Tag Archives: book reviews

Messy, Yet Necessary – A Review of Sandra Hutchison’s THE RIBS AND THIGHBONES OF DESIRE

Click this photo if you want a copy - it is ONLY available through Amazon Kindle.

Click this photo if you want a copy – it is ONLY available through Amazon Kindle.

Do you remember when you were growing up and you lived in constant blithering terror that your Mom or your Dad – or worse yet both of them tag-teaming up together – were going to catch hold of your ear and have that long old talk with you.

You know the talk that I am talking about.

THE talk.

Face it.

You would rather stuff your ears full of flaming worm boogers than to hear your Mom and Dad talk to you about all of that stuff that you had already figured out – but what you did not figure out is that sort of a talk is both uncomfortable, somewhat painful – but absolutely necessary.

That is the kind of book that Sandra Hutchison has created in THE RIBS AND THIGH BONES OF DESIRE.

It is uncomfortable, painful – yet absolutely necessary.

The novel deals with the uncomfortable subject matter of an odd yet undeniable attraction that slowly grows between a thirty-odd physics professor who has recently lost his family in a plane wreck and the teenage girl who used to babysit his young daughter.

KAHOOGA! KAHOOGA! KAHOOGA!

Can’t you hear those alarm bells going off? Oh my god, some soft-headed folks are shouting out – this is a novel of pornographic pedophilia.

Holy shades of Nabakov, Batman.

THE RIBS AND THIGH BONES OF DESIRE is a slow yet painstakingly crafted study of lust, love and the part that the human desire plays in personal healing. Sandra Hutchinson’s prose reminds us that life is never simple or neat. Life is sticky and messy like elephant boogers flung upon a wall of flypaper and fish glue.

If you are looking for a John-loves-Marsha romance you had better call up Harlequin.

If you are looking for a thoughtful organic dissection of the mechanics of human want than you really had better stop farting around with this review of mine and just get over yourself and go ahead and pick up a copy of Sandra Hutchison’s THE RIBS AND THIGHBONES OF DESIRE.

Go ahead.

You know you want to.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Deep Discount Promotion – Part 2

All right – so in my last blog entry I told you folks all about my plans for promoting my novel GYPSY BLOOD from May 24 to May 31.

GYPSY_BLOOD (1)

For starters, I made certain that I had lowered the price from the e-book’ regular $3.99 value down to the promotional 99 cent price tag. I lowered the price a week ago – because certain venues take longer to process price changes. You should ALWAYS make sure that you have that price change all taken care off in advance because there is nothing that says “I-have-no-respect-for-my-readers” like advertising a lower price and then not seeing that it happens that way.

Here are the promotional websites that I have listed GYPSY BLOOD’s price drop upon.

Here is what I have got lined up so far.
bknights – ($15) – May 24
Read Cheaply – (free) – May 24
Booktastik – ($5) – May 25
Book Deals Daily – (free) – May 25
Robin Reads – ($10) – May 26
Sweet Free Books – ($5) – May 27
ContentMo – ($1.99) – May 28

In addition to this promotion I have also hunted up various promotional websites and have listed several of my other 99 cent releases throughout the next few days. I have primarily focused on those websites that offer FREE promotion – just because I am still working on a fairly tight budget.

Some of these websites would include eBookStage and ReadFree.ly.

The idea is to have my e-books popping up more often on promotional websites. At this point in the game promotion is becoming a little bit more important to my strategy. I have got about 40 to 50 e-books out there – so now I just have to get a few more folks to notice them and hopefully buy them.

***

So, what can you do to help make your own promotions run a little smoother.

For starters, you really ought to make certain that before you get to promoting your e-books that you have managed to secure a necessary amount of reviews – on Amazon, on Goodreads, and the like.

