In the interest of helping authors who are trying to decide whether or not to order a BlueInk review, we offer the following Q&A with novelist Eldot (pen name), who has submitted six books to BlueInk Review. Below, he recounts his experience with the company:
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and the book(s) you submitted to BlueInk Review.
A: Five years ago, in response to urging by family members, I began writing a journal. These memoir segments evolved over time into expanded, fictionalized accounts of family events. It was clear that I had skill and talent, so when the occasion presented itself, I began what I planned to be a short story. It kept growing; eventually it became a five-novel series. What a surprise.
After the series was complete, my publisher persuaded me to invest in a BlueInk review of the first book. The idea was to use that to promote sales; the plan included an option to include the review in subsequent printings of the book. The cost was a bit more than I liked, but I thought it worth trying. It was not as expensive as going directly to the big name review service, Kirkus.
Q: Why did you feel that you needed a review?
A: Book sales had slowed considerably, and I recognized that that having the books professionally reviewed would likely have a positive effect. I have no expertise in sales, so this seemed a good first step. There are so many new books being issued, and so many unknown writers, that the public needs to rely on endorsements and the like. It is a convention in our media-driven society. A review quote draws attention because it is short and simple. If there is none, the customer is likely to move on unless the picture or title forces them to stop and look.
Q: What were your concerns about ordering a book review?
A: The major concern I had was that the subject matter (an adolescent’s sexual self-discovery) might prove troublesome. It is unusual and its treatment is entirely my own invention; I know of no precise comparables. In many ways, it is pioneering—or was in 2012. I am pleased to report that BlueInk was equal to the assignment.
Q: What led you to choose BlueInk Review?
A: My publisher suggested getting a review as a way of increasing book sales. I was sufficiently pleased with the first review to arrange for two more through my publisher’s program. I dealt directly with BlueInk for the fourth, fifth and sixth books. I found that arrangement to be far more satisfactory, as well as less costly.
Q: What was your reaction to the review: Did you feel that it addressed the pertinent points of your book? Was the synopsis accurate? Was the criticism and praise well supported?
A: Since I had never been reviewed before, I wasn’t sure how to react. I was pleased in most respects, but there were elements that escaped mention. On reflection, I realized that a reviewer can’t be expected to mention everything—a full-length novel is likely to have too much to evaluate or write about; it is limited in order to have any focus, any real meaning. What is said represents the reviewer’s sense of what is most important to potential readers, in the space available. What was said was accurate, measured, and well expressed. I was pleased. Many of my friends and colleagues were very pleased. Perhaps surprised.
Q: What were the elements of the review you most appreciated?
A: Most appreciated was the care and accuracy in handling what is arguably the most controversial element in the story—the character’s sexual self-discovery. That’s what coming-of-age stories usually skim over or avoid altogether. It was important to me that that area of the book be understood and not misrepresented. Each review has done well in that regard.
Q: How did you find the order and delivery process, including promptness of delivery, ease of submission and so on?
A: BlueInk has developed a convenient, easy-to-use protocol for submitting review requests. They are prompt and courteous and delighted to handle all inquiries in a personal as well as professional manner; they made me comfortable and at ease, and respected for what I do. They have expanded and streamlined their website and their author helps; they help a writer feel at home in what they do and be a part of the professional writer’s world, which is otherwise solitary and exclusive. I’m not an expert, but it looks to me like the other services are now imitating BlueInk features and prices.
Q: How does your experience with BlueInk Review compare with other book review services you may have used?
A: I used two additional services with my most recent book. They were satisfactory, but not as thorough. One gave the impression that the book had not been read all the way through, or that it had been sampled. I suppose word count applies here; none of them cite a minimum or maximum word count. Some of the writing seems hasty by comparison.
Q: How has the book review helped your marketing? Tell us how you used the book review (press releases, jacket copy, etc.).
A: Reviews are helpful; they provide short, quick, easy-to-read statements that give potential readers a reason to look a second time; this doubles the possibility that the book will be read. They provide ready-made copy for dust jackets, and tease readers by simplifying the decision-making process. I have used them in posters at signing events and magazine advertising. I reprint the entire review at my website and inside subsequent printings of the book. They have more force and credibility when read in their entirety. Unfortunately, it’s a cost that may take time to be recouped by sales.
Q: How has the review helped with your confidence as an author?
A: It’s always nice to be validated and verified, particularly when you are “new.” Self-confidence is important, but when a professional celebrates what you have done, it buoys you up and encourages you to “keep up the good work.” It’s a terrific motivator. It is clear that the six reviews have been written by different people. That adds to the professional perspective in a special way—more than one expert has seen my work and commented on its merit. It’s very instructive to see one’s work through another’s eyes, even if briefly. It gives one a new clarity, an enriched perspective.
The assignment of reviewers is clearly well managed; their identities are confidential, which enhances the validity of their commentary.
Q: Would you use BlueInk Review again?
A: It is my intent to use BlueInk for every new title I produce. Last time they were extremely helpful by reading the book in prepublication manuscript. This allowed me to utilize the review in the announcements and pre-sale publicity as well as on the book cover and dust jacket—just as the major publishing houses do with their new releases. They have helped make my work look professional and worthy of attention.
Q: What advice do you have for other authors considering using BlueInk Review, or paid book review services in general?
