Q. How do I order a review?
A. Go to our How it Works page to learn how to order a BlueInk review in four easy steps. If you are ready to get started on your order, click Purchase, and follow the clear instructions. You’ll be able to pay by credit card and can choose whether you’ll mail BlueInk your physical book or upload a PDF of your e-book.
Q. What features and services set you apart?
A. You’ll find the special features of each review, as well as lists of targeted features for librarians, booksellers, agents, publishers and, of course, authors on our Features and Services page. You might also take a look at our post-review “Get Found!” page, which offers authors opportunities to make their reviews even more visible to those who count.
Q. What kind of books do you accept for review?
A. BlueInk accepts any book on any subject* that has been published at least in part through the efforts and payments of its author (commonly called a “self-published” or “independently published” book). Even if your publisher ultimately pays you royalties, if you had to finance the deal in some way, including, for example, by committing to purchase a quantity of books, your book would qualify for a review. We also accept books from companies commonly known as “hybrids” (enterprises that provide both fee-based and non fee-based services), as long as you were required to pay in some manner to get the book published.
We also review ebooks, print-on-demand books, graphic novels, printed books in any format, English translations and English-language submissions from outside the United States, as well as galleys.
*including poetry; excluding pornography
Q. Why don’t you review traditionally published books?
A. Our corporate vision rests on finding the best of self-published books and bringing them to the attention of the reading world. By focusing on this specific market, rather than including traditionally published books as well, we have been able to tailor our site to the special needs of the self-publisher and independent publisher.
Q. Why should I have to pay for a review? Don’t some companies and newspapers review books for free? And what about the free reviews I can get online from regular readers and bloggers?
A. All review publications must find funding somewhere. Traditionally, print review publications have been financed in large part by advertisements and subscriptions from the mainstream publishing industry, whose books are then reviewed “free” to the author, yet in fact are subsidized by the traditional publisher. Just as self-publishers pay for their own marketing and other efforts as “publishers” of their books, they must wear their “publisher” hat when obtaining reviews. Moreover, even top books published by mainstream publishers hit a wall these days when seeking free reviews as newspapers’ review pages disappear and review magazines shrink and fold completely. Bloggers often start out reviewing self-published books and then quit in the wake of the incredible volume they receive — or only choose a small number of titles to review each year. Fee-based reviews provide an important means for all authors to be assured that their books can obtain quality reviews.
In terms of crowd-sources reviews, that’s a question every author has to address himself. We believe that a credible review from a trusted source holds much more marketing weight than a crowd-sourced review. We think our reviewers’ professionalism and knowledge is worth paying for, and that there is a significant and substantive difference between the work of a professional who has spent years of his or her life in the book industry and a casual reviewer. That’s why we pay our reviewers – and why we hope you’ll feel comfortable paying us.
Q. How do I get my book to you?
A. After you place your order, we ask that you mail us two copies of your book. You’ll be given instructions at checkout. Regarding digital books, many of our reviewers prefer to read print. For this reason, we charge a $19.95 service fee so that we can print your book out for our reviewers.
Q. How does BlueInk help my book get seen by agents, publishers, booksellers, librarians and readers?
A. The experience and reputations of our managing partners within the professional book world immediately sets BlueInk apart as a company of note. But that only goes so far, of course, so we aggressively market our site through social networking, email marketing, publishing conferences, blogging, and other means. We email out a monthly newsletter to industry professionals, touting the best books we find. Finally, we’ve designed our site so that the user experience is particularly satisfying to the markets self-publishers most need to reach. Each special interest group will easily find the type of books they are most interested in through our specialized searches and friendly, clear navigation
Q. What happens if I don’t get a receipt when I order my book? Or if I send you my book but don’t hear back? How do I know you’ve received it?
A. We send an email confirmation after an order has been completed. We also send an email notice when we receive the book. If you haven’t received notification of each step (leaving enough time for the book to arrive based on how you sent it), make sure to write us immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will respond promptly and determine where the problem has originated.
Q. When does the clock start for my book review?
A. The clock starts when we receive your book, not from the time you place your order.
Q. Why do you need two copies of my book?
A. We send one copy to the reviewer, and our in-house Reviews Editor needs an extra copy for fact-checking.
Q. Am I guaranteed a review after I submit my books and payment?
A. Yes, as long as it meets the guidelines outlined above.
Q. Will you guarantee that my review is positive, since I am paying for it?
A. Sorry, but no. All reviews will be completely honest and objective.
Q. Who will review my book?
A. All our reviewers are fully vetted and highly qualified, meaning they have written for major mainstream publications or notable websites, worked as editors for respected publishing companies or have demonstrated expertise in the subject matter of the book. For more details on how reviewers approach their task, take a look at our Reviewer Guidelines. You can also read bios of our Reviewers.
Q. Why are your individual reviews written anonymously?
A. We believe that the value of each review rests on the weight of the company’s reputation, rather than on the name of any individual reviewer. While we rely on a wonderful staff of highly qualified reviewers, we also have many safeguards for quality built into the larger process. All reviews are vetted by editors for fairness, consistency in tone and other factors, making the review a company “product,” rather than the sole work of an individual writer.
In addition, our policy of reviewer anonymity protects our critics from the wrath of angry authors or the accolades of happy ones. Thus, it further ensures the objectivity of the review, as the nature of the review cannot hurt or help a reviewer’s career.
Q. Can I choose my reviewer?
A. Sorry, no. Our reviewers will have no contact with the authors of the books they review. In fact, our authors will never know which specific reviewer has been assigned to critique their books. However, each book is carefully matched–by a person, not an algorithm—to its reviewer.
