Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mad Moral

Author: Kevin Anthony
Genre: Horror
How long it's been on sale: Beginning of March 2012
Current price: Free
Marketing: Twitter, Contacting Those Of My Mailing List of 4,100 Fans. Contacting Bloggers For Guest Post and Reviewers
Total given away so far: 288
Link to book on Smashwords: Mad Moral

Product Description:

Twenty year old Ford Fischer is a serial slasher desperately trying to resist the lure of the blade. After taking a life, Ford's regret consumes him, leading him to self-mutilate his hand in hopes of preventing further mayhem. All the while a series of family issues threaten to sidetrack his quest for mental stability.

His drug abusing mother disappears after an argument between her and Ford; leaving him sole caretaker of his transgender parent, whose life is slowly deteriorating from a mysterious illness. The parental strain leads him to weigh the strength of his bond with the two divorcees.

Just as Ford feels nothing more could go wrong, he finds himself in the middle of a slashing spree - the victims being slashers themselves. He's forced to play the role of detective to avoid becoming suspect, or worse, a victim. As slasher after slasher is eliminated, Ford seeks out the blade-friendly stalker with the morally conflicted mindset "slash or be slashed."

MAD MORAL is the world of Ford Fischer, where in murderous stuffed animals, demonic possessions, gigantic creepy crawlers, knife wielding slashers and much more madness are common place. Fischer, coupled with a romantically conflicted exorcist and a dreamer who redefines night terrors, leads us through a twisted world that can be best defined as one of a kind.

First 300 Words:

Tonight, the motive was madness. The senior class of Draper Preparatory High School gathered for one of the many hoorahs planned for their final year. It was a night for growing up, a night when cheerleaders conversed with those who envied their beauty, the chiseled athletes apologized to those who they terrorized, and the socially awkward finally found their voice. It was a chaotic scene, music blasted, the spiked punch flowed and expensive vases were shattered. They danced; they sang; they drank. They would, in all likelihood, never see these people again, and the possibility of hooking-up with their long time crush and making a lasting impression was deeply embedded in the minds of the partygoers, surviving the evening an afterthought.

    For Ford, however, Becky’s party was the perfect scene for a slashing. He stood across the street from the suburban home, hidden under the shadow of a palm tree. The autumn wind blew, ruffling the leaves of the gently swaying palm as well as Ford’s dark, low-cut hair. He wore a giddy smile across his thin, almost gaunt face. In the front pocket of the navy blue hooded sweatshirt he wore, his right hand gripped the handle of a knife. In the furthest reaches of his mind, where the madness roamed rampant he envisioned the blade drenched in blood, the warm, crimson liquid dripping onto his hand. The anticipation of the slashing, filling him with a burning excitement deep inside himself, prompted him to start across the street.

The driveway was crowded with the various cars of the party attendees, all more expensive than the whole of Ford’s apartment, furniture and all. They were the children of those who were in possession of master degrees and trust funds: doctors, lawyers, and politicians, to name a few. 

Comments: I am not getting a horror vibe from the cover. The cover is very important because it's the first impression your reader is going to get. The cover doesn't look very scary. It also doesn't look professional. When we put our books up for sale, or even to give them away, we are on the same bookshelf with the big names. Let's just look at some other horror covers in comparison.

Our books are side-by-side with the great books out there. Stephen King's book looks darn scary. And I haven't read anything from Andrew Kaufman, but there's a skeleton and blood on the cover. It screams "Horror." Mad Moral in the middle doesn't look scary to me. It doesn't say Horror. It looks like a homemade cover, not professional at all. I would highly suggest a new book cover.

The description is kind of all over the place, with too many details. I feel confused after reading it and the last paragraph makes me wonder if this isn't a parody instead. What is the inciting incident? Is it when he kills someone? Is it when his mother leaves? Or when a slasher starts killing other slashers? I think the description needs focus.

The beginning starts off passive for me. I'd rather start out in Ford's point of view, but instead we start in the point of view of the kids at the party. I'm not sure why Ford wants to kill, but after reading the description and knowing that he regrets killing someone I'm not very moved by his compulsion to murder. I don't fear him as I think I should. He comes across as a character to pity, but again, that is after reading the description. Maybe if the description were tweaked I might feel differently, I don't know.

What do you guys think?


  1. First, thanks so much for doing this. Secondly, I love this website and what you do. And finally, I blame myself for the very poor execution of this. Not only did I give you the wrong genre that generally sets the mood, those first three hundred words are from an older version of the book and not the newest that's posted on Smashwords. Even I think I spent too much time focusing on this party that has little significance to the story and basically cut out most of that in the new version. I agree 100 hundred percent with the cover though. THANK YOU, so much for this. Any advice on what work's as a cover?

  2. Hi Kevin,

    I didn't read the first 300, but I will comment on the cover and the product description.

    I have to agree, the cover is fairly non-descript. The cover needs to reach out to your audience, take them by the hand and yank them in. This cover doesn't target anyone specifically and therefor reals no one in. As Victorine has suggested, take a look at the covers for other indie books in your genre and see what they've done. If you're having a hard time pin-pointing a genre for your book, that may be part of the problem (I'll elaborate on this in the next part).

    Okay, there are a few issues here. On a basic level you're giving away far too much of the story. A blurb is different from a query letter. In the blurb, you want to give the readers just enough info to get them interested. Keep in mind that the style of your blurb is greatly determined by the genre you write in.

