Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Authors: Nicholas Faraday & Heidi Fuqua
Genre: Science Fiction / Horror
How long it's been on sale: July 31, 2011
Current price: $3.49
Marketing: Facebooked, twittered, changed price points ($4.99, $2.99, $3.49, reduced price to .99 and was featured on Michael Gallagher's blog
Total sold so far: 50
Link to book on Amazon: EUROPA

Product Description: 

By the year 2123 climate change has decimated the Earth's most precious resource, her oceans. Worldwide droughts have created massive deserts where lush countryside once existed. The seas have turned toxic and the polar caps have disappeared. With its habitat quickly shrinking, humanity needs a silver bullet. Ten teams have been dispatched to Jupiter's sixth moon, Europa, and are tasked with retrieving a micro-organism known as Archaelleonous from the frozen moon's sub-ice liquid ocean. This precious resource is believed to be the key to restoring life to the Earth's oceans and resetting the climate.

Told from the perspective of each crew member, this is the story of the last days of Galileo Team 10. Six and a half years into a mission besieged with tragedy, complications and conflict, the diverse crew battles inner demons, mysterious afflictions, and each other in the quest for success. Millions of lives hang in the balance as the seven crew members risk everything in the harshest climate humans have ever ventured, on EUROPA.

First 300 Words: (Note From Author: Because each chapter is written from a different character's perspective, the first 300 words aren't really representative of the bulk of the book.)

"Nature is relentless and unchangeable, and it is indifferent as to whether its hidden reasons and actions are understandable to man or not." -Galileo Galilei, 1564-1642 CE



I f***g hate it here.

My bones are cold.

The chill sinks to the depths of my soul.

It settles in and there's no warmth left.

The Station is warm.

And I'm still f***g cold.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.

Tapping the eraser on the paper doesn't warm my soul but it helps with the numbers.

















It helps me count something tangible.

Something real.

The eraser is real.

The paper is real.

The noise is real. In theory.

I scribble through the writing on the paper.

Try again.

Cold gets in my bones

It sinks deep into my soul

Til there is no warmth

A f***n' haiku.

G****n numbers based.

That means the numbers are coming back.

The g****n numbers.

I'm due.

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tick, tap, tap, tick, tap, tick, tap, tap, tick, tap, tap.

The clock on the wall ticks out of sync.

It throws my count off and the fractals come back.

My count is accurate.

Like everything else here, time freezes.

Staring at the clock doesn't make it move any faster.

My attention returns to the paper on the desk.

The paper darkens from a spatter of sweat.

A cardioid with three period bulbs.

Of course it is.

Did I touch my forehead?

 My fingertips are wet.

I attempt to wipe the sweat away with the back of my hand.

More cardioids splatter on my haiku.

The anticipation.

The clock still hasn't moved.

Comments: I like a lot of things about the cover. I like the eye. I love the fonts. I do like that the eye changes into something else at the top, but I can't tell what it is. That hurts the effectiveness of the cover in my mind. If I could tell at a glance what that is, I would like it better. I might like a dead world type of a scene on top, since your description talks about deserts and dry land. But overall I do like the cover. Nice job.

The description starts out good. I like the first paragraph. It gives me a succinct background and introduces me to the world, and what the conflict is. My problem comes in the second paragraph. This is where I was expecting to be introduced to the character I would spend my time with during the book. I would prefer the second paragraph to focus on one of the main characters. Sharing the spotlight equally between ten characters seems like a very hard thing to do successfully. I have a hard time with three or four main characters. Ten would be very difficult for me to write, and possibly difficult to read. It would have to be done very well. (And I'm not talking ten minor characters, I mean ten major characters who we get inside their head and get to know very well.)

I know the author said the first 300 words doesn't portray the entire book, however most people start reading and think the beginning of the novel gives them a real taste of how the novel is going to read. This book starts out deep into one character's mind. I assume his name is Ganesh. There's no plot at this point. There's just one guy, bored out of his skull, almost going crazy. If he's bored, the reader is going to be bored too. I'm sure other characters are more lively, but this might not be the best one to start with. I would not read further.

Now, I'm not saying that you can't go outside the box and write something that doesn't fit into the package we are used to. But be aware that if you do you will be swimming upstream, fighting for each sale. In general, people expect a book to have a beginning, a middle and an end. They expect to stay with one to three main characters for the story. They expect to read an inciting incident that starts everything off, read until they get to a climax, and then the story raps up and ends. These are the normal things we expect. This book seems to be presented in a different way than what we normally expect. This isn't bad in a literary sense, it's just bad in a marketing and sales sense. You're not selling what the majority of book sellers are selling. That *can* be a good thing if the book is exceptional and word of mouth gets out. However, that's a very difficult thing to have happen.

