Thursday, August 16, 2012

Black Rose

Author: Jennifer Ceballos
Genre: Fantasy
How long it's been on sale: May, 2012
Current price: $3.99
Marketing: Marketing on cards, and word of mouth
Total sold so far: 3 the first month
Link to book on Amazon: Black Rose

Product Description: 

"Anne begins to feel an unusual connection towards David the dashingly handsome doctor that took care of her Mom while she was still alive….her life takes a turn when she begins to have unusual dreams--Anne can’t seem to gather anything from these dreams but when David starts coming around they start to become clearer….Will Anne ever figure out why David has a strange effect on her or will Anne begin to feel like she will go crazy at any moment?

First 300 Words:

Swish! Swish!

“Higher Mommy!” The wind flew through my hair as I swung on my newly made rope swing I could feel my cheeks turn red with excitement. Daddy said it was dangerous for a seven year old to be swinging on a homemade swing, but Mommy came back with, ‘it’s all part of a child’s life to make home made things as parents we shouldn’t interfere with a growing free spirit, and making a homemade swing is all part of little Anne’s spirit.’

“My little Anne any higher and you’ll be touching the heavens!” I giggled in response to that.

“I can’t touch the heavens Mommy, I’m still alive!”

“That’s right sweetie!” Mommy grabbed me before I swung forward.

I could hear Mommy laughing, “You are so smart my little one.”

Before I knew it I was in her arms as her long black hair brushed my cheek, I could smell the sweet fragrance of flowers.

“I’m smart like you Mommy.” as we hugged I planted a kiss on her soft cheek.

“You are smart just like Mommy.” I smiled, I was so happy.

“Are you ready to get back on the swing my little Anne?”

“Yes Mommy!” I was giggling as Mommy put me back on the swing—I waited for her to push me, but there was nothing.

“Mommy?” I turned around and I saw her laying on the ground she wasn’t moving—I quickly got off the swing and knelt down next to her. Her face looked pale a little sweat was gathering on her forehead—I brushed my hand across her cheek it felt warm to the touch I didn’t know if that was normal or not.

“Mommy?” Her eye’s opened a little.

“Go get Daddy sweetie.” Her voice sounded hoarse and I began to feel scared.

Comments: The cover needs some love. The word "Black" is very hard to read. Also, the author's name is difficult to see. I do like some of the things going on with the type, especially the author's name spaced out like that. I think that looks nice, but it's too hard to see, in my opinion. I don't think the black/gray scale concept is working. It also doesn't communicate the genre at all.

I'm not sure why the description has quote marks around it. That's a little distracting to me. I'd cut them. The description itself confuses me and needs editing. The whole thing is one long run-on sentence. Writing a good blurb is difficult. I always have trouble with it. I suggest getting help from other writers. Many times others can really help pin down what the most important things are about your book, and can help write them in a concise and interesting way.

The writing needs some work. I would highly suggest hiring an editor. There are many issues that need fixing. Unfortunately, this book just isn't ready for publication yet. But no worries, with some help, these things can be fixed. I would suggest joining a critique group. is an online critique group, and it really helped me hone my writing skills.

It can be difficult to hear that your book needs work. I understand, it's happened to me. But don't give up. It's not the end of the world. Anything can be fixed. It will take some work, but I'm sure the story here is worth it. It's just a diamond in the rough right now. Take the time to make it shine, and you'll be much more successful.

What do you guys think?


  1. I agree that the cover is a good concept but could use a better execution. I love the idea of big bold BLACK and love the font for "rose." But the rose should be a photograph, and this photograph should connote fantasy by having something otherworldly about it.

    The blurb is problematic. I never like questions in blurbs, and elipses even less. This story reminds me of James Patterson's "Sundays at Tiffany's." You might look over his blurb and see how it is structured to give you some ideas. I frequently read blurb after blurb to get a rhythm in my head before I sit down to write mine.

    I was immediately struck by the sheer volume of exclamation marks in the opening pages. Also, the tone of a story in a very young girl's voice is always hard to pull off. I'd try an opening with an adult and let this be a troubling flashback once the current story time is established. It may not work, but it just might be the ticket to getting the book off to a more genre-specific and engaging start.

    Good luck with it. I hope it takes off for you.

  2. The cover is okay. Doesn't really stand out though. You have the title telling what the picture shows. Having them both do the same thing is rather redundant. I also had to adjust my laptop screen to read "Black." I do like the font used for "Rose" though. Actually, I love the font for "Rose."

    The product description has some grammatical issues which niggle me. The blurb doesn't really draw me in. It doesn't really give me an idea of what the book is really about or why I should care. It's missing the special something which makes Anne's story unique.

