Tag Archives: reviews

Some good news – a brand new review

Well, I have had a bit of trouble in gathering reviews for my new Uncle Bob series – although I am hoping that the books I moved during that Countdown promotion last week will result in a few more.

I was VERY happy to read this review. You ought to read it too!

I’ll tell you folks all about the difficulties I have had with gathering Uncle Bob reviews in a day or so – but for now let me tell you it’s been interesting.

If you want to read a bit more about gathering reviews check this blog entry of mine out.

Wile E. Coyote Genius

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

Writers – LEARN from your reviews!

All right – so most of you folks who have been following my blog will undoubtedly know that I have recently written and released an e-book entitled Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp – From Eden to the Ark.

I have ONLY mentioned about twelve or fifteen or a hundred times or so in the last couple of weeks. 🙂

Buy My Book on Kobo!

Buy My Book on Kobo!

And some of you folks might ALSO know that I am hard at work on the next book in the series Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp – From Babel to the Bullrushes.

The sequel will be due out by the end of the month. It is about three times the length of the first volume – more along the lines of a full-sized novel and involves some of the liveliest writing of my entire career.

Preorder my second book on Kobo NOW and save half-price!

Preorder my second book on Kobo NOW and save half-price!

(Oh pity the fat greasy spam that has died and gone on to spam-heaven to make this spam-laden post possible.)

Some of you may have even picked up a copy of the first book for your Kindle e-reader – or possibly you might have taken advantage of the Kindle Matchbook program and ordered a paperback copy of Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp – From Eden to the Ark and received a free Kindle e-book along with the paperback!

Buy my book on Kindle and giggle at us poor unfortunate  Canadian Kobo-slobs.

Buy my book on Kindle and giggle at us poor unfortunate Canadian Kobo-slobs.

Or you can buy book 2 on Kindle.

Some of you folks may have wondered just WHY I am writing about the Bible when I usually am more comfortable writing about ghosts and voodoo and monsters and giant screaming gorillas.

Oh wait, I haven’t written that last book yet.

Well – as I always say – I am a storyteller.

And the Bible is chock-a-block full of fat juicy stories that are just dying to be told.

So I decided to write some Bible stories. In fact I decided to write the ENTIRE Old Testament in my own voice – or rather the voice of my protagonist, Uncle Bob.

Naturally, I have taken a few liberties in the name of storytelling – but I figured that you folks would understand what I am up to.

That’s right – I made an assumption.

I actually ASSUMED that my readers could read my mind.

Writers have to watch out for that sort of problem constantly.

You get all caught up in the act of creation and you start thinking to yourself that just because you can see it in your mind – just because you KNOW what you are doing – that your reader will likewise follow along.

That is so much bull-puck.

The fact is – IF IT ISN’T ON THE PAGE IT JUST DOESN’T EXIST!

Sure, MAYBE your reader will read between the lines.

MAYBE they will understand the brilliant subtlety of your manuscript.

Odds are they won’t.

I found this out the hard way.

I sent review copies to TWO different Christian reviewers who BOTH got stuck on the line in the first chapter that went like this –

“Come the fourth day God decided that he needed a little bit more light and he threw the sun up into the sky and he wired it in good and proper and made sure it was up to the official celestial world-building code of construction and then he decided that he might like something little calmer – like maybe say a night light – so he wired in the moon and then he poked a few holes in the night sky and he decided to call those poke-holes stars and then he strung up a few constellations to give folks something to dream on and then he had himself a cigarette because even God needs to take a break now and then.”

Turns out that BOTH of those reviewers pulled to a screeching halt just as soon as they came to that image of God having a cigarette.

It upset the both of them.

Now I know that some of you folks are giggling at this – and some of you folks might think that I ought to giggle too.

Let me tell you how my whole thought process on this matter evolved.

First off I was a little angry and a little frustrated and even a little hurt. It bothered me that they couldn’t tell that I was writing in the voice of someone (Uncle Bob) who was TELLING the tale of creation in his voice.

So I stopped and took and breath and e-mailed a reply to the first reviewer. I explained my position and she saw what I was saying and understood my creative aim. I wrote the second reviewer as well with the same sort of explanation and she seemed to likewise get it.

That made me feel a little better but I was still feeling a little owly about having to get off of my high horse and EXPLAIN what I had written.

“How could they be so stupid?” was the first thing I thought.

Then my inner editor – who had been sitting inside my imagination listening to me work myself into a funk over this did something wonderful and compassionate and totally brilliant.

He climbed down out of my imagination, stepped behind me, and kicked me square in the keester – which is Latin for butt.

(Incidentally, my inner editor wears work boots – big smelly steel-toed work boots – and he smokes a cigarette that smells as if it were made out of old horse manure, pages torn from the lost volumes of the Library of Alexandria, and a crumple of rusted barbed wire.)

“Look, you,” my inner editor said. “The reason they couldn’t understand what you were getting at is because you DID NOT put it on the freaking page!”

