Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Kult

Author: Shaun Jeffrey
Genre: The author didn't list a genre, but I'm guessing it's horror or crime fiction.
How long it's been on sale: Previously published, but publisher went bankrupt. Re-released by me in March.
Current price: $3.45
Total sold so far: 59
Link to book on Amazon: The Kult

Product Description:

People are predictable. That’s what makes them easy to kill.

Detective Chief Inspector Prosper Snow is in charge of an investigation into a serial killer called The Oracle who turns his victims into macabre works of art. But Prosper harbours a dark secret of his own. He and his old school friends were members of a group called The Kult who made a pact to dish out their own form of vengeance on bullies. Now a member of the group puts their friendship to the test when he makes a far darker request: that they murder someone that raped his wife.

To get away with murder, the friends decide to blame it on The Oracle, but events take a chilling turn when the instigator turns up dead, his body fashioned into a disturbing work of art. Now, one by one, the members of The Kult are being hunted down.

Just when Prosper thinks things can’t get any worse, his wife is kidnapped and he knows that if he goes to his colleagues for help, he risks his dark deeds being unearthed. If he doesn't, he risks losing all that he holds dear. 

First 300 Words:

People are predictable. That’s what makes them easy to kill.

At least that’s what the Oracle hoped. He had studied and plotted Jane Numan’s routine over the weeks. Watched without her seeing, making note of every nuance, every step of her schedule until he had a complete diary of her movements, probably knowing more about her than she did about herself.

He crouched in the recessed doorway of the kebab shop opposite where she lived and gripped the handle of the knife in the sheath inside his jacket. His weapon of choice, he hoped the mere sight of the blade would instil terror in his prey, making it more personal, and putting him close enough that he could smell his quarry and see the fear in her eyes.

He looked at his watch; 6:29 a.m. and counting.

Any second now…

Like clockwork, the front door of what to anyone else would be a nondescript house opened and Jane walked out. The Oracle sank back into the shadows as he stared at the facial disfigurement that made it appear half her face was melting. Although only 23 years of age, she probably hadn’t had the easiest of lives, which made her all the more desirable as a victim as the more public sympathy his kill received, the more publicity he would generate, and as people were fond of saying, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, especially not for what he had planned.

The Oracle watched her check that the door was locked, pushing once, twice, then a third time, as she always did when she left the house. His pulse increased, a volcano waiting to erupt within his chest. He rubbed the sweat coated fingers of his free hand down his trousers. Everything was going according to schedule.

Vicki's Comments: The image on the cover is fantastic for a horror novel. If that's the genre, it fits perfectly. I'm not sure I love the font, it doesn't go with the tone of the book to me. I would try to find one that is more of a clean font. I would switch it and see if that makes a difference.

I like the description except for the first two lines. Starting with those first two lines makes me think the description is written in the killer's point of view, but then we switch right away into the detective's point of view and it confuses me. If I ignore the first two sentences I feel like it flows better. Could it be improved? Sure, I think it could be tightened up just a little bit. I would ask my critique group for suggestions to tighten it up. But really, it hooks me, so I think it's good!

The writing is tight, and it starts in a great place. I think this book can do very well. It's possible the higher price is holding it back. Maybe try a sale for a while, just to get some eyeballs on the book. There's really not a lot holding this book back, in my opinion. Once it gets some publicity I think it will become a hit!

What do you guys think?


  1. I love the cover. The only problem I see is the font the author used for his name. It needs to be more solid.

    The blurb is too long and gives away too much. By the time I got to the second paragraph, I was a bit lost and had to go back to read the first paragraph again. That means I was skimming, not reading.

    The opening is fantastic. I got chills reading it. If I was a horror fan, I would definitely buy this book.

    Shaun didn't say what he's done for marketing, but I would advise he plan a campaign for the holiday rush, including dropping the price to 99 cents for at least two months. Things should pick up a bit next month.

    Another plus is that a third of the people who read the book cared enough to write reviews. That's an excellent ratio. Have the book been submitted to Red Adept or any other review blogs?

    Honestly, I'm a bit puzzled why this book isn't flying off the shelves.

  2. I'll also mention that this book is being made into a film by an independent film company. Here's the youtube trailer:

  3. I added it to my wish list for a rainy day when I'm in the mood for something like this. In other words, I think this one just hasn't been seen by enough people. There are some good tips above for making it better, but I honestly don't think it's bad as-is.

    And thanks for the movie trailer link! I'd watch that. :-)

  4. Thanks for the comments so far. The genre is a mix of psychological thriller and horror. I did have the book up for $0.99 for months but it hardly sold any, so I raised the price. Although it still doesn't sell a lot, I make more money now than I did before. I will also mention that when it was available in paperback it sold around 800 copies. At that time it had a different cover too, which might make a difference. I also used a different blurb too, which was shorter:

    "People are predictable. That's what makes them easy to kill.

    Out of misguided loyalty, police officer Prosper Snow is goaded into helping his friends perform a copycat killing, but when the real killer comes after him, it's not only his life on the line, but his family's too. Now if he goes to his colleagues for help, he risks being arrested for murder. If he doesn't, he risks being killed."

    I'd be interested to know if people prefer that one. Thanks again and I appreciate any and all comments.

  5. P.S.
    Vicki, the first line was supposed to be the hook line, People are predictable etc. I always thought it was something concise that I hoped would pique peoples interest.

