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  • Writer's picturePauline Kok


Yesterday brought the most amazing surprise. It came to me in the form of an email.

I looked at it for a long time before I could actually believe it.

I couldn’t sleep and got up to convince myself that it wasn’t a dream. Out of pure pleasure I kept on reading this e-mail, so unexpected, so surprising, so exciting and so incredibly welcoming.

Instead of talking and explaining my surprise — I’ve decided to share instead:

“Dear Pauline,     

I am thrilled to tell you that we have selected your memoir, The Remains of War, as the recipient of our BlueInk Best Book Award! This award goes to books that we feel are exceptional and merit widespread attention. Only those titles that have earned Starred Reviews are eligible, and we are highly selective. In the past 3-and a half year, this is only the third time we have awarded a book the BlueInk Best Book Reward.

With your permission, we plan to feature the book prominently on our landing page and promote it to those in the industry.

 Congratulations! I hope you are as exited about this as we are. We found your story utterly compelling and would love for others to discover it, as we did.”

And what does a BlueInk Best Book signify? Well, I couldn’t find the words, so I used theirs: 

“That means we can’t — and we won’t — put our stamp of approval on just anything. We promise that, whether it be a breathless thriller, an elegantly written literary piece, a fascinating look at history, politics and other nonfiction, a BlueInk Best Book Award winner will always be a title of uncommon merit. Each book will go through a vetting process and will be debated thoroughly before earining the designation.

First, the chosen book must have earned a Starred Review. A book earns a Starred Review from an individual reviewer only when it is a standout of the highest quality, a title its reviewer feels is 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. In determining a BlueInk Best Book Award winner, our Review Board considers many factors, bringing our extensive industry experience to bear on the decision.

We will consider some of the same issues a publishing house would debate, such as:

  1. The audience for the book (is it large enough for the book to merit wide attention?)

  2. Competition for the subject matter on bookshelves 

  3. The freshness and appeal of the writing style.

Because we want these awards to be meaningful, we will not set a deadline on finding a BlueInk Best Book. We commit,  only when we find a book worthy of the honor.

Yes, my surprise kept me up at night, and I couldn’t wait to share the news with you. Thank you for allowing me to rattle on as this realization hits me – the fact that this story is noticed; is validated; is considered worthy of yet another award. I am humbled by this recognition, this honor. Thank you.

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