I pointed out that I was writing on a computer and most of the copies of the book would likely be digital – so that any page involved was strictly theoretical – so he walked around and kicked me in the butt again.

His boot toe hadn’t got any softer through use.

“I deserved that,” I told my inner editor.

“I know you did,” my inner editor – whose name is Ralph – replied. “So what are you going to do about it.”

“I guess I might think about rewriting it just a little.”

“You are freaking right that you are going to rewrite,” Ralph said. “You are going to REVISE – which means you need to look at that manuscript through the eyes of a reader – not Carnac the Magnificent!”

Carnac

So that is EXACTLY what I have done.

Now I don’t ALWAYS listen to reviews that closely – until I start hearing the same comment over and over and over again.

So I revised the first two chapters of Uncle Bob’s Red Flannel Bible Camp – From Eden to the Ark.

If you want to read the revised version I have already gone ahead and posted it on my blog here.

Just click this link and it will take you there. For those folks who are wondering all that has been added is the italicized paragraphs – about three pages worth.

Let me sum this whole blog entry up for you.

WRITERS – listen to your beta-readers and your initial reviews – ESPECIALLY when they all seem to be agreeing on one particular point.

Your words AREN’T golden snowflakes.

They CAN be changed.

Both God AND Ralph encourage the occasional U-turn.

***

Lastly, I want to send out a note of thanks to two wonderful reviewers who wrote wonderful reviews for my new book.

First off – thanks to Veronica Dorval who told me that my book brought tears to her eyes.

And secondly – thanks to S.D. Hintz who pointed out that this book is a great fit for adults and teenagers alike.

Readers have no idea how greatly appreciated a well-written review can be for a writer. They can help sell the next book or more important they TRULY put a grin on a writer’s face. Writing is an awfully solitary sort of profession and the personal feedback that a short review offers is not to be down-played one little bit!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

New Reviews…Times Twos!

I’m very pleased to see a brand new DEVIL TREE review over at the Dark River Press webpage. DEVIL TREE is my first full length novel – a horror/historical that will haunt and horrify you. Besides that, I am likewise pleased to announce that DEVIL TREE is five orders away from breaking a new monthly sales record for my e-books – and that’s on the shortest month of the year!!!

Here’s a link to the review.

DEVIL TREE review

You can order Devil Tree at Amazon.com

Or at Amazon.uk

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And there is also a brand new review at the Amazon listing for BAD VALENTINES.

This definitely made my evening!

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Let’s review the art of getting a review…

Okay, so I’ve got a new book out – BAD VALENTINES.

http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Valentines-ebook/dp/B0075XA4HO/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1328564960&sr=1-2

And I’ve got another book out – DEVIL TREE.

http://www.amazon.com/Devil-Tree-ebook/dp/B004OA6M3G/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328565093&sr=1-1

And I’ve got a whole mittful of other e-books but I’m not going to belabor the point. The problem is – nobody has heard of them. Nobody, aside from my cat, even knows they exist.

Let alone if they’re good or not.

So how do we writers get the word out?

Well, one way is to solicit reviews.

I love that word, solicit. It brings this writing gig right down to where it truly ought to be. In the gutter. I am soliciting clients. Hey baby – how’d you like to get lucky? Show you a good time. Hook you up with a novel – jiggedy-jig.

So how does a writer go about propositioning a reviewer?

Reviewers get pummeled with review requests and/or review copies. Waiting for a reviewer to “stumble” across your work and ask you for a review copy might make for an AWFULLY long wait.

Your best bet is to start checking out the review market. Depending on your chosen genre you might find yourself with an awfully large group of reviewers to choose from. That’s good. That will work in your favour.  Somebody like myself, working in horror, has a lot fewer reviewers to find. Folks in romance, YA or paranormal romance have an abundance of reviewers to choose from.

Once you begin finding reviewers you need to start researching them. Have they written a lot of reviews. Does their blog site look professional. Do their reviews read like good professional reviews or do you see a lot of “Ya, I thought this book was kuul.”?

If the review site mentions anything about a cash payment up front – run away. Don’t even stop to think about it. Writers should not pay for reviews. We give a free book, that’s what a reviewer is owed and nothing more. I wrote reviews professionally for Cemetery Dance, Fearzone, Hellnotes and several other markets – and I usually recieved a small payment – maybe ten or fifteen dollars – from the publisher of the magazine/market that I was writing for – but nothing from the writer but a free book.

What else could I ask for?

Certain sites maybe worth making an exception for. Sites like Kindle Daily Nation http://kindlenationdaily.com/ has a sponsorship plan for $139 and up that will advertise your book. I haven’t tried any of that sort of thing – nor do I intend to – but it is out there. What I would mostly warn about is sites that offer you reviews at five or ten dollars a pop. You have to ask yourself what kind of a review are you going to get when you shell out ten dollars. That is a lot different than how I operated, getting ten dollars from the owner of the review column/site that I wrote for. He was just paying me the same way you would pay anybody who provided your column/site/magazine with a certain amount of words for your readers to read.

Prepare a proper review request. Take a half an hour or so and put one together. You’ll want a short letter-sized document that tells the potential reviewer what the book is about, who you are, how many books you’ve written, whether you are new to this business.

Here’s a review request that I wrote for my novel DEVIL TREE.

**********************

Hello REVIEWER’S NAME

I have taken a look at your review column I LIKE COOL COOL BOOKS and enjoyed the heck out of it. You have a keen eye and I believe I might have a book that you’d be interested in reading/reviewing.

The book is called DEVIL TREE – and it is the story of Lucas Sawyer and his wife Tamsen who find themselves marooned in the heart of a mid-nineteenth century wilderness. They’re rescued by Jonah Duvall, a mysterious woodsman who abides in this wilderness with his wife Jezebel and son Cord. Brooding over all stands the Devil Tree – a huge and evil jack pine that has summoned them to this valley to feed upon their collective emotions and guilt and to breed unnatural offspring. Part earth spirit, part elder demon – the tree is farming them. The characters are bound into a tightening noose of blind undeniable fate. As winter sets in they must face the tree’s unholy fury in an utterly horrific finale.

Devil Tree is a 60,000 word novel that will take you into the heart of pure unimaginable horror. We are not talking gore or graphic blood-spree. This is NOT one of those OH-MY-GOD-GRAB-THE-CHAINSAW-AND-CLEAVER blood soaked yarns, but rather this is a work that I guarantee will horrify and haunt you for a long time after you turn the last page.

“A mesmerizing journey into unimaginable darkness, DEVIL TREE showcases Steve Vernon at the height of his power and results in a provocative, profoundly unsettling novel you will never forget.” – Greg F. Gifune

Have I overkilled this? I hope not. I surely would appreciate you reading my book. I can provide you with a Kindle copy or a pdf or an epub – whatever your pleasure is.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

************************

That’s one way of doing it.

Notice how I started by introducing myself. I made sure that I knew the reviewer’s name and the name of their column. You don’t want to come off sounding like you’ve just cut-and-pasted a hundred review requests to a hundred random review sites – even if you have. I told a little bit about the novel, without spoiling too much of the reading experience. I gave them an idea of how long the novel was – so they could judge for themselves how much eyestrain they might actually have to invest in the process. I included a picture of the cover, which is also a key selling point to any book in the world – including e-books.

I probably should have talked a bit about myself and my history as a writer – but in this case I was submitting to a reviewer who already knew my stuff. Usually you won’t have that benefit. I’ve been writing genre since the mid-80’s, so a few people have heard my name. Some of them even don’t run away when they hear it.

Think of it as being the same as pitching a publisher a new book idea. Remember, these reviewers are READERS first. They want to read something that will get them excited enough to write a good review. They don’t do this sort of work to bore themselves to sleep at night. They review books because they have a passion for it.

Do your homework, and send out a few review requests. In the long run they are worth it. You may get a good review, you may get a bad one – but it will improve your visibility and (hopefully) improve your sales for the next ten books that you write. Each step forward in your writing career will take you further down the road – so by god, make it a good step.

How do you find reviewers? Well, for starters, watch your message boards and Facebook pages for like-minded writers who are advertising their own books. If Jack writes the same sort of genre as you do and has just recieved a glowing review from Fester over at the WE REVIEW COOL COOL BOOKS site, well you want to do swing on over to that site and check out their review policy.

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS spend the time necessary to check out that review policy. Odds are, if the reviewer is so booked up with books to review they’ll mention that in their review policy – something along the lines of “Oh my good gosh golly, I am so swamped with books that I won’t be taking any more books until next year.”

You read that in a review policy, honor it. Don’t figure that your book is so gosh golly good that the reviewer will make an exception for it. All that you will accomplish by sending an unwanted book to a reviewer is pissing him off.

Royally.

Finally, a few words on response time. Nine out of ten reviewers aren’t even going to respond. Get used to it. Send more review requests out to more reviewers. Pick a day each week and spend an hour that day researching new review sites and sending out review requests. Sooner or later somebody will take the bait and ask you to look at your book – unless your book sucks so badly that even your mother is shaking her head no when you ask her to read it.

Lastly, when you do get that review don’t get all upset if it isn’t a good one. You can’t control that. All you can do is do your research ahead of time and try to send it out to somebody who likes the sort of thing you write. DON’T send an angry e-mail back to the reviewer arguing with them about thier opinion on your book. You will just piss them off.

Double royally.

Last off all – here’s a good site to get started on your hunt.

http://bookbloggerdirectory.wordpress.com/

But don’t stop there. If you write Rock and Roll Romances, then Google Rock and Roll Romance Book Reviews and commence hunting.

Good luck and have fun.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon