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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Singapore Love Story


Author: Low Kay Hwa
Genre: YA Romance
How long it's been on sale: June 2012
Current price: $.99
Marketing: KDP Select Free Promo, Requesting reviews from readers on Goodreads
Total sold so far: 31
Link to book on Amazon: A Singapore Love Story

Product Description:

Listed as a national bestseller in Singapore for about half a year, A Singapore Love Story charts the tragic relationship of a couple trying to be together, ignoring the harsh knocks of reality. Can they bend reality for love, or will reality bend their lives?

Since the beginning of time, people have wondered how powerful love could be. Can love transcend beyond the necessities? Can the melody of love be louder than the noise of reality?


The novel seeks to ask a question: Is money one of the requirements in a marriage, or is it just one of the options?

Price of book will be increased after 10,000 downloads.

First 300 Words:

Chapter -5

Changi South Avenue 3

On 7 August 2008, I slipped while I was showering. And I died.

I was supposed to be married on 8 August 2008. We had planned to see snow in Japan for our honeymoon. Everything had been prepared; we were just waiting for the big day. But I had to die one day before the wedding dinner.

I was reaching for the shampoo. It was placed, somehow on that day, farther than usual. I tiptoed forward, my eyes half-opened as the water from the shower head rained on me.

I had heard stories about what drivers felt during a car accident. Slow, yet uncontrollable. My death was almost identical. Once I lost my footing, time moved in slow motion. I fell forward. My hands swung around to grab something but found nothing. Before I could do anything, I saw the white blameless wall just inches in front of me. My hands tried to push the wall away. But my head hit the wall—and the crack of the skull was like a cue that told time to resume its normal course.

It was a precise hit.

There was a sharp pain. When I bounced off the wall, I anticipated another impact. The next crack struck the back of my head. The pain abated, a ray shimmered, and finally, darkness took over.

Hours later, I woke up and realized that I had died.

Yet, not quite.

The colours of kismet are just black, and white. Or white, and black.

Let’s experience the growth of the two hearts caged by winter acquiescing to the warmth of summer—from different points of view.

Chapter 1

Joo Koon

I was molested when I was seven years old.

It was the first day of school. As Daddy drove across…

Comments: The cover looks paranormal to me. It makes me think the girl is a ghost. The design itself isn't horrible, but I do think it could look more professional. I think it's the photo treatment. The fonts look fine to me. I don't like the yellow sticker on the front. Take the sticker off, and just put the type directly on the cover. I think with a few tweaks, the cover could look more professional.

The blurb is confusing. You can mention the best seller status, but keep it short and sweet. "A national best seller in Singapore!" Then move on to the book description, which is sadly lacking here. There are words, but they don't tell me anything about the characters, and what they need to overcome. What starts the story in motion? When they meet? What obstacles are in their way? Family who doesn't think they belong together? Or do they get in their own way? (She won't look at him because he doesn't make enough money.) The blurb that is here is way too vague. Give the readers details, or they won't know if they want to read the book or not. If they don't know, they'll move on to something else.

The beginning is confusing too. We start at chapter five? Why? Is that a typo? It's probably not a great idea to start the reader off wondering where the first four chapters went. Ignoring that part, I do see that the main character has died. This is probably why the girl on the cover is a ghost image. I would definitely not forget the "Paranormal" in there when you market the book. YA Paranormal Romance is a popular genre. Don't forget to mention the part about the paranormal or you're shooting yourself in the foot.

The writing sometimes feels choppy, like a translation, or as if it was written by someone whose first language isn't English. It's not horrible, but there are a few times where I got a bit confused as to what was meant. I would hire a native English speaking editor to go over it once more. The story itself is interesting, and I do think this book has potential. It's just not quite there yet, in my opinion.

I would suggest hiring a cover artist to really make the cover look YA Paranormal Romance, it needs more of a dreamy feeling to it. I would also get help with the blurb and one final edit to make the sentences flow in English. What do you guys think?

12 comments:

  1. I think it's chapter MINUS-5 (or a prologue), but it's confusing.

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  2. I don't think the cover artwork is too bad, but there are text issues. The only prominent and readily-visible text is the author's name. At a smaller preview size the title is difficult to make out, and the text at the top is impossible to read except at a large preview (i.e., the look-inside feature on Amazon). I would drop the text at the top, put the title at a readable size near the top, and (as suggested) get rid of the "sticker" and incorporate that text directly into the design.