    Margaret, the ratio of reviews looks good compared to the sales but most of those came from the paperback book, which sold far more copies before the publisher went bankrupt. On Goodreads I think it has 100 ratings and 66 reviews, 75% of which are 4 or 5 star, which again most of which were for the paperback. As for blogs, it's been reviewed on lots. Not sure whether I ever submitted it to Red Adept though.

  6. Shaun, I like the second blurb a lot better and I like your hook line, too.

    How are your other books doing?

    99 cents didn't work for me either. The sweet spot seems to be $2.99. The one I have at that price far outsells the others.

    I admit I'm stumped on this one.

  7. I would seriously consider going back to your original blurb.

    I've actually looked at this book before. I think the cover caught my eye somewhere (I thinki it's a great cover). But the blurb put me off.

    I distinctly remember reading it and thinking "his wife's kidnapped and he's debating whether or not to go to the police because he's afraid of being found out?? This guy is a complete a**hole. I don't want to read about him."

    Seriously, that's why I didn't buy it.

  8. Thanks, Margaret. My other books are not doing any better. My novella Dead Man's Eye has been free on for a while (I presume it still is, but when you live outside the US and you're affiliated to a different Amazon, when you look at the site prices are not displayed - plus it's 'selling' a few copies a day, which makes me think it's still free) and that's had 14k downloads in about three or four weeks.

    Anonymous, I've uploaded the original blurb. Perhaps now you'll buy it ;) Thanks for the comments though. Really appreciate it.

  9. Shaun, I just checked and yes your novella is still free. Do you have the first chapter of The Kult at the end of your free novella? That might help sales a bit, because The Kult starts with a bang. :)

  10. Good tip, Vicki. Just added it. Thanks.

  11. Shaun, there's nothing wrong with the book. Not the cover, not the pricing, not the description.

    Horror isn't a huge seller and the darker the horror, the less it sells. This is the kind of book that will hand-sell really well at reader and fan cons as a print copy.

    I wouldn't fiddle with the price, except maybe make it $3.49 or $3.99 to round it out more.

    Sometimes, a book takes a while to take off. Look at where your readers might hand out and go look for them there.

  12. Shaun, this should be a winner for you. Everything's right about it. I bet the shorter blurb helps, and yeah, I'd make the pricing more standard. Go to $2.99 or $3.95 (I'm likin' the 5's these days). Good luck!

  13. I've read The Kult - and it's a great read. It's weird that this book is not flying off the shelves...

  14. Just a reader here, the first blurb looses me completely. It sounds way too complicated and disturbing for me to consider following through with a purchase over $3. The second blurb however makes me think I could be interested in this book - I feel like the first blurb and price will weed out/scare away potential readers. Honestly, as a Kindle user I now know I don't have to spend more than $3 for a great read.

    The cover, I enjoy it, I even like the font. It does give off a little "Western" vibe so that may be reason to change it I guess.

    Having read the second blurg it sounds like something I would follow, watch for a minor price drop and then pick up.

  15. I like the shorter blurb much better. But the "people are predictable" line is still misleading (to me). Especially when you segue into the detective--sounds as though those are his words.

    Your writing is tight and very effective.

    The cover is certainly scary :) However, at first I thought the title was "The Kuit" because the bottom of the "L" gets lost in that design swirl.

    Good luck--sounds like you have a winner.

  16. Thanks everyone for the comments. I'll probably drop the price to $2.99 and see if that has any effect on sales. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that the film will be released and that if people like it, they might want to read the book it was based on (or that any film promotion might rub off on the book). But I would like it if people liked the book for what it was, regardless of anything else.

  17. Love the cover image. Not wild about the font-work on the cover.

    I know ornate fonts are sometimes desired by authors in horror/thriller.

    However, they are hard to read on tiny eBook covers, and that can cause the eye to pass over a title in the Kindle Store.

    In their initial releases, I can't recall a single Stephen King title that featured such ornate but illegible font work. Maybe some of this paperback re-issues, but by then the book has been "sold through." When his titles first hit shelves in hardcover, they feature cleaner, more legible fonts.

    Just some food for thought. I think dropping the price to $2.99 and improving the font work on the cover are the two areas for improvement that I see here...

  18. In response to the comments, I've incorporated a couple of the suggestions, starting with a price drop to $2.99 :)

  19. I remembering seeing this book before. And the trailer. Don't remember where. But I do remember the blurb turned me off, so I'm glad you changed it because now it sounds right up my alley!

    The price was an issue for me, too, if I recall. It seemed a bit high.

    The tag line, now THAT I love. Pure genius. For those who read the genre, THAT is what really sells the novel (I had put it on my Wishlist despite price and lengthy blurb).

  20. Thanks for the comment, Shea. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that these subtle changes help with sales.

  21. There's nothing wrong with the writing. It was the blurb that was the issue.

    Second blurb is worlds better. I would try it now. Woot!

  22. Thanks Anonymous. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for those elusive sales :)

  23. I don’t know whether people offer updates on what happens after the kind advice offered, but here’s mine. I tweaked the blurb and reduced the price of The Kult from $3.45 to $2.99 and 12 copies sold between 17th August and 10th September, which is roughly about the same as before, but I obviously made slightly less money due to the price drop. Yesterday I dropped the price to 99 cents and it’s sold about 6 copies since then, but that’s with the help of lots of posts and retweets on Facebook, Twitter etc. Profit wise the 12 copies at $2.99 equals about $24.48. To make the same at 99 cents I will need to sell at least 65 copies.

    Now I’m preparing the release of the next book in the series, so I’ll see whether that has any affect on sales and report back.


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