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White reviewers reviewing black books


Guest Karen Sloan-Brown

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Guest Karen Sloan-Brown

Good morning readers and writers, I have a terrible bellyache this morning. I had one of my books reviewed by Kirkus, and received my review today. The problem was not that I received a bad review, the reviewer stated it was, "A richly textured, affecting tale of a family’s resilience in the face of injustice." My issue is that she referred to a historical fiction book about slavery and the aftermath in one family as a soap opera. In my mind, the black experience is not a Life Time movie and can never be described as a "soap opera." I don't have the words to express my feelings, insulted doesn't quite hit it. I would love to have some black readers review my book. It's titled, "The Fortunes of Blues and Blessings." It's available on am*zon and on my website brownreflections.com, but I will gladly send anyone a free copy who is interested. kandcbrown@comcast.net

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Hi Karen, it is not so much that the reviewer was white it is more a function of Kirkus' business model.   Now most writers would simply run with the quote;

 

“A richly textured, affecting tale of a family’s resilience in the face of injustice.”
—Kirkus

 

... and be very happy.  It is the service Kirkus sells. You are buying the "white co-sign," otherwise know as credibility. Which indie authors believe will lead to media coverage and sales.  Of course, that is not the way book reviews work, but that is an entirely different conversation.

 

Now Kirkus reviews start at $450 for 250 wordsAALBC reviews are $299 (most of the cost goes to the reviewer and editor).  Even it we review a book at no cost to the author, AALBC still incurs the expense to pay the reviewer and editor.  As a result, we do not review may book for "free."

 

I did not use Kirkus reviews to discover books, the reviews are basically 200 words rehashing the book's plot followed by something quotable (like the one above).  The closest a consumer will get to a kirkus review is on the book's jacket or marketing materials.  

 

I do however use Kirkus Awards for book discovery, but that is a different thing.

 

Bottom line, if we (readers, authors, and publishers) want to have critical book reviews written by professional writers and published platforms with an audience we HAVE to support the platforms that write these book reviews! 

 

We have to share the reviews, print the quotes on book covers and promotional materials; We have to act like these reviews matter.  Because if we don't, all we will be left with is the likes of Kirkus.

 

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Guest Karen Sloan-Brown

Hello Troy,

You are quite correct on the Kirkus review. It did basically do a summary of the book, a poor one in fact. I thought I would get a quality review. I will definitely use this site for my reviews from now on. 

Karen

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