Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Blood Angel

Author: Kelly McClymer
Genre: YA, Fantasy Paranormal
How long it's been on sale: Oct 2011
Current price: $4.99
Marketing: I'm traditionally published in historical romance and chick-litty YA, all under my name, which I think lends to genre confusion for my readers. I've done some promotion: a YA blog hop, a promotional thread on GoodReads with some other YA authors, Kindle Select (only 5 borrows; and around 1000 FREE "sales").
Total sold so far: 50
Link to book on Amazon: Blood Angel

Product Description:

Jamie Stone has one friend left, Amy Davidson, and she’s not sure she is his friend anymore. After all, he killed her and now her ghost, or spirit, or whatever she is, seems to be stuck visiting him in jail. Amy hadn’t been planning to die that day, but she had been to confession the previous Sunday and knew she should by rights be in Heaven. But if she is, life in Heaven is as confusing as life on Earth because her afterlife hasn’t come with an instruction manual. It’s come with a one-on-one connection with her killer, who used to be her best friend and now is the only person who can see her, hear her, and possibly help her figure out how to get wherever it is she needs to go. 

First 300 Words:

That anyone survives high school, when I think about it, is a tribute to the power of mind over murder. I know it's tempting to ask why so many, but maybe the better question is why so few? So many minds seeking escape. So, relatively, little murder.

If I were going to paint high school, I'd need a canvas the size of the Atlantic ocean. Angular cement block buildings shaded some faded mix of puke and dinge best called Dismal Days. Fake wood desks with metal legs so shiny and hard-edged you can practically hear the echo when they scrape against the tiled floors. Metal lockers that special shad of grime gray that instantly recalls the frantic between-class open and shut clang. Oh, and high out of reach bells and big faced clocks that count off the seconds between eruptions that go off in some design only God and the principal understand, but which everyone – even the janitor – responds to like poor Pavlov's dog.

The round black bombs with fuses springing from the top that cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote use? That's how I'd paint the students. Bombs with backpacks. And maybe some teachers, too, although they'd be bigger, slightly more sophisticated and capable of triggering all the little bombs wedged into rows of desks.

Vicki's Comments: There are some elements of the cover I really like. I think the typography is done really well. I love the torn look on the side of the page. Design wise, it's well mapped out. I'm not sure the photo is drawing me in, though. Much of it is dark and hard to see. The face of the angel is obscured, which gives me a distanced feeling. The wings almost look hand-drawn in. I'm not sure that's the look you're going for. I'd give the cover a bit of a makeover.

The description is pretty good, but a little confusing. The first sentence seems to start out in Jamie's point of view, but then switches to Amy's point of view in the middle. The he's and she's seem to be wrong. And it doesn't help that Jamie can be a male or female name. I also would like more conflict in the description. She is in Heaven, or on the "other side" and now needs to get somewhere. Fine. What are the stakes? What happens if she doesn't reach her goal? The stakes need to be higher, in my opinion. Who is the antagonist? Because I get the feeling that Jamie isn't it. I like the premise of the book, but I would tighten up the blurb. That will help a lot, in my opinion.

The beginning is good. I did find one mistake - shad instead of shade - so I might suggest a proofreader go through it once more. But the voice of the character is good. I did find myself getting sucked into the monologue, which is good because I tend to gravitate toward action beginnings. (Not necessarily bombs or car chases, but the main character doing something.) The fact that I got interested in this is a good sign. I think the writing is good.

In my opinion, I would tweak the cover image and the blurb. I think it will sell better after that. What do you guys think?


  1. Ack! Typo in first bit. To say this book has had its share of editors and beta readers is an understatement. But another proof is obviously needed. Sigh.

    Really appreciate the feedback on the cover, as I cannot judge it impartially (I love it, it was a photo taken by my cousin and then dolled up by my brilliant cover artist).

  2. (1) The cover is nice, but could be stronger. I think the photo of the woman should be larger and clearer. Remember, this is the age of the thumbnail.

    (2) The description is a little confusing, but also weak. Jamie killed Amy (rhyming names?) and now Amy's ghost is haunting Jamie. That's the setup. But what happens in the story? Do they fall in love? Do they fight to the death? Do they solve wacky crimes together?

    (3) The sample text doesn't grab me. It's all "thinking" or narration. There's no action. There isn't even a character name. Nothing for me to identify with or care about.

    (4) You have no Amazon reviews at all, after 6 months? You really need some reviews, any reviews, preferably good ones. Try giving out review copies, or asking readers directly to post reviews.

    Best of luck!

    1. My poor cover artist -- I deliberately asked her to blur the face (should have known I probably wasn't the best judge!). Thanks, Sharon!

  3. I think it is a great cover, but it reads adult fantasy to me not YA. :)

    1. Thanks, Lori. I think you're getting the adult vibe from the literary tone. What can I say, that's the way it came to me (and probably why it was such a tough sell that publishers kept backing away based on not knowing where to market it :-)

  4. I'd really like to see the cover as a thumbnail because I think it's good, but I wonder if the font disappears at the smaller size. A heavier font might work better. The layout is great, though, and I really like the image.

    I would stop reading at your blurb, however. Point of view confusion -- is it a story about Jamie or Amy? -- is one of the hallmarks of a frustrating read to me. If it's Amy, why does the blurb start with Jamie only having one friend left? Why is that the most important element of the story? If it's Jamie, why is most of the blurb about Amy's issues? If it's both, the transition needs to be cleaner.

