Monday, June 4, 2012

The Last Werewolf Hunter: The Complete Series

Author: William Woodall
Genre: Young Adult Christian Fantasy
How long it's been on sale: February 2012
Current price: $4.97
Marketing: ?
Total sold so far: 23 in the US, 6 in the UK
Link to book on Amazon: The Last Werewolf Hunter: The Complete Series

Product Description:

Zach Trewick always thought he'd become a writer someday, or maybe play baseball for the Texas Rangers.  What he never imagined in his craziest dreams was that he'd find himself dodging bullets and crashing cars off mountainsides, let alone that he'd ever be expected to break the ancient werewolf curse which hangs over his family.

Even worse, his parents are determined to fight him tooth and nail to keep the Curse intact, his friends are not much help, and he's not quite sure his girlfriend isn't secretly trying to kill him.

And that's just for starters.

But Zach is the last of the werewolf hunters, the long-foretold Curse-Breaker who can wipe out the wolves forever, and he's not the type to give up just because of a few minor setbacks. . . 

First 300 Words:

I didn’t know anything special was going on when Nana Maralyn asked me to go walking with her in the apple orchard that day.

It was late one evening after supper was over, and we walked on tiptoes so we could listen to the crickets.  Nana always used to tell me they were like people, and sang their prettiest songs whenever they were saddest, when they knew that winter was coming.  She used to say stuff like that all the time.  It was late October in Tennessee , so I guess they didn’t have much time left.

Nana kept quiet, but I could feel the soft crease in her palm where she rested her hand on my bare shoulder.  Her claws were really sharp that night, digging into my skin like tacks, and I shifted my weight uncomfortably.

“Be still, Zach,” she commanded.  I quit squirming; Nana had a way of pinching the very blood out of you when you didn’t mind her.

There was a scrabbly sound in the weeds and we both froze.  Nana smiled a tight little smile and dug her claws into my shoulder a bit deeper with anticipation.

We didn’t have long to wait.  In a minute a brown rabbit poked his head up from the tangled honeysuckle and hopped out beside the path.  He sniffed the air with his wrinkled little nose, and then crouched down to nibble on the dry grass.

Comments: The cover isn't bad. I do believe it gives a mild fantasy feeling, but that could be tweaked to be less subtle. Overall I do think the cover looks good. If it continues to struggle after changing a few other things, maybe look at the cover.

The description talks about the fantasy element, but doesn't mention that the book is aimed toward a Christian audience. This is not a Good Thing(tm) in my humble opinion. Those looking for a Christian book won't know that this is one, and those who do not like Christian themes might not know this book has them and be disappointed. I think it should be clear in the description.

What makes this book a Christian book? Is it more like the Chronicles of Narnia where it's subtle? Or is it more blatant in the book? (The boy looses faith, then has to find it again, for instance.) I would want to know what I'm getting into before buying the book. Make the Christian theme clear in the description.

Setting aside the Christian themes, the description could be improved. I had to read it three times to figure out the boy isn't dodging bullets in his crazy dreams. (Sorry, I skim. Bad habit of mine.) I think the description needs a bit more focus. We don't find out what Zach is up against. I know he's fighting some curse, but what are the stakes? And how does one fight a curse? I can't visualize it. It's too vague.

The beginning of the book is fine, but it's all back story. I'd rather see this scene from the point of view of someone experiencing it right now. We can always jump forward in time later.

My suggestion would be to mess with the description first, and maybe get more opinions on the cover and the first 300 words. Maybe putting the book free for a short time would help too. What do you guys think?


  1. 1) Patience, anyone? This book launched 02/12. Expectations perhaps need tweak, here, especially with no marketing.

    2) I disagree about the cover. Font needs proportion work; font downgrades an otherwise attractive illustration to "essay cover".

    3) I totally agree about misrepresentation of christian themes. We've all seen this approach go south before.

    4) I disagree about backstory issue; My problem with the opening? Wordiness, mostly caused by Repetitive Was Syndrome. "Was" makes delivery tentative. Sell me the lore like you mean it. Show it in a voice with conviction, like your life depends on it. Because it DOES. (Well, okay, the story's life depends on it, not yours, but still.)

    5) Product description is a bit long. If I see the word "which" in a description, I cry a little, then skip to the next author.

    Second sentence suggestion: "Instead he's dodging bullets, crashing cars off mountainsides, and evolving into the greatest threat the wolvenkind have ever known."

    Maybe one more paragraph introducing whatever it is that puts this book into Christian category, then wrap it up.

  2. "The Complete Series" is confusing, and I'd leave it off the cover. The cover's not bad, but it's not a "yes" for me. The font and layout is not what a cover designer at a publishing house would use, but I do like the image of the boy in the field, at least at this size.

    The blurb is a little dry. It tells us about Zach's situation but not about Zach. Even being a writer and being into baseball are a bit at odds (for me) in a description, because one connotes that he's shy and nerdy and the other that he's athletic. Blurbs are for broad strokes of the main character's personality. There's werewolf in the title, so we already know it's a werewolf story, ya know?

    I thought the first 300 words were fine. A writer writes in his/her style, and as long as this opening is consistent with the rest of the book, it's an accurate sampling.

    I recently re-worded the opening of one of my books, just the first page, because it was a little confusing. Sometimes openings can be rough. What I like about this opening is it "flows." I know people say that a lot, and it's not exactly helpful, but flowing is not a bad thing. :-)

    Good luck!

    P.S. You may do better splitting it out to three books and selling them separately, perhaps making the first one perma-free. 380 pages is pretty long for a book.

  3. The cover is okay, but it isn't a grabber and definitely doesn't say YA Christian Fantasy. It seems pretty bland and could fit in with any number of themes. The boy looks young so his presence could indicate YA, but the title says "horror" to me.

    The size of the font says the same thing. The title is screaming at me as if I'm going to be screaming with horror when I read the book.

    I don't see anything in either the cover or the blurb that indicates "Christian," unless it's just the plain, old-fashioned good vs. evil.

    The first 300 is pretty interesting, and if I didn't think this was Horror, I might like to read it. However, I don't read much fantasy, especially not dark fantasy.

  4. I'd definitely change the typography on the cover. The image is nice, but the soft slant of the font makes it seem like a romantic book which contrasts with the description.

    On your blurb, the first paragraph is weak. I'd probably stop reading at "What he never imagined in his craziest dreams." The kid thinking what he's going to be when he grows up isn't very interesting; "craziest dreams" is a cliche phrase; the "what" makes the sentence wordier than it needs to be. My immediate impression is that this is generic, which is a pity, because the second paragraph is much more interesting. But I wouldn't have gotten to it. Very short attention span, I know. :)

    I agree on getting rid of "The Complete Series". It isn't a selling point for me.

    Good luck!

  5. The comments are inane and idiotic at best. I read through several other "reviews" on this site, and the whole thing appears to be a waste of time...and life. Comments like "I don't like the cover" have no worth ONCE A BOOK HAS BEEN PUBLISHED. Basing "reviews" on the first 300 pages is just plain childish. All you've done is judged a book by its cover...and make yourselves appear as sad fools.

  6. Anonymous - We are trying to help the author fix whatever might be hurting sales. The cover can be easily changed. I know books that were lagging in sales, and with a new cover began selling 10 times better.

  7. Anonymous seems to rather miss the entire point of this blog.

    Back OT:

    Absolutely, bring the Christian theme out of the closet. I don't understand authors who try to hide this. For people who look for that, it is a selling point and if you sneak it in, people like me will be seriously angry with you. So at least put some reference to it in the description.

    The cover isn't bad but could be better with just a little tweaking and the description has already been covered. I kind of like the opening, although it could use a little editing to make it less wordy. It is a good idea to avoid saying what DIDN'T happen such as not knowing that anything special was going on. Instead, tell us, using specifics, what is happening. You don't give us any word picture of their actions.

  8. I believe this book is floundering for the same reason a lot of other self-published books do poorly. Lack of alignment. Here's what I mean. A book needs to speak to its intended audience. That means the cover, book description and sample pages all need to work together to paint a unified picture of what readers can expect. When those three elements reach out to different target markets, confusion ensues.

    The cover with the boy looking up under the stars tells me this is a sensitive, contemplative book. The first 300 (back story) about a boy hunting for crickets with grandma reinforces this messages. And yet the description paints an entirely different picture: action, gun battles, a race against extinction, werewolves.

    Imagine the movie Underworld (which is sort of what I get from the description) with the cover from your book. People would be terribly confused. So that's your first issue as I see it. Those three key elements to drawing in and convincing readers to lay down money for your book are confusing and driving them away instead.

    That being said...

    Cover: Even if the book is about a sensitive kid, looking up at the stars wondering where he's from, it doesn't make for a very eye grabbing cover. The full moon bit is nice, but grabbing an ADD-filled YA audience will take something a little more exciting I think.

    Description: Needs to be punched up and tightened. Some awkward sentences made me stumble. Most readers who didn't mind the cover will most likely stop here. This needs the most work, followed by the cover.

    First 300: Didn't have a problem here, but I agree with Victorine that it's all back story. Always good to start with the present.

    As for the Christian thing, that's a tough one. You don't really want to advertise something that may alienate possible non-christian readers. I'm guessing you're not quoting the bible in the story (because then that would be different). If the book just happens to have Christian-like life lessons, I wouldn't mention anything. Besides, your reviews already do that for you.

    Good Luck!

  9. Oh I just noticed the comments from 'Angry Anony' above (I usually try and comment first before reader what others have said). Yes, he/she has seriously missed the point of this blog and has limited knowledge of how publishing and eBook publishing works. At the very least, book covers (for print books too!!) change ALL THE TIME. One of many recent examples is Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann. The first cover is scary and the second one was designed to play up the romance more. I've seen lots of people on writing forums get all bent out of shape over 'tweaking' a books presentation, but frankly that view just isn't in line with reality.

  10. @ Angry Anon:

    The whole point of this blog is to critique why a book is not selling. And it's being done...for someone who has had their book on the NY Times Best Seller list. So far I have seen nothing but constructive criticism on here, and I try to see how each person views what is not selling. If you don't want to read what average joe hacks like me say, just read the first critique and move on.

    On that note, it would be interesting to see the results and success stories on advice followed from this site :) Another wish list item!

    For this book, I will go against the grain and say I enjoy back story, and I think it is woven in pretty tightly here. I have to say, though, that I don't know what the image on the cover has to do with hunting werewolves apart from the full moon. Maybe put some unique tools of the trade on the cover? Or even the foot print of a wolf...but that one might have been done a million times over. For the blurb, I would also get rid of the dreams of what Zack thought he was and jump right into what the book is about. Good luck!

  11. I like the cover (except for the font), but I think it looks too young. I makes me think "children's book," not YA.

  12. Philip Pullman dresses an atheistic anti-Catholic pamphlet as a children’s story without mentioning one word about his and his book’s beliefs on Amazon. But William is expected to put up the equivalent of a parental advisory on his vaguely Christian book? Makes sense to me! Anyway, on to grown-up things...

    COVER: Been said. I agree with Wyndes over the typeface/font. Too anodyne.

    PD: I like the first line, but rest is rough. The syntax in the second sentence is too complex and it’s too long. For example:

    “He never imagined he'd find himself dodging bullets and driving cars off mountains.”

    The rest is superfluous. Moreover, the mountainside is the slope on the side of a mountain. You don’t drive a car “off” the slope; you drive it “down” the mountainside/slope or “off” the edge or something similar. Also, the expression is “wildest dreams,” not “craziest dreams.” There’s no obvious reason to mix the metaphor.

    300: Too wordy and it’s written like back story for reasons that aren’t obvious. You’re also telling too much about what’s going to happen. Take these lines:

    “I didn’t know anything special was going on when Nana Maralyn asked me to go walking with her in the apple orchard that day.

    It was late one evening after supper was over, and we walked on tiptoes so we could listen to the crickets. Nana always used to tell me they were like people...”

    They should be cut down to the essentials:

    “Nana Maralyn asked me to go for a walk with her in the apple orchard. It was late and we went on tiptoes so we could hear the crickets. Nana said they were like people.”

    You might be thinking the bit about “anything special was going on” is a hook. I’m not so sure. It’s more the promise of a hook than the real deal. We’d need to see something to be hooked. On the bright side, you could probably get to it faster once you trim some of the fat.

    Good luck.


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