Monday, April 23, 2012

Mandate 33

Author: Nick Lombardi
Genre: Literary
How long it's been on sale: May 2011
Current price: $.99
Marketing: Networking on Amazon chat forums, social networking on Facebook, Kijiji ad, Craigslist ad, got involved with a couple of sites where authors can get interviewed/featured/reviewed, Just recently offered it up for free as part of a free book promotion day, where 535 copies were downloaded in one day.
Total sold so far: 32
Link to book on Amazon: Mandate 33

Product Description:

In Corpopolis, under the rule of a dictator, only citizens carrying government-issued parenting licenses are legally allowed to bear children. Any child in the custody of adults without a parenting license will be eliminated. The law is passed, they say, to protect children from unfit parents. But certain citizens who doubt the motives of the Corpopolis government soon begin to ask questions, and stumble onto a plot which threatens the future of the entire country...and themselves. 

First 300 Words:

The screams were loudest at night, when the soldiers came out. They executed their raids with fine precision, rooting through crevices and nooks with the snouts of their rifles and not touching any of it with their hands. When they found what they were looking for, they dealt with it. When something could not be contained, their whistles shrieked and the soldiers moved forth to corral the fugitives.

The streets were empty and hopping full all at once—empty of civilians and coursing with military personnel. The officers scoured every cranny and trashcan and back alley, anywhere a criminal could be stashed for safekeeping. They peered under cars and then inside the cars, their flashlights swinging around to point in the cabs. If something suspicious was spotted inside the car—like a duffel bag on the floor or a throw blanket that looked lumpy enough to hide something—they would spin their rifles around and punch at the windows with the butts ends to get in and inspect closer. Nearly every instance was a false alarm.

The soldiers assigned to crawlspace detail marched the streets in brisk jogtrots, as they had much ground to cover. Flashlights and reflectors fixed to their helmets aided them. Things were upturned, and lots of cobwebs snapped and broken. Large pieces of decayed plywood which capped stairwells like splintery throw rugs were kicked aside with feet clad in black shoes, the soldiers looking for the dirt swept underneath.

Vicki's Comments: I like the cover. The font is clean and I like the treatment. I like the image too. However, this doesn't give me a 'literary' feeling. I'm wondering if the book cover isn't giving the wrong message about the book. To me, it says thriller.

The description is wonderful. My only nit pick would be to focus on a character, someone fighting this system. Maybe someone who is hiding a child, who lives in fear each day? I want to connect with a character. Other than that, I love the premise of this novel and would love to know more. However, the description doesn't say 'literary' to me either. By the description, I would expect a fast paced thriller.

I felt distanced from the beginning of the book. I would prefer to see this happening from the viewpoint of a character. Right now it seems like an omniscient being who is narrating. I feel no fear, because the omniscient being is not in any danger. They're just telling what is happening. I am interested in what is happening, but I would prefer to feel like I'm there in the action, crouched down hiding from a soldier. I'm not getting a literary vibe from the writing, however I am the first to admit I don't read literary novels so I'm probably a bad person to ask. I would see what others say.

Hopefully the book focuses on a character soon. I might chop the beginning omniscient POV and start with the character. I would also focus the blurb on that character as well.

What do you guys think?


  1. First, and this is for any KDP writer, go in through Author Central to set up a more elaborate blurb. You can even include some quotes from reviews. It really helps add some oomph to the page.

    I feel like I don't know enough about the book to offer much more. The cover is not doing anything for me. Looks a little Wild-Westy. Might be better to go with something that looks a little more Handmaid's Tale-ish, though the newer covers, not the 80s ones.

  2. I agree that you need a character or some human interest in the blurb. Starting with the concept that children are eliminated in order to protect them seems so over-the-top ridiculous that I'm turned off immediately. Maybe introducing that idea a little later would help. I also think you'd want to set your genre to science fiction -- I don't think literary fiction is a particularly good category for self-published books and this seems more post-apocalyptic in tone.

  3. (1) I think the cover is fair, but could be much stronger with a clear central image, perhaps of a child in utero?

    (2) I think the genre "literary" is wrong. This sounds more like science fiction or a thriller.

    (3) The description is a major weakness. It's just a concept. There's no character, no plot. It needs information about the actual story.

    (4) The sample has the same problem as the description. It's all concept and faceless action. There's no character for me to care about.

  4. The cover tells me very little and doesn't go with literary fiction at all. The hand is very difficult to see. I thought at first it was a closed fist depicting a dictator holding the population in his fist. Then I looked at it closer after I read the blurb and the 300, and thought the woodgrain background was a door and the fist was knocking on it for a midnight raid.

    None of that says literary fiction. The style of writing might be literary fiction, but I don't believe the story is. I'm thinking more post-apocalypic thriller. It could be sci-fi thriller depending on how this society came about.

    The blurb is okay, but who is our hero? Who do we get to care about before we even one-click?

    The beginning is too detailed. It can definitely be tightened up and maybe should be focused on the fears of the parents as the soldiers search for their illegal baby.

    My first thought is that forced abortions would be much more common than baby killing. It's not so easy to hide a pregnancy. But then I haven't read the book so I don't know how those things are resolved.

    1. Thanks very much for the great advice, everyone. It didn't occur to me the "literary" label/tag would even go noticed by most people, let alone stand out as an issue. I've changed the label to "thriller," and also retooled the description (it takes a few hours for changes to go into effect).

      Stay well,
      Nick Lombardi

    2. For online sales, find-ability is really the single most important issue. Before people can buy the book, they have to stumble across it somehow. That's why your genre description is so important. If the book shows up on lists for which it's a poor match (ie literary instead of science fiction), people who look at those lists won't click through to look at it.

    3. I completely agree with Vicki. The cover is great but it doesn't seem "literary." I would think it's a thriller. Also, I agree with her about loving the intro but wishing it was from a character's viewpoint. I mostly read literary fiction and would say I prefer to be in the situation with the character.

  5. Just a side note, you can change your blurb and lots more in Amazon's Author Central without needing to go into the KDP tool and forcing the book through the review process. Also, when you go through AC the changes take 5 mins to go live.

  6. True story of the killing of street kids in Brazil by police and private militia to avoid offending tourists? Sadly, the reality trumps the fiction. Too horrible to want to read for pleasure. Years ago had a writer friend have his novel about a LNG tanker explosion in port turned down because it was too horrible to read (as an editor of the work, I had trouble reading it). Sometimes there is no pleasure in reading how horrible man can treat man.


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