Sunday, July 29, 2012

Echo of Silence

Author: Crystal D. Budy
Genre: Mystery
How long it's been on sale: Jan 2012
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: FB, Twitter, GoodReads, blog, website, Squidoo, featured on Hercules Editing and Consulting blog, reviewed on Manic Readers, featured on Best Indie Writers
Total sold so far: 20
Link to book on Amazon: Echo of Silence (North Coast Mystery #1)

Product Description:

Special Agent Rob Karlton is brilliant, dedicated, and tries hard at whatever he does. He's also stubborn, sarcastic, and spends much of his time pissing a lot of people off. A tragic past has left him bitter and contemptuous toward women and life in general and his attitude doesn't rub well with a lot of people. One of those people is his new boss, Lilah Matthews. Rob is horrified that his new boss is a woman and makes no bones about expressing that opinion. Lilah has no problem taking none of his crap and giving his attitude back to him tenfold.
When 13-year-old Cassie Phelps gets swiped off the street on her way to school by men in ski masks, Rob is placed on the task force to help find her. When he discovers that Cassie and her parents didn't exist before 2004, he's dead-set determined to find out the story behind it. What he uncovers goes much deeper than anything he could have ever imagined.
This book contains strong language, violence, and adult content that is not acceptable for anyone under the age of 17.

First 300 Words:

Thump. Thump. Thump. The sound echoed in my ear, vibrating through my skull, until I felt like my brain was going to dribble out of my ears. Cracking open an eye, I observed the world around me. Drab off-white walls, burglar bars on the windows…this was definitely not my apartment.

The heavy feeling in my head and the cotton in my mouth reminded me of the liquor I had consumed the previous night before the memories began to flood back. Note to self: stop drinking so much.

My stomach lurched as I swung my feet off onto the hardwood floor. The pounding in my head increased as I stood. The early morning light began to seep through the dirty blinds, and I winced, turning away. And that’s when my eyes fell upon the woman stretched out in a bed the size of King Tut’s tomb. And try as I might, I couldn’t for the life of me think of what her name was.

My name is Rob Karlton. And I’m really just an average guy. An average guy who drinks too much and enjoys casual sex – quite often, might I add – but that is beside the point, now isn’t it?

I scoured the room in search of my clothes. The bedroom was a mess of scattered clothing and bed sheets. The woman was either a terrible housekeeper, or we’d had some serious play last night.

My jeans were turned inside out, one pant leg sticking out from under the bed. I discovered my t-shirt hanging off the closet doorknob, and God only knows where my socks were.

Another two minutes of searching and I decided screw the socks. I jammed my feet into my sneakers. As I did a quick check in the mirror to make sure I didn’t have any embarrassing lipstick marks anywhere — hey, it’s happened to us all at least once, — a small moan escaped from the bed.

“Come back,” the woman purred. “We should try it once sober. Make sure it’s still as good.”

Comments: I want to like the cover, I really do. I love the colors, I love the font, and I think it's well designed. The only problem is I can't figure out anything about the story from the cover. I see some kind of weird object on the grass, but it's so small I had to click the "Look Inside" feature to see the cover larger to figure out it was a shoe. Ah, one shoe left behind. LOVE that. But I can't see it. And in thumbnail it's going to be impossible. My suggestion? That one shoe is brilliant on the cover. Focus on that. Make that the whole cover. Really express that one left behind shoe. Ditch the city and the park bench. Focus on the shoe. That communicates something to the reader. It gives us a solid genre, and makes us want to know more.

I'll be honest, the first paragraph of the description put me to sleep. The one shoe on the cover promised me the book was about someone who was kidnapped or missing. The first paragraph didn't say anything about a missing person. If I were wanting a book to read, I would move on before getting to paragraph two. I'd cut the whole thing.

The second paragraph starts out strong. The only thing I would add would be a short description of Rob, since I suggested cutting the first para. Maybe: When 13-year-old Cassie Phelps gets swiped off the street on her way to school by men in ski masks, Special Agent Rob Karlton is placed on the task force to help find her.

The second sentence is good. I would leave it. The third sentence is too vague. "What he uncovers goes much deeper than anything he could have ever imagined." This tells me nothing, and isn't intriguing. It's repelling. I want to know what kind of story I'm in for. Does he uncover a drug ring? A psycho with frozen heads in his freezer? Teens being sold as slaves? I can't tell from your description, so I'm not sure I want to read it. Please don't be vague. You don't have to detail the entire plot, just give us an idea of what we are in for.

The beginning of the book doesn't do it for me. I would get more opinions about it, but for me it didn't work. I didn't like when the character introduced himself. That totally took me out of the story. I also have no idea why it started with thump thump thump. What does that even mean? His heart beat? Someone banging in the apartment above? I can't tell and it's not good.

I would suggest redoing the description and focusing on the shoe on the cover. I would get more eyes on the book to make sure the little kinks are worked out. Maybe some beta readers or a critique group. What do you guys think?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

God Is Greater

Author: Marc Brown
Genre: Religious, Spiritual
How long it's been on sale: April 2011
Current price: $8.49
Marketing: Amazon, one book signing, given few copies to influencial local people, word of mouth, copies available in our antiques store.
Total sold so far: 250+
Link to book on Amazon: God Is Greater

Product Description:

If you are curious about who God is and what He is like, you will find this book extremely interesting. If you are skeptical about God, this book will give your skepticism pause. This is a must read for anyone who has questions about God.

First 300 Words:

First things first, I am operating under the assumption God exists – to assume otherwise is simple-minded, foolish and requires much more faith than is humanly possible.  When one considers every society from the jungles of Africa to the rain forests of South America to the ancient Mayans of Central America has sought after an entity to worship, it is difficult to believe such an Entity does not exist.  When one further considers we have never witnessed the creation of something (anything) from absolute nothing, it is even more difficult to believe a Being with far greater capabilities than those which we possess does not exist.

To put faith in a greater Being about Whom numerous texts have been written, about Whom millions of people testify, after Whom every society has sought, simply makes more sense than putting faith in random chance or chaos.

Now, I do believe random chance and chaos certainly have a place in and impact this world around us, but I cannot believe the complex design of our solar system, the universe, and the various life forms in existence on earth could have possibly been the product of random chance.  There had to have been an Architect, with the ability both to design and create, behind the intricacies of such sophisticated constructions. 

Could evolution have played a part in God’s creative design?  Possibly…but even after many decades of study regarding the theory of evolution, we remain unable to form a legitimate evolutionary trail connecting fish to man, or ape to man, or amoeba to man.  If evolution is indeed more than mere theory, I pose this question – could evolution have rendered today’s creations without the steady hand of God to guide the process?  Could not creation have devolved as easily as it is said to have evolved? 

Comments: The cover image looks old. It makes me think of old etchings, which gives me the feeling that the book is out of date. I do not think the artwork on the cover is giving the reader the right impression. I also can't read the text very well. I would hire a graphic designer to re-do the cover.

The description is off-putting to both believers and non-believers. Those who do not believe in God do not want to read a book that promises to "give their skepticism pause." Would you want to read a book that wants to change your mind about your own beliefs? No? Me neither. I do not enjoy others telling me what I believe is wrong. This book is not going to be attractive to atheists.

On the other hand, those who do believe in God and might be interested in this book will have no idea what is discussed in this book, and what they will get out of it. Does this book take bible teachings and explain them? Does this book look at philosophies of the world and debate them? Whose God is discussed in this book? Is this a look at a Catholic God? Just the author's idea of God? I have no idea. And what credibility does this book have? Is the author some kind of church leader? Which church? Did he start his own, or is he a scholar of an established religion? Also, the last sentence is off-putting. If you don't have questions about God, or don't feel like you do, this book basically says it's not for you. This book will not be attractive to believers either.

I also don't like it when descriptions promise I am going to feel a certain way about a book. Don't tell me I will find it extremely interesting. How do you know? What if I don't find it extremely interesting? It's annoying to me when a book description does this. Definitely cut that part.

Here's what I think the description needs. First, the author needs to establish credibility. Is the author himself credible? (A minister, or other kind of church leader, or has a doctorate in religion, for example.) If not, establish how the information is credible. Is the Bible the basis of this? The Qur'an? (You will need to know who your audience is before you can establish credibility for them. Different people will have different expectations as to what establishes credibility.)

Second, clearly explain what the book is going to teach us. Does your book explore how we can know God exists? Does it explore the nature of God? Does it explore different religious beliefs in God? Give us the information about what the book is going to teach us.

Third, answer why we need to study this. Why is this book important? What is the goal of this book? To explore beliefs? To inform? To convert? Let the reader know why this book is important. Fourth, how can we apply this book in our lives? What can we do with this information? Will this book teach me how to see God in the world around me? Will it help build my faith? Will it help me be a missionary? Tell the reader how this book will be applied.

The beginning of the book is offensive. I've believed in God my whole life, yet this still offends me. Don't start your book by calling a very large group of people simple minded and foolish. This will not make anyone question their skepticism, it will make them put the book down.

The book is paperback only, so maybe look at making it available as an ebook. It would open up your distribution to millions of ereader owners.

Now, having said all that, selling 250 paperback books in 15 months is extremely good. This book is selling. With a few tweaks, I think it could be selling even more. What do you guys think?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Update: This is the new cover and blurb for Amazombia:
Blurb: Life is good for the little slave living in the jungle of South America. He has his carrier pigeons, job security, and all the bugs he can eat. So when a bounty hunter requests his help tracking down slave traders, he immediately crawls into the safety of his memories...back when zombies were merely monsters on the movie screen, and his high school sweetheart wasn't an Amazonian queen.