One thing that holds me a little bit is a lack of reviews. For example – there are quite a few promotional websites that ask for five or more reviews – and GYPSY BLOOD, right now, only has FOUR reviews. I am hoping that fifth review will eventually show up. I need to sit down one of these days and contact some of the reviewers who have enjoyed and reviewed my previous work and offer them a review copy.

Sometimes, though, even having five or ten favorable reviews doesn’t necessarily help you. I have tried a couple of times to get promotion through a couple of UK promotional websites – but quite a few of them only count the reviews that are ACTUALLY listed upon Amazon.co.uk – and NOT the reviews that are listed on the US-based Amazon.com.

So, I also need to try and pick up a few more UK-based reviewers and make sure that they leave reviews on the UK-based Amazon.co.uk.

This game gets trickier all of the time. There is always a hoop that must be jumped through.

Still – after the end of my first day of dedicated promotion I managed to sell THIRTEEN e-books through Amazon.com yesterday. I realize that a lot of you indie authors are enjoying sales figures of 10 or 20 e-books a day – but I am not regularly hitting that number yet – and I know that an awful lot of you indie author types out there who are reading this likewise share my lack of steady sales. So this blog is DEFINITELY aimed at you indie-author-types out there who are paddling along in the shallow end of the sales pool.

When you keep in mind that I only moved one or two copies a day throughout the month of May UNTIL I hit May 24th, I am certain that you will agree that it is a significant increase in daily sales. Moreover, that lucky thirteen isn’t ONLY copies of GYPSY BLOOD. I also moved copies of my bestselling TATTERDEMON omnibus as well as copies of my short story collections TALES FROM THE TANGLED WOOD, SEA TALES, BIGFOOT TRACKS, OCTOBER TALES and my big old doorstop collection DO-OVERS AND DETOURS – EIGHTEEN EERIE TALES.

I might also mention that two of those books that sold yesterday went for their full price.

So, although the sales figures for GYPSY BLOOD still remain fairly punky – (3 copies yesterday and 1 copy so far today) – I am fairly happy with the results of my promotional efforts so far. Thirteen e-books moved yesterday as compared to one or two copies a day throughout the first 23 days of May marks a significant improvement.

I intend to continue promoting at least one e-book every month on five or six different promotional websites – as well as scattering a handful of promotional advertisements for some of my other e-books. Over the last three months now I have been experimenting with promoting my e-books and I have noticed a significant improvement in the monthly sales figures.

So – based on my research – I believe that actively promoting your e-books is a great strategy for improving your indie author sales figures.

Hope this helps some of you folks.

And I shamelessly hope that some of you might feel like picking up a copy of GYPSY BLOOD.  The novel usually sells for $3.99 in e-book format but I have marked the price down to 99 cents. It is available through Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Apple,Smashwords, Googleplay and probably a couple of others that are escaping my memory.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Promoting Your e-books on a deep discount budget! – Part 1

A few weeks ago I sprang for a brand new cover for my gypsy/vampire/mariachi novel GYPSY BLOOD. I have been wanting to give this particular novel a really good honest kick in the butt for sometime now and I decided that May would be the month.

GYPSY_BLOOD (1)

If you want to know the story behind my selecting this cover just click and it will take you to my blog entry detailing the evolution – (or is that evil-lution?) – of this cover.

The novel usually sells for $3.99 in e-book format but I have marked the price down to 99 cents. It is available through Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Apple, Smashwords, Googleplay and probably a couple of others that are escaping my memory.

The only problem is I don’t have a whole lot of money to throw around on the promotion – so, I have had to rely upon some of the smaller promotional websites.

Here is what I have got lined up so far.
bknights – ($15) – May 24
Read Cheaply – (free) – May 24
Booktastik – ($5) – May 25
Book Deals Daily – (free) – May 25
Robin Reads – ($10) – May 26
Sweet Free Books – ($5) – May 27
ContentMo – ($1.99) – May 28

Bookbub and ENT turned me down.

I have also submitted to eBookLister, Books on the Knob, readfree.ly, Book Praiser and Kindle Book Promos – although I have not heard back from any of them so far.

