Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Not Fit For Human Consumption: A Comedic Farce

Author: Elmore Hammes
Genre: Humor with elements of science fiction and fantasy
How long it's been on sale: 2 years
Current price: $1.00
Marketing: When it was first released, posts in Amazon discussion boards and a couple other online forums such as Kindleboards. Participated in some local author book fairs, which is where most of the print copies were sold. Sent out a few review copies, the one reviewer who posted on Amazon gave it 5 stars. I also traded a few Amazon tags with some other independent authors. I set a low price ($1 Kindle, $7.95 paperback) hoping that would help but I don't think it has.
Total sold so far: A little over 100, with 25 print copies and the
rest Kindle sales.
Link to book on Amazon: Not Fit For Human Consumption: A Comedic Farce

Product Description:

A tale not to be taken too seriously, featuring cockroaches, genetically enhanced rats, foosball table destruction, rabbits, high school science clubs, hedgehog conspiracy theorists, military coups, adolescent bomb shelter romance and cosmic entities bent on annihilation.

Sadly, not enough beer was drunk during creation of this novel to include an airplane lavatory sex scene. Oh wait, there is one of those. But don't get your hopes up - all the good parts are left out.

The novel contains suggestive language (the PG-rated variety), and those seeking enriching literature are best served by looking elsewhere. However, if you are in the mood for a farcical comedy step right in, and meet:

Arax the Annihilator, an entity bent on destroying the earth;

Henry Stewart, member of the Hedgehog Surveillance Network, who hopes to be part of the New World Order after the government topples;

Loretta the rabbit, who just wants to hop free in a meadow after a lifetime of captivity;

Omar Sharteen, who wants to bomb his own Parliament building so the US will build a nice shiny new one;

Mortimer Johnson, president of the Mount Carmel Junior High Science Club, who fears he has betrayed Science by having a crush on Alicia Fleppe;

Peter the Cockroach, a prophet who sees cockroaches as the final survivors;

Alice Walters, widow of a fallen soldier, who discovers her husband's secret life;

June and Robert, a happy couple who might find more happiness than they can handle;

Mark Andrews, who is in an underground bunker and is afraid to push the button when nuclear war is imminent;

and a host of others, including but not limited to strippers, teachers, t-shirt vendors, bookstore clerks, football players, moths, prime ministers and cats.

The author regrets immensely not having any zombies in this book. Or monkeys. Or zombie monkeys. 

First 300 Words:


People across the city of Kanapolis, Indiana, cursed as their TV programs were interrupted by the dynamic tones of channel KAN’s news bulletin alert. The camera zoomed in to an impeccably-groomed man in his late thirties, wearing a grim expression but one that still let them all know that whatever the crisis, he was more than prepared to deliver the news without a single lapse of decorum or misplaced hair.

“Good evening, this is Peter Wellington, KAN News, with a special report from the Middle East. A coup has occurred in the small territory of Jartanzia. Located at a crucial juncture of three area powers, the territory had been controlled by Iranian forces since 2003.”

The picture changed from a close up of the middle aged anchorman to a map of the Middle East, with Jartanzia outlined in bright yellow, with Iran, Iraq and Sudan labeled in large red type, showing how Jartanzia met in between the three countries.


“Oh, so that’s the Middle East,” Georgia Stewart said, smiling at her son Henry who sat next to her on their living room couch. “I always thought it was somewhere near Maryland.”

“Hush, Mother, I want to hear this.”

The report continued. “Communication had been cut off from Jartanzia since yesterday afternoon, and forces from each surrounding nation had begun to gather, as previously reported. The United Nations was urging caution on all sides, hoping to prevent war. A declaration of independence from all foreign territories was issued just moments ago.

We do not have any details as to who is behind the coup or who is now in charge. Let’s go to World News Correspondent Melissa Rivers.”

“Are we on?”

“Melissa, Peter Wellington here, and yes, we are broadcasting live.”

“Oh, hello, Peter.”

Vicki's Comments: I think the cover looks like a non-fiction book. To me, it looks like a kid's encyclopedia. The words at the top are very hard to read. I think this is a major issue for your book. Anyone browsing for a humorous book will probably speed right past yours, as it doesn't give me the feeling that this is a humorous novel. I would suggest a new cover.

The description is humorous, but I'm afraid that the huge wall of text made me not want to read any of it. I highly suggest reworking the description totally. When I read a description I want to know the basic storyline in a summary fashion. I'm still not sure exactly what this book is about after reading your description. It doesn't make me want to read the book. Don't feel bad, descriptions are the hardest part, IMHO.

The story itself kind of confused me. It could just be me. I would get some more opinions on it to see if it's just me, or if the story needs some work. I would suggest getting some beta readers to give you some opinions on it.

I would change the cover and the description and you'll be leaps ahead of where you are now. What do you guys think?


  1. The cover put me off. I read some of the description, and just saw a lot of what the book wasn't about. Also, the description itself seemed to be trying too hard to funny and random (because I guess random is in fashion these days). I then skipped to the first 300 words, and there was noting there to hook me in. I'd say generally I don't read this genre anyway, so having a niche audience might also contribute to niche sales.

