All our reviewers are given thorough guidelines about how to approach a BlueInk review. We invite you to read the bulk of the letter all new reviewers are sent in order to better understand our standards. (The letter has been edited to remove logistical or proprietary information.)
Hello and welcome! We are excited you are interested in reviewing books for BlueInk Review.
BlueInk Review is committed to providing honest, objective reviews to self-publishing authors. Its founders are publishing insiders devoted to addressing the needs of the independent publisher and self publisher. We are proud of our vision and believe that, with your help, we will fill a huge void in the publishing world. Our deepest hope is that together, we will also discover some great new authors along the way!
Please hold these books to the same standards you would any book from a traditional publishing house. They must be clear, compelling reads to earn your recommendation.
Keep in mind that the reviews will be offered by the “institution,” rather than individual authors. Although your name will be listed on our website along with those of all of our reviewers, we aren't using bylines on each review, so please refrain from using first person. In addition, while we encourage you to be honest, even brutally honest if necessary, we expect all reviews to be respectful. We don't want to sound smug or snarky. Don't pull your punches, but don't hit below the belt, either. Our goal is to offer honest appraisals, not to humiliate authors who have often put their hearts and souls into their books.
Handling Lack of Editing
If you discover books that have poor grammar, typos, and incorrect spelling, please note this in your review, as no one will want to plow through a book that is littered with errors. But don't dwell on it, if possible. We would rather you devote most of your space to the story and information imparted.
Book Covers and Jackets
Although these books will vary in their production values, please don't comment on book jackets, binding, etc. — just the actual content between the covers (with the exception of children's picture books, photography books or graphic novels, where production can be key).
Policy on Reading the Entire Book
…We are guaranteeing authors a full read and review of every book. If you don't feel that you can make that commitment, we would ask that you fore-go signing up with us to be a reviewer.
All reviews must be a minimum of 250 words and a maximum of 300 words. We want these to be tightly written pieces that get to the heart of the book and its merits.
While we aren't asking reviewers to assign ratings to books, we do ask that you award a “star” to those titles you believe truly stand out — and not just among self-published titles. We want our “starred” books to be those that would be standouts, even if they had been published through traditional sources.
All starred reviews will be featured prominently on our site and in our promotions. (Note that we will take your opinion into serious consideration, though we may occasionally overrule your star suggestion.) The following criteria may help you determine which books deserve your highest rating:
- If the book is a genre novel, it demonstrates an awareness of all conventions of the genre, including length and tone, setting, level of violence (mysteries, thrillers) or titillation (romance), plot points and characterization. (The novel doesn't have to adhere to all conventions, however. If you see a strong, knowledgeable hand guiding the choices made to expand or break through convention, you'll know it!)
- In any novel, the world is fully realized and all that happens is appropriate and believable within that world.
- In nonfiction, the prose is skillfully crafted and readable, the information deep enough and the organization clear and well-thought out.
- In any book, the writing is appropriate for the intended audience.
- In any book, the writing is compelling and fresh, demonstrating a keen understanding and intent.
- Most importantly, the book excels at the specific objective the author is attempting to reach. Is the humor book funny? Funnier than most? Does the literary novel transport you? Does the self-help book inspire you?
The books to which you award stars will be reviewed a second time by our Editorial Board to determine whether they also will be named a “BlueInk Best Book.” Our Board assesses your starred books in the same way an editorial board at a respected publishing company might discuss an acquisition editor's pitch, determining whether the book wide appeal. If you think a book particularly merits a “BlueInk Best Book Award,” please write a note to us at the bottom of the review. We welcome this input!!
Deadlines will be extremely important, as we are guaranteeing authors a specific turnaround from the time we receive the review to the time we post it on the website. We will be sticking to a strict 3-week turnaround from the time you receive the book, or 2-week turnaround in the case of our “Fast-Track Reviews” (we will get your approval before sending these books). Your book will come with the deadline date attached. If, at any point, you realize that you will not be able to complete the review on time, we will need to know immediately in order to re-assign the book to another reviewer.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
If we happen to send you a book that presents a conflict of interest for you, we will expect to be notified immediately. These conflicts could include: the author is a friend; you have a prejudice against the topic of the book; you've helped edit or had a hand in the production of the book in some way, etc. If you see any conflict, we will need to reassign the book to another reviewer as soon as possible, so your consideration in letting us know this quickly will be much appreciated.
Thanks for plowing through all of this information. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to let us know.
We greatly look forward to working with you!