Saturday, February 25, 2012

What About the Boy? A Father's Pledge to His Disabled Son

Author: Stephen Gallup
Genre: Memoir
How long it's been on sale: Sept 1, 2011
Current price: $7.99
Marketing: ARC campaign + provided copies to numerous bloggers who review books; blog + numerous guest posts on other blogs; twitter account & FB page; 14 radio interviews; 1 newspaper interview; publicist contacting newspapers, TV hosts and bookstores nationwide; most rewarding single effort was asking host of instapundit blog to post amazon link

Total sold so far: Approx. 300

Link to book on Amazon: What About the Boy? A Father's Pledge to His Disabled Son

Product Description:

Nobody knew what hurt little Joseph. Perhaps some toxin had invaded his mother's body before his birth. Perhaps it was the difficult birth itself. Or maybe the origin of his disabilities was genetic. Whatever the cause, something had gone terribly wrong — but no one was offering solutions or reasonable guidance.

He cried most of the time, and thrashed about as if in great pain. He wasn't learning how to crawl, talk, or interact normally. His parents sought medical help and were told at first not to worry so much. Later, the professionals recommended counseling to help the parents accept reality. Nothing could help their son, and the quality of their own lives was at risk.

Refusal to accept that advice launched an improbable journey that changed their lives forever.

What About the Boy? A Father's Pledge to His Disabled Son chronicles a family's rejection of hopelessness and their pursuit of a normal life.

First 300 Words:


“It sounds like a gallop,” the Labor and Delivery nurse joked, making a pun on our name.

Judy and I laughed. The fetal monitor strapped onto her belly amplified a signal that did sound like the hollow clatter of hooves. The concussions of that tiny heartbeat reverberated in the narrow room at San Diego’s Kaiser Foundation Hospital, making our baby’s presence real.

We were already calling him Joseph, although there’d been no prenatal tests that might have established the gender. Judy swore she just knew it was a boy. Besides, folk wisdom held that males had slower fetal heart rates, and 134 beats a minute was fairly slow. Still, either sex would be perfectly all right. Did we want a boy or a girl? For nine months our stock answer had been a resounding “You bet!”

“As long as the baby is healthy …” Everyone says that.

Judy’s labor proceeded slowly—or else the hands of our clock were spinning at an improbable rate. Surely that much time hadn’t passed! But the nurse who’d joked about our name had gone home. A new shift of doctors and nurses checked in with us periodically but gave most of their attention to our neighbors, some of whom were not coping well. One desperate voice in the next room kept insisting, “¡No puedo! ¡No puedo!” I can’t! I can’t!—its owner deaf to the urgent advice offered in two languages. Judy just concentrated on the breathing techniques that had been taught in our La Maze course, and, like all anxious dads-to-be, I tried to help by providing cups of crushed ice and deliberately panting through the contractions with her, face-to-face: “Hee! Hee!” A pause, and then a long, drawn-out “Hoooo.” Another pause and we repeated.

Gina's Comments:
Price: $7.99 for a memoir. Is that the print price? This might be high for an ebook.

Title: Heavy topic. Not everyone loves a difficult subject to face. The weight of the issue overshadows the possible (I'm guessing) positive message you may have in the book. Is this books goal to talk about the life of a parent with a disabled child? OR, is there a deeper message. Don't give up. We learned what a wonderful journey we've had. We feel so much joy and love. I don't know the story, but if that is your ultimate message, it may need to be conveyed in the title. Right now, it just sounds depressing to me. (and I just wrote a depressing book so if that's what it is, well, that's what it is and I totally get that.)

The cover: It has a childlike appears to be a young adult book by the cover. But the disabled son subtitle threw me a little. I am suspecting this book is written for an adult reader. The cover may be confusing readers.

The Description: My gut instinct tells me you're target market is narrow, unless you can somehow in your description of the book and in the title, tell us why this will appeal to everyone. Right now, I would think people who have gone through this type of situation or who are facing it now, will be your audience. Tell me, in your description, what this book will teach me. It's vague right now. I have to assume things it is the author's job to tell. Will this be an uplifting story? Do they achieve great happiness? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for parents of disabled children? Broaden your audience here.