  2. At small size, the cover screams 'non-fiction'.
    Also, go to the Sony ereader site, click, fiction>>Science Fiction & Fantasy>>General Science Fiction>>Under $5 (this brings up a lot of the self-pubbed authors), and see how-freaking-many book covers use a free NASA-produced image of the Earth. Or Mars. Then I look at all the other images, and they're just (probably free) stock images. Cover design is not slapping together a couple of free images. OK, you can use free stock images (and pictures taken by your family), but the cover needs to reflect the content, tone and genre of the book. This cover does not.

    Reading the blurb, I *think* it's a work of fiction, but I can't be sure. While some of the scenes look potentially funny, the blurb seems a random collection of unrelated sentences that gives no clue of what the book is about.

    Then the style of the first 300 words does not reflect my expectations of a humorous book. I find the style rather dry, passive and formal.

  3. Cover first. The title is unreadable and I can't make any sense of the photos used. It looks like a 4th grade earth sciences textbook. I would never have taken this for a humorous book. I think a complete rework of the cover will make a big difference.

    I would eliminate all the people you're introducing in the blurb. It gives away too much and makes the blurb too long.

    It's hard to grab a reader in this type of book with just 300 words, so I downloaded the sample.

  4. Cover - I agree, it looks like a nonfiction book for kids, like "Intro to Science". And the title is unreadable, yellow on white.

    Description - Too long and rambly. If this is a novel, then describe it as a novel, with a main character and a plot. A good description of a funny book should just be inherently funny, like: "George the Monkey was curious about everything until he contracted zombie ebola. Now he's only curious about the tasty brains under a certain yellow hat."

    Opening text - Personally, it didn't grab me. The writing is fine, but the gags about the reporter's hair and the location of the Middle East didn't tickle my funny bone.

    And is Peter Wellington related to Zach Wellington in the last WIMBNS entry?

  5. Pretty much what everyone said.

    Cover is boring and does not say comedy; the description is MUCH too long and doesn't tell a thing about what the novel is about. The opening text doesn't really hook although it's competently written. The jokes seem a bit forced.

    However, I think the biggest problems are probably the cover and description.

  6. I read the full sample and I think it is difficult to classify this book as it stands. There is too much introduced in dizzying changes of scene well into Chapter Two.

    What exactly is the focus? Is it the coup in the Middle East? The Hedgehogs? The cockroaches? The rabbit? Arax the Annihilator? How much further into the book do I have to go to find out?

    I suggest you keep the focus on Harry the Hedgehog fighter and the revolution with him coming into contact with the cockroaches, etc. much further into the book.

    I can see that this is a farce, but with so much hopping around (Yes, I know there's a rabbit :) ), the humor doesn't have a chance to come to full flower.

    It shouldn't be difficult to move things around to improve the flow and give the story focus.

  7. First of all: don't panic! Covers can be altered. I've had to change my covers around a few times, and it's always worked out for the better. You've put in the time writing the book, don't shy away from these final packaging details.

    I agree about the cover being problematic, as well as the descriptions about what the book is not or does not contain.

    Best of luck with your next steps.

  8. Read Joe Konrath about how many times he's changed his covers and his blurbs.

    Changing two of my covers definitely made a difference in sales. One was critiqued here which inspired me to change the second one.

  9. If I've counted corrrectly, you've told potential readers five times to not buy your book. I realize that this is meant as tongue in cheek; however, as a potential customer, I can't help but wonder if there's a hidden meaning there ; ) I've gotten a few requests from authors with similar blurbs looking for reviews, and each time, I wonder why I should read something I've been warned away from. I can't say that the warnings would be the sole reason for a lack of readers, but changing your blurb might help.

  10. Thank you for all the feedback - it is a pretty clear consensus on the cover and the description. Looks like I have some rework to properly connect with the potential readers for this novel. I appreciate the comments!
    Elmore Hammes

  11. Cover suggestions:
    Make the cover a straight-on top-view a plate with silverware settings on the side, with images of all the inedibles on your current cover. Make everything bold, simplified vectors.

    Or, have a guy sitting at a table holding a knife and fork in each hand, in front him a heaping pile of all the inedibles, possibly so high he has to look around it, probably eying a cockroach making its escape.

    I typed all that before I realized that by "consumption" you meant reading, so those two ideas might be completely inappropriate for what your book's actually about.

    I do agree though with the others who say it looks a bit like a children's encyclopedia.

    Maybe show Arax about to eat the Earth? Maybe have a bite out of the earth already? I don't know what Arax looks like, but I'm picturing a cloud with a mouth like the green thing from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

    1. Thanks again, everyone. I have modified the cover and the blurb and in an attempt to get some more reviews for the entire content (the people that have read the whole thing seem to enjoy it), I have made it free for Amazon Kindle this weekend (Jan 27-29). I appreciate the feedback!

  12. I like the new cover! Very nice. :)

    1. Thanks - it hopefully avoids the "encyclopedic" effect that was bothering a lot of people!


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