When Authors Need Critics

Patti ThornPrint remains black and white. But the world of publishing is suddenly every color of the rainbow – a rainbow that’s followed on the thunderstorm of independent publishing.

The  explosion in the number of book titles often frustrates authors and readers alike, who are left without critical assessment or direction necessary for book discovery. BlueInk Review, an online service devoted to reviewing self-published books exclusively, is looking to put blue sky to this clouded publishing picture.

“As the lines blur between traditional and self-publishing, I see us as a source where readers can come for help finding that really, really great mystery they’re after,” Patti Thorn, a BlueInk co-founder, tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally from her office in Denver, Colorado. “We use credible reviewers who offer honest opinions of books. We have editors that go over the reviews to make sure they cover all the bases, that they substantiate what they’re saying. The reviews themselves are very well crafted, and are edited, which I think is really important as well.”

Blue Ink Review LogoBlueInk reviews are syndicated on Ingram’s iPage and Oasis databases;  selectively in a monthly roundup on Publishing Perspectives and Self Publishing Review websites; and selectively in a monthly report used for acquisitions by the Douglas County library system, with a circulation of eight million. They are also syndicated to iDreamBooks.com, a discoverability site that aggregates professional book reviews  (think Rotten Tomatoes for books) in order to help readers find the best titles, traditionally and self published.

Patti Thorn was a long-time writer and editor at the Denver-based Rocky Mountain News, which closed in February 2009. She served the last 12 years of her tenure there as chief book critic and editor of the book review pages. Patti is the co-author of Fun Places to Go with Children in Colorado, published by Chronicle Books, and she has served as an independent editor for both fiction and nonfiction. Along with literary agent Patricia Moosbrugger, Patti Thorn co-founded BlueInk three years ago.

One Response to “When Authors Need Critics”

  1. Christopher Richards August 16, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

    I ghostwrite business books. Almost all are self-published. I recommend business authors to go this route for reasons I won’t go into here. I see a common mistake with new authors in the business arena who send their books to a few well-meaning colleagues who then write a few glowing (and sometimes gushing) words as to the value of the book.

    The problem is these “faux reviews” are easy to spot. On Amazon they tend to be all five-star reviews. They lack any sort of criticism. Moreover, they are usually all written within a narrow time frame. By clicking on the reviewer’s name it often turns out that the reviewer has never, or rarely, written other reviews. On the other hand there are the review-by-volume. Do these people actually read beyond the conclusion and the introduction? This type of review is rarely informative and often written under a pen name.

    Honest and sensible reviews are of great value and take some skill to write. I was asked by a publisher in Oxford, UK to review some academic books on a topic of interest to me, but they were so appallingly written, I wrote back saying that I could review these books but I would have little to say that would encourage an audience that isn’t compelled to buy the book for a class.A high book price is a red flag. Of course academics don’t have to torture their captive readers. When a reader has choice the author of a non-fiction book has to seduce her reader in wanting to know more. It must engage, inform, and stimulate thinking.

Leave a Reply