Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Brontosaurus Pluto Society: Magic Makes You Strange

Author: Noah K. Mullette-Gillman
Genre: Fantasy/Sci-fi
How long it's been on sale: July 23rd
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: I did a radio interview, a lot of posting on and other sites. The book has gotten 8 really strong reviews so far.
Total sold so far: 35
Link to book on Amazon: The Brontosaurus Pluto Society: Magic Makes You Strange

Product Description: 

A tale of dark science-fantasy.

In 1936 aliens from the planet Pluto descend upon London to learn the secret of stage magician Nevil Dever's latest trick.
They abduct the performer and his apprentice, Edward Whistman, on a flying saucer.
Once aboard the spaceship, Edward meets a devil
from the planet Venus. The two of them make their escape together
And Edward begins to learn about real magic.
He begins his journey into the strange...

56,000 words

First 300 Words:

Nineteen Thirty-Six, London.

“For my next trick, I will saw my hat in half and then pull a woman out of a rabbit.”

 The great and powerful Nevil Dever stood incandescent and solitary upon the stage. A phantom and a devil, his crisp black clothes faded into the shadows and smoke behind him. His white shirt, perfectly starched ivory gloves, and ghostly pale skin almost appeared to float disembodied in the supernatural darkness.

The audience laughed together nervously.

The mysterious magician, the thin tall man with the fiery eyes, the kind smile, the sharp and pointed eyebrows, and the long nimble fingers threw his hat in the air. He didn’t even watch as it slowly fell to the ground with a loud thunk, cleanly cut into two even pieces.

“Well, that’s one. I’ll need a volunteer from the audience for part two?”

The audience gasped. They applauded. There weren’t any immediate volunteers among the high society women.

“Oh come now, none of you want to experience birth again? To come into this world fresh and clean from the belly of an innocent animal? Imagine how everything might change… Imagine how liberated you would feel… Imagine what it could be to be truly and finally wild…”

As he spoke, the illusionist had walked out into the audience. Many of the spectators lowered their faces out of fear that if they caught his gaze he would choose them. They were, after all, good Christian men and women. No decent person would ever consent to be reborn from the belly of an animal, like some pagan monster.

But the timbre of his voice had them all enthralled. It was such a deep and rich sound. He held light and darkness in his mouth.

From behind the stage, young Edward Whistman watched.  

Vicki's Comments: When I critique a book I always look at the cover before anything else so I can get my first impressions of the book. I assume most people will be looking at your cover first. At first glance, this book cover looks well designed. I think it's the typography. However, I think there's too much going on with the picture and I quickly get a bit lost. I see demons first, then magic, and then what might be a robot. I can't quite tell. The elements don't seem to go together very well.

Book covers are hard because they do need to represent the book in a way, and yet their main purpose is to tell the reader at a glance what genre the book is. Unfortunately, this book cover doesn't give me a clue as to genre. The typography almost has a "Choose your own adventure" feel to it. The demons make me think of paranormal, the robot makes me think of science fiction. If the book crosses genres, that's fine, it's going to be a bit harder to sell, but I think you need to pick the main genre and do your best to portray that on the cover.

The description begins with: "A tale of dark science-fantasy." Here you're openly admitting you don't know which genre to put this in. I'd take this out. Honestly, since there are space ships and aliens, I would probably put this book into the science fiction realm, with paranormal as the sub-genre. But take that with a grain of salt because I haven't read the book.

I think the description needs to focus more on Edward Whistman. It seems like this is the main character. If this is the case, start with Edward and what key thing happens to him. Maybe: When Edward Whistman is kidnapped and taken on a spaceship, he (now describe the conflict and what Edward must do.)

The beginning of the novel was quite good, IMHO. It definitely caught my attention. You have a charismatic character that is doing something interesting, and I can feel the tension in the room as he is asking a high society lady to do something vulgar. However, I do feel distanced from the scene because there is no main character whose point of view we are in. The last sentence suggests we are in Edward's point of view. I would move that sentence up to the second sentence of the book. Then tell the scene from Edward's POV. Give us a little of his emotion as he's watching this. Is he laughing at the audience? Is he captivated by this magician? Or is he nervous because he has to go out on stage in a minute? See what I mean? I'd like to get to know the character, because ultimately the character is what is going to make me keep reading.

If this first scene is NOT from Edward's point of view, the scene needs to be rewritten. It would be interesting to do this from the magician's point of view, but as it reads right now it's in the narrator's point of view which distances me from the scene.

But as I said, I am intrigued by the snip, and if I had grabbed a sample I would read on to see how things progress.

I'm guessing this book is going to be a tough sell no matter what, just because it doesn't fit nicely in a genre package. The people who like reading about spaceships might want more science in the book. The demon thing might be a turn off for a lot of science fiction fans. The people who like paranormal might not necessarily like reading about spaceships. Fantasy fans might like some aspects, but prefer gnomes and elves.

Overall, I'd suggest a different cover and perhaps changing the name as someone else suggested on KB. The description can be tightened up, and hopefully those two things will help.

What do you guys think?


  1. I get a Terry Pratchett goes to the circus kind of vibe from the cover. It is a bit busy and hard to see what's going on right off. Maybe just focus on the magician and the girl.

    The blurb isn't bad but I kind of got lost with the ellipse at the end. I thought, "Into the strange, what?" Then I realized you just meant into the strange which is exactly what you said. But the ellipse at the end made me think there was a to be continued on the next page.

    I liked the opening. Made me feel kind of eerie but in a good way.

    I think with a cleaner cover and some time, this book could sell well.

  2. Cover - I think it's very fair for a younger audience, but in general it is too busy and too cluttered to get a sense of the book from it.

    Title - Again, it seems very clever and interesting for a younger audience, but it's also so random (magic, aliens, etc.) that it's hard to get a sense of the book from it.

    Description - Nice and short and to the point. You could add a few more details to tease it, but otherwise it's fine.

    Opening - I like it. I like the voice and I like the story and tone. I'd keep reading.

    Other - You have 35 sales and 9 positive reviews in 2 months. This is actually a very fair launch for an unknown author. I recommend you get to work on putting out a sequel as soon as possible and just be patient.

  3. I found the cover very confusing and off-putting to be honest. I do like the title at the top, but at a small size it looks like there's something weird and sexual going on in the middle of the artwork. I had to lean in and look really closely to see what was actually happening.

    The cover is also very busy with too many elements.

    The blurb is okay, but I'm not sure anyone takes the term "flying saucer" seriously. It also wasn't coined until at least 1947. That may be a small and irrelevant point.

    The storyline sounds interesting though. I do enjoy stories where outsiders or neophytes learn real magic.

    The first 300 words aren't bad. There are a few things that stick out for me. To me "incandescent" is generally used to describe women, though that might be my own personal prejudice. And "almost" is a weak qualifier that you could probably omit to punch up the text.

    I'm not sure I buy the hat falling slowly and landing with a loud thunk, unless that's deliberately part of the act.

    Finally, your main character isn't mentioned until the end of your first 300 words, and he's just standing there passively. At this point the stage magician is a more interesting character, and I'd rather read about him. I'd suggest rewriting the scene from Edward's point of view and give him some conflict and an active part in the proceedings, whatever that might be. Doing something is better than standing there and doing nothing.

    Overall, it's not bad. It might sell better with a toned down cover, especially.

  4. From the cover and title I thought this was a YA book. Some kind of crazy, zany sci-fi adventure for a 14 year old. Especially the big bubbly letters spelling out The Brontosaurus Pluto Society. Then I realized from the description it's not. Frankly, I'd rethink both. Or at the very least the cover. Is "The Brontosaurus Pluto Society" important to the title? If not, I'd remove it as it promotes the YA feel. If it is, I'd change the lettering to something a little less ... kiddie.

    While the book itself seems interesting and well written, the description is not. It's very passive and feels a bit stilted. I would use more active power words. Also I agree about the ellipses on the end. It's confusing. Ditch it.

  5. The cover looks YA to me, which I suspect is not your target audience. The same with the title. I'd seriously re-think those. The description is so-so. Not terrible, but I think it could be improved.

    I liked the opening of the novel, but I would have never gotten that far.

  6. The cover: It's intriguing but I think way too busy to work as an ebook cover. I agree that it suggests a YA story.

    Title: makes me think this is either YA, or tongue-in-cheek satire.

    Blurb: didn't work for me.

    Opening: now, I'm liking it. The writing is quite good. I actually love the opening sentence, with the hat and the woman. But that kind of dry humor sure doesn't fit with the YA, heavy satire vibe I got from the cover/title. I also agree that we should get into the POV character's reactions/feelings right away.

  7. I said it at KB but I'll say it here for the sake of having everything in one place: Terrific cover for a print book (seriously), but it doesn't work for an ebook.

    I LOVED the first 300 words. In fact, I bought the book! The only thing I would change is the dateline. While numbers generally should be written out, this generally is not the case for years.

    The blurb: It's super close. It's a bit choppy, and it doesn't tell us enough about what Edward's challenge is. The last sentence has gotta go.

    Your sales to date are not bad at all. Tweak your blurb and change out the ebook cover, and I bet you've got a winner, especially if you put another book out soon-ish. Good luck!

  8. Oh, and a PS: Get rid of the breaks in your blurb. That's why it's reading like free verse. :)

  9. This has been tremendously helpful. Thank you all. I have already begun to implement changes. The book's titles is now "Magic Makes You Strange." Which is the first book in the Brontosaurus Pluto Society Saga. I am working on fixing the blurb and expect that I will replace the ebook cover. I love the artwork, but it is giving you the wrong impression as far as the kind of book it is.

    The only comment which I question, is the necessity of diving into Edward faster than I do. As 300 words is only about half a percent of the book and the free preview on Amazon extends to 10%, I would be interested in hearing if you still felt the same way after reading the whole free preview? You all seem to say that you would read on past the 300 word mark, which seems to suggest that portion does its job?

    Anyway, thank you so very much!

    Noah K. Mullette-Gillman

  10. Noah - I really was hooked by the beginning. The distanced feeling was just a nit-pick. Here's my suggestion: Go with your idea of changing the title and cover, fix up the blurb, and then see how things go. I'd give it some more time after that. If you're still having trouble you can look into getting more suggestions about the opening. A lot of people on here really liked the opening. I don't think I'd mess with it just yet.

  11. As others have mentioned, the cover doesn't portray the books genre very well. As for the description, it reads more like a children's book. The intro to the novel was well written though :)


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