I think this book isn't selling because it is different from what we are used to when we go looking for a book to read. I don't think this necessarily dooms the book. It does make it harder to sell. I would make sure the book is exceptional. Get as many beta readers as you can, if you haven't already. If Ganesh isn't a good character to start with, start with a different one. Make sure the first 300 words grips the reader and doesn't let him/her go. Tweak the description until it does the same. You want to hook the reader early and string them along through the whole book. I do think this kind of book can sell, but it will be difficult in my opinion.

What do you guys think?


  1. I can understand the sci-fi perspective of boredom. It works well for Taylor on Planet of the Apes, and also in 2001...and, to a degree, in The Thing. But as this character is bored, some tension has to be building up behind him (or her) that is outside if that person's control. Even something as simple as ignoring a warning light that beeps out of sync vs the clock ticking.

  2. I agree with everything you said, including on the good stuff (professional looking cover!), and especially on 2 points:

    1) 10 major POVs is asking more than most readers are willing to give in their effort to keep up. If you can cut that in half, it would be much easier to digest.

    2) Writers don't get the luxury of a caveat. ("The opening isn't the best part; hang on and read more. I promise, it gets better!") If the book needs a caveat, it needs a different opening. We earn every turn of the page. I've seen the issue before of a book opening with a bored character, and inevitably, readers are bored too. Begin with conflict.

    Another issue is that while literary experimentation can work, it's almost never mixed with genre fiction. Generally speaking, literary and genre fiction aren't the same thing at all. Because SciFi readers aren't looking for (or expecting) literary fiction, you've got one more reason this book may be paddling upstream from a marketing standpoint; it's tough to know who the audience is, and that audience (readers who appreciate SciFi, Horror, AND literary fiction, combined) may be very small.

    Another issue is labeling it Horror. Based on the description, it sounds more like a thriller, and calling it that, I think, would get you readers.

    Horror tends to imply paranormal elements, while SciFi is science based, so pairing them feels like a conflict in terms.

  3. Thanks for the responses so far.

    I'll just clarify a few things [I understand that because I need to clarify something it may be an indication that that area needs work]:

    1) The cover: The upper half of the eyeball is actually a NASA photo of Jupiter's moon Europa, which the book is about. [If that's not identifiable as a heavenly body, maybe a picture that better identifies this as a planet (satellite) might help, maybe if it dissolves in shadow on the upper right corner, like a waning moon]

    2) Product description: The book has 6 characters from 1 team on Europa. [clearly I need to clarify that and I think I see where I went wrong in the product description. It's because I mention "Ten teams dispatched" to Europa. Not sure why I thought this was important for the description since the book is not about the 10 teams but rather about the six people in the one outpost. Will definitely change that.]

    Thanks for the feedback. I'll get to work on a new product description and look at the very real possibility of switching chapter 2 with chapter 1.

    btw, this book is published under my pseudonym Nicholas Faraday

  4. I like the cover and I get a post-apocalyptic vibe out of it.

    I was okay with the blurb until I got to this awkwardly constructed sentence.

    "Millions of lives hang in the balance as the seven crew members risk everything in the harshest climate humans have ever ventured, on EUROPA."

    Other than that, I think it's a good premise, and if it was a genre that I liked, I would be interested in reading it.

    That is, until I got to the first 300. The biggest problem is the way it's formatted. It's not the prose that is boring. It's the way it's set up. Maybe something more like:

    One ... two ... three

    instead of very short sentences piled one on top of the other with lots of space in between. I read on my phone a lot and only seeing half a dozen sentences on a page and having to turn a page every two seconds would definitely put me off.

    I think this book has lots of potential.

  5. This book shouts, no screams Arthur C. Clark to me and that can be a very good thing. I devoured everything he wrote and only stopped when he teamed up with Gentry Lee. That being said, I tend to agree with several of the comments above. First and foremost, it's important that you nail down who this novel is targeting. If it's horror, then your blurb and your cover need to be tweaked accordingly (what's wrong with straight up sci-fi?). Personally, if I were you I'd take a look at Clark's books, his blurbs, his covers and aim there.
    As for the first 300, it lost me about half way in. Not because I didn't get it, but because it's one thing to know someone's bored and another thing entirely to be sitting there bored out of your mind with them. Felt like overkill. Also, first person with several characters is very, very tricky to pull off successfully. I haven't read the whole thing, but I'd suggest if once you figure out the audience and change the cover and blurb if you're still not seeing any sales, think about trying a 3rd person rewrite and as others have said 'pump up' the conflict right from the start. I LOVE the premise and I'd buy the book, but unfortunately not as is. Sorry.