Q. Can I resubmit my book for a second review?
A. No again–it just wouldn’t be fair. How could we choose which review to run? You can always opt out of running your review on our website if you don’t like it.
Q. But what if the reviewer really missed the boat?
A. We are all human, and we won’t always get it right. If there are substantive factual errors that impact the integrity of the review, please write us at email@example.com. If we agree, we’ll pull the review and re-assign it.
Q. How long will my review be?
A. None of our reviews will be shorter than 250 words and most will be between 250-300 words. We have opted for brevity, provided insight and accuracy are preserved, as our web audience is likely to include many busy professionals whose time is limited.
Q. How long will my review run on your website?
A. All reviews are archived on our website for a minimum of five years and will be easily searchable.
Q. Why do the reviews take so long to complete? Even 4 to 5 weeks seems like a long time to wait for a review.
A. We need the time to assign the reviewer, allow for the book to be read and reviewed, and to edit the review. This often means communicating back and forth with the reviewer, which can be a time-consuming process.
Q. What’s the difference between a Starred review and a BlueInk Best Book Award?
A. Starred reviews are books selected by an individual reviewer, based on our written set of criteria. They are standouts of the highest quality, books reviewers feel are especially worthy of reader attention. All books that receive Starred reviews are then considered a second time to determine whether they also will be named a BlueInk Best Book, our highest honor. You’ll find more details about Starred reviews on our Methodology page.
In determining a BlueInk Best Book Award winner, we consider many factors, bringing our extensive industry experience to bear on the decision. They include: competition for the subject matter on bookshelves (if the reading world is already saturated with similar titles, we may defer from giving the book our BlueInk Best Book designation); the audience for the book (is it large enough for the book to merit wide attention?); the freshness of the style and, finally, our collective passion for the title. While we aim to analyze all factors as objectively as possible, we also recognize that publishing is an inherently subjective endeavor and that passion can, and sometimes should, trump practicality.
Q. What do I get if my book earns a Starred review or the designation of a BlueInk Best Book Award?
A. All Starred reviews and BlueInk Best Books will be listed under the “Notable Books” category in our search options. This allows readers and industry professionals to find the best books on our site with the click of a button. In addition, BlueInk Best Books are featured on the landing page of the site, with a copy of the book’s cover and a note from BlueInk editors explaining why the book merits reader and industry attention. BlueInk Best Books and Starred reviews are promoted in email newsletters to industry professionals.
Q. Where will my review be posted?
A. All reviews are posted on our website, as well as on Ingram’s ipage and Oasis databases. Selected titles are syndicated to: Publishing Perspectives, a website used by global publishing insiders; idreambooks.com, a website that aggregates reviews of self-published books (think Rotten Tomatoes); and the Douglas County (CO) Library System. We also offer a free app that allows readers to find titles that receive stellar reviews. We are continually working to expand our reach.
Q. What makes BlueInk so special?
A. Our site reaches out to both the self-publisher seeking visibility, and to the reading world seeking an authoritative filter, as we believe the needs of each world overlap. Our unique search options make books simple to find by those who can be instrumental in a book’s success. For example, librarians and booksellers can search for self-published books by the author’s hometown, a factor they use in determining whether to stock self-published work. Meanwhile, publishers and agents can search for books according to their sales figures and marketing successes, in order to find material they might be interested in representing or publishing.
Moreover, all books that are on Google Books are posted on our site with Google Preview functionality, allowing readers to sample the book’s prose. In addition, all books have social networking icons posted with their reviews; all authors have an opportunity to link their review back to their own website; all authors can email us with updated information on their sales figures and awards, which we will list in our “Author Platform” line offered below each review. Authors can also purchase a classified ad, noting upcoming speaking engagements or other news, on our Marketplace page.
Finally, we provide the opportunity for all writers of ebooks to obtain reviews through uploading their books as PDFs on our site.
In short, we have done our utmost to include the features on our site that will allow authors to reach out to readers and industry professionals in the most meaningful ways possible.
Q: What is the “Author Platform” you have listed in Features &for a Services?
A: Publishers, agents, booksellers and librarians like to know if a book has special advantages in terms of attracting reader interest. If a self-published book has already sold hundreds of copies, for example, this is a good indication that the book has potential for widespread appeal. An author’s background can also be an indicator of a book’s potential for success. (If the author is a popular speaker, has won significant writing awards or important endorsements, or has attended prestigious writing workshops, for instance, he is more likely to have the credibility that attracts readers.)
Because this information is important to industry professionals, we offer the opportunity for authors to list these advantages in a line at the bottom of their review. An author might write, for example, “Sold 5,000 copies in 10 months. Houston Chronicle bestseller and Indie Excellence Book Award winner.”
BlueInk reserves the right to refuse an “Author Platform” line to those whose achievements don’t rise to the appropriate level of significance.
Q. What is the Marketplace?
A. The Marketplace is a resource directory for self-publishers, where we offer paid ad space and links to anyone who offers services to the self-publisher, independent publisher, or aspiring author. It’s also a great place for authors to list their upcoming speeches and events.
Q. Do you provide any follow-up after my review has run?
A. We’re not a closed door, we’re part of the conversation. We hope authors will continue to let us know as good things happen with their books, especially as a result of their review. If you have big news to share (for example, if your book got picked up by a major distributor, you sold movie rights or your book to a major publisher or hit a bestseller list), email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll consider writing about it on our site.