Technically, the promotion starts on May 24 – so I will keep you folks posted on how the sales numbers rank up.

I expect I will also shoot out a few tweets and hit a few likely Facebook pages – although in the past these particular efforts have proven VERY fruitless. Most of those Facebook promotional pages seem to be mostly authors shouting at each other.
🙂

If anybody has any ideas about any bets that I might have missed please let me know.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Glenn Hates Books – Raw, Raunchy, Redneck Reviewing At Its Finest…

Does anyone out there remember Joe Bob Briggs? That Texan movie reviewer who used to hang out in front of drive-in movies and give ratings based on breast count and pints of spilled blood?

How about Jeff Foxworthy – or better yet, Ron White, the REAL funnyman of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour?

CMT Presents "Ron White's Comedy Salute To The Troops" A Special Honoring The Armed Forces Premiering Saturday, March 12
Well, that is the sort of style of review we are looking at here. Glenn Conley writes raunchy redneck book reviews that are NOT for the easily offended. I am talking about blue language, scatological humor and the kind of critical discussion that reminds you of what your basset hound’s butthole might tell you if it ever learned how to read and talk.

Well let me tell you, sewer giggles and outhouse graffiti is just fine by this old boy. I enjoyed the #$@ out of GLENN HATES BOOKS. I read the darn e-book straight through in one sitting and I was grinning by page two.

Best news yet, is the dude digs horror.

I am talking Edward Lee and Jack Ketchum the-chainsaws-are-among-us kind of horror.

About a third of the books he reviewed I had already read and I agreed on quite a bit that he was saying. You see, once you squint past the profanity you are going to realize that Glenn actually knows what he is talking about. The dude has an eye for good writing and his opinions are worth listening to.

I keep a stack of paperbacks on the top shelf of my toilet aimed at short chewy reading material. Let me tell you what. If I had this book in paperback I would set it right on the very top of that paperback stack.

Glenn Hates Books

All right – so I am NOT all that fussy about the cover – but I did have fun reading the book.

I can’t wait for Volume 2!

yours in storytelling,
Steve Vernon

My Bigfoot Collection

I promised you folks that I would have more news regarding a second CREEP SQUAD release – and here it is!

I have just launched a sample pack of Creep Squad stories entitle BIGFOOT TRACKS.

Click here to order your copy today - just 99 cents!

Click here to order your Kindle copy today – just 99 cents!

There are three stories in this small collection.

The first story – originally published in Mark Leslie’s Tesseracts 16 – is entitled “Three Thousand Miles of Cold Iron Tears” and involves a battle between the Bigfoot and a Yaksha – a demon that eats tears – and takes place at the driving of the Last Spike of the cross-Canada railway.

The second story – “Ring Rock Riot” – is a meeting of Bigfoot and a Sea Hag and was originally published by Jersey Devil Press.

The third story – “A Couple of Bottles of Watered Down Wine” – is an intervention between a long-forgotten Canadian masked hero who has joined the Creep Squad and a certain lightning-activated monster, sewn together from pieces of long dead men.

The book is available right now on Kindle for a measly 99 cents.

I’ll be looking for some reviews over the next week or so if anyone is interested in receiving a review copy.

Here’s a short excerpt from the first story in the collection.


 

THREE THOUSAND MILES OF COLD IRON TEARS

Nothing reeks worse than a sopping wet Sasquatch.

It was mid-November and the sky looked dark enough to hold a grudge against the dirt for a very long time. It had rained down sleet all morning long and I was sogged straight through to the bone. The wind was blowing in hard from the Rockies and I was not happy at all to be standing here in the Eagle Pass, staring at a large shed-encased mural by the side of the Canadian Pacific Railway at a point in the landscape that men called Craigellachie.
I don’t really know who painted the mural but there was a good strength showing in his brushstroke. He had made a sound choice in his colors, as well. The hopeful blue skyline blended nicely with the heavy umber figures. The shed that covered the mural was about nine feet high and it was almost tall enough for me to stand beneath.

Almost.

There was a story in the mural and stories were something that I understood. You see, that is what I am. I was a living story – something that people told around lonely smoking campfires. I was a Sasquatch – a nine foot tall shag carpet with a serious-bad attitude. I was a legend and a rural myth and a totally unsubstantiated rumor. Like I said, just a story – only stories, if told well and often enough, in time grow a life of their own.

I can’t really explain to you how it happens. It’s not as if I came into this world with a user’s guide. All that I can tell you is that the Sasquatch have been told into life since back in the days of the Mesopotomania storytellers who spoke in hushed whispers of the exploits of Enkidu and Gilgamesh – and so long as your people continued to tell stories about random hirsute giants growing up in the wilderness and sometimes being raised by wolves or African great apes, then we will continue to live on in the borderlands that haze and drift warily between the carefully demarcated lines that claim to separate the cold steel facts of reality from the warm pure smoke of your collective imagination.

“So were you there?” I asked.

“I was there,” the ghost of Sam Steele replied.

“I don’t see you in the picture,” I said.

“I was there,” Sam repeated. “Take my word for it.”

“Maybe you weren’t so ugly back then,” I offered. “Maybe I just don’t recognize you.”

“I was there,” Sam Steele’s ghost echoed for the third time. “I just wasn’t in the picture, is all.”

Sam was a story, too. The real Sam Steele had died back in 1919 – after fighting with the Fenians, chasing Louis Riel during the Red River Rebellion, meeting in a sit-down wiki-up with the great Sitting Bull himself, single-handedly taming the Klondike and fighting a half a thousand Boers over in Boerland. Not all of that is true, you understand but the gist of it is. Sam’s actual exploits had grown to near mythic status. He had achieved a kind of sordid low-rent immortality thanks to a multitude of novels and newspaper articles and a movie or two and campfire tales and once even a CBC minute vignette commercial.

Hell, they had even named a mountain after him.


 

That is all I have got for you today.

If that intrigued you why don’t you pick up a copy and give it a read.

At the very least leave a comment and let me know how you liked the excerpt.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

How do Reviews Sell Books???

Okay – so I said I was not going to post a new blog entry tonight – but here it is anyway.I was just over at Kindleboards and somebody asked the following question.

I’m just curious. I just published my first e-book last Saturday and I really have no idea how the whole review thing works. I keep seeing on various sites how I should be encouraging people who have bought the book to write reviews.

How do reviews affect sales?

Thanks!

(PS: I removed the smiley – because this is a VERY serious blog – with no puns or wisecracks or smiley icons – and only the occasional fart-joke)

AND – because I was posting on Kindleboards I referred primarily to Amazon – but this holds true for e-books on Kobo, Nook and any other kind of e-book distributor – OR FOR THAT MATTER – for traditionally published books, as well.

So – how do reviews affect sales?

Reviews help in an AWFUL lot of ways.

I can think of FOUR good reasons – right off of the top of my brain pan.

Here goes –

1 – A good review is a natural encouragement. Say somebody stumbles onto your book over at Amazon and is thinking about buying it. Having a few SOLID reviews on there help encourage that “stumbling reader” to actually reach for that “BUY NOW” button.

2 – I am also told that a certain number of good reviews can help with your author ranking – depending on the vagaries of the Amazon buzz-machine.

3 – Certain promotional websites – such as Pixels of Ink – DEMAND a certain amount of reviews before they will consider publicizing your e-book on their website.

4 – A good review on an independent blog/website/magazine is – basically – an unpaid for advertisement. I’ve bought quite a few books in the past just because I read a good review in my favorite magazine. Every good review published anywhere else other than Amazon represents another chance for your book to be discovered by a hungry reader.

Word-of-mouth is one of the single greatest factors towards creating more sales.