The 1st 300:
AFTER I read the first 2 lines again and again and again...I finally looked back to see the author's name. Until then I didn't get the pun on the name. I kept their name Kadung? That might be just me.
Well. For some reason I had to re-read it a lot. Maybe it was that first couple of sentences that put me out of step somehow. BUT, after re-reading yet another time, I think the writing is just fine. Did it grab me? No. Why? Tougher question. Maybe because I've had babies and reading about childbirth bores me. Everything in the 1st 300 was pretty mundane and usual stuff for parents having a baby. We all hope for a certain sex, we all say we'll be thrilled with whatever we get as long as it's healthy. Still, the writing is good. The beginning seems a reasonable place to start. By the end of the 300 I realize something isn't right and it's taking too long. I would suspect, by the end of the 1st chapter or even 500 words, we'll have a sense of something being wrong.

I would have to say I think you might want to play with the book description in the way I suggested above. I know it's hard to change cover and title. I'm not sure those are your biggest issue anyway.

My last thought is, 300 isn't that bad of sales numbers since September. Not in my book anyway. Hang in there.


  1. I agree about the cover, it looks more child-like to me. Most memoirs look a bit more adult, and I think the font is the problem, not that there's a child on the cover. I also agree with Gina about the description. Why do I want to read this book? Do they triumph in the end? Does this book uplift or make me sad? It's okay if it makes me sad, I just want to know in advance. "Improbably journey that changed their lives forever" doesn't tell me what happens. I also agree that the beginning didn't grab me. I would cut the first few paragraphs and start where the trouble starts in labor. Grip the reader with the tension.

    I also want to mention that publicity doesn't help sell many books. I know, I've had some great publicity after reaching the NYT's best seller list, but didn't see a spike in sales, even after radio interviews or being on the news. I did see sales spikes however, with blog reviewers. I also think focusing more on ebook sales is key. The ebook price is too high, IMHO, and all the marketing is done for the print book. My advice is to lower the ebook price, change the font, and tweak the description. Then market the ebook.

  2. I agree with Vicki about your marketing strategy. Joe Konrath will tell you the same thing Vicki did about publicity. Both Joe and Vicki are best-selling authors and neither have ever seen a spike in sales for print ads, radio interviews or mentions in the NYT.

    I also need to know if this book is going to rip my heart out or if I'm going to be angry or uplifted or whatever ahead of time. It appears to be quite long. Over 1600 KB is a very long book and maybe too long if I think my emotions are going to be engaged for that many pages/locations.

    With so many free books out there right now, you're going to be overlooked at $7.99. Ebooks that sell well are priced between 99 cents and $2.99. Some authors have success with $3.99 and even $4.99, but they are in the minority.

    300 books at $7.99 gives you a royalty of $1677.90. To make the same amount of money for a $2.99 book, you would need to sell 839 books. At $3.99, you would only need to sell 600 books.

    You might want to try $3.99 and see how it goes. And as Vicki advised, switch your marketing to ebooks. That's where the sales are.

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  5. My apologies. To my annoyance I posted the exact opposite of what I meant to say. *blush*

    A lot of eBooks succeed at prices over $2.99 but I would definitely keep at at $4.99 or below. I do think $3.99 would be a good price point. Anything above $4.99 is likely to impact sales and actually for your price point, your sales haven't been bad. I would (assuming there is something hopeful in your book) hint at that in the description and I agree that the joke in the beginning paragraph doesnt quite work. I'd cut that part but probably not the part after. There is a certain amount of natural tension in a birth and we already guess this one is going to have problems.

    I don't have a problem with the cover except for the title font which I do not like at all. It implies kid's book.

  6. Sounds like it's doing pretty well. But one thing to consider is to market more directly to the people who are your audience. Rather than putting effort into getting reviews on big sites, get reviews and talk going at sites that are made for parents struggling with a new diagnosis. That audience will be pretty huge if they can find out about you.


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