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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello.

For reference, here's a link to my title:
Storm World: Speaker Of The Gods

I've only been at this just over a month (a trilogy entitled Storm World) and am learning a great deal on these Kindle Boards about how much work, commitment, marketing, and time it takes to build a title. Like many, I was hoping to learn how to build some traction (if it is going to happen at all) before / during the holiday season.

Given my ranking, it looks like my first month sales are in the low single digits and I know I still have a lot to learn.

I'm just wondering if I can have advice on a few issues before a few paid promotions hit in the fall.

A. The cover. I did have it professionally made. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I think it's good. All other days I'm not so sure, especially looking at the other covers on this site. Should I get it redone? Would that make a difference? If so, who does quality work cheap?

B. The description with excerpt. Is it scaring readers away? I thought it'd help, but so far it's not.

C. The book itself. I do think the opening chapters offer a slow build-I admit as much-but as descriptive as some of the writing is, I like to still think the first three chapters build a mystery. Now I'm wondering.

D. Marketing. Facebook and Goodreads haven't yielded results. I admit I need to start a blog or get a site, but I did take out an ad on thefrugalereader.com. It's a great site that I don't fault in the least, but so far no sales. I think the banner needs to look better, but I can't find a good service and can't seem to do better myself.

E. Blog tours look expensive, but only a few blogs I've contacted directly have offered to review my work. I'm looking into a librarything giveaway at present.

Sorry to take up your time with this request, but any (polite) advice would be appreciated, whether it's taken or not. I honestly love my book and if it never sells well, I just hope it can find at least somewhat of an audience. Still, not even that is happening thus far at $0.99. Thanks.
 

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Your book cover looks fine and I like the title. If I were you I would take a look at your pitch for the book blurb. There is no point having an extract as the customers can sample the book. Maybe take a look at other pitches in your genre of books in the top 100 for ideas.

I changed my pitch recently and it improved sales.
 

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Honesty here...The sample does not entice me to buy the book. How many characters are in the scene in the sample? I presume two, John and Samuel, so why does John keep using Samuel's name? If you're having a conversation with a friend, one-on-one, are you constantly using his/her name? No. So it shouldn't be in your characters dialogue.

Also, the narrator's voice does little to engage me. It's too much telling. So in my opinion, the sample provided is a hinderance. And for the cover, the only thing I don't like about it is the font. Can that be enhanced without further cost?

And to offer an idea, load the work into Createspace and have a couple of copies printed out to give to reviewers. Reviews help.

Keith
 

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StormWorldSeriesGuy said:
Thanks. From early postings I gather I need to work on:

a. the pitch
b. if I include a sample, make it a better one.

I'll see what I can come up with.
Every Kindle book includes a "click to sample" feature. You have no choice in the matter; it is typically the first 40-50 pages of your book. 99 cents is no longer a big advantage in marketing, as too many books debut at that price. Readers have become more discerning (many have been burned by 99 cent books), and instead of impulsively snapping up the 99 cent offering they are more likely to sample a new author first.

Your sample must be great writing. It must hook the reader.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks, and I do understand the value of the chapters available for sampling.  I guess my sample with the description was a response to an Absolute Write post in which someone indicated it helped out with sales.  I guess I was hoping if I could find a passage from the book to put up, it might draw in a few readers who might not otherwise sample.  Bad idea overall?  Needless?  Or just a bad idea with the given passage?
 
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apocalyptic coming-of-age epic
So which is it? Is it apocalyptic fiction, coming-of-age fiction, or epic fiction? Those are THREE different genres with very different goals.

Apocalyptic (or Post-Apocalytic) fiction is a subgenre of sci-fi that focuses on the end of the world from man-made, natural, or extraterrestrial disasters. Such stories revolve around how humanity survives and adapts to the new environment. Such fiction tends to focus on how normal people attempt to survive and how humans interact with each other in crisis. Such stories are often raw and show the ugly underbelly of humanity, with concepts of good and evil blurred.

A Coming of age story is usually a character-driven narrative about the change between childhood and adulthood. These stories are notable in that they focus on issues that are unique to those who are first entering adulthood. A coming of age story is uniquely personal to the main character of the story. Such stories focus on the protagonist attempting to find him place in the greater society.

An Epic is a story that focuses on heroic deeds. Such stories feature larger-than-life characters. An epic glorifies the heroic ideal and focuses on sweeping, widespread depictions. Concepts of good and evil tend to be clearly defined, with even "anti-heroes" having a noble side or strict code of honor.

You cannot be all three simultaneously. When you use those three words together, you send conflicting messages to potential readers. Elements of each might be present in the book, but the overall theme can only do ONE. Which is the primary focus of the story? THAT is the genre.

I also need to build on what Keith said. The sample indicates weak writing. The dialogue is stilted and the writing passive. And you have a tendency to write in run-on sentences. As I often say, periods are your friend. Use them often. Even in your blurb you overuse commas to string sentences together.

There are a lot of folks in this forum who offer inexpensive editing services. I would encourage you to seek one of them out to clean up the writing before selling it. A good editor would help you break up those sentences and resolve the dialogue issues, as well as point out the "telling" areas that need to be made active.
 

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Don't measure your success by your first book. Keep writing and reading and work on your craft. Find some books that you admire and figure out what techniques they're using to draw your interest and hold it. Set a goal to produce 1,000 words a day, every day. Put up the best, cleanest copy you can and then move on to the next book.

The key is to maintain forward momentum and not worry over much about the books you've already produced. If the time comes when you're embarrassed by your earliest work, you can always take it down or rewrite it extensively.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for your comments, Julie, particularly about genre.  Indeed, all three are present, but if I had to choose one, it'd be apocalyptic.  I hesitate at just that word, if only because the book has a more Christian or uplifting message in the apocalyptic chaos.  I'll work on it, though.

I'm open to changing up the passage and not adverse to editing services, but with all due respect:

a. I value your point, but I have to be picky on one thing.  The passage does not contain many (if any) run-on sentences.  Grammatically, a run-on sentence (a fused sentence or a comma splice, for instance) would need improper punctuation.  Two independent clauses, for instance, would have to be joined with just a comma.  Just saying.  If you feel the sentences are long and need shortening, that's fine.  They're just not run-on sentences.

b. I really wish people would read further before making any comment about editing services, mainly because this work has been edited by my former agent.  If the passage is too weak, fine, but to generalize that to a book one hasn't read and say one might benefit from editorial services?  If it was based on an actual read, I'd understand it.  If not, I'd ask that comments be confined to what's actually been read rather than throwing a generalization like that out there.  I just don't think enough has been read to make these comments, though I truly do appreciate your time and candor.
 

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Michael W's got some good advice to you, and also, you might want to invest in a Virtual Tour...Pump Up Your Books is the firm I use....They're pretty reasonable...But there are others just as reasonable as well...
Cheers
V

PS. In general, sales are slow across the board right now...It will pick up.;)
 

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StormWorldSeriesGuy said:
b. I really wish people would read further before making any comment about editing services, mainly because this work has been edited by my former agent. If the passage is too weak, fine, but to generalize that to a book one hasn't read and say one might benefit from editorial services? If it was based on an actual read, I'd understand it. If not, I'd ask that comments be confined to what's actually been read rather than throwing a generalization like that out there. I just don't think enough has been read to make these comments, though I truly do appreciate your time and candor.
With all due respect, a sample is really all one needs, and in many cases, unless it immediately starts out strong, it's all you're going to get (because most people won't continue to read further). So if one finds that the writing is weak in the sample, then you're not going to make that sale. A good editor actually can help with that, tightening, making suggestions, etc.

And your comment that not enough has been read to be able to make such a comment doesn't really hold up. Agents and editors (and incidentally, Julie is a publisher, so she knows what she's talking about) make decisions on whether to read more just off of the basis of 3 pages or less all the time.Same with readers. If your opening is not as strong as it possibly can be, then you're doing yourself a disservice.

Please note that I haven't read your sample, so I can't talk about whether your writing is weak. I'm just replying to your comments.

And agents aren't always the best editors. They're better than no editor, of course, but not all of them have editorial backgrounds. Many are simply super salespeople who love books. So they know what they like (and your former agent obviously liked your book to represent it) and they know what editors like, but they don't always know the mechanics of how to strengthen writing.
 

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Your cover looks fine but a concern you might have is...we should be able to tell the audience immediately when we look at the cover. You can tell who my audience is by my covers, right? I don't know who your audience is. Your cover is a lightning bolt. So...who is it targeting? Look at your "Also bought" list. It's fantasy and YA. Is that your target audience? If not, you're not hitting the right people.

A few quick notes about your blurb:

Storm World (Book 1: Speaker of the Gods) (This title makes me think it's a fantasy.) is an apocalyptic epic thriller (except maybe not...)
about an ancient Christian order, The Resurrection Men, knights of the end times who've plotted for millennia to survive The Maelstrom, (at this point you're veering into a run-on sentence) a supernatural storm two thousand years in the making that will ultimately transform Earth into Stormworld.
As the novel begins,
As a reader, I would stop right here, because this phrase screams "Not professional". Go to B&N and read the back of a hundred books. You will never see this phrase.

unsuspecting teen Samuel Johnson holds watch over a mysterious coastal mansion called The House On The Sea, which includes chambers that resemble an ancient ark. When his visionary cousin, John David, arrives for a funeral with mysterious followers, then stays, rebuilding this ark, (Again you have veered into a run on sentence) Samuel fights to solve the mystery of his cousin and rid himself of this apocalyptic gang, only to see the earth dying all around him. Samuel also learns of their ancient prophecy of The Stormbearer, the one who will walk with The Maelstrom and decide who lives and who dies in the final hours. To fulfill the prophecy, Samuel must make a grave choice, one that may shape human history or lead to its destruction.
I hate to say it, but the text your agent edited looks clean. It's your blurb that is full of errors. Sorry. As indies, we are judged quickly and decisively by what we are presenting. You might be turning a lot of people away as soon as they see the errors in your blurbage.

Hope that helps!
 

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StormWorldSeriesGuy said:
E. Blog tours look expensive, but only a few blogs I've contacted directly have offered to review my work. I'm looking into a librarything giveaway at present.
Who says you must do an official blog tour through a marketing firm? I have had great luck simply emailing book bloggers and asking if they'd be interested in a guest post or interview. Sure, not all will respond, but many do. And they often love getting to take the day off from creating their own content.

And many will be interested in a guest post even if they're not interested in reviewing your book. I had plenty of bloggers say they'd be happy for me to do a guest post even though they declined to review (time constraints, subject matter not to their particular liking although it might appeal to their readers, etc).
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks, everyone!

I'm sorry for posting so much and asking selfishly of everyone's time. That being said, I tried to learn from your comments and rework the product description after previewing better selling works. I'll try to work my way to the larger issues. In the meantime, does this description work better or is it worse?

Storm World (Book 1: Speaker of the Gods) is an epic thriller that will appeal to readers of David Seltzer's The Omen and Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea series.

Strange storms and an unexplained death consume the small coastal town of Burgundy Hill. In response, a mysterious cult, The Resurrection Men, infiltrates the town. They tell Samuel Johnson that these are signs of the end times and that to survive, he must learn the ways of their order. Samuel resists, only to see the earth dying around him. Time runs out as Samuel fights to solve the mystery of this cult before they transform Earth into Storm World.
 

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Hi,  I'm one of the people who bought your book recently and it is awaiting me on my PC kindle.  I thought the premise looked really interesting and I'm looking very forward to reading it.  :) 
 

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This is how I would write it, feel free to use any and all or just ignore me :)

In the peaceful coastal town of Burgundy Hill, friendships, morals, and faith will be tested. In response to the increase in storm activity and an unexplained death, a group known only as The Resurrection Men, infiltrates the town. They bare warning to Samuel Johnson that these are signs of the end of days and in order to survive, he must learn the ways of their order. The young man resists only to see the earth dying around him, but is it too late? Can he solve the mystery of this cult before they transform Earth into Storm World?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks again, everybody!

Jeanne: I've met my one reader!  I'm honored!  Thanks!

Leonard: Thank you too! 

Keith: In my opinion, your blurb reads better.  Mine still reminded me too much of my query letter.
I'd love to use it!  Thanks!
 

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No problem. I seem to have the end of a novel blues. I often get in a slump when working on the end of a project. It just depresses me, this actually inspired me, so thank you.
 
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