    Here's an example of a blurb from an existing book on Amazon called The Haunted by Michaelbrent Collings (horror). It's short and sweet and makes me at least want to read more:

    They have the beginnings of a perfect family. A husband, a wife, a baby on the way.
    But something will stop them from being happy as they move into their new house: the power of the undead that roam the halls of their home.
    The demons that have come to claim them. The darkness that seeks to destroy them.
    The haunted.

    Try boiling your story down to one sentence and then try writing a blurb no longer than 4-6 to sentences. That will force you to trim most of the fat.

    Now, about genre. In the comments to one of your reviews you wrote this:

    The hardest thing is picking a genre because I love horror but didn't want to write a scary book.

    From your blurb and reading some of your reviews, your book is giving me a Dexter/American Psycho kind of feel. It's dark humor. Is that fair? Now the text itself might need some work, I wouldn't know cause as I mentioned I didn't read through it, but I think your problems stem from your indecision over your genre. This might be why you're not reaching your audience. So your first goal is to figure out what kind of reader will enjoy your book, search out similar work (like the ones I've mentioned above) and analyse the way they've been marketed. Once that part is clear in your mind, the cover and blurb should fall into place. If after some marketing your book is still not selling, then revisit the first few chapters and see where things might be improved.

    Best of Luck!

    1. Dude, that was my mayor issue. I did not have a genre and never really focused on one until I had to upload on Smashwords, so I started to scramble. I also think having three main characters made it difficult. In the end, after reading definitions for most of them I decided book was Urban Fantasy with Dark Humor tossed in there. I'm a lot more comfortable and writing book three of the series knowing my genre. Thanks so much for the advice. I'm debating adding actually character photos to the cover.

      I fear the idea of people starting the book and wanting to be "afraid" because they will indeed be disappointed.

  3. Just first quick impression of the cover. The sharing of the letter "M", I thought those were pliers and it was Mad Oral. Reading the description cleared it up, kinda. I'm a sucker for the bizarre, so when I saw murderous stuffed animals, I am hoping for a Chuckie type of story. Instead, it's just a crazy guy. That's fine, too. But he doesn't sound all too crazy in the beginning. He is equating what these trust fund kids have with what he doesn't...he sounds more envious. If tonight is the motive for madness...maybe have the after effects of his carnage on full display. Then cut away to the happy go lucky kids, unsuspecting of what lies in wait outside? He's got a knife, there's a bunch of cars outside...what would a crazy, envious loony do with one of those cars? He would project what he wants to do to poor Becky.

    At least, that's what I would do. It's your book, and these are only the opinions of a self proclaimed idiot.

    1. He's not crazy though, because in there world...a killer Chucky, eh...not too shocking. I honestly blame myself for the misinformation though. I think slapping it with the horror genre threw a lot of people off. And I also paid too much attention the children at the party and their lifestyle, which I cut down greatly in the edited version. And LOL at the Mad Oral comment, somebody pointed that out to me also...I thought she just had a dirty mind...but now it's clear it's obvious to others lol

  4. Fantastic observations, everyone. I love reading all of your comments.

  5. With that typography, I thought this would be some kind of Mad Men tv show companion book or something, until I looked closer at the words at the top.
    Can't say this is my kind of book, so I'm not sure I can comment on the blurb or first 300 words. I'll just say the blurb seemed unfocused, saying too much but not painting a clear picture.

  6. Check this cover out...

    1. Alright Kelly, I also like that cover lol. I'm working on something similar to that at the moment.

  7. JKelly - That is an awesome cover. I agree, it really shows you what the book is about. Simple and effective. Great example.

    1. I've learned, ditch the cover, shorten the blurb and ditch the horror genre...cools. Thanks Vic

    2. I miss KB boards sniff sniff. But I am a writing machine.

  8. Feel free to come back and post a pic of a new cover when you get one. :)

  9. I like the cover. It has a bit of a quirky feel to it. However, I was surprised the genre was horror. It speaks comedy or parody to me. If I were looking for a parody, I could see myself taking a second look at this book.

    The product description is a bit on the long side but interesting. I'm not a horror/thriller/mystery fan. However, I could see myself picking up this one based on the description (if I were into the genre). Kind of reminds me of Dexter… more thriller than horror though. Even though thriller and horror are often lumped together, I'd make sure I was marketing this work properly. When I think of horror, I think gore, make me jump out of my seat, and cringe--Saw, Friday the 13, etc. When I think thriller, I think more suspense--Dexter, Misery, etc.

    I don't think the last paragraph is needed on top of everything else though. It's almost as if the description is trying too hard to sell itself. "If what I've already said hasn't sold you, how about this?"

    One thing to keep in mind is you don't have to put everything. As I mentioned, the description is a bit on the long side. You could easily do away with the second paragraph also.

    The first 300 words are intriguing enough. There are some issues with the structure of the second paragraph. Doesn't quite flow the way the sentences are organized. This may be more of a personal preference, but I rather see a story start with a character rather than the description of the scene. I could get over those items if the next few paragraphs drew me in.

    One thing which does bother me about the product description AND the first 300 words is the comma usage. Sometimes it seems like you're trying to squeeze everything into a sentence and use the comma to offset the baggage. It's confusing at times, and I end up rereading passages to fully understand.

    Over all, I don't think what I'm seeing here is bad. The biggest advice I'd give is to pick and choose what to include. Right now, I think the blurb and first 300 words is bloated with unnecessary items.


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