Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Travel Means Freedom

Author: Various Authors (It's a crowdsourced book)
Genre: Non-fiction, Travel
How long it's been on sale: March 15, 2012
Current price: $4.99
Marketing: Email marketing, social media marketing
Total sold so far: 50 print, 20 digital
Link to book on Amazon: Travel Means Freedom

Product Description:

The first travel book written by a community, travel means freedom, is a collection of 111 stories from authors around the world. In over 100,000 words these selected writers tell tales, spin yarns, share memories and above all, inspire the readers to get out of their comfort zone and start charting a course towards their adventure and freedom.

A concept started by a start-up,, the book is part of a funding project to raise money for charity:water, a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.

First 300 Words:


by Philippe Drolet

In 2009, I arrived in the picturesque island of Koh Tao, Thailand. It had been quite the ride from Vancouver, Canada: a 48-hour journey that had taken me on a cab, a bus, a plane, a tuk-tuk, a train, and finally a boat. But here I was at last, a smile beaming across my face, a cold beer in hand, and a mind free of any worry.

Life was oh-so-good. And I had 30 more days of this goodness ahead of me. Aaahhh.

Over the following hours, the beers went down smoothly, the music and conversations got louder… and the mosquitoes started taking a liking to me. Fortunately, the mild inebriation and enchanting surroundings helped me forget all about it until the next day. I woke up with a cloudy head and ankles that had been bitten so many times that they had swollen to twice their size. Uh-oh. It got worse. The onslaught from mosquitoes continued over the ensuing days. I was in paradise, yet it felt like hell.

One day, having exhausted my options, I approached one of the locals and tried to explain my problem by showcasing my poor ankles. The local laughed, and explained in a thick accent, "You eat spicy. Spicy spicy." I thought it sounded a bit crazy, but I was desperate. Only problem: my tolerance for spicy food was low. Very low. But I didn't care. I started ordering spicy dish after spicy dish, braving a mouth of fire and profuse sweating.

Soon, something magical happened. I started "sweating spicy", and the mosquitoes left me alone. Aaahhh, paradise was finally paradise. I had also discovered something. I actually loved spicy food, even though I'd been afraid of it all my life. I became a spice-aholic, and trying progressively spicier dishes, and savouring each of them with more gusto. 

Comments: As a graphic artist, I like the cover. I'm not sure what's in the book by looking at it, but I think it's designed well and the title is easy to read. But just because the cover looks nice doesn't mean it's doing it's job. I'm not sure what to expect with this book. Most travel books talk about a specific place. This one has a hot air balloon on the cover and seems to suggest if I would like to travel, I should hop in a balloon and just float somewhere. Anywhere. The cover seems to lack direction, for this very reason. If I'm planning a trip and would like to read about different places, I would rather have specific places pictured on the cover. Ooh, look, this book talks about France and Africa...two places I want to know more about. I'm going to buy it. My suggestion would be to picture some specific places mentioned in the book. Either that, or change the title to let us know more what is in the book.

The description lacks clarity. I know the authors are from all over the world, but I don't know what places they are writing about. And I get the impression some of these stories are not true, by the words "tell tales, spin yarns." This blows the Non-Fiction out of the water. Not only do I not know what places are featured in the book, I don't even know if this book would help me at all if I want to travel and see the world. I don't want to read about fake travel experiences.

The first 300 words were good. Really good. This reads like a true story. A real experience and it was funny. I'm not getting this at all from the cover or the description. The stories, if they are all like this, are fine. It's the presentation that needs to be tweaked. At the very least I would mention where some of the experiences take place in the description. Tell us that some of these stories are humorous. Let us know these are true stories. And possibly changing the title/cover too, but see what others say about that.

What do you guys think?


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  2. The cover doesn't inspire, I'd suggest something less literal. Give me something striking. Commission a young Picasso if you can find him.

    The title needs changing, make it stand out. Make it witty.

    The first 300 words of writing is missing description, give me a feel for the place. The smells, humidity, heat, the people.

    On a postscript if you produce a second volume I'd like to be considered as a contributor. I could give you a couple of thousand words of my recent experiences in Ethiopia.

  3. I agree Victorine.

    Travel books/memoirs are usually about one or two places, and when you pick it up you know what places its talking about.

    This maybe is more like an Eat Pray Love travel book, with lots of anecdotes about life and such.

    If it is, that needs to be clarified in the description, as well as the cover.

