Two days ago, my publisher sent me an email with these words in the subject line: "New Trade Review."
This was my first-ever trade review. My first book was published by such a small press that all the trades opted not to review it. The trade magazines, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, are widely read in the book industry. Library systems and booksellers read them to decide what to order (translation: how many copies will sell). Buzz can be created. The vast majority of books released each year never appear in their pages.
It's a big deal to get a review in a trade, any review, because that means my cover and my story will show up in the inboxes of everyone in the book world--the same book world that has meant so much to me since before I could see over the library circulation desk.
It's a little hard to believe.
My first trade review--and maybe only one, I don't know yet--came from Kirkus. I have enough author friends to know to be a bit afraid to open that review. Kirkus reviews are short, 300 words or less, always contain mostly plot, and can be dismissive, mocking, even rude. They sling around phrases like "not enough" or "fine but" or "less than." Many of the books that got dinged in that way went on to become New York Times bestsellers, but it had to sting. Fortunately for me, the joy and gratitude of learning I'd been reviewed at all still frothed through my veins and propelled me to start reading before I remembered any of that.
And they liked it! (You can read the full review on the home page of this website.) There was no snark. No comparisons to other works in which THE DARKEST FLOWER was found lacking. Not a single negative anywhere. They said my main lawyer character "burns with a hard and gemlike flame" in service of her client, which, quite frankly, is such a great compliment and so beautifully phrased I wish I'd written it. They said the story as a whole was "a female-forward courtroom drama," which is exactly what I intended it to be.
I will breathe a huge sigh of relief. Even if the other trades ignore the book entirely, or hate it outright, I've achieved a milestone I never thought I'd see when I despaired that I'd ever get to hold a book in my hands.
THE DARKEST FLOWER:
LYING BENEATH THE OAKS: