How can a 3-year-old book receive a positive rating from Kirkus, and even earn a Kirkus Star, yet still have almost no sales? I have a book coming out in a few months, and I thought if I had a positive Kirkus review, I would just promote it, and put everything on rise control from there.

The book to which I'm referring is called "Juggle and Hide." It's sales rank is over a million! Anything under 10,000 is considered good. This doesn't make sense to me. Even when you type the name of the book into Amazon's search field, you can type "Juggle and Hid" (without the "e" to complete the word, and it STILL doesn't autopopulate that single last letter. Even with the best reviews, it's as if the book doesn't exist! Can someone please explain this to me?

3 Answers 3


A good review means the reviewer liked it. It does not mean anybody else did. Something can be intensely liked by a small group of people and ignored by everyone else. It can be a very fine example of a kind of literature that appeals to very few people. The my-childhood-was-wacky-because-my-parents-were-awful genre is probably one of those.

And three years is a long time. Everyone who was ever going to buy a copy may already have one by now.


There is no one single magic bullet that performs all the work of promoting your book for you. This is why it is so hard to self-publish successfully unless you are also a great salesperson. Most "name" publishers put some time and resources in to promotion, but these days, even with the best publisher, you are expected to handle much of your own promotion.

Typically a good review in a respected publication such as Kirkus helps you gain more publicity, because it grants you legitimacy, but it isn't going to sell the book all by itself. It's a good thing to mention in interviews and put on the book cover, it probably drove a fair number of direct-to-library sales, and it's likely to help her sell her next book to a publisher more easily, but it isn't like winning the lottery.

There's a very short list of accolades that single-handedly convey success, and that's only because they generate so much widespread publicity on their own: The Pulitzer, the Booker, the Nobel, the Newberry and the Caldecott, Oprah's Book Club. Anything outside of those is nothing more than a boost in the right direction.


To top what Mark Baker said, just because it won a award for something, doesn't mean it will translate to commercial success. It is highly rated in Amazon as having all reviews being a 5 star. Surely the people who are interested in it and who have read it think very highly of it.

Also just because it won an award doesn't mean it is a prestigious enough of an award to merit global sales. To be honest, I personally have not heard of kirkus award and spent a good bit of time googling it and reading their site. It sounds nice, but it doesn't really seem to do much more than provide monetary compensation for a writing competition.

If people are interested in promoting their book through winning awards, it might be best to do research on where you are submitting for an award. Regardless though if a book has an award or not, it's got to appeal to the masses. Books about a rough childhood aren't that appealing. In the end everyone has had some form of rough childhood from their own perspective and a lot of people want to tell their own version. This isn't bad in itself but most people read books to escape their current world. That is why fiction and in particular fantasy are such huge genres. They want to be taken off into another world and have it not be so close to home. Reading stories that mimic their lives may not be ideal to most people.

Books are just like any other invention or product out there, just because it is really well made and wins awards for it being so well made doesn't mean people will actually find a need for it and buy it.

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