Saturday, October 27, 2012

Catch My Drift

Author: Jamie Pierce
Genre: Mainstream/Psychological
How long it's been on sale: April 12, 2012
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: Free promos through KDP, badgering family & friends
Total sold so far: 3
Link to book on Amazon: Catch My Drift

Product Description:

In the beginning Jamie says, "They beg you not to kill yourself, but they don't tell you what will happen if you live. This is how they trap you." Defensive and devious in her dealings with psychologist Al Foxworthy, Jamie maintains the psychogenic amnesia that has caused her insupportable depression. She infuriates Al. She makes him laugh, she makes him cry, and she makes him ache to restore the hardy spirit that has nearly been extinguished.

Privy to their intimate, turbulent hours together, the reader experiences the struggle between a woman determined to die and the therapist fighting to save her.

Judges from the Pacific Northwest Writers' Conference Contest said, "Fabulous writing—immediately involves the reader." "Compelling, emotional, so beautifully written, the reader can easily empathize with the main character and understand her pain, despair and convoluted logic." "This is powerful writing, absolutely gut wrenching . . . "

First 300 Words:

 I've got the pills, I've got the determination, I'm at the end of a long January slide, and all that's left is a glass of water and a long, long sleep.
Except I decide I have to say goodbye to my best friend Robyn.  I put the quilt I've been working on into the chest and lower the lid, closing it away.  I lock my front door behind me, give the carved sunflower on its central panel a pat.  "Good-bye," I say.  Shouldn't I be leaving a note? I wonder as I drive down our mountain road fast, faster than I ever have before, no longer slowed by the thought of neighbors' complaints.
By the time I hit the freeway, I'm going ninety and the needle's climbing.
I've always driven fast, ten to fifteen, maybe twenty miles over the limit, but I've never dared push the gas pedal to the floor.  I love it, I love it.  The freedom.  What's the worst that can happen?  I won't be around to pay the ticket.  I laugh.
I meet Robyn at this new Italian place.  The food is terrible, too much garlic, not enough body to the sauces.  We comment endlessly.  Well, I do, I can't think of anything else to say.  I certainly can't tell her what I'm going to do as soon as I leave the restaurant. But I do.
And she says, "Jamie, you're going to feel better.  This is only temporary."
It's been my whole life and that doesn't seem very temporary, but she goes on about what'll she do without me?  Who'll be fairy godmother to her children when she has them?
The last thing I can tell her is that I don't care anymore.

Comments: The cover is very cute, but it looks like a children's book. It's simple and clever, but I don't think it portrays the genre at all. The description gives us a troubled woman. This is not portrayed on the cover at all. I would look at this book if I were looking for something for my children. The description would make me go on to something else. I would definitely look at changing the cover. It needs to look more grown-up and darker.

The description is confusing and doesn't give me much information at all about the storyline. I know there's a woman who is in therapy, and she struggles with wanting to die, but the description doesn't give me enough information about it for me to care about the character. It's devoid of personality. The best sentence would be the second paragraph, I think. I'd take out the quotes from the judges. It doesn't look good, IMHO. Let the description pull the reader in, not someone else's opinion of the book.

The writing itself is pretty good. There are some tense changes that kind of tripped me up, and places where I'd like to get more into the main character's head, but it really isn't bad. I think this book could sell if it had the right cover and a better description. Try writing the description in the character's voice. Or try the 'when' formula. When (insert your character’s name and some title or small description) + (pivotal moment in your story that starts the action) main character must (something they must do) + (consequence if they don’t do it). The example I use in my book, How to Find Success Selling Ebooks, is this: “When detective Lars Jansen finds a dead body stuffed into his trunk, he must find the killer before he goes to jail for a murder he didn’t commit.”

What do you guys think?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Singapore Love Story

Author: Low Kay Hwa
Genre: YA Romance
How long it's been on sale: June 2012
Current price: $.99
Marketing: KDP Select Free Promo, Requesting reviews from readers on Goodreads
Total sold so far: 31
Link to book on Amazon: A Singapore Love Story

Product Description:

Listed as a national bestseller in Singapore for about half a year, A Singapore Love Story charts the tragic relationship of a couple trying to be together, ignoring the harsh knocks of reality. Can they bend reality for love, or will reality bend their lives?

Since the beginning of time, people have wondered how powerful love could be. Can love transcend beyond the necessities? Can the melody of love be louder than the noise of reality?

The novel seeks to ask a question: Is money one of the requirements in a marriage, or is it just one of the options?

Price of book will be increased after 10,000 downloads.

First 300 Words:

Chapter -5

Changi South Avenue 3

On 7 August 2008, I slipped while I was showering. And I died.

I was supposed to be married on 8 August 2008. We had planned to see snow in Japan for our honeymoon. Everything had been prepared; we were just waiting for the big day. But I had to die one day before the wedding dinner.

I was reaching for the shampoo. It was placed, somehow on that day, farther than usual. I tiptoed forward, my eyes half-opened as the water from the shower head rained on me.

I had heard stories about what drivers felt during a car accident. Slow, yet uncontrollable. My death was almost identical. Once I lost my footing, time moved in slow motion. I fell forward. My hands swung around to grab something but found nothing. Before I could do anything, I saw the white blameless wall just inches in front of me. My hands tried to push the wall away. But my head hit the wall—and the crack of the skull was like a cue that told time to resume its normal course.

It was a precise hit.

There was a sharp pain. When I bounced off the wall, I anticipated another impact. The next crack struck the back of my head. The pain abated, a ray shimmered, and finally, darkness took over.

Hours later, I woke up and realized that I had died.

Yet, not quite.

The colours of kismet are just black, and white. Or white, and black.

Let’s experience the growth of the two hearts caged by winter acquiescing to the warmth of summer—from different points of view.

Chapter 1

Joo Koon

I was molested when I was seven years old.

It was the first day of school. As Daddy drove across…

Comments: The cover looks paranormal to me. It makes me think the girl is a ghost. The design itself isn't horrible, but I do think it could look more professional. I think it's the photo treatment. The fonts look fine to me. I don't like the yellow sticker on the front. Take the sticker off, and just put the type directly on the cover. I think with a few tweaks, the cover could look more professional.

The blurb is confusing. You can mention the best seller status, but keep it short and sweet. "A national best seller in Singapore!" Then move on to the book description, which is sadly lacking here. There are words, but they don't tell me anything about the characters, and what they need to overcome. What starts the story in motion? When they meet? What obstacles are in their way? Family who doesn't think they belong together? Or do they get in their own way? (She won't look at him because he doesn't make enough money.) The blurb that is here is way too vague. Give the readers details, or they won't know if they want to read the book or not. If they don't know, they'll move on to something else.

The beginning is confusing too. We start at chapter five? Why? Is that a typo? It's probably not a great idea to start the reader off wondering where the first four chapters went. Ignoring that part, I do see that the main character has died. This is probably why the girl on the cover is a ghost image. I would definitely not forget the "Paranormal" in there when you market the book. YA Paranormal Romance is a popular genre. Don't forget to mention the part about the paranormal or you're shooting yourself in the foot.

The writing sometimes feels choppy, like a translation, or as if it was written by someone whose first language isn't English. It's not horrible, but there are a few times where I got a bit confused as to what was meant. I would hire a native English speaking editor to go over it once more. The story itself is interesting, and I do think this book has potential. It's just not quite there yet, in my opinion.

I would suggest hiring a cover artist to really make the cover look YA Paranormal Romance, it needs more of a dreamy feeling to it. I would also get help with the blurb and one final edit to make the sentences flow in English. What do you guys think?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Starwinger Prophecy

Author: Paula K Perrin
Genre: YA Fantasy
How long it's been on sale: March 2, 2012
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: I've contacted friends & relatives, distributed bookmarks & posters, requested (not yet received) reviews on blogs
Total sold so far: 59
Link to book on Amazon: Starwinger Prophecy

Product Description:

The telepathic winged horses known as Starwingers are losing their battle against extinction. They have one hope, the prophecy that a girl will fly along the full moon's track and sacrifice herself for them. However, that girl knows nothing about them.

Dia A'Dianais lives a countless distance away over the sea. She is a young princess of the Five Families. Her small, rich valley is under attack. The Family counts on her talent in the legendary Mysteries to save them, but she fails.

Searching for another solution, Dia learns of the Starwingers. She believes the answer to her dilemma is their strategic help. Unaware of the prophecy, she sets out to find them.

Kidnapped and dragged aboard a pirated ship, she meets another captive, the Starwinger Mercelyon. He is near death from brutal treatment. Dia saves him. Bonded now, they agree to help each other. They fly to Attyria, but the Starwingers view them as traitors, not as saviors.

Caught between Hrapthor the Death-bringer, the hostile Starwingers, and the guerilla forces of Attyria, can Dia and Mer make allies of enemies? Can they survive the deadly tests set for them? Can they persuade the Starwingers to rescue Dia’s family? With strong wings and valiant hearts, they strive to fulfill and survive the prophecy of the Starwingers.

First 300 Words:

Princess Dia A'Dianais padded toward the stable in her bare feet, the sun sparking glints of red from her long black hair.  She wore a loose white robe with no binding, nothing that would have constrained her in any way, nothing that should have prevented her from working the Mystery.

She had failed anyway.  Now she must marry Basphas, an enemy.  She kicked a pebble, then sucked in her breath at the sting in her toe.

She did not have to look up from the paving stones to know that the mares and their foals had been brought in from the fields.  She did not have to glance behind her to know that the ladies of the Family gathered in the shade of her father's palace colonnade to work their embroidery and to gossip.  She did not have to peer at the distant northern wall of the valley to see the miners bringing forth their treasure.  The rhythms of the valley were as much a part of her as her heart's beat.  Never had she thought she would have to leave it.

A stableboy appeared in the dark arch of the stable doorway.  He started to grin at her, but his smile faded when he saw her expression.  He glanced at her bare feet.  It was expressly forbidden to go into the stable unshod.  His mouth opened, then he turned aside and hurried away to find a chore far from the mares' barn.

As Dia crossed from the sun-warmed path into the cool shadows of the stable, Merche's head poked out above her stall door.  The black mare nickered a greeting.

Dia hurried to the stall and unlatched the door, pulling it open.  She flung her arms around Merche's neck and clung to her. 

Comments: The title and author's name are both very hard to read. Maybe it's the color. I would try to re-do the type to make it easier to read. I don't mind the artwork, but it does make the book seem young, like maybe it's a middle grade story. YA books these days have more grown up looking covers.

The description isn't bad, but I would definitely get rid of the questions at the end. (For example: Can Dia and Mer make allies of enemies? Well, obviously they do, otherwise the book would suck. Can they survive the deadly tests set for them? Of course they do. Otherwise the book would suck. Can they persuade the Starwingers to rescue Dia’s family? And the answer is, again, yes, otherwise the book would suck.) Questions only work if the answer isn't: Yes, otherwise the book would suck.

I didn't find the beginning necessarily gripping, but I didn't think it was bad either. This isn't my normal genre, so it's possible it would catch someone else's attention. I do think being forced to marry someone you don't love is always a plot trope that will hook some readers.

My guess is the cover is appealing to a younger audience than the author is targeting, and I would suggest trying to find a more adult looking cover, with the font clear and readable. What do you guys think?