board book. Huge mistake! The ebook format of Loblolly costs $3.99, and it’s the same story, but I am currently promoting the first board book format which costs $9.99! That’s why I shipped them 2 copies of the board book. If I had wanted them to review the e-book, I would have sent the e-book version to them to review a year ago. Furthermore, if a customer was reading this review and followed up searching to buy the book, they would have been misled on the price and the ISBN number. Gheez.
Fifth, they refer to me, the writer, as “Moo Moo.” My kids call me “Moo Moo” as a nickname and after I’ve worn this name publicly 10 years into the future, maybe some of my customers will refer to me as “Moo Moo,” but the brand name is Mommy Moo Moo®. Finally, the reviewer put (Vegetable Chatter, 2016) after my truncated name which to me was maybe an attempt to note the publisher and the copyright date. What?!? Yes, Vegetable Chatter is the 2nd book that I published, but how in the heck did this title with no other reference to it end up in a review of Loblolly, Loblolly, You’re So Tall? Well, at least it’s my work and not some random title of another author’s work, but again, what a calamity of errors from a professional organization that has been in business since 1933.
My other pet peeve about this review is that the professional essentially re-told the story by quoting lines and paraphrasing lines from the book. When I read the review to my daughter Rosalina, currently age 11, she said, “Mom, all they’re doing is repeating your story.” Gheez Louise! What’s the point? This is not a novel – it’s an incredibly short, simple picture book to read to children. Can’t this writer think outside of the box and create his or her own original thoughts?
I prefer real down-to-earth people’s feedback. That’s why I have Tattoo Cow, aka Angelina, with a cartoon bubble to click on my website saying, “Feedback from the Field…”. I intentionally contacted people that I knew from all walks of my life from the past 30 years from different regions of the country (okay, okay, I mainly know people near my home state of Virginia, but I’m trying to branch out) to give me written feedback on Loblolly years ago when it was a PDF and later when it evolved into an e-book. I felt absolutely giddy when I received these reviews. I was tap dancing, because each review felt like a gift and I loved how each person wrote their unique perspective about the book.
So Kirkus Reviews – thank you for your positive review, however I prefer reviews written by down-to-earth people who can read a story, reflect on the story, and then write a review from their heart, mind, and spirit. Reading and writing. Writing and reading. Writing reviews. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.