Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Last Man on Earth Club

Author: Paul R. Hardy
Genre: Science Fiction/Post-Apocalyptic
How long it's been on sale: About 6 weeks
Current price: $2.99
Total sold so far: 51
Link to book on Amazon

Product Description:


Therapy groups support people traumatised by a common issue, such as cancer, sexual abuse, or PTSD suffered in war. This therapy group is for people who were the last survivors of their world.

Each of them was rescued from a parallel universe where humanity was wiped out. They’ve survived nuclear war, zombies, machine uprisings, mass suicide and more. They’ve been given sanctuary on the homeworld of the Interversal Union, and placed with a therapist who works with survivors of doomed worlds.

No one has lost as much as they have. No one has suffered as they have.

Their only hope is each other.

First 300 Words:

 The ancient forest along the valley had been peaceful and serene for thousands of years. No deadly animals hid among the leaves to poison and devour the unwary. Floods never swept trees down the valley to the distant lakes in the plain. Fire never consumed the branches, racing in sparks and embers from tree to tree faster than a human could run.

Nor had it known a suffocating blanket of ash spewed out from a volcano the size of a country. The earth had not split and taken the trees to the boiling mantle below. The invisible lines of magnetism wrapping the planet had never dissolved and let the sun’s ultraviolet deluge shrivel the trees and kill every creature that could not burrow to safety.

It had not been poisoned and turned to grey, brittle remnants by runoff from factories upstream. It had not been stripped of leaves and branches by rain so acidic it could mark steel. It had not known the blast, the light, the heat, or the radiation from a nuclear fireball. Survivors of a terrible war had never fled through the trees, running from robotic hunters murdering every last man and woman they could find. Gene-mutated horrors had never oozed across the leaf litter, absorbing it and all the biomass they could digest until they roiled across the terrain so swiftly that no-one could escape. Invaders from a distant universe had never swept down from the skies, darting tentacles among the branches to drag the last remaining humans to slavery on another world.

Convincing my patients of this was sometimes difficult.

Vicki's Comments: First, the cover. I like it. I think it conveys the book very well. It's got a sci-fi and apocalyptic vibe. The font doesn't say sci-fi as much, but I don't think it's a big issue. It's easy to read the title and author even in thumbnail. I think the cover is a plus.

The description could use some work, in my opinion. I don't like the dictionary definition in the beginning, most people already know what therapy groups are all about. But I admit there is something about the way this description is done that intrigues me. Most of the time I like to focus on people in my description. When so-and-so does such-and-such he comes up against whatever and then thing-a-ma-jig happens. However, I can see this other style working, perhaps with a little tweaking.

The first 300 words didn't grab me. I see what the author is trying to do, after getting through it and to the last sentence, but the length of it turned me off. I might shorten it a bit to get to the point about the patients because I think that is the hook.

Now, here's the thing. This book has only been for sale for six weeks. That is a very short time. To sell 51 copies in that time is doing good, especially at $2.99. That's more than 1 a day. For a new book, I don't think this book isn't selling. It probably needs more time and more marketing to sell better. The premise of the book is interesting. The price is good. The cover fits. I think with a little tweaking, the description can be awesome. Personally, I think this book is doing very well. If this were my book, I would be submitting it to book bloggers to try to get some reviews and some attention to the book.

Any thoughts on this guys?


  1. It is a cool cover. But here's what's stopping me from buying.

    1. The title is too long, and reads a little awkwardly. This is minor, but I think it is just as important as the visual.

    2. Far more important: the premise is very cool, but what's the story? do these survivors face some new threat on this new world? What's it all about? Who's the hero or heroes? This is not made very clear in the book description.

  2. I agree, it's only been on sale for a short while, and it is selling, just not great numbers. Sounds like V's advice is right.

  3. I like the cover image, and the story setting sounds pretty intriguing. I had no problem with the blurb (and I think the s-versus-z spelling is a regional issue), nor with the first 300 words. This is another I could see adding to my TBR queue, and I also think that's it's more "new" than "not selling." Keep promoting it and I'd expect it to do fine. (It's already done far better than mine!)

    I agree with David that it does make me wonder what the story is, within the intriguing setting. Any potential conflict at the core of the story is pretty much a guess at this point, although I'd still keep reading to find out more.

    One thing that troubles me, on the cover, is the emphasis of the word CLUB. I don't know exactly how I'd lay things out, but I would probably start either with the title text all the same size, or with "Last Man On Earth" being a bit larger, and maybe setting it up like this:
    Last Man On Earth
    (centered) rather than the current layout. I'm not sure if others get distracted by the emphasis on club... maybe that's just me.

    Be patient, keep promoting, and good luck with it!

