A Kirkus Star? What's that?

So I've had to explain this several dozen times this week and figured I'd blog about it. First off, allow me to shout into the heavens: I GOT A KIRKUS STAR!!! (Cue Snoopy happy dance.) This is when you say: what the heck is that?

So, Kirkus Reviews is an American institution in book reviews (Publishers Weekly is another top dog.) It is a trade publication for the publishing industry, one that is known for being tough on authors, both of traditional and independent (ahem) variety. I have been waiting for my turn for months and was CONVINCED it would be a bad one because that's what Kirkus does. My husband told me over and over again that it wouldn't be... that I am a great writer... "you'll see." (He's also the one who told me I didn't look fat when I was nine months pregnant.)

On Monday I received my review from Kirkus. You can read it here. It was amazing--I CAN write! See? See?-- and included that little blue star every author wants. A Kirkus Star, according to this Washington Post article, is awarded to about 2 percent of the 3,000 independent books it reviews. That's 60 books. And this year, I am one of them.

What does this all mean? Well, they loved the book, for one. It's likely the book will get more attention in literary circles--hooray! Sales? Maybe. Book deals? Movie deals? Maybe. Maybe. (My chances are a lot better now, hence the Snoopy happy dancing.)

To me, the Kirkus Star means I did the book right. I have been saying all week that had I followed one piece of stinking advice from an agent or publisher I would have never earned that stellar review. I wrote American Boys the only way I knew how and that was with heart. I recall one agent telling me that if I did it this way it wouldn't amount to anything. These are the people who know the value of everything but the worth of nothing. I know that, from the e-mails I have received, that the book has touched lives and made people feel. And that's what it was always supposed to do.

But a Kirkus Star? Holy moley.