    The description also sounds more like a mystery than a fantasy. Since I'm the type of person who doesn't go for mystery, I'd pass this by. But since it's marketed as a fantasy, mystery readers might not even be aware the book is available. If it is fantasy, I'd try to boost that aspect in the blurb a little more. If it's a mystery, I'd market it as that instead. That way you're targeting the right audience.

    Quite a few punctuation issues in the first 300 words. I'd be concerned the rest of the book would have them also. For readers, that can be a real turn off. Even if the story is great, they might not get past the first few sentences.

    This is more of a preference, but I've never really liked books which start with flashbacks to a very young age. I think it's because grade school books have never been my thing. When I pick up an adult book, I want to read about adults. If the purpose of the intro is to show the mother's death, that's also something which can be woven into the story itself. It'd give you the opportunity to start the story at the beginning rather than doing the flash back.

  3. Have to agree with Victorine re the blurb and Reena re the punctuation. This manuscript and the blurb aren't as polished as they need to be attract a solid following of readers. This is a highly-competitive market and if one thing stops your potential reader, you've lost them.

    I would also agree with Reena about opening with a flashback to a child the age of seven. I want to know the adult version first - what her issue is and why I should care. We need time to get to know each others as adults before going back to her childhood.

    So - work the blurb and your opening and give your rough diamond a bit more polish... it's there, waiting to shine! Best wishes, Mary
    p.s. I am a professional book editor. If you'd like a manuscript evaluation visit

  4. It's interesting Reena felt like it was more mystery, when I first read the description and text it felt like romance/woman's lit, which I'm far less interested in than fantasy. In any event, I did not get a fantasy vibe from this either. "Dreams" don't count enough in my mind to be a fantastical/paranormal event. If the book is mostly dreams and romance, I think its in the wrong genre to attract readers. If it's full of paranormal things, I think they need to be mentioned both in the blurb and show us something right off in the first scene that says fantasy. I don't think what we're seeing is matching what genre readers are looking for, and either it's not representative of the greater work, or its in the wrong genre.

  5. The cover is quite pretty (apart from the word Black with vanishes, but that's an easy fix). I love the font for the word Rose, and like the design of it.


    It does not say fantasy. I am a big fantasy reader. I wouldn't pick up the book based on this cover (unless I knew already that the author writes fantasy).

    The blurb is confusing. I have no idea what the story is and why I should care. There are punctuation issues (if I were a buyer, I'd give up here). Ellipses have only three full stops. Many n00b writers overuse them to death. Ditto exclamation marks. Run-on sentences make my heart sink for the actual text of the book.

    The sample confirms my suspicions.

    Out of the three, the cover is most attractive. I don't think this book is ready.

  6. I'm a huge fantasy buff, but I would not pick up this book. The cover is too black, if that makes any sense. The overall design of it is very nice, but it could use with maybe a dark purple background, the black rose and then make the words either white or maybe even pale purple or blue. Maybe even a hint of red in there to make it pop a bit. That's just my opinion.
    As for the blurb, that is what made my decision for me as I would not label this fantasy. Far as I can tell, it isn't related to that genre. Just general fiction.
    From what little bit I read of the first 300 words, I can tell it needs some work right off the bat. It could be polished up and possibly do lots better. Good luck to the author!

  7. I'm with everyone else on the cover. Fantasy needs some color. I really like the contrast between the fonts for "black" and "rose."

    To be honest, I thought it was an historical romance with pirates. Black Rose sounds like a pirate ship's name and the font gives me the same vibe.

    A run on sentence (the blurb)is not helped by ellipses and em dashes. They only make the blurb more confusing.

    I'll just agree with everyone else. A critique group or an editor is really needed for this book.

  8. Wow i cant take the criticism this hurts I'm biting my tongue right now so i don't say something stupid. Maybe it was a bad idea for me to even write. I had no help with this and very little money I got screwed multiple times with this publishing company. So all i can say is its best for me to have this book pulled if that's what i should call it.

    Oh and ya I'm the idiot author

  9. Don't give up. You are not an idiot. You should read my first draft of my novel. I made all kinds of mistakes. Luckily, I joined a critique group. I could have easily published the book, and then would have been sitting with a novel that really wasn't ready. But every mistake is fixable. The book can be revised. Don't quit, just learn from this. And don't think you can't bounce back. You can.

  10. Don't give up. I think What I am getting from your comments is that you are with a Vanity Publisher? How much control do you have over the product at this point?

  11. I'm leaving the writing to real writers this was just a dream i had when i was young now I'm older and should know better because what was once a dream is now a freakin nightmare.

  12. Before you give up, perhaps read the stories of other authors. You'll find most didn't land an agent or publisher with their first, second, third, X++ novel. The same goes for those who decided to self-publish. They likely have many, many novels under their belt before venturing into the indie world.