    The cover is good, but I agree tells me nothing.

  4. Scratch the blurb and start fresh. Introduce 3 of the storytellers and "pitch" us their stories. Fourth paragraph then becomes the clincher, mentioning the charity.

    Customers want to know "What do I get?" They need to be shown the promise of having their emotions touched ... chicken soup for the soul style.

    /just my 2 bits

  5. Travel doesn't always mean freedom. Just ask anyone who's been stuck in an island airport for 14 hours with no food and not one working toilet. The water fountains weren't working, either. Just as well since there was no place to eliminate the water.

    Grammatical errors in the blurb are always off-putting. E.G., the title doesn't have initial caps and there's no space between the semi-colon and the word water. If water is the name of the organization, it should also be capitalized.

    I agree that some of the places we'll be visiting should be mentioned in the blurb. Also, it wouldn't hurt to name drop a bit. Are any of these people famous or at least semi-famous?

    The first story is good, but I would like to know why the traveler was in Koh Tao for 30 days. I would also like to know more about the traveler before getting into the story. Maybe just an introductory paragraph before each story? It was an amusing anecdote, though.

  6. I too noticed the grammatical errors in the blurb, and was sure I wouldn't like the excerpt, only to be swept away by the wonderful anecdote from Thailand. I don't need any reason why the traveler was there for 30 days. I love Thailand, and if I had the means and opportunity to spend 30 days there, I'd do it in a flash! *g*

    While the cover is purty, it says very little about the book. It reminds me vaguely of "What Color is Your Parachute," a completely different genre. I don't like the title at all. To me it's very cliche, and it certainly doesn't communicate that this is going to be a fun book about crazy travel experiences. "You Eat Spicy, Spicy!" (to take a random quote from the excerpt) would be more compelling, given an appropriate sub-title to make it clear the book isn't about food. :)

    To sum up: I think the book needs a cover and title which communicate entertaining travel anecdotes, not calm peaceful balloon freedom. And the blurb needs to be edited and some quotes from the anecdotes added.

  7. Judging by the first 300 (which are excellent!) neither the cover nor the blurb match the contents. The hot air balloon should go and spice up that blurb and I think this might find itself a niche.

  8. The only question I have is this: was the book written by a community, or is it a collection of travel essays and stories? I don't get the from the blurb or the sample that this was a collective work, with polls and survey's and opinions on places to travel to. It feels like it is misrepresenting itself. Finally, I'm no marketing expert, but if there are 111 stories, could you get away with saying "Over 100 stories" ?

    The "You eat spicy spicy quote" should be selling this book! Great beginning.

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  10. Hello everyone,

    I'm David, one of the guys behind this book.

    Your feedback is very valuable for us. We'll integrate a few of them in our next update.

    You could take the time and hear the whole story behind the book on our website: (you can click on my name above to get there directly)

    You will be able to see:
    - the stories on an interactive map (literally all over the world)
    - read a quote from each story
    - find out who our contributors are.
    - and... what are we building actually starting up with this book.

    Thank you again!

  11. This is not really the sort of book I normally read, so keep that in mind.

    Right off the bat this is what comes to mind: "Jack of all trades, master of none." Let me explain...

    I think part of the problem here is there are too many stories. This doesn't need to be a 300 page book. You might get more bang for your buck if you created a series, each devoted to a specific continent or area with say maybe 30-40 stories in each. That way you'll really be able to target people interested in specific geographical areas. For example, I was recently in Thailand and LOVED it which is why I enjoyed the first story, but I don't really care about reading about trips to Siberia or Somalia in the same book (not that those stories exist, but you get the idea). I don't think the shotgun spray strategy works.

    On the plus side, if you go the series route, instead of having a single book searching for readers, with the proper cover and blurb, you could have several aimed at their intended audience. I think it was Konrath who used the analogy that ebooks are like little ambassadors sent out in the world to sell books for you. The more you have the better.

    Needless to say, if that is a direction you decide to go in, the covers and blurbs will need to work together. You might have an 'Asian' themed cover and an 'African' themed cover.
    So all in all, I think the idea is a good one, but won't reach its full potential unless rethought and remapped. Of course, this is just one person's opinion.

  12. I think the first reviewer was one of the authors. The cover is poor, at best, and the first 300 words seem like a high school writing project. Frankly, some of the other commenters amused me with their 300 word critiques that are based on judging a book by its cover.


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