Monday, August 20, 2012

CheckOut 27

Author: Andrew M Gallagher
Genre: Humor
How long it's been on sale: Feb 29, 2012
Current price: $3.00
Marketing: Website, Profiles on Shelfari and Librarything, added to Askdavid website, facebook ads, KDP Select free, gave away 557 copies.
Total sold so far: 0
Link to book on Amazon: CheckOut 27

Product Description:

Temptation is stood in everyone's path so they tell us. Most people brush past but some stop for a chat and then some attempt suicide.

Peter Digby is Manager of Taylors supermarket, part of a national chain. When he is handed the chance to make money without actually putting his hand in the till he surprises himself and takes it. It maybe classed as white collar crime but the drawbacks are frustrating and difficult to handle. Having the money becomes a bigger headache running two homes two cars and two lives. His work colleagues friends and even family are unaware of his rich alternate lifestyle so what is the point? It is like winning the lottery but losing your ticket.

Peter's life is full of choices. Strange ones are employing the most incompetent security firm around, Beaver Patrol. Embarrassing ones are ringing prospective dates up based on your friend's advice. Your assistant manager is hard working but so timid he bears the brunt of all jokes. The checkout girls show little mercy and yet he puts up with it.

Clearly his world is a balancing act so why complicate it by getting involved with an auditor sent to check up on you? Horse Racing, Velcro, Women dressed as school girls and the possibility she could earn £1000 for a couple of hours are some of the reasons.

Can he get out and cover his trail completely?

First 300 Words:

I remember reading about cases where people have been hit by a vehicle and literally knocked out of their socks. The sudden impact and tensing of the muscles caused them to lift straight out. I still had socks on when I reached the hospital. In that final moment the self preservation gene we must all have stepped forward.  I turned away in a futile attempt to save myself but heard the crack as my right leg broke. With the impact my body rolled across the car bonnet directing my shoulder to smash the windscreen with my head following behind it. After that I rely on Police reports and medical records with some eye-witness statements thrown in for dramatic effect. The eye witnesses are far more descriptive. ‘I was certain he was dead but I saw some blood coming from a gash in his head and my friend said you don’t bleed once your dead’ but my favourite, ‘I started to clap it looked like they were filming a TV programme then I saw the blood and thought it’s too realistic for the tele, so I stopped clapping’

In the supermarket the whole event had developed slowly, at first nobody took any notice as I walked across the parking area towards the road. A line of 27 checkouts with people queuing at each one all looking around but not through the large glass frontage, no one sees the dead man walking. But then as I stepped off the pavement out in to the road and turned to face the single oncoming car one child’s voice spoke out. “That’s naughty mummy” The queues either side looked over to the voice bored with the conveyer belts ahead of them. Trying to work out what sort of person you are stood behind from the contents of their trolley. What can you work out about the man who buys Tea Bags (the cheap supermarket brands) Always Tampons, Jelly Babies, dried pasta, vanilla flavoured yogurt, a pair of black socks and the Daily Mail?

A henpecked husband or a future serial killer?

The number of heads which first looked to the child and then following his pointed finger to the man in the road increased as the seconds ticked by. From almost no one to the complete shopping queues of 27 checkouts, faces searching across the car park to this single man in the road. Speculation in their eyes, was he some sort of workman stood checking the road, a plain clothes Policeman stopping cars but before anyone got close to the answer the car hit. Looking back towards the supermarket it appeared to be a goldfish bowl, a hundred silent faces behind the glass gasping in horror. The mother grabbed her son covering his eyes from the circus style juggling act of arms and legs tossed upwards to the sky bouncing off the bonnet into the windscreen.

Comments: At first glance I thought this was a non-fiction book about coupons and shopping. The cover does not look like a novel. I'm not quite sure what it is, maybe the way the photos are placed on there, but it says non-fiction to me. Maybe go look at some successful ebook covers of other humor books, and see how they look and try to emulate them. I'd definitely suggest a new cover.

There's a grammatical error in the first sentence of the description. (Temptation has stood...not temptation is stood. Or I suppose it can be: Temptation is standing...the tenses just need to match up.) Having an error in the first sentence of the description will turn off most readers. It makes them think the whole book will have errors. Definitely fix that.

I don't understand the second sentence. I mean, I understand brushing past temptation, and I understand stopping for a chat, but I don't understand the suicide reference. You're starting out with an analogy as if temptation were a person on the sidewalk. Some will walk past, some will stop to chat...then the next step in my mind would be hugging or making out with temptation. The suicide doesn't make sense in the analogy to me. I could just be dense, though. I do have my blonde moments.

The rest of the description confuses me too. Sorry. There are other grammatical errors (maybe should be may be) and other parts that just don't flow well or make a lot of sense. I'd suggest joining a critique group and getting some advice on making the description better.

Starting with the main character getting hit by a car is good. Something is happening. I liked that. The problem is that there are more grammatical errors, and places where I got confused again. I think this story sounds interesting, but I don't think it's quite ready. I would suggest a critique group to get the basic things ironed out, then an editor for the grammar and punctuation errors. This book has potential. Don't try to send it out there too early.

What do you guys think?


  1. Couldn't get to the end of the first paragraph. Too many grammatical errors, tense problems and an overall lack of polish. They need to go back and get to grips with basics before trying to sell their book to the public.

  2. I have to agree with Vicki. This one needs to seriously edited/workshopped or both.

    Cover: I also thought it was a non-fiction. It doesn't say humor to me at all and doesn't fit in with what I'm gleaning from the blurb and sample.

    Blurb: Putting aside all of the grammatical issues, I just can't follow it. It doesn't make sense. A man is working as a manager of a supermarket. Then...something happens. He's given an opportunity to make money. It's not stealing from the company (hand in the till), but it's a crime. I'm confused.

    "It maybe classed as white collar crime but the drawbacks are frustrating and difficult to handle."

    That sentence is a good example of why I'm scratching my head. Is it a crime or not? If it's sort of a crime, you would expect there to be drawbacks which are always frustrating and difficult to handle. Why is the "but" in that sentence? Why not tell us what the set-up is? Without understanding what the temptation is - exactly what it is, not just an opportunity for money - the rest makes zero sense. The strange choices and secret life make no sense. Why? Don't be coy, tell your reader what the story is about. Don't try to tease use. Tell us.

    The 300: Starting with the suicide(?) can be a great opening, but the prose is confused and hamstrung by grammatical errors. Juxtaposing the humdrum of every day life with the action and horror of a man being hit by a car can be very compelling. But, as it is, the writing just isn't conveying any of it clearly. I think some classes or workshop would be a great place to start.

  3. "There's a grammatical error in the first sentence of the description. (Temptation has stood...not temptation is stood."

    You're wrong. The author is using stand in the transitive sense of 'to place, or cause an object to stand'. As in temptation has been placed in everyone's path [by God, or whoever.] It's not an everyday usage, but it's not wrong. It's a passive use indicating a habitual/ongoing/recurring act, therefore 'is'.

    The second sentence made sense to me as well, the implication being their encounter with the temptation placed in their paths so destroys their lives that they attempt to end them. It is a bit of jump though, so I can understand if it might need clarification.

    Aside from the maybe/may be and being short a few commas however, I don't see the profusion of 'grammatical errors' you and the other commenters seem to. It's very stylized, but I don't find it difficult to follow, I've never read British lit-fic, but it reads to me like I imagine British lit-fic might. There are a few word choices that I find a bit odd, like 'directing' in the 'directing my shoulder', possibly because it implies a conscious action for me. But perhaps the author intended that, or maybe the nuance is different in British English. I can't help but wonder if all the grammatical errors the rest of you see are due to misreading or British/American differences.

    As to my opinion on why it's not selling the god awful cover would be problem #1.

  4. Cover: I did get this as Humor, probably most from the obscuring of the woman's head. However, that's not to say that I think the cover works, other than (for me) communicating what sort of book it is. Now that I look back at the cover after reading the blurb and first 300 words, I think the cover is an example of trying to fit too much of the story into the cover design. I would suggest a complete redesign, but if you want to proceed with this one, I recommend considering the graphic elements near the edge, where they approach or touch but do not "bleed" over. I think bleeding over the edge would be much stronger; otherwise, put some more space between them and the edge.

    Blurb: I don't think this is doing anything to promote sales, and that's what it needs to do. The "style" of the blurb shouldn't be radically different from the book, but it still has to be tuned to be readable to the broadest possible audience if you want the highest number of sales. Right now it bounces around a lot, and structurally and in terms of word/phrase choices does not make for easy reading. For example, in the paragraph that begins "Peter's life is full..." you go back and forth between Peter/he and "you." Also, I think you're trying to convey too much of the story but, as another commenter mentioned, being coy about it. It's better to nail down some specifics that give the reader an idea of what it's about and a desire to delve into the story.

    First 300: Intriguing concept for starting off the book, and I think it can work well to get people into the story. It does have technical flaws that I don't think can be written off as "British style" as suggested by another commenter. For example: "The number of heads which first looked to the child and then following his pointed finger to the man in the road increased as the seconds ticked by." The tense disagreement between looked/following does not sound like an acceptable language construct from what I recall from the years I lived in England.

  5. @Stuart Whitmore

    What if we added some sorely needed commas?

    "The number of heads which first looked to the child and then, following his pointed finger, to the man in the road increased as the seconds ticked by."

    Personally I think either following or followed is fine there.

  6. Regardless of grammatical perfection, I think the first rule of writing should apply: a sentence makes sense. Applying this rule, I believe that this particular blurb/1st 300 falls short.

    But, like others have commented, the cover is a mess. Improperly stretched stock photos, a decent clip art figure obscured by more improperly stetched photos, an almost illegible title, and too-small-to-see author's name will turn people off. Seen from a one-inch profile on Amazon, potential readers would not know what they see. Certainly not the title or author.

    In the end, I want to be positive. I really want to be supportive. Sometimes, a writer just has a mediocre idea with poor execution. Sometimes writers lack the time and talent with their craft to execute even a great idea. Without reading the book, I cannot truly judge that, but from this blurb, First 300, and the lack of professionalism of the cover, I would have to say I wouldn't get to judge it because I wouldn't spend my cash in first place.

  7. At first glance, I really liked the cover, but as Victorine said, it looked like a non-fiction book about credit card debt or savings. I was surprised to find it was humor. If I were searching for a non-fiction book about money, I could see myself picking it up. The novel is catchy. On the other hand, I wouldn't have guessed it was a book about humor and would have passed it by.

    The product description is poorly written. Much of it doesn't make sense because the grammar is off. It makes me thing of a piece originally written in another language and later translated into English by a non-native English speaking individual. I say this, because I didn't find any misspelled words… just very odd grammar. Other parts of the description don't quite sync. It might help to practice on the basics of paragraph writing. For instance, having a topic sentence then several sentences to support the topic sentence. It'd help the description flow better while weeding out the unnecessary information.

    The first 300 words grabbed my attention. Again there are issues with the grammar. It's a tossup on whether I'd read the book though, because there are a lot of grammar issues. It makes for a difficult read. Even so, I found the beginning amusing, and I actually liked the voice (minus the grammar issues).

    I would definitely work with an editor. I know grammar isn't everyone's strong point. With an editor, I think you might have a fun read on your hands.

    One thing to keep in mind though: Many people won't even make it to the sample to find the humor because the cover doesn't match the genre and the description eludes to the grammar issues within.

    Bottom line: If this book was better written and had a cover/descriptiong to attract me, I could definitely see myself purchasing it.

  8. I was trying to force the cover image in to chick lit, but it wouldn't even fit there. A professional cover artist can be expensive, but there are many here who are good and work cheaply.

    The first sentence of the blurb doesn't work at all. Lack of commas, mixed tenses, confusing sentences, which continue into the first 300, will all put off potential readers.

    I like the premise, if I understood it correctly, and therein lies the problem. I'm really not sure what's going on. I couldn't get through the first 300 which means I certainly wouldn't get through the sample.

    I believe there is potential here.

  9. If you have to argue about the grammar used, the battle is already lost. A potential reader, a potential customer, couldn't follow the words on the page.

    Game over.

  10. Dear All, Many, Many thanks for your comments. It is very humbling to see people take the time to give me feedback. I can see the cover design has not worked for you. The car and the cottage were to show his purchases and the trolley along with the barcode was the supermarket. Clearly there must be too much going on so I can look at that. The book description needs re writing as you say it is too “cloak and dagger” without enough factual detail. With a bit more detail covering less parts of the book the humour should become apparent. The final problem which I don’t think continues through all the book is the grammar. This I will need to find professional help with. As with most writers my original aim was to find an agent to get the help only they can give, we all know how very difficult this is even with a finished best seller. Kind regards, Andrew


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