Monday, December 3, 2012

1/1 Jihad Britain

Author: Jack Everett & David Coles
Genre: Political/Crime Thriller
How long it's been on sale: Jan 2011
Current price: $2.99
Marketing: Twitter constantly to nearly 1700 followers which carries through to Face Book. Had it reviewed by Natasha Harding head book reviewer for The Sun daily newspaper, circulation 4 million (UK)who published her review and gave it 4* Paid for a video and listed it on every site possible including Independent Authors Network.
Total sold so far: 270+
Link to book on Amazon: 1/1 Jihad Britain

Product Description: 

New Years' Eve: the world parties on unaware as a toll of death far beyond 9/11 and 7/7 spreads across Britain. The UK makes its own rules as 1/1 dawns and they don't include fair play. A global-warming fuelled disaster engulfs the country. Can its citizens pull together despite differing skin colour and culture? Years later and still at large, the New Year bomber has a private agenda and a nuclear bomb.

First 300 Words:

2006 AD

The summer of 2006 and people cowered in the ruins of their towns and villages while the Israeli planes screamed over Southern Lebanon. The bombs were targeted on the power plant in Zahrani on July 15th and only one bomb actually hit the western suburbs; most of the smaller munitions were scattered across the farms and holdings to the east, where it was thought that Hezbollah military were using the fruit orchards for cover.

From his vantage point in the hills above Zarit, Fahkri watched the F-161’s as they first screamed overhead forcing him to clap hands to ears and his charges - a mixed flock of goats and sheep - to leap and jump around in total disarray. He saw the Hezbollah running and hiding in the fields and saw the jets return much more slowly. He watched open-mouthed as one F-161 dropped its load, a single CBU-58 which split in half releasing six hundred and fifty bomblets onto the fields and town below.

Hundreds of explosions ripped trees and houses to shreds, thousands of titanium pellets tore through masonry as easily as flesh, snuffing out life everywhere, all in an instant.

When the raid was over Fahkri went home, or to the place where his home had been. It was difficult to tell which was Fahkri’s home and which was the chemist’s shop next door. The place where his family had been living only minutes before was now a low mound of rubble. Somewhere beneath the stones and broken concrete were his parents, his two brothers and his sister.

He and his neighbours tore at the ruins for the rest of the afternoon. At about five o’clock they found the lifeless body of Latif, his elder brother and shortly afterwards that of his sister. 

Comments: The cover isn't bad, however I do have some nit picks. The overall image seems a bit dated. Maybe it's because so many covers these days are done with photomanipulation, and this looks more like a painting. The title font looks stretched and it's hard to read. The author names are even harder to read.

I don't think I like the title. It was not obvious to me it was a date when I first looked at it. I was thinking it was one divided by one, which is one, so wasn't sure how to say the title in my head. I didn't get it at first, and you have to make that connection right away or people will go on to the next book. Maybe I'm alone in the confusion, so I would get the opinion of others on the title.

Just a small note about marketing. When someone says they "twitter constantly" that makes me very nervous. What are you tweeting? If it's book posts, you're not marketing, you're annoying people. Try conversation with others. Just retweeting others isn't good enough. You've got to interact. Have real conversations. Twitter is not a good way to sell books. It's a good way to be social. It's a social network. It's supposed to be a good way to be social. It's not a platform for selling. You'd be better off spending your time finding book review blogs to submit your book to...and writing another book.

The book description is lacking. Who is the main character? The hero? Who will I be spending my time with if I buy this novel? Sure, the threat is good to know, but I want to know the characters, not just the boiled down plot. Introduce your main character, let us know the stakes. I also don't like the 'years later' part. Is this story about the first disaster, or is the main story about stopping the New Year bomber in doing something even worse than what happened on 1/1? The entire description is talking about 1/1, but then the last sentence makes me think the book isn't about that. It's about stopping something worse. Talk about that. And the main character.

The beginning of the novel should be very emotional, but I get no emotion from the main character. The events are told almost in a matter-of-fact way. I feel very distanced from what is going on, from the character, and from the story. People are dead, and I don't care. I feel like the character doesn't care, so why should I? And I didn't have any time to get to know the character before the bomb hit. I feel like the beginning of the novel needs a lot of work, and this makes me think the entire novel might need work. I know I say this a lot, but I would suggest joining a critique group and trying to learn more about point of view, how to get a closer point of view and make the reader care about the characters.

Out of everything here, I think the cover is the least of the problems. (I would still suggest using a photo and tweaking the text.) The bigger issues are the description and the beginning of the book itself. Get these things tightened up, and I do think this book will sell.

What do you guys think?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Raw Vengeance

Author: Josh Handrich
Genre: Political Thriller
How long it's been on sale: Dec. 2011
Current price: $1.29
Marketing: Blog updated every 2-3 weeks, Facebook, Twitter, business cards, union website (over 2,000 pilots), Goodreads, was reviewed by Eric Swett at (the other three reviewers never responded to inquiries), I redid the blurb and cover.
Total sold so far: Approx. 50
Link to book on Amazon: Raw Vengeance (The Rich Fordham Series)

Product Description:

A reporter bent on making a name for himself...

A plot to kill a candidate running for President...

A teenage boy betrayed by his own mother and bullied by thugs...

Is it all worth the sacrifice?

Rookie Chicago television reporter, Rich Fordham, is determined to become a war correspondent. To do so, he must prove himself. When his coverage of a school shooting has racial and political implications, his decision to get involved could cost him his career and his life.

Set in 2001, the events of 9/11 have a profound impact on Rich.  He wants to make a name for himself and needs to be distinguishable from fierce competition. The only person that stands in his way is veteran reporter, Wayne Vale.

Chicago mayor Shantell Cogan is planning to run for President on the republican ticket. Her problem child, Tyler, is entering high school. He is confronted the first day of class because he is different--and later for being gay.
The story takes a provocative look at bullying, racism, homosexuality, and the media.

A Political Thriller.  A Novella

First 300 Words:

Sweltering, sticky, Guam-like heat and humidity—just another September heat wave in Chicago—made it impossible to get comfortable. During the bitter cold winter months of snow, ice, and wind, people tended to behave and tough it out. People helped each other. But when the heat rose, so did their tempers. During the summer of 2001, the violent crime rate had grown exponentially in the south side and showed no signs of abating. To Patrol Officer Wes Kines, that meant nothing good ever happened.

In the Chicago Police Department’s Sixty-Fourth Precinct, it wasn’t even Monday at noon, but the drab four-level building had filled with its usual offenders: A bleached-blond woman in her forties, dressed in a pink tube top and fish net stockings, put up a fuss over being charged with reckless driving and resisting arrest. A twenty-something white male sporting a Bulls jersey and an assortment of religious tattoos was led off in cuffs for beating his girlfriend unconscious. Most were repeat offenders.

A mix of detective and patrol officers tended to arrest warrants and jail bookings. Two officers were in a heated discussion about rumors circulating over the mayor’s proposed budget cuts.
Wes kept himself busy by filling out paperwork on a DUI arrest of a heavy-set sixty-year-old blonde with coffee-stained teeth and nappy hair who kept making coffee and donut jokes thinking they were clever and original. It was difficult to focus on work when his mind was preoccupied with the rumors.
After eighteen years on the force, Wes doubted the long-term sustainability of his career. His annual pay had already been slashed twenty-five percent. His 401K was almost worthless. His alimony and child support drained what little he had left after drinking. Every week he had to pull doubles and work weekends with no days off, and he was still unable to make ends meet.

Comments: The cover looks good to me, but it does not say political thriller. To me, it says it's a regular thriller. I'd look at some other political thrillers to get an idea of some symbols you can have on here that would indicate it's a political thriller. The White House, a flag, red white and blue, those kinds of things will tell the reader right away this is a political thriller. This is a must, if you are to draw in the right audience.

The description seems disjointed to me. A plot to kill a candidate running for President...yes, that says "Political Thriller" to me. A reporter that knows, and must stop it? Yes, political thriller. A teen that goes on a shooting spree in school? Wait, what? What does that have to do with the political thriller? And we've got 9/11, racism, bullying and gay bashing thrown in there too. This seems like quite the melting pots of storylines. And then we find out it's a novella. Really? Novellas are not just short novels. They have fewer characters, fewer plot lines, less intricate stories. This does not sound like a novella to me. It sounds like a mess. Sorry, but the description isn't working at all for me. And it makes me wonder if the whole novella needs to be revamped.

The beginning of the book only further confuses me, because we are now introduced to yet another character, one that isn't even in the description. I would assume the main character would be in the description, so this officer must not be a main character. Again, I'm confused as to how he fits in with the story of a political thriller, and how it all works into a novella length book.

My advice would be first to figure out if this story is a political thriller. It's looking like maybe that's not what this is. I would next find a cover that fits the story. Then I would rewrite the description, focusing on the main character and his or her struggles. If the story has major structure issues, I would go back to the drawing board and work through those before trying to sell it. Maybe join a critique group to see if the story itself needs to be reworked. As it looks to me, just with what has been presented here, it looks like the story itself needs a lot of work. But I would definitely get the opinion of a critique group that knows story structure and how to fix issues like this.

What do you guys think?