Each day he stays alive in the jungle, he takes one step closer to the daughter he never met, and realizes that perhaps living as a slave is not all it's cracked up to be. (97,000 words, approx. 230 pages)

Comments on the new cover and blurb welcome.

Here is the original post:

Author: John M. Kelly Jr.
Genre: Fantasy, Romantic Comedy
How long it's been on sale: 5/13/2012
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: Harass you and friends on facebook
Total sold so far: 6
Link to book on Amazon: Amazombia

Product Description:

Amazombia is what happens when you cross the Amazon with zombies. Everything turns a greenish gray color, as any good finger painting does. Sometimes it smells lush and fruity, like the body wash of a beautiful show girl dancing on stage. At other times, not so good. A bit on the dank side, intermingled with a hint of decaying death.

Join in on the adventure. There's romance, jungles, grasslands, rivers, canoes, piranha, jaguars, and of course, a sprinkling of zombies. It's a serious work of art, and as with any serious work of art, watch for spiders. The author holds no guarantees that you will not walk into any spider webs when reading this book. But it's really not about the sticky webs in your face, is it? Of course not. It's not knowing where the giant spider is. Sure, just a moment ago he was dangling in space, a giant Alaskan king crab in the middle of the jungle. Now where is? Ignore him. That tightening around your chest? That's nothing. Well, it's something. It's either your heart, or the spider clinging to you. Either way, relax, enjoy. It's a good romp...just wave your hands in front of you as you go along. That's what I do. (97,000 words, approx. 230 pages)

First 300 Words:

Deviled Zombie Eyes
6 freshly killed zombies
1 can crème of mushroom soup
3 mustard packets
3 mayonnaise packets
1 teaspoon paprika
1 large onion, halved
water to cover
garnish (optional)
Make sure zombies were killed in the last 24 hours. If you're not comfortable killing your own zombie, ask a professional. It doesn't matter if the eyeballs are intact within the skull, or if they're hanging out of the eye socket. We'll put them back in the skull for presentation purposes later. If they're older than 24 hours, forget it. No amount of boiling is going to make the eyeballs any less rubbery.
Scoop out eyeballs from sockets, discard optic nerves (optionally, cut up the optic nerves and use later in broth for seasoning). You can find an abundance of canned crème of mushroom soup in any abandoned shopping center. If you find any cans of dog food, great! The recipe doesn’t call for it, but give yourself a pat on the back for a good find. Canned dog food is a delicacy and hard to come by these days. Open the can of crème of mushroom soup, and discard contents. They have zero nutritional value. We will use the can later to store the eyeball fluid in.
Next, find the condiments in any abandoned fast food establishment. Don't bother looking for any frozen meats, they went bad as soon as the power grid went down. If you find any breads, great. Make sure the bread isn't moldy. If made into sandwiches, moldy bread will distract from the tangy taste of zombie eyes. The condiment ratio is a packet each of mayo and mustard per set of eyes. Any more, or any less, will overpower (or under enhance) the taste…just like moldy bread.
Halve each eyeball, starting at the pupil,

Comments: The style of the cover makes me think this is a middle grade book, however, the scantily clad woman makes me think it's not a middle grade book, so at first glance I'm confused. The title is hard to read, as is the author's name. The cover is also unappealing to me for some reason. Maybe it's the colors, I'm not sure. I would definitely recommend a new cover.

The entire description doesn't tell me anything about the storyline of the book. When I read a description, I want to know what the storyline is going to be about. I want to know who the main character is, and what obstacle they have to overcome. This description doesn't tell me anything about who I'm going to be spending the next few hours with if I buy this book. I want to know what I'm getting into before I buy. I would re-work the whole description. Get some other author's eyes on it. Ask your critique group about it. Often the description is the hardest thing to write. Get help.

The book starts with a recipe. Okay. It's a humorous fake-recipe, but it doesn't pull me into the story. IS there a story here? If not, let's totally reframe this. What kind of book is this? A collection of humorous things about zombies? I'm not getting it. If there really is a story here, with a main character, a plot, some sub-plots, a story arc and all that, let's start with a scene. Let's stick the funny recipe stuff in later, or at the end. If this book isn't really a novel, like in the traditional sense, we will need to figure out exactly what this is before going further. The cover, description and sample are all confusing to me. It needs to be clear to the reader what they are getting. This is terribly unclear. My suggestion would be to get help from your beta readers/critique partners. Have them help you define what this book really is, and then make the cover and description match. What other books are out there like this? See how they packaged their books. Look at the covers and descriptions. And if you've written a book in which there are no other books to compare with, well, that could be a very big problem. It's hard to sell something that isn't like anything else out there.

What do you guys think?