    Amy Davidson hadn’t been planning to die, but she'd been to confession just that week so she knew she should by rights be in Heaven. But if she is, life in Heaven is as confusing as life on Earth because her afterlife hasn’t come with an instruction manual. It’s come with a one-on-one connection with her killer, Jamie Stone. He used to be her best friend. Now he's the only person who can see her, hear her, and maybe help her discover what exactly she's supposed to be doing.

    (I automatically revise "figure out" in my own writing because it's vague and I use it too often, but if you don't have that issue, you could keep that part.)

    On the first few hundred words -- well, I don't find it enticing. You're starting with a physical description of a high school. Everyone's been to high school, everyone knows they're ugly. There's nothing wrong with the writing (although the first sentence seems awkward to me, with the 'when I think about' clause stuck in the middle, and I don't know why you're putting commas around 'relatively') but I wouldn't want to keep reading. The blurb really has potential -- a ghost forced to hang out with her killer -- but the first few hundred words are pretty writing about something dull, which makes me think the book is likely to be dull. Can you find a more interesting place to open? (And my apologies if that sounds harsh -- I don't mean it unkindly.)

  5. I agree with the comments about the cover. I had to strain to see the figure and the wings are too whimsical against the woman dressed in tight, black clothes in an aggressive posture.

    The blurb is confusing. At first I thought Jaimie was a girl which reminded me of a similar book I'd read recently. In fact, I thought it was that book until I found out Jaimie was a man and he'd murdered Amy. I thought since I enjoyed the other book, I would enjoy this one as well (but not at $4.99).

    Then I read the beginning.

    "That anyone survives high school, when I think about it, is a tribute to the power of mind over murder. I know it's tempting to ask why so many, but maybe the better question is why so few? So many minds seeking escape. So, relatively, little murder."

    I had to read that paragraph several times before I understood what the author was saying. Considering the stress of high school, it's a wonder that more of the students don't crack under the strain and commit murder. Did I get it right?

    "Fake wood desks with metal legs so shiny and hard-edged you can practically hear the echo when they scrape against the tiled floors."

    I immediately thought of nails on a chalkboard (but then, high schools today all have white boards), but the description the author gave, pulled me out of my pre-conditioned response and out of the story as well. And what school can afford tiled floors? Don't they mostly have industrial strength vinyl?

    Even with those criticisms, I might be tempted to buy this book (after reading the entire sample to make sure), but the $4.99 price would stop me in my tracks.

    1. Thanks, Margaret. The imagery is all accurate for where my children attended school, and I can't do more than that. I know not all schools are the same (but tiles refer to some kind of industrial non-ceramic tile, just in case you thought my kids went to a posh school :-)

      I have debated the price, but when I did the KDP free giveaway and still didn't get much in the way of downloads, I didn't think the price was the real issue (my trad YA books go for $8.99 ish, so this looks like a bargain comparatively). Once I decide how to proceed, I'll definitely revisit price.

  6. I liked the cover, but found the blurb confusing. Couldn't work out who was who. And I confess to reading the first para of the book several times and I'm still not sure I understand what you're saying.

    But the premise seems good and I like your writing style.

  7. I really like your opening, sans typo (and believe me, I sympathize!). The weakness seems to me to be your blurb. I started out assuming that Jamie was the protagonist since he was mentioned first and the switch to realizing it was Amy was a problem and the lack of a clear conflict weakens it. She needs to find out how to move on. Fine. But how? What is the conflict? Is she angry at him? Punishing him? What is HAPPENING? I think you're afraid to give anything away, but you have to out of the first part of the novel. You need to let the reader know or have a good idea what the main conflict is.

  8. Thanks, J.R. I wonder if you're right, and I'm being too coy? Or if I tried something too experimental and don't have the chops to get to the heart of it in a blurb. In many ways, the story is Amy's because it is her point of view, but it is also Jamie's because what we see between the two of them reflects him, past and present, back to the reader. But then, what we see of him re-reflects Amy back to the reader (and to her).

    Ugh. Just reading that sounds much too precious. A blurb rewrite is definitely in order.

    1. Good luck with it. Blurbs are horrible. I hate writing them and tend to go through several versions before I (hopefully) find something that works. I think I can kind of get what you're saying but I don't think you can or need to convey that in the blurb.

      I do think you are being a bit too coy. It won't keep people from buying it if they know what the conflict is. You need to give them enough to spark their curiosity.

  9. I may be alone on this one, but I really don't like the cover. It would be okay for a paperback, but as an e-cover, It's too dark, it doesn't catch my attention, and when it's thumbnailed, the only thing that's easily readable is the title. And while I understand the title, I wonder if you'd get more traction with a different title. I also agree that your product description needs to be tweaked to make it clear that Amy's the protagonist rather than Jaime. Other than the cover and description, which is really cosmetic stuff, the story itself sounds fabulous. And that's the hard part. So I'd love to see this sell more.

  10. I liked the blurb. It's the opening that I'm not so keen on. I don't like sentences, especially the first one in a book, that starts with "that" or "it." I would watch for over-use of the word "that". Crops up quite a few times in the short opening. I found the opening paragraph confusing, too. In the description of high-school, "shaded some faded..." feels awkward to read. I do like the cover.


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