    I'm sure you have other hobbies other than writing. If you take the time to think about the hobbies you've perfected, your skills likely didn't come over night.

    Also... take a moment to read this article ( by Dean Wesley Smith. Your book is out there. Consider it a practice novel and get back to writing.

  13. I don't have other hobbies because i suck at everything else and apparently writing as well. From what everyone has said here i think its time for me to put the idea of being an author away. And let me explain the cover and why it sucks i feel like i should have a chance to explain. For one i had a wonderful artist designing a cover for me it was going to be magical. He finished it and it was amazing and colorful and dark at the same time everything a fantasy cover should be. But for some reason he took it and ran with it no more phone calls no more the last minute i had to settle with this image believe you and me i was certainly not happy with it. Lets just say he used to be a very good friend of mine. Not anymore. Oh and let me say that this crappy book is a vampire story not a pirate ship story...not a mystery...and certainly not a copy from some other Author...its about reincarnation. Is this fantasy enough for everyone or do i completely suck?

  14. I'm not sure what you expected when you sent the book here. Did you want people to tell you that the book was great and there was nothing wrong with it? The point of this blog is to let you know what doesn't work so you can fix it.

    Everything that's been said here is meant to help you become a better writer. You don't really think you're perfect and have nothing to learn, right? We should all be open to growing as writers, no matter how long we've been doing this. I learn new things every day and I've been writing full-time for years!

    If your book has vampires in it, either the blurb or the cover needs to hint at that.

    And fixing the cover should not be a huge issue. I replaced one of my covers three months after the book came out. Not a big deal, really.

    If you really want to be a writer, you need to learn to take criticism. Everybody here has been really nice, actually. They're trying to tell you what doesn't work so you can fix it.

    Needing an editor or a critique group is not the end of the world, either. You have some issues with punctuation and grammar, but those are fixable --You just need to learn what mistakes you're making and a critique group is great for that. Again, that's not an attack.

  15. Ive learned from what people have said here and its open my eyes to realize I'm not cut out to be a writer. It maybe easy for other people to get published or even fix a already published book, but seeing as how money doesn't grow on trees i should have known better. I'm not well off like most people. My purpose was not to let people know it was a vampire book it's a process you come to find out just as Anne does. And no I'm sure as heck not perfect and no i didn't expect people to fall all over themselves and gush with complete fondness for this book. And another thing i didn't send this in a friend thought it would have been a great idea to send it in, i didn't want to cause i knew very well i get hurt easily over criticism. I'm trying very hard to not let this get to me, but I'm don't have a strong heart for this.

  16. It doesn't cost anything to fix a book. Joining a critique group is free and you can borrow books from the library to learn about grammar. And you can find decent cover designers for very low prices. Or spend time learning and design a new cover yourself for free.

    But if you're not willing to grow and learn, then maybe you're not ready to be a writer. Writing is like any other job: You have to practice, learn and make mistakes before you can be a good teacher, or a good architect or a good whatever it is you want to be. I don't see why writing should be any different.

    It is true that not everybody can handle the challenges of writing/publishing. What would you do if you get a 1-star review in Amazon, for example? That's a reality. Even famous writers get them and you need to learn how to deal with those things.

    As for your friend sending this in, if he did it without your permission, maybe you can ask the owner of the blog to take this down, since you didn't give your permission for this to be here. If you agreed despite having reservations, well, it was your choice.

  17. If published through KDP, it doesn't cost anything to fix. I don't know about Xlibris, which is who the author used to publish. They might charge.

  18. Xlibris charges nothing is free in life.

  19. Even though you've decided writing isn't for you, this information may be useful to others.

    Sometimes vanity publishers will let you out of your contract if you want to republish on your own. I get the impression that once vanity publishers have your money, many really don't care what you do afterward. Requesting your rights back would allow you to use less expensive options.

    A lot of the things I do for my books cost me nothing but time. A list of items I do myself:

    *All but one book cover. That particular cover cost $50 plus the stock photo.
    *Uploading my documents to places like Amazon, Smashwords, Pubit, and CreateSpace

    My books aren't perfect, but I've managed to save money on copyediting by working with other writers and critique groups.

    Self-publishing doesn't have to be expensive, particularly if you avoid vanity publishers like Xlibris, iUniverse, etc. Often it's less expensive to hire a freelancer than to go through vanity publishers, and you can get more bang for your buck.

    But like I said, I do much of the work myself. I have more time than money. My biggest expensive with publishing are the giveaways (which is part of marketing). And even then, it's as much as I want/am able to spend.

    With self-pubilshing, you spend what you want/have to spend. If you have $0 in your budget, then it'll cost you time.

  20. Jennifer, if you haven't given up on your book altogether then feel free to use this book cover I created as an exercise:

    There were many great suggestions for ways to update the cover in the comments here and I used many of them in the concept.


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