Saturday, May 26, 2012

Guarding Andrew Gates

Author: Frank Zubek
Genre: Literary Fiction (15 short stories)
How long it's been on sale: Jan 7, 2012
Current price: $.99
Marketing: Twitter and my blog and webpage.
Total sold so far: 5 sales and gave away 73 when it was free on Amazon prime
Link to book on Amazon: Guarding Andrew Gates

Product Description:

Frank Zubek explores the human condition in fifteen unique short stories.

A synopsis of just a few.....

In Belated Regrets: A man in prison asks the detective that put him there to visit him- so that he can admit his regret over killing his wife. But then, the detective has something to say too....

In Mr. Baxter: A woman discovers that her kindly, retired banker neighbor is actually a voyeur with dark intentions.

In A Sin By Any Other Name, two old friends in an adult care facility read that the church in their old neighborhood has been torn down.

While looking at an old family video, a brother and sister discover A Moment Long Forgotten

In A Lack of Combustion, the longest story in the collection at 25 pages, Detective Nick Crowell faces a case where people have been dying from spontaneous human combustion!

Plus ten more stories- three of which have been published around the web.
The stories, if this were an actual book, take up a total of 95 pages. The first thirteen stories are adult literature, the fourteenth is a horror story and the last one has a paranormal element to it and should be considered for readers ages eighteen and up. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed thinking them up and writing them.

First 300 Words:


I hate rainy evenings, I think to myself as I open the door to the condo. I’m soaked and my hair is dripping wet. Shaking out the umbrella, I leave it in the hallway. It’ll feel so good to take a long, hot bath tonight. It's been a day.

I shut the door and place my keys on the table as always but that’s when I noticed that something’s wrong. The place is a mess. The television and stereo are gone and dozens of CD’s are scattered across the floor like the leaves outside.

We’ve been robbed!

As I fish the cell out of my purse to call Ron, I remember he's probably on the subway by now. He might not get a signal.

I glance back at the door and can’t remember if I had heard the familiar click of the lock disengaging or not. Ron had a bad habit of leaving the door shut but unlocked. I had warned him time and again that this was going to happen.

With my heart hammering in my chest, I finger 9-1-1 into the cell pad and keep my finger poised on the send button as I cautiously wander around the apartment to see if anything else is missing.

I stoop down and look through the CD’s that are scattered across the floor. Isn’t it strange the thief only took Ron’s music?

I head into the bedroom and see the drawers to Ron’s dresser are ajar and empty while my dresser is untouched, and it comes to me what has happened. This wasn’t the work of common thieves. I remember I have the cell in my hand and I toss it on the bed. There’s no need for the police.

Gina's Comments:

I like the cover.  It's very nice.

The price seems right.

I'm seeing an issue in the product description. There are quite a few writing issues, grammar and use of the word "that." I think the description might be better if you gave a general overview of the book as a total and not talked about some of the specific stories. They're short and I'd rather know the feel of the stories. Literary, horror to paranormal.

I'm seeing quite a bit of errors in grammar. This is usually a red flag for me. Good editing tells me the writer took the time to have a lot of eyes on the book in effort to make it as good as it can be. First person is throwing me for some reason. The first paragraph doesn't grab my attention at all. A robbery was a good opportunity to build concern. You just announced it without description. All of the writing is very mundane and ordinary without any excitement, but then you say her heart is hammering in her chest.

This is a classic case of telling and not showing. You have the bones of a story, but there is no "writing" per say. No description. No feelings. Plus, there isn't anything in the first 300 for me to care about. I don't know the character, you have a robbery pinpointed at the boyfriend or husband, and that is an interesting situation to begin a book with, but you spent the 1st 300 talking about keys, and rain, and CDs.

This story may be interesting in it's entirety, but this 1st 300, or the description, would not entice me to read further, both because it isn't captivating and it's slow, and also because of the grammar issues.

What do you guys think?


  1. I think the biggest problem is too many genres. Literary fiction and horror just don't go together.

    The cover says there will be only sweet/cozy stories inside. If I didn't read the whole blurb, bought the book, and then found myself reading a horror story, I'd be really upset.

    In the blurb, there are titles before most of the synopses, but one of them doesn't have the title.

    I find that my anthology doesn't sell as well as the separate stories contained in it. I think the author would do better to break out the stories and either sell them separately, or at least group only like stories together.

  2. I find the cover very bland, and wouldn't entice me to download a sample at all. I think covers should be eye-catching and pretty. This one is not ugly, just mundane, a stock photo with text slapped over the top. It does not excite me.

    The desription: a few inconsistencies with punctuation, in particular in relation to the use of hyphens/en-dashes.

    The sample: some slips in the use of tense (I noticed should be I notice). "We" comes out of the blue, up until "we" is mentioned, there was no indication of the charscter's gender and family conditions. For some reason, I want the character to be male.

    Also, "Shaking out the umbrella, I leave it in the hallway." sets a bit of a red flag for me. This sentence structure indicates a simultaneous action, yet it is impossiblt to shake out the umbrella and leave it at the same time. It should really be "I shake out the umbrella and leave it in the hallway." Which presents another problem because you'll end up with another dang sentence starting with I, which is why so many lazy writers use this incorrect construction. Anyway, if I were to be looking for literary fiction, I would expect stellar writing, and I'm not seeing that in this sample.

    Short story collections tend to sell more poorly in general. I have a short story collection that sells the occasional copy when it isn't free, but it's a hard slog.

    I think it helps a lot if you re-publish short stories that you have already sold to magazines (when the stories are out-of-contract), and perhaps let them make up at least 50% of the anthology.

    Anthologies are perfect samplers, so offering them for free can generate sales for other books.

    I just clicked on the Amazon link. Why is the font of the text in your sample so small? I can hardly read it.

  3. You gave away only 72 copies during a free promo? You need to give away thousands of copies for this to work. I would question your promotion strategy. Did you buy ads or notify book blogs about your free promo at least one month in advance? Why do you have so few reviews? You need to contact people familiar with your work and request reviews (you need 10 or more 4 plus star reviews before the free promo but more is better). Did you contact book blogs? Did you promote on Twitter and Facebook? Also your book's Amazon page has no link to an author page and very few tags.

    Despite this, like pattyjansen wrote, short story collections are not good sellers, but you make it worse by having bad promotion and a so so cover. If on top of that you have grammar and structural issues in your stories like Gina wrote, well, here you have the answer to the question.


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