The best way to think about it is that every single review is basically one more person – other than yourself – standing up in the middle of the internet telling the world to go buy your book!

If you want to read the WHOLE thread over at Kindleboards just click right here!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Getting the most out of your Amazon Reviews…

Let’s face it.

If you’re interested in selling your e-books Amazon is pretty well the place you want to be.

In a word – Kindle. They are still the top of the food chain when it comes to moving e-books.

But they are awfully fussy about reusing their reviews.

Basically – once you post a review at Amazon in their review section it belongs to them – which means that if you want a potential reader to buy one of your e-books – and you believe that a certain review on Amazon is just what is required to make that sale happen – then you have to figure out a way to get that potential reader over to Amazon and aim their eyes at a specific review. Which is relatively easy if you only have one or two reviews on that book in the first place – but if you’ve got more than a dozen reviews you don’t REALLY want to take the chance that the first review that potential reader looks at is the one bad one that says that your feet smell funny – and so does your book.

So – how do you get your reader to a specific Amazon review?

It is easy. So easy that I suspect that a lot of folks already know – so I am posting this entry for those folks who just haven’t figured it out yet.

Click over to the book in question.

Scroll down the review page until you reach the review you want to link to.

THEN – click the title of the review. That will take you to a separate page where the review is proudly displayed.

Look down at the bottom of the review and you will see a little tag that reads “Permalink”.

Click “permalink” and then copy the link that it takes you to off of your browser bar.

For example:

http://tinyurl.com/9j6yx6g

That should take you to the latest review of SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME. It’s one of my favorite reviews and – as soon as you read the part about Tim Hortons – you will understand why!

The man read the book in Tim Hortons.

I absolutely love it.

 

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

Should Writers Pay For Their Reviews?

All right.

So I lied in my last post. I do have something to blog about. And, as per usual, it resulted from an encounter with somebody else’s blog site.

Today I am replying to an article over at Joel Friedlander’s THE BOOK DESIGNER on whether or not writers should pay for their book reviews.

Here’s my reply.

 

$$$$$

 

I was a professional book reviewer for about two years – selling my reviews to several magazines and websites. I was paid from ten to twenty dollars per review – BY THE PUBLISHER.

I did it for pocket money.

I did it for the access to free books.

The author NEVER had to pay anybody beyond being willing to supply an arc – which was often supplied by their own publisher.

That’s the way it needs to be done. That’s the way it works.

I give up the business – partly because I was getting asked to read more and more books that I just plain didn’t want to read in the first place.

Life was too damn short to read bad books for money.

As far as writers buying reviews – it strikes me as a bad practice. Number one – it destroys any form of credibility. If the practice spreads – which it probably might – the average book review is going to be about as believable as a YOU-CAN-EARN-BIG-MONEY-JUST-BY-SITTING-AT-HOME-ON-YOUR-BUTT classified ad.

Besides all that – most of those paid-for five-star reviews are duller than nine day old toe jam. I mean, have you read some of them?

“I liked this book. It holds up my coffee table real well.” – FIVE STARS

“I loved this book. In fact, I traded my wife for it. Wish I hadn’t gone and lost that book in divorce court.” – FIVE STARS

“Boox r kul. Du U reed boox? I redd this buk and it wuz kul.” – FIVE STARS

So – should writers buy reviews?

They’d be further off investing their loose change in the nickle slots at their local bowling alley.

 

$$$$$

 

Let’s face it friends and neighbors. As a writer I am trying to make money by entertaining folks – not make some fly-by-night shady back alley book reviewer a little richer.

If you’d like to read the whole article check it out here.

http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2012/08/should-authors-pay-for-book-reviews/

 

And, let me tell you – if you want to learn something about writing and/or self-publishing your work you really need to be following that site.

 

Lastly I should mention that I point readers to websites like this all of the time over at Twitter. So if you’re looking to find out more about this art you really ought to follow me at Twitter

@StephenVernon

 

 

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon