Sunday, September 2, 2012

Take Back Tomorrow

Author: Richard Levesque
Genre: Science Fiction
How long it's been on sale: Jan 2012
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: Started a Facebook author page, had a launch party at work, submitted to Amazon independent novel award competition, set up Amazon author page, submitted to several indie book review blogs.
Total sold so far: About 50
Link to book on Amazon: Take Back Tomorrow

Product Description:

Eddie Royce thinks he's got things all figured out. He's managed to cheat the system and gotten himself published in the sci fi pulps by "borrowing" plots from Shakespeare. He doesn’t mind being a cheat and a plagiarist as long as no one finds out. But then he meets Chester Blackwood, the most famous science fiction writer of the 1930s, and discovers that Blackwood has a secret much bigger than Eddie's. Worse, the unscrupulous publisher they both work for has caught the scent of their deceptions and is threatening to make their lives difficult. When Blackwood disappears, Eddie is caught up in the mystery. With the help of Blackwood's beautiful daughter Roxanne (who has secrets of her own), he tries to piece together the puzzle, but soon he discovers more secrets hidden in the Hollywood Hills, secrets that seem to open doors into the past and the future. When the hack science fiction writer finds himself in a situation more fantastic than any pulp plot he could have imagined, he has to make a choice: sell out to the Hollywood elites who want the secret behind Blackwood’s success, or save himself and Roxanne from the sins of her father even if it means defying the laws of the universe.

First 300 Words:

Eddie Royce sat in Whistler’s office on the sixth floor of the Meteor building and waited patiently for the editor to look up from the galleys he studied, a smoldering cigar held between his thick lips and a look of quiet disgust on his face as he read. The muffled clack and ding of a typewriter made its way into the office from somewhere beyond Whistler’s closed door, and Eddie tried hard not to let it distract him. He sat in one of the mismatched chairs that faced Whistler’s enormous, scarred desk and thumbed nervously through the March 1940 issue of Stupendous, silently going over the pitch he had been formulating for days and hoping Whistler would not notice his anxiety. The magazine had hit the newsstands only three days ago, and Eddie had already read it cover to cover, focusing most of his scrutiny on one story—“Dark Hearts of Mars” by Edward Royce. It was his second publication in Stupendous, his second publication anywhere, really, but he already had two more stories and a serial accepted. After finally seeing his name in print following months of trying and failing, he had quickly come to believe in his success as a writer in spite of what he knew to be true—that he was at best unoriginal and at worst a plagiarist.

As with every issue of Stupendous, the cover of the magazine in Eddie’s hands was a work of art that no doubt accounted for a large portion of sales each month. The covers were always sensational, and this one featured a beautiful female space explorer watching in exaggerated alarm as her space ship exploded in the background, apparently leaving her stranded as she floated in space, her skin tight suit accentuating her curvaceous figure.

Comments: The cover isn't a bad concept, but the execution needs work, in my opinion. The title is hard to read, and the cartoonish people make the book look middle grade. I'm also not a fan of the black surrounding the picture. I think the cover would need some tweaks in order to appeal to the target audience.

The description could be better. There are some extra things that could be cut. It's very important to make each word count with a description. The first sentence isn't needed. I'd rather it start like: Eddie Royce has managed to cheat the system...

There are also a lot of "secrets" mentioned in the blurb. Too many vague references makes for a poor description. The readers need to know what they are buying. Spell out the time travel. (You elude to it, but you never come out and say it.) Spell out some of the other secrets, or don't mention them at all. The time travel is a strong hook. People who read time travel books really love them. Give them what they love. Don't hide it in the blurb.

The beginning of the book is pretty good. There are some superfluous words that could be cut, but overall it's not a bad beginning. I do hope something happens soon, though, because at this point nothing is going on and I would soon get bored without some action or conflict.

I think this book has great potential. I think the blurb is holding this book back. Some tweaks to the cover would help as well. It needs to look professional. I think if those two issues are addressed, the book would do much better.

What do you guys think?


  1. I like the cover, but some of the letters are not as easy to distinguish against the background as they could be. Making the black border to the letters thicker would help with that. The difference in width between the image and the separating line between it and the author name bothers me a bit. I don't mind the black border.

    The blurb seems a bit heavy text-wise, and I agree it could be tightened up. Maybe break it into a couple paragraphs to allow for the eye relief of white space.

    The first 300 is good, but I would break the first paragraph before "The magazine had hit the newsstands..." (and ensure the transition is smooth), because there's a clear shift from "what Eddie is doing" to "about Eddie and the magazine."

    The description of the cover of the magazine briefly reminded me of a running gag throughout the movie "Paul," but hey, maybe that's just me. :D Anyway, I like what I see of this so far and can see picking up a copy of this after I've made progress on my TBR list.

  2. Sorry. I was having technical difficulties. Please excuse the deleted comment list above.

    To me, the cover/title is the biggest thing holding it back. The first impression. I agree that it needs to appeal to its intended audience in a more obvious way.

    My only other big problem is the idea of plagerizing Shakespeare. Can anyone really do that? Everything he's written is so well known. Writers "borrow" his plots all the time. He's quoted all the time, and his quotes are so famous almost no one has to attribute them to the original author.

    I became more interested in the book the further I read through the blurb (which, yes, needs more specifics), but if this hadn't been posted here, I wouldn't have read that far.

    Great concept. That just needs to be more obvious at a glance, IMHO.

  3. The cover says time travel but it doesn't work otherwise. The black figures look too much like cutouts and the time tunnel needs to be more colorful. The title doesn't stand out at all.

    The blurb isn't bad but needs to be broken up some.

    I like the first 300 but that needs to be broken up, too. "The magazine hit the stands" should start a new paragraph. Long paragraphs make it hard for the reader to keep track of everything that is going on.

    Good potential here.

  4. The cover's about a 6/10, and it should be an 8 or better to really help the book take off.

    As I was reading the blurb, I liked it. Good storytelling within the blurb, and that puts me in a good mood for the story itself!!

    However, ripping of Shakespeare plots isn't plagiarizing at all. As far as I know, that stuff's open domain. And wouldn't everyone in publishing know the plot to the guy's sci-fi movie has similarities to Othello? So, as a writer, you lost me right there because I didn't believe the premise.

    The second half of the blurb suffers from vague-itis. I get that you're trying to conceal some of the twists and not spoiler the story, but I say, either give us the deets or cut the blurb off there and let us wonder. I get bored reading vagueness.

    As for the sample, that first paragraph is too long. tl;dr.

    Break it up so it looks less like work to read.

    Get a top-notch cover and I think it'll go places. 50 sales to date ain't bad at all!!!

  5. Agree that the cover is pretty non-descript. Also, since the book has a distinct 1950's feel, I don't think the design suits the book at all. You need a corny 1950's SF cover.

    The blurb is just a little too heavy on the secrets. Think of the word secrets as emotional currency. The first time you mention it, a reader goes "ohhh", the second time, the reader goes "yeah, right", the third time, the reader just rolls his eyes. You have to lift a bit more of the veil to show the potential reader what the secrets are.

  6. The cover speaks time travel to me. If I were a time travel junkie, I could see myself checking out this book. I do agree with some of the other comments about tweaking the cover a bit. Really the cover isn't bad, just needs a bit more love.

    The description also isn't bad, but it's not all that great either. All the mention of secrets do nothing to reel me in. Secrets give me little to grasp at. I have no reason to care. I would have liked for the description to match the cover a little more. As it is, there's no mention of the time travel the cover suggested. As such, my interest wanes a bit after reading the description.

    The biggest issue I have with the description is the idea of plagiarizing Shakespeare. Shakespearean work precedes copyright law. So it'd be okay to rewrite a sci-fi version of a Shakespeare story. Even if we had copyright laws back then, his works are so old, they would have fallen out of copyright long ago. The plagiarism as a plot point wouldn't turn me off entirely from the book, but I would question the credibility of the story. There's nothing out of the ordinary with stealing the ideas of long ago writers and reinventing them into something new. Consider all the Jane Austin books which have been redone--Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, for instance.

    The first sentence tripped me up a bit, but the first 300 words are not too bad. It doesn't make me want to drop everything and buy, buy, buy. However, I would be willing to read a bit more of the sample to determine if this book is for me.

    Overall, what I see is so-so. I wouldn't necessarily pass it over. I can't say it'd necessarily trigger my buying instinct either. This book is a maybe if I was in a book purchasing mood and up for trying out an unknown.

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  8. Wow, I checked up on this book on Amazon and have to say that the book description is far superior to what was originally there. It's more clear and appealing, and does a great job of taking the good advice from this blog post and the subsequent comments to heart. I still think this needs a new, better cover though.

    *Re-posting now that I see that the old, muddled description still exists for the Kindle edition of the book. This should be updated as well!


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