A: Unfortunately, independent authors (“Indies”) have little choice about being reviewed—it’s an up front cost that needs to be built into the budget. It may take a long time for book sales to pay for it, but it’s better to sell more books than not. Potentially, a book review is inexpensive advertising with wide distribution—and it’s more credible, more reliable than word of mouth. It may also be seen by just the right person and lead to fame and fortune. Don’t count on that, but you never know. Most of us write because we enjoy it and because we are nagged by an inner voice until we do—our Muse. If it makes money, yay team. If it doesn’t, you feel better anyway.
Eldot is the nom de plume Leland Alan Hall devised when he decided to take up writing. [Eldot = L. ] The cipher is easy to decode because it is intended to clarify, not disguise. For 30 terrific years, he was a classroom teacher and leader in his profession. Reserving that proud and distinguished heritage as its own chapter is important. The credentials and honors of those years belong to those years. Now retired, he has begun a new chapter—hence, the need for a new “handle.” You’re in High School Now is his 12th book.
Born in Reno Nevada, Eldot has lived in Oregon most of his life. A 1956 graduate of Corvallis High School, a BA with Honors in English and Classical Languages was awarded in 1960 at the University of Oregon. Post-graduate study began with a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship at the University of Washington. Further study at the U of O Theatre Department and the School of Education qualified him to begin his high school teaching career in 1963. English, Drama and Journalism were his classroom assignments. He served as Department Chairman and after ten years as Drama Director, became active in professional association activity. He served in a number of capacities at local and state levels, culminating in a two-year term as the president of the Oregon Education Association. Leading the teachers of the state was a special privilege and responsibility.
A lifelong side interest in home construction led to a disabling ear injury in 1992, forcing an early retirement. Unable to tolerate the sound levels of a public high school, he was forced to read and work on his stamp collection while his ears healed. Eventually, he found ways to venture out; he designed several porch and deck projects for friends and relatives.
His first foray into writing was Ahab, a dramatized version of Moby Dick, which he directed on stage. A collaboration with two colleagues, it was not published. Aside from Department reports, state agency testimony and monthly editorials for the professional newspaper, no writing was published. The urge to write fiction developed quite unexpectedly in 2010. Television news coverage of a child abuse story was so outrageous that he felt impelled to respond. An irate letter to the editor evolved—morphed—into his first novel, Barr’s Meadow. It led to the series entitled Julian’s Private Scrapbook. The novels are not autobiographical.
ELDOT TITLES REVIEWED BY BLUEINK REVIEW:
Xlibris Publishing, 281pages, $15.99 ISBN: 9781469145129
“Pleasant, nostalgic and ingenuous, Barr’s Meadow is set at a Boy Scout camp in the early ‘60s, the fictional story of a gay young man named Julian…Barr’s Meadow, the first in a series is intelligent, moving, well-grounded and memorable.” –BlueInk Review
The Poker Club: Julian’s Private Scrapbook, Part Two
Xlibris Publishing, 279 pages, $15.99 ISBN: 9781477118344
“The second in a five-novel series, the book takes place at a scout camp during the summer of 1962, and follows several groups of boys as they form friendships, learn new skills, and fall in love. If readers are open to the subject matter, they will find intriguing insights into the complex world of boys in this unique novel.” –BlueInk Review
The Shooting Gallery: Julian’s Private Scrapbook, Part Three
Xlibris Publishing, 302 pages, $15.99 ISBN: 9781477149867
“In the third in Eldot’s five-part series, we find ourselves in a Boy Scout Camp, where our pubescent hero, Julian Forrest, comes of age in June 1962… The Shooting Gallery is a satisfying, intelligent story, notable for its warmth and credibility. It’s perfect for those who appreciate homoerotic content without the usual overblown raunch so common to the genre.” –BlueInk Review
Thunder and Lightning: Julian’s Private Scrapbook, Part 4
Xlibris Publishing, 327 pages, $15.99 ISBN: 9781479756841
“Thunder and Lightning is a charming read in spite of the controversial subject matter. As it shows further growth in the series’ characters and their relationships, it sets the stage for the concluding tale.” –BlueInk Review
The Champions: Julian’s Private Scrapbook, Part 5
Xlibris Publishing, 375 pages, $15.99 ISBN: 9781479780419
“The conclusion to a sexually infused five-novel series, The Champions takes place during the last day of a scout camp during the summer of 1962 and follows several groups of boys as they deepen their relationships, build on new skills, and ponder life after camp… Charming and humorous, with sex scenes that are erotic without being over the top, the novel successfully ends the series, while leaving open the possibility of further adventures.” –BlueInk Review
You’re in High School Now: Julian’s Sophomore Year, Part 1
One Spirit Press, 625 pages, $25.00 ISBN: 9781893075771
“Well-written, with engaging, likable characters, this book skillfully presents the challenges and pleasures boys who love men face in growing up.” –BlueInk Review
BlueInk Review is a fee-based book review service devoted to self-published titles exclusively: http://www.blueinkreview.com.
December 12, 2015
It is my intent to use BlueInk for every new title I produce. Last time they were extremely helpful by reading the book in prepublication manuscript. This allowed me to utilize the review in the announcements and pre-sale publicity as well as on the book cover and dust jacketâ€”just as the major publishing houses do with their new releases.