Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dead Men Don't Cry

Author: Nancy Fulda
Genre: Science Fiction Anthology
How long it's been on sale: March 2, 2011
Current price: $2.99
Total sold so far: Approx. 30
Link to book on Amazon: Dead Men Don't Cry

Product Description:

A desperate band of anti-terrorists risk their sanity to avert a catastrophe.

A mother confronts her past to save her child from aliens.

A sentient computer must choose between loyalty to humans and justice for her own kind.

From electronic ghosts to minds that travel through time, this collection is a fascinating exploration of an endless universe. Dead Men Don't Cry contains ten short stories from award winning author Nancy Fulda.

48,000 words or about 211 pages

First 300 Words:

It's said that writer's stories are like a mother's children. She loves them, not merely despite their flaws, but also because of them.

Presented here is a collection of my writings over the past ten years. Within these pages you will find tales of computers that invent God, minds that travel through time, electronic ghosts, and deceased extraterrestrials. Some of these stories have received more professional acclaim than others, but in my eyes, all are beloved.

"Pastry Run" was written in a single afternoon while trailing my then-two-year-old son around the house. It was so thoroughly disliked by my critique group that I nearly shelved it. I'm now glad I didn't, because it became my second professional-level sale.

"Dead Men Don't Cry", the title story of this anthology, was written with an eye toward plot. I sought to keep the action lively and the tension high. For the most part I succeeded, but if I were rewriting it today I'd get rid of the white-room staff meeting in the opening.

"Blue Ink" was written for a high school writing contest, and won. I expanded the story a few years later. I still love it even though the subject matter is hopelessly cliche.

"Backlash" grew out of my experience watching a friend struggle with post-traumatic stress syndrome. I feel a bit sorry for everything I put Eugene through during this story. He's a good guy, and deserves better.

"Monument" may be my most jaded creation. It asks the question: "How would humanity really react to extraterrestrial visitors?"

“Tammi’s Garden” came into existence somewhat by accident.  My sister had started a writing contest and I wanted to show my support by entering a piece of fiction.  I hope no one thought the contest was rigged when the story won second place!

Vicki's Comments: I'll start with the cover. The one thing it has going for it is I could tell this was a science fiction book right away. Good job with that. The bad part is I couldn't quite tell that was a space ship at first. I thought it was some kind of mechanical bird. I also wouldn't put the focal point of the cover down so far on the book, it looks like it's falling off the page and makes me uncomfortable. If you don't change the graphic, at least move it up and over so the planet is off the page on the left side and the ship is higher up on the page. (However, I do suggest a different graphic.)

The font might be a bit plain, and the title seems to be swimming in the black. I'd increase the font size, and perhaps find a more science fiction type font.

The description didn't grab me, but I think concept of one liners that describe each story is good. It's hard to take a story and boil it down to one sentence that makes you want to read it, but I've found bouncing ideas off other authors to be helpful. I do think the blurbs can be improved.

I was disappointed that the book stared with explanation about the stories. It's interesting, so I wouldn't cut it, but I would definitely suggest putting that at the end and starting right away with the strongest story. I can't comment on the quality of the writing, since I didn't read any, but a critique group was mentioned so I'm clapping my hands. Plus Maria gave it four stars, and I trust Maria.

Overall, my final verdict for this book is tweak the cover and blurb, I think both are holding this book back. Also realize that science fiction anthology might be a harder sell than some of the more popular genres. However, I think it can do better than it has been.

What do you guys think?


  1. Cover: Bigger font, make it clear that it's a short story collection.

    Excerpt: Nope, put the foreward into an afterword. I want to know what you wrote, not how you wrote it--at least not right off the bat. :)

  2. My impressions:

    The cover's a problem. The art isn't bad, but the title font is boring and generic, while the "Science Fiction by Nancy Fulda" line is illegible even puffed up to Amazon listing size. It'd be even worse in thumbnail.

    Move the art up. Get a better title font. Put your name on it's own line, at the bottom, and puff it so it's legible.

    You don't need "Science Fiction by..." on the cover.

    Which brings me to the other major reaction I had:

    The title doesn't say science fiction to me.

    DEAD MEN DON'T CRY is a pure hardboiled detective fiction sort of title.

    It also doesn't hint that it's a collection of short stories. Though that's not always necessary.

    Bottom line? Get a more SF-friendly title, then fix the book cover.

    Those two things would help a lot. As it stands now, I would veer away from OneClicking based purely on the confusion of a detective-fiction-type title on a book that says it contains science fiction.

