Monday, April 23, 2012

Malice: A Supernatural Thriller

Author: Griffin Hayes
Genre: Horror Thriller
How long it's been on sale: Sept 27, 2011
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: Giveaways, advertising (Goodreads. Facebook), interviews, guest blogs
Total sold so far: 400-500
Link to book on Amazon: Malice: A Supernatural Thriller

Product Description:

When a series of shocking suicides rock the small town of Millingham, Massachusetts, the authorities are left with a single, chilling question. Why are all the victims gouging their eyes out? 

Only seventeen-year-old Lysander Shore knows these aren't suicides at all. There's a serial killer stalking the people of Millingham. One that murders at will and never leaves a trace.

Before long, the trail of bodies leads Lysander to a dark secret that traces back to a witch's trial and execution 350 years ago. The deeper he digs, the more he realizes the victims aren't nearly as random as they seem. In fact, the killer has a list and Lysander is next.

First 300 Words:

The stranger grinned and his sunken cheeks made his face look like a skull.

"Go on, Lysander," his father, Glenn, scolded. "Shake the man's hand."

Lysander Shore's family hadn’t been in Millingham longer than a week, but he was sure somehow he had met this man somewhere before. Maybe filling bags at the grocery store or delivering mail down the street? This was going to torture him the whole day.

Lysander stuffed his lunch into his knapsack and then slowly held out his hand. The cold palm that slid into his a second later made Lysander's stomach turn. His father must have noticed the discomfort on Lysander's face, because Glenn's cheeks flushed with embarrassment. At least for once it wasn't about Lysander's black nail polish or matching combat boots.

"You'll have to excuse the mess," Glenn said, clearing a place on the couch where the stranger could sit. "We're still getting settled."

A pin on the lapel of the man's suit jacket read “Peter Hume” and below that “Zellermann’s.” He was probably an insurance guy, Lysander thought, here about the fire that had destroyed their old house in Hayward.

The two men spoke about how the house was a complete write-off, his father running through a list of things that were destroyed, when Peter Hume peered up at Lysander. The odd glint in his eye instantly made Lysander uneasy.

“Do you have any pictures?” Hume asked Glenn. “So we can take inventory of what you lost.”

“Yeah,” Glenn said, looking at his watch. “You need those now? I gotta leave for work.”

Hume smiled apologetically. "I'm afraid so."

Glenn sighed, as he always did when asked to do something menial but necessary, and headed for the kitchen. “You want something to drink?”

“Earl Grey would be nice.”

"That's the only tea we have," Glenn said robotically. He seemed dazed. Or was he hypnotized? Lysander couldn't tell which.

Hume's eyes were shining. "Legend has it an old Chinese man gave Lord Grey the recipe for saving his son's life, if you believe that sort of thing."

His father shrugged and disappeared into the kitchen.

Now Lysander and Peter Hume were alone and the air in the room seemed to drop ten degrees. Slowly, the smile disappeared from Hume's face.

“You were warned not to come here,” Hume said, his voice gravelly, almost hoarse. Lysander peered down at Hume's scalp and saw the man's translucent flesh squeezing the plates of his skull together.

Lysander's breath caught in his throat.

“He knows, Lysander." Hume's voice was more forceful. Desperate. "Knows you’re here. He knew the minute you arrived. Felt you crossing the town line, just like I did.”


Love the cover. Seriously. That's not your issue. I wouldn't change that at all.

I really liked the book description. Very intriguing. I would read this based on the cover and book description. The price would stop me though. I like the .99 cent or free books. This may be your issue.

I'm not in love with the first sentence of your 1st 300.
By the 3rd sentence I can see the writing could use some love. These sentences aren't flowing as well as I might like. An adverb here, passive wording there, and some tightening up of sentences is needed. For some reason I am wondering why we are using the name Glenn. This is from Lysander's POV, so his father, father, in my thinking would work better. I'm sure you have a reason for that, though. It's just something I'm noticing. But that ending to the 1st 300 totally grabbed me by the throat and made me want to read. I don't think it's the writing that's keeping people from buying the book.