  4. Hmmm...I actually think the cover is the number one problem.
    Also, the brief description/synopsis isn't really clear. I also think the opening paragraphs have too much "set up" (telling/description/etc) and not enough to just pull us into the story.

  5. 56 copies sold after 6 weeks at the $2.99 price tells me that something is definitely working.

    I wouldn't change a thing.

  6. Chalk another one up for "this IS selling".

    The cover looks pretty neat to me, but if I'd come across this book while randomly browsing, I wouldn't have looked even at the blurb. The title sounds like the author did not think to include any women in that "club".

  7. Interesting comments so far - but the main one, of course, is that I should really be getting on with it and not worrying so much!

    (book bloggers already contacted, as well; two reviews have gone up since I submitted this, plus an interview and giveaway tomorrow which I'll be promoting the hell out of)

    It's very, very useful to see the other comments as well. This is the first time I've seen this kind of resource or been able to get this kind of feedback - I'd go so far as to say this blog could well become invaluable.

    Thanks, all! I'll look in again when I get home from work and see what else I can learn...

  8. Reading the blurb and the first few paragraphs, I'm very confused as to whether or not these people actually are survivors of calamaties on their planets in their parallel universes or if they are delusional patients. The blurb seems to clearly indicate that they have truly suffered some tragedy and this doctor is treating them for PTSD. The opening paragraphs repeatedly state clearly that no such thing ever happened.

    If I was a reader looking for some kind of dystopian survivor's club, I'd be drawn in by the blurb, then put the book down because the opening paragraphs would make me think it's a dramatic book that delves into the psychosis of the deranged people who think they've been through some sort of end times in their little dilusions. If I was looking for a book that dealt with the pshychological delusions, I'd pass over this because I would gather from the blub that this is a sci-fi dystopian thing.

    Also, the title leads the reader to believe it's the last man of Earth, which would be some kind of Omega Man novel, but the blurb mentions other planets and universes. Again, more confusion as to what the book is really about. And "last man on Earth" also has sexual connotations as in "I wouldn't sleep with you if you were the last man of Earth", and when you add to that "club", it conveys a sense of men who can't finds a date. I'd definitely re-think the title and make sure the blurb matched what the book was really about. If it is about delusional patients, then I'd make it clear in the blurb. If it's not, then you need to make it clear at the beginning that the patients have real memories they're dealing with.

    Also, you're throwing a lot of possible disasters out there right off the bat. I think it's too long of a list without seperation. I assume they aren't delusions (or real events) of one specific patient based on the last sentence, so then I'd think about splitting it up. One believes the earth swallowed up the trees into the mantle. Next paragraph, another believes there's some ooze that's rolling across the land. Etc...I'd organize it a little better.

    Cool cover.

    Good luck with this.

    Take care.

  9. I think this is great. I actually love the first 300 words and they grab me right away. By telling us what DIDN'T happen you are telling us what DID happen (elsewhere).

    I'm adding this book on my to-read list.

    But it's a funnybook right? The title implies funny, as does the description and sample. But the cover....not so much. I'm not saying you need a planet with arms and underpants, but what you have there is very serious.

    I agree with Stuart on the "club" thing, but it may be just me. I am getting a little tired of this convention in graphic design where we emphasize some words randomly over others. So don't go by me on that.

  10. I like the cover - the title is a bit lengthy, the font doesn’t affect me one way or the other. I agree with Vicky - the definition is redundant. You would’ve had to live under a rock, not to know what the purpose of a therapy group is. In the first 300 words, it’s obvious the author attempts to create a vivid picture of a scorched, dystopian world which the patients had left behind – BUT, it goes on forever – keeping it to the single paragraph would have had more punch and would have been a great hook. The remaining 2 paragraphs should have been woven into the story at appropriate intervals instead of the large info dump at the beginning. This alone would discourage me from reading the story as I would wonder if the entire book is written this way. Shorter, snappier prose is what “I” prefer, I do not presume to speak for others.

    Sandy Westendorf

  11. I'll chime in to say that Fred's comments echo most of my thoughts. The emphasis on Club in the title seems off, I'd keep the font size the same. I immediately wondered how there can be a club if there's only one man left. So I read on to find out, and then I wonder why so many worlds, parellel planets have had so many disasters leaving one person left, so many they need a support group. This makes me want to buy the book just to find out if the author came through. It's an interesting plot premise and getting review sites to back up the plot might help get the numbers to climb even faster.

  12. Cover: I like it. Eye-catching and looks professional.

    Title: I'm intrigued by it, but I do agree with issues others have had (eg, confusion, no women?, etc) Still, the title would make me take another look.

    Blurb: Again, intriguing. And again, confusing. Are these really survivors, or are they deluded?

    Tone: agree with others that I don't know if the book is supposed to be funny or not. The 'club' thing.