    I would start over entirely on the blurb. My first reaction was, it's been on sale for about four months and has sold fewer than 50 copies but it's been a "national bestseller in Singapore for about half a year"...? I'll admit I haven't had my coffee this morning, but that's not adding up to me. The blurb wording seems very generic and question-y, and does not give me a sense of story at all. Also, I would not mention a future price increase based on a number of downloads. Perhaps something like "this introductory low price won't last long" might be OK, but overall it seems like an ineffective attempt at the marketing ploy of making people want to avoid missing an opportunity. As written, the stated number of downloads is meaningless because nobody will know how many downloads have happened, and the number looks high, so there won't be any sense of urgency.

    For the first 300 words, I would rename the prologue (assuming that's what it is; that's how it looks to me) to simply "Prologue" rather than using the confusing "Chapter -5" term. Other than that, it looks like it could be interesting, although not something I personally would normally read.

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  3. MeiLin Miranda posted on KB:

    The title need to be more prominent. Yes, the standard is the author's name should be foremost, but this takes it too far. And because the author's name is Chinese and this is an American market, the name initially looks like the title. The cover also doesn't "read" YA.

    The blurb needs to be completely scrapped. I don't know what the story's about except that apparently it's a love story set in Singapore. Otherwise, I'd have a go at it.

    The writing is choppy. If this is a translation, the author needs to get some help on it.

    I don't mean to be discouraging, but this isn't ready.

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  4. I get romance from the cover, except with the girl being so filmy, and the other wispy stuff floating around, I see paranormal romance. I have no idea what the words are at the top and the bottom.

    The mention of best-seller in Singapore for six months should at least be a separate line. I would say International Bestseller if there has to be any mention at all. I would also drop the part about 10K downloads. Could be years before that happens.

    Too many questions in the blurb. There's also no mention of the age of the lovers or what is keeping them apart.

    The death scene is pretty good.

    Are there more flashback scenes labeled Chapter -4, Chapter -3, etc.? That's got to be confusing for anyone who downloads a sample.

    Since a date is given for the death in the prologue (Chapter -5), I would just go for the dates for each of the flashbacks as a title.

    I don't think the cover is as major an obstacle as the blurb. I would dump the whole thing and start over from scratch.

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  5. Yeah. Confusion.

    I thought the title was "Low Key Hwa" and I didn't really understand what was so low key about dying. Except corpses don't get too strung out about stuff. Maybe.

    I wasn't paying very close attention and it wasn't until I started reading the comments that I realized the error of my ways.

    Which sums up the basic problems with this book.

    So.

    Cover: No. I can't really tell what's going on but it looks like Poser art and isn't working well. Is there a big ferris wheel in Singapore like there is in London? I picture Singapore more like this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Singapore_Skyline.jpg

    (sorry, I can't embed the link or the image itself)

    Blurb: No. Hook me with the story, not the story's pedigree. Too many questions, too little reason to read. I get to the end of that blurb and ask "Why don't I just look at the next book on the list?"

    First 300: The -5 chapter is kinda cute. Do you jump back to -4 sometime?

    The problem with the beginning is that you have this individual dead in the shower after about 200 words.

    I don't know anything about this person ... male? female? apparently young but no real indication other than most people get married relatively young -- at least the first time here in the West. I'm guessing naked since few people shower with clothes on. Probably Singaporean, although there's no reason s/he couldn't be a Brit left over from colonial days or even an expatriate American/Russian/Whatever. So, you got a naked (maybe Singaporean) corpse we have no connection to--no real reason to care that s/he died.

    Then you start in with a young person who's on the way to a molestation.

    So, yeah. Not a lot to tell me this is a love story on the cover...or in the blurb...or in the first few words.

    Fix the cover and blurb. The writing may be exotic enough to lure a few readers past the corpse in the tub and on to a story that might be just around the next bend in the page.

    And while you're thinking about it ... "A Singaporean Love Story" might make a good subtitle, but as an engaging title? Not so much. Nobody else has mentioned it but maybe something with a little more zip -- "Death Before Marriage" or "Til Life Do Us Part" or "Falun Gong But Not Forgotten" ... something that's more like a title.

    Something you can put in big letters on the cover so people know it's the title.

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  6. The prologue had me just fine until this: "Let’s experience the growth of the two hearts caged by winter acquiescing to the warmth of summer—from different points of view."

    It's like a narrator suddenly steps into a first-person narrative, and that's pretty confusing.

    Also, to start chapter 1 with: "I was molested when I was seven years old." I was like, "Whoa, boy, slow down this train!!!" lol! I don't mean to be crass, but we've just experienced a rather vivid shower death, to be followed up immediately with this confession. It's just a bit much. Having read just this, I would wager that the story is either too unbalanced, or pulling for high-drama, which is sort of off-putting.

    Of course, if that's the case throughout, that would require a book doctor or developmental editor, rather than a simple copy-edit, and that's a lot more work in revisions.

    The images on the cover seem fine enough, apart from whatever that ferris-wheel looking thing is on the left - I don't know what that's doing. But where I think it's not speaking to its genre are the solid bars on the top and bottom. You rarely see those bars on YA fiction covers of any sort. Mostly you see them in *adult* romance. It's a small but subconscious thing that could be signaling to YA readers that this book is not for them. The font sort of says "adult romance" to me too. YA covers usually employ a more youthful font.

    Hope that helps, and good luck!

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  7. Nathan asked: "Is there a big ferris wheel in Singapore like there is in London?"

    Yes, and it's actually taller than the one in London. Of course, I only know that because I was there on vacation last year. I don't think most people know about it, so it might not be a good image to use

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for that update.

      Good to know but I think your comment about "don't think most people know about it" is on the mark.

      As something for the Singaporean market, it would probably work because people there would know and recognize it. Oddly, when I searched for "singapore skyline" I didn't get a single ferris wheel.

      Apparently it's called the Singapore Flyer.

      Live and learn.

      Delete
  8. I agree with what others have said (non-specific, blah blurb and choppy writing) but for me, the main problem is the cover. I've seen this cover around a bit. I thought the author's name was the title, and also I have no idea how anyone could get a romance or paranormal vibe from this.

    I don't even know how people can tell that it's 3D art. I see a man in business shirt with his face silhouetted, and I think: this is non-fiction about the stock market.

    Yes to everything people have said, but IMO the cover is most in need of a lot of TLC

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  9. The cover title is confusing. I thought the title was a subtitle, and kept looking around for the title. But the first person POV is not done well, either. Starting many sentences with "I" is quite amateurish and does not bode well for a refined story.

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  10. I love the cover art. It's beautiful and captures the genre. I even like the font. However, I do have issue with the font placement. Originally, I thought Low Kay Hwa was the title of the book and "A Singapore Love Story" was the subtitle. Personally, I think it's great to display the author's name proudly. However, it shouldn't be at the expense of the title. The title is illegible unless it's blown up. Even the title on books by well-known authors are visible. I also have trouble reading the praise at the top of the book because of the rainfall/snow. And again, the caption at the very top is difficult to read because of the size of the font. I think the title of the book is rather lacking also.

    I think the product description needs a bit of work. It's boasted as a bestseller, but at the bottom proclaims it hasn't even reached 10k downloads. The description also reads like a non-fiction book rather than a novel.

    First 300 words: I like the first line. Death right off the back is also an attention grabber in my book. The rest of the first 300 words… Loved them also. :) Based on the first 300 words, I would purchase this novel. I did notice your book is only on Amazon. You might be able to expand your market by publishing at Smashwords or Barnes and Nobles (PubIt!).

    I didn't even realize the book started in chapter 5 until Victorine mentioned it. However, I think it would be a GREAT place to start. Maybe if you erased the chapter 5 reference and use it as a prologue as sorts. Don't even have to label it as prologue… start it right there.

    :) I actually like the writing style. My only caution would be with the comma usage. Some of them are misplaced.

    So recap. Great cover art but I'd suggest some font adjustments. Also, the title could use a revamp. I also agree with Victorine about the yellow sticker. It's on the side of gaudy. Description needs a lot of work. I suspect that is what turns readers off the most. First 300 words are great, in my opinion.

    Anyway. I would buy this book today if it were in ePub version. The writing works for me, and it's in a genre I enjoy (foreign romances). Plus the $0.99 makes it an impulse by for me. I will note, nothing about this says YA though. Marriage to me is adult.

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  11. I thought the author name was the title, which made me wonder if the book was in English. I would have skipped it if I was browsing because I would assume that it was written in a language I can't read.

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