I think this book will take off eventually for you. Sounds like the plot line is very good. I read your reviews and aside from the one 2-star review, the rest were flattering. For me, this tells me you need to play with the price.  You have quite a few books out. How have those done for you? This one seems to have a good number of reviews. I'd say it's time to play with price or look at tightening up the writing. I think your audience just needs to find you. This one is actually confusing. It should be selling.

I hope others chime in here to give their thoughts. This book looks to be right up my alley.

Gina M. Barlean


  1. If you experiment with the price, experiment with raising it, too. I'd suggest trying $3.99 or even $4.99 for a while. I put mine to $4.99, gave it one free day at that price, and then proceeded to sell as many copies in the next few weeks at that price as I had at $3.50. You have to sell ten copies at .99 to be worth as much to you as one copy at $4.99, so unless you can get ten times as many readers at that price, it's not necessarily worth much.

    On your real blurb (the one at Amazon), I'd suggest getting rid of some of the quotes at the top. Personally, as soon as I start to read gushing praise, I stop reading. I wouldn't even have made it to the product description.

    And lastly, 400-500 sales over six months actually sounds pretty good. Dean Wesley Smith suggests somewhere that 100 copies/year for a first book by a self-published author is a reasonable number. To me, the cover, blurb (as shown here, not the one on Amazon), and first few hundred words look really good. I'd keep writing, keep publishing, and not worry too much about sales. Just count on that number growing over time.

  2. I wouldn't change anything, personally, except maybe raise the price to 4.99 or 5.99. Then go write the next book. The cover, blurb, and sample are all really good. It may be this book will sell better at a higher price (it looks good enough to warrant it) and it can't hurt to have more books out to propel visibility of your name.

  3. The cover is great the way it is and the blurb is pretty good.
    However, when I read the blurb, I was immediately reminded of Jude Deveraux's Wild Orchids. It's romantic suspense and not horror thriller, but the premise is very similar.

    The opening is a bit choppy for me. It takes away the menace of the stranger's presence. I prefer something smoother, slicker, like evil seeping into the room. Not that I read that sort of thing, but if I did, I'd want to be scared right off and I'm not. It doesn't take much to scare me and the fear just wasn't there.

    Frankly, I think you're selling very well.

  4. Thank you for all your great comments! I'd toyed with changing the cover since I felt it was too horror rather than supernatural thriller, but I'll hold off for now. Thanks!

  5. The cover is definitely NOT the problem, it's amazing - and if this were my preferred genre I would buy the book just because of it.

    There is something about the $2.99 price as a reader (I'm no writer) that does turn me away. A $.99 is a quick guilty pleasure read, if it is terrible, it wasn't even $1. A higher priced items gives me the feeling of quality. $2.99 is kind of like, eh, must not be that great, so it's not worth my $3 bucks. I have no idea why I think that way about $2.99 books.

  6. Hi thank you for your comment. Lots of self-published books are priced at $2.99 and many of them aren't very good, so maybe this is why. You're certainly not the only one to suggest bumping up the price. I've tweaked the book description as some have suggested here. In addition I'm re-editing parts of the book to address issues some have raised and when all that's done, I'll definitely be bumping up the price.

    The one question I have, for any of you who are still reading this, relates to Anonymous' statement above:
    "The cover is definitely NOT the problem, it's amazing - and if this were my preferred genre I would buy the book just because of it."

    The problem I suspected Malice was having is that the cover says "HORROR" while the audience I'm aiming for is more supernatural thriller. Some people on blogs have commented that they find the cover too disturbing or scary which is why I've wondered if it alienates the intended audience (yes the book is a bit scary, but also has lots of mystery etc.). Anyway, I'd love to hear people's thoughts on this.

    Really appreciate all the great comments!

  7. I do like the cover, but it is possible it is telling people "Horror" when that's not exactly what the book is. It wouldn't be too terrible to change to a different cover, one that says "Thriller" instead, and then see how sales go. You can always change it back if you want.

  8. Great point. That's exactly what I'll do. Thanks Victorine!


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