    Good Luck!

  6. I read a lot of hard SF.

    Cover is cool.

    Description is cool until I get to 'Archaelleonous'.

    OK, I admit, biologist and taxonomist here, but... That is no scientific name. It's an adjective. It would have to be Archaelleonus, and then, what does it mean, how does it derive from Latin? It's just a name grabbed from imagination of the author. Since you are speaking to the hard SF crowd here, you must give the reader a feeling you know what you're talking about. This name does not. In one letter, the blurb has destroyed my faith in this as hard SF. Sorry if this sounds pedantic, but the hard SF crowd is merciless.

    The beginning. Yeah. Does. Not. Work. Others have already covered that.

    Also, I don't get why novels start with a character being bored. Isn't that just the recipe for a boring novel? Why not start where something interesting starts happening?

  7. I'm really digging the feedback on this so far.

    Except for one thing. The feeling that Ganesh in the first chapter is "bored". He isn't bored (at least we didn't intend him to be) he's manic. And anxiety ridden. (At least he's supposed to be). But if it's not reading that way then I suppose it needs a little fixing. That 300 words is supposed to blaze by.

    You know: tap tap tap tap tap.

    not: Tap Tap Tap Tap Tap.

    So maybe something is wrong there in the delivery.

    Anonymous, and Patty as Sci-Fi fans I'd be happy to give you a full download of the novel (via smashwords) if you're interested in it as Beta readers. I'd love to give this a chance to live. I'm not sure what Victorine's policy here is regarding swapping info.

  8. I'm fine with swapping info if you want. You can also add your email address to your Blogger profile and then clicking your name will give the other person a way to contact you. :)

  9. Victorine, Very cool.

    PattyJansen and Anonymous above if you would like a free e-book of Europa (via smashwords coupon code in any format you would like) in exchange for being a beta reader, please contact me via my e-mail on my profile (just click my name) and I'll send you the details.

    Much appreciated.


  10. Unfortunately, Nathan, I don't have the time to take on a commitment like that. Also, I do story doctor sessions with people, but I have to charge for them or I'd be absolutely swamped (you'll find a link in the right-hand column of my blog if you're interested).

    On the other hand, you'll find beta readers who do have time in various crit groups. Admitted, it does take some trial and error to find the good ones.

  11. I realize I'm coming in late... Love the cover. I admit that seeing all the single sentences here threw me. So I trekked over to Amazon and checked the 'look inside' to see the presentation there.

    Although I don't uses a phone (like mentioned above) all the white space made me think that if this is the way the whole book looks it's going to take forever to read.

    Repeating words: Several years ago I read an article about repeating words in a novel. I agreed with that post. It stated that 3 repeated words in a row is plenty. When I see a sentence, tap tap tap tap tap tap... I skip.

    Every word should count toward the story plot. So if your character is manic there should be other ways to express that issue other than repeating.

    Good luck with whatever changes you eventually make.

    ~ Aithne

  12. Hi Nathan,

    Thank you kindly for the offer, but like Patty, I'm swamped with two novels, as well as a novella I'm hoping to get out in a few weeks. Up to my eyeballs.

    I also agree with Aithne about those first 300 words and I don't want to harp on it, but something you wrote in your last response worried me. You said: "I suppose it needs a little fixing." Maybe you were understating things for humor (hard to tell on the internet), but just in case.

    I see now the character's supposed to be manic, especially given the short machine gun burst style of delivery, I just don't think it works in a novel. In a poem. Magic. Novel? Not so much. You might be able to get away with the first six lines though:

    I f***g hate it here.
    My bones are cold.
    The chill sinks to the depths of my soul.
    It settles in and there's no warmth left.
    The Station is warm.
    And I'm still f***g cold.

    But any more than that feels a touch self-indulgent. Remember, as an author we have only seconds to impress readers before they move on to another book. Your cover needs to lure them in. Your blurb needs to get them clicking on either buy or sample and if they sample, that first page or two has to close the deal, not create glimmers of doubt.

    As Aithne mentioned, there are plenty of other ways to show manic behavior. It's the same reason when someone's shouting in a novel we don't put it all in caps. Just doesn't work. Again, I'm not trying to strong arm you, or beat a dead horse, just want to make my views are clear.

    Hope that helps


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