Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I Loved You First (Coming of Age Love Story)

Author: Reena Jacobs
Genre: Contemporary New Adult
How long it's been on sale: July 29, 2011
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: Marketing has been sporadic, and I haven't marketed much these days. I'm just not sure how to do it effectively. Paid advertising through Adwords and Goodreads. Giveaway through Goodreads. 45-day Blog tour (organized by myself) which included reviews, blog posts, excerpts and giveaways. Review requests. Tweets, Facebook. KDP Select promotion. Playing with the price (anywhere from $0.99 - 6.99). Newsletter. Goodreads events. I've tried two different blurbs. A couple of trailers (though rather dinky). Really I've been all over the place. I'm just not sure where to concentrate my efforts.

Total sold so far: 125

Link to book on Amazon: I Loved You First (Coming of Age Love Story)

Product Description: 

My best friend was more than just a best friend to me. Three words summed it up: I heart him. I'd never tell him though. I wasn't stupid. Besides, what he'd told no one, but me, was a little something I wished I could forget... or ignore. He was gay. I guess gay wouldn't be bad if I wasn't so in love with him. Now it was just cruel.

Stereotypes run amok in this college love story: Parties, alcohol, hookups, and breakups. Alexandria Carmichael may find it a bit much as she deals with the unreturned love from the boy who completes her. When all is revealed, not only does she risk losing her best friend forever, but also herself. Without her childhood companion for support, Alexandria takes a journey of self-discovery but fears what she'll find at the end.


He was all around me, creating a jumble of feelings. I wanted to bolt from the unfamiliar intimacy, while the desire to nestle in the safety of his protective enclosure grew strong. My head became airy like a balloon on the verge of floating away.

I remembered to breathe, but there wasn't enough air between us. Swept in the dizziness of it all, my eyes played tricks on me. He seemed closer than he'd been only a millisecond ago. No illusion. He was leaning toward me.

Closer. Closer. His eyes focused on my mouth, making me self-conscious. I licked my lips, and he paused, his pupils dilating in the bright light.
My heart went into a panicked convulsion. Oh lord. He's going to kiss me.

The soft fleshiness of his mouth brushed against mine, and a tingling started in my stomach. Was this what they meant by butterflies?

First 300 Words:

The music blared throughout the house at full blast-Pretty People by Dexter Freebish. Yep, that pretty much summed it up. They surrounded me. Only thing, I didn't want to be like them. Sometimes I was just so tired of the games the so-called "pretty people" played. Yet here I was, the girl hiding in a corner, decorating a wall.

The party was in full swing. Already people had consumed enough alcohol to loosen inhibitions but not enough to send them puking over the balcony. It'd get there though. I'd been to enough of these parties to know it was only a matter of time.

Through the mass of bodies, I could just make out the guys in the kitchen guzzling beer bongs. A few of the more slutty chicks hung off to the side laughing and cheering them on. Once in a while, one of the braver girls joined in and made a mess of her outfit. The whole thing was stupid, and they'd certainly regret it in the morning.

So why was I here?

The answer pushed through the crowd-my best friend, Seth. BFF since I'd saved him from a beat down in the first grade. Well, actually, I'd bitten the girl's arm who'd bullied him. Nothing like a nip to send a kid crying. I'd gotten in trouble but earned a forever friend in the process. Totally worth it.

Seth chatted to random frat boys as he made his way to me. He was one of the "pretty people." Sandy blond hair, blue eyes, six foot, and a rising star on the baseball team-he was what girls wanted, and he knew it.

I, on the other hand, was just his sidekick. Nearly invisible. I didn't mind so much. It was the same role I'd played in high school. Why should college be any different? He got me into all the good parties I'd preferred to avoid, and I stood by his side as his gossip buddy.

Comments: I like the cover. I think it's well designed, and I like the woman's face. It is lacking a man's face, but since this is labeled "Love Story" instead of "Romance" I'm guessing having a man's face on the cover isn't necessary. It's a bit monochromatic, but I like it, so I don't think I'd suggest a change. The cover works for me. But I would get more opinions on it.

I like that the first paragraph of the description is written in the main character's voice. I'm worried that it reads a bit young, though. "I heart him" seems like something a young teen would say. That could just be me, though. I'd check with some others to see if they feel the same. I like the fact that it sets up the tone for the character, and introduces the conflict.

I'm not sure the second paragraph is working for me. I think I would get some more opinions on it, and try to tweak it. I think it can be better. I think it seems too "telling" after the stronger first paragraph.

I would definitely cut the excerpt from the description. If people want to read a sample, it's super easy to download a sample or click on the book cover to view the inside. It's off-putting to me when an excerpt is in the description. It's almost like the author doesn't think the cover and blurb are strong enough to sell the book so they put an excerpt in because, by golly, if you start reading you won't want to put it down. And if that excerpt is from the middle of the book it makes me think the author doesn't think the beginning is strong enough to hook a reader. I'd cut it and make the description strong enough to sell the book.

I like the voice, but there are some editing issues that tripped me up in the sample. (Example: blast-Pretty and crowd-my.) And a few instances of writing that could be tightened up. (The word "just" is used three times in this small sample.) I'd suggest hiring an editor to smooth out some of those kinks. There's not much going on in the beginning, which could be a problem. It's okay, but the main character is bored at this party, so I feel like I'm bored reading about it. I think it's good to start in a place where there's conflict or action, or something happening. I feel like nothing much is happening, but I'm also the kind of person who would not feel comfortable at a party like this, so I suppose it could just be me.

I suggest reworking the second paragraph of the description, and cutting the excerpt. I would have an editor pass through the book, and maybe get some more opinions on the beginning. I do think the voice is strong, but needs a bit of writing help. Maybe a critique group would be good.

What do you guys think?


  1. Oh, I love it! The cover is gorgeous, and what you have here is definitely a hook. I love a good unrequited love story. (Glutton for punishment? lol!)

    As far as writing, some of the commas seem a bit much, which then makes the writing read a bit choppy. I second Victorine's suggestion to have someone edit or beta read, but the writing is really not bad. The voice is strong and fresh and very engaging.

    As far as why it's not selling, have you been marketing it as "new adult"? I quite like college-aged stories myself, but I'm not sure most readers know what to make of the term "new adult". I'm thinking of Jamie McGuire's Beautiful Disaster, and I think she just went for the adult contemporary crowd with that one. Others may steer for the young adult crowd instead, depending on the content.

    Other than that, I'm not sure why it's not selling! It looks good to me, lol!

  2. I'm not sure what genre I would have picked for that cover. Not quite romance because of the young face. Could be YA. I don't think it helps to market it as New Adult. The last thing the reading world needs is a new genre.

    All that being said, I think it's a strong cover. I'm personally not a fan of the brown background, but I just don't like brown. If I'm objective, it works.

    Not a bad blurb, but I would lose the excerpt. Most of us here like the blurbs short and snappy and don't like anything extraneous.

    I liked the opening. I get a real sense of the heroine and who she is. I can also see her surroundings and the people she is with.

    I think the major problem is the genre. It's hard to fit that into the KDP categories. Change the categories to try to get some strong alsobots.

    This book has a lot of potential.

  3. OK, I wasn't going to comment, because this is SO not my genre, but I have similar reservations about genre and cover, so this is just a +1

    Is there a problem calling it YA coming of age? Because Amazon does have a category for that.

    The cover is well-designed, but... rather monochrome. The girl is awesome but the choice of background and text colours make the cover fade in the background of more colourful offerings in the Amaozon jungle. If that makes any sense.

  4. I won't comment on the genre or cover issues, because I think they've been covered already.

    But when I read this, I thought it was the beginning of your 300 words:

    "My best friend was more than just a best friend to me. Three words summed it up: I heart him. I'd never tell him though. I wasn't stupid. Besides, what he'd told no one, but me, was a little something I wished I could forget... or ignore. He was gay. I guess gay wouldn't be bad if I wasn't so in love with him. Now it was just cruel."

    I was confused when the next paragraph turned out to be the description. I was hooked, though, by the voice and the tension, so I scrolled down, thinking I'd read the description later. Well, I was confused again because there was ANOTHER excerpt in your description! Was this the beginning and not what I'd just read? Scrolling down some more, I finally found the 300 words and was confused YET AGAIN! This was yet ANOTHER beginning!

    Admittedly, Amazon readers won't be looking at your book in exactly this format, but I wonder if having two excerpts in your description--neither of which is the actual beginning--is turning them off?

    FWIW, I think that first paragraph in your description is an AWESOME hook and you should really consider making that the beginning of your novel. The party stuff is rather bland and boring. Hook your reader first!

    Hope that helps!

  5. I appreciate all the feedback. I've started with the easy advice and pulled the excerpt from the product description.

    I definitely hear what folks are saying about the "New Adult" genre. I actually had ILYF in the Young Adult section on Amazon at one time. A reviewer left a 1-star review because she felt it didn't belong in the "children's books," which is the category for YA. She was unhappy the characters were in college. I'm not even sure she read the book since her comments were misleading about the contents.

    Right now, ILYF is categorized under "Self-respect & Self-esteem" and "Coming of age." I added "Coming of Age Love Story" to the title shortly after to help with searches and ensure readers knew what they were buying.

    Though not as popular as YA, NA is genre. I guess I'd call it a niche genre which is gaining notice. Since it does have an appeal to YA readers, I've spent a lot of time targeting YA reviewers.

    Anyway, the 1-star review because I tried to squeeze ILYF into the YA category blew chunks. haha I swear picking categories is like perfecting a balancing act.

    I agree another editing pass wouldn't hurt ILYF. :) Every time I read a passage I find something I want to change to make it a smoother read... or worse! and error.

    Side note: The first paragraph in the product description is pulled from the book. It's about 500 words in.

  6. I actually really like the New Adult genre label. I know it's not as well known as Young Adult, but I do know that it's growing in popularity. And for years the college aged characters were shunned, because they didn't really fit in Adult and didn't fit in YA. I like that now they have a chance to shine, because college aged characters are awesome. There's so much conflict and growing that comes from that age. I don't think it's fair to have this taboo on writing about that age. And the more books we have that claim the New Adult label, the more known it will be. Just my two cents worth on that. And ignore that one star review. People can avoid buying the wrong book if they just read the description.

  7. Not my genre either, but what a fantastic title - that's what drew me here. I like the cover, too. I didn't read the first 300 because it's not what I read, although I read the excerpt and it's good. If I read this genre, I'd keep reading.


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