    First 300: way too long. Part of the problem is overuse of adjectives. EG:

    "The ancient forest along the valley had been peaceful and serene for thousands of years. No deadly animals hid among the leaves to poison and devour the unwary."

    I'd use serene and dump peaceful. Serene is a stronger descriptor. Poisoning and devouring is overkill (heh), although I do understand that they are different means of killing. My point is, these are the two opening sentences and they need to be crisp and active.

    I think your writing is good in these 300, just overdone.

    In summary, the book sounds like something I might enjoy reading--even though I don't normally read SF--but the opening would deter me. Then again, at least 51 readers disagree, so good for you!

  13. The blurb isn't a story. The first 300 words are pure telling.

  14. The blurb feels a little impersonal to me. While it's an intriguing premise, there is no "character" to latch onto and get an idea of whose story it is or what the tone and plot of the story will be. I don't know if that is preventing any sales, but that's what jumped out at me. Hope it helps! And I agree that your sales don't suck, though I'm sure you'd like them to be higher :)

  15. The cover doesn't work for me. I feel the lettering style does not match the graphics, and agree with the comment about "CLUB" seeming overblown. But most people seem to like it, so this is only my opinion.
    The opening was also a little heavy. "Convincing my patients of this..." is a great hook; I would get to that as quickly as possible.
    I also agree that your definition in the product description might be unnecessary. The rest of the description appears interesting.

  16. The last line of the first 300 words make it sound like the book will be told in the first person from the therapist's point of view. If that's the case I'd like to see the blurb changed to indicate this, and to make it personal. I think changing a few words is all that would be needed:

    "[My] therapy group is for people . . ."

    "They’ve been given sanctuary [here] on the homeworld of . . . , and placed with [me. I work] with survivors of doomed worlds."

    I like the title and wouldn't want to see it changed---it's a classically good science fiction title---but before reading the book, I'd want some reassurance that it is not literally true, that not all the sole survivors are men. However, if they are, I would expect that mystery to be addressed in the story.

  17. Personally, I don't mind the 'last man' thing. I see it as 'mankind' meaning all of humanity and not a gender thing. I think it would read funny to name it 'last person on earth' or 'last human on earth.' I agree though, putting a more personal viewpoint on it would help.

  18. The cover: B-

    i like the title, but the font and sizing throw me off. i like the pic. "club" should not be the largest word in the title.

    the description: C

    i know what a therapy group is. the premise of "last man standing" from parallel earths is intriguing, but what is the story actually about? a premise is just a starting point, but a story requires conflict. i'm not seeing any. i'm sure it's there, but it's not being shown.

    first words: C

    TLDR. losing my attention. i don't care about all this yet. grab me. give me dialog, action, conflict, people... something other than this. it's description of what didn't happen. that's not enticing. i get what the author's trying to do, but it's not working.

  19. If you're open to a title change, maybe "The Last Survivor Club" would be a consideration. It's shorter and sex-neutral without being awkward (IMHO). Just a little brainstorming...

  20. Lots of interesting things to think about!

    Blurb - Hm. I was trying to keep it short, snappy, and to the point, but I can see how people are missing out on character. Especially when it's a character driven story. So that's something to look at.

    300 words - maybe a little trimming, but not too much... the first scene is basically a group therapy session, and those can be extraordinarily tedious until you know the characters. There needs to be some up-front apocalypse to set the scene for the kind of things the characters have survived, so I only have room for trimming.

    Cover - I seem to be less keen on my own cover than most of the people here! Possibly because I know what I originally wanted, while the final result is basically what I had to settle for, given my resources. A friend of mine with better photoshop skills is working on something, but that may take time as it's a freebie.

    Gender Issue - yep, I considered this a long time ago, but I'm stuck with the fact that the phrase "last man on earth" is embedded into the culture, and the title I have won't work unless it explicitly references it. "Last Survivor" is a good idea, but doesn't convey the enormity of what they've survived. There just isn't another phrase that does the job, and carries the necessary baggage of genocide and apocalypse. The best I could do to redress the balance is have the therapist quietly correct the language of one of the group members during the first chapter. The sooner the Culture comes by and teaches us all Marain and gets rid of gendered language, the better :-)

    Anyway - thanks to you all! Especially the ones who went and bought it, which seems to be the case now that I stand at 61 copies sold :-)

  21. I'll stand alone here as someone who is not a fan of the cover. The title and author nearly obscure the artwork.

    I'm with the others that the title should be all one size and I think you need to make it smaller.

    I won't comment on the blurb or the first 300 words because others have done a great job with that.

    And congratulations on 51 sales (now 61) in six weeks. Those are good numbers to begin with.

  22. I also am not a great fan of the cover but with those sales (which are actually quite good) I doubt that I'd change it.


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