    But that's me.

  3. Have to agree that that cover and the title don't grab me. For a science fiction collection, I think that the title should reflect this more. What are the titles of the other stories in the collection? I saw a few of them in the story history that starts the book. From those I would prefer 'Backlash' or 'Monument', but I'd be interested in knowing the other titles.

    Also, perhaps the product description could start off with something like: Ten speculative tales by Nancy Fulda.

  4. This is really great feedback. Thanks so much, everybody!

    Shaun, the stories in the collection are:

    Pastry Run
    Dead Men Don’t Cry
    Blue Ink
    Tammi’s Garden
    All Praise to the Dreamer
    The Breath of Heaven
    Ghost Chimes
    A New Kind of Sunrise

  5. I agree about the cover. It does say scifi to me once I stared at it for a while and got what it was. First, I had to read that line that said it was science fiction.

    The blub is good but I would start out saying it's a collection, otherwise I would think (and did) that it was one story.

    How you wrote the stories isn't important. In fact, it seems like the beginning is more of an apology rather than the story of your journey. I would eliminate it altogether, but if you feel you must keep it in, at least put it at the end.

    Don't forget, that becomes part of the sample and you want readers to get as much of your work in the sample as possible.

  6. I guess I'd wonder how the sales are relative to other short story collections by indies? I think that's something to look at. Readers, in general, don't seem to like short stories as much.

    You might try breaking a few of the stories out and selling them as individual stories. The more product you have up, the better your chances of getting sales. In fact, since you have ten stories, you could pair two together as a $0.99 collection and get five of those out. Then raise the price of your collection of ten stories to $3.99.

    I also agree about the font on the cover. Not only bigger, but make it bolder somehow. It's too meek right now. Add some kind of effect to the font. And move the author's note to the end -- also a good idea. Some readers buy by sampling first, and you want them to jump into your strongest story with the sample.

    Anyhow, good luck!

  7. Just wanted to agree with changing the title to something more sci-fi, if possible, and switching your foreward to after :). Good luck!

  8. I definitely would like to see your writing at the start. I am very put off by samples where what I get is not a sample of the writing itself. A big no-no when I'm looking at buying stories.

    The rest, I pretty much second what's been said about the cover.

  9. Agree with the others about the cover. While the image is striking, I looked at it longer than I should have needed to to figure out the book was Sci Fi and the image was a spaceship.

    The title is pure mystery/crime fic.

    I also agree that you shouldn't start with the backstory of how you came to write the stories--and what doesn't work. That could put a reader off. However, that said, your writing in the opener is smooth and competent. In fact, your first sentence is lovely. I'd think all the backstories would be interesting to a reader AFTER reading the stories themselves.

  10. OK, I love the title...just not for this book. The title and the cover art are at total odds with one another, and confuses the heck out of me.

    I like the idea of including the backstory of how you came up with the stories, but include it as an author's note at the end, and instead go right to the first story at the beginning of the book.

  11. I'm currently reading this book, and I agree with a lot of the comments above, so I won't rehash them. I just want to add that Nancy's writing is good, and I like most of the stories so far. The thing that doesn't show up here but that readers would see on downloading a sample is is the enforced typewriter style font (at least in the Smashwords MOBI file). I find it off-putting and irksome, so it may help account for fewer sales. Nancy was very responsive when I pointed this out, and she is looking into correcting the problem.

  12. Nancy,

    Of the list of short stories in this collection, the only that reads to me as having the most SF-friendly title is:

    The Breath of Heaven

    That would be a better title for the collection. Unless its the worst story of the lot, LOL.

    If not that one, then the second-best title is:

    A New Kind of Sunrise

    Both of those would get your genre across more effectively. :)

  13. How about "Dead Men Don't Cry and other science fiction stories" or "... and other stories". Then people would know that this is also a title of one of your short stories, and it would let readers know on the cover that this is a short story collection. I don't mind the title for sci fi -- with the space cover, I get a sense of lonliness from it, and it says sci fi to me.

  14. Thank you again, everyone. This is extremely helpful feedback.

    I've transmogrified the Introduction into an Author's Note at the end and am looking into a new graphic for the cover image. I may change the title somewhere down the road, too.

  15. Too much black on the cover, it doesn't pull me, although I like the title. I agree with Vicki about the explanation upfront - you lost me right there. I'd prefer the stories to start right away, and read the explanation at the end.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.