‘A Diary in the Age of Water’ by Nina Munteanu – Review

Hello friends, today I am re-blogging a review of an epic book that was probably the most important read of 2020 for me. Enjoy!

Lee's Hall of information

A truly important once in a generation read that flows like a wild river right through your imagination and heart.

This captivating book doesn’t hold back in presenting readers with the potentially damning path humanity is going to take and how we might lose our most important resource; water. You’ll find the subject of water flowing everywhere in a story that is sometimes heart wrenching but also wonderfully informing, it’s metaphoric, symbolic and even a character.

Everything that surrounds the subject of water or limnology as it’s technically defined has been woven into a wonderfully researched plethora of information and fiction. Fact and fiction merge flawlessly in this story that takes readers on a dramatic and eye opening voyage. Just what will this planet be like after our footprint has done all the damage it can do? Well that’s how this story starts in what appears to be a far…

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‘Judd’ by J.D Toombs and Erika Schulze – Review

A ‘high school for heroes’ tale about the power of accepting who you are paired with some unique world building…

Welcome to Aries High, a school for those with unique powers but in this world they are known as Fragments. The only problem is our main character and narrator Samael Judd doesn’t appear to have any powers… That is without mentioning the many pressures he faces for someone his age from stepping out of his older brother’s shadow to even making the basketball team and while he does his best to hide a lack of powers he’s also concealing his sexuality. If both are revealed the repercussions could be disastrous, at least to him anyway. There are only a few he can fully trust and confide in – perhaps the most realistic thing about the social politics of high school, something this story captures well.

There are some unique and interesting concepts in this world of Fragment’s and that world building is something I want to see more of. Terminology and abilities like ‘technomancy’ and ‘magnekenisis’ sound cool and these concepts are only really touched upon as most of the story focuses on Judd’s journey and his high school life which is most probably just the beginning. The symbolism paired with the struggle to accept one’s self is what you’ll find at the centre of this tale and it’s bravely executed. From fighting bullies to borrowing a new girl’s magical dragon to pretend you have powers – as I said cool concepts, there are even some awesome references to video games and music.

On a few occasions there were moments where scenes felt crowded with quite a number of characters present so it was a little difficult to follow and transitions between scenes did occur rather abruptly but overall Judd is a unique story full of drama that captures coming of age, explores social issues and celebrates diversity.

4 Stars – Reviews left on Amazon and Goodreads. Thank you to the Author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review. Judd is released today – grab yourself a copy here!

Weekly Writing Inspiration #31

We’re back after what feels like an absence from the memes and inspiration. It’s March somehow also. Let’s dive in…

Yep, my thoughts exactly…

Anyone else?

Just as well cats can’t review their owners on Goodreads otherwise that’ll be 1 stars all around…

Palpitation City – population me…

All the time…

A pioneer

Happy Gilmore will forever be my favourite Sandler film…

The wait has been unbearable…

Actual Author Inspiration Moment of the Week

Thank you to fellow author T.R. Hamby for leaving this wonderful review of Open Evening. It has been quite a while since that book saw any love.

And that wraps things up. Peace out, thanks for stopping by…

Let’s talk about… why your book isn’t selling…

It might be a sore spot but here it’s okay to talk about lack of book sales. They never told us we’d have to put in a lot of effort to market our own… While we’re all too busy wrapped up in thinking we achieved something by reaching the end we’ve actually only pulled up to the starting line… I’ll retract part of that statement and say writing and finishing a book is a phenomenal achievement but nobody forewarned me that selling it would be a pain in the ass. This post is going to explore what authors can do to fight back from the struggle to sell their work.

Sales don’t just magically appear for an author and so this post will explore what can be done to get them by listing the things we should have done or should be doing. While saying ‘buy my book’ tends to be frowned upon we’re gonna look at how you can still say that but in disguised form. Let’s dive in…

Things you can do Before Release

Let’s face it, fail to prepare and prepare to fail because most of the marketing work that goes into selling books normally takes place prior to release, hindsight eh? We could all argue otherwise but let’s agree that if we did it again for the first time, things would hopefully be better; from generating the initial buzz to ramping up all your social media efforts all the way to the nuts and bolts of putting a book together; all of this is supposed to take place prior to release. There are so many reasons why a book doesn’t sell because the initial ground work wasn’t effective enough. Most of my book promotion efforts revolve around amplifying my reach so people notice my work but if an extensive amount of effort is not put in before publication then that book might be doomed from then on to never sell. So what can you do before release to make sure it does sell? These things, some of which might appear obvious but are essential in my eyes:

  • Announce the project as early as you can – even during drafting you should have a book title and genre so talk about it. Tell your social media followers, create a blog post, create an email newsletter to send to folks on your email list – if you haven’t got one of these then get one. Make an early trailer or even a mock-up book cover. Tell your followers this book is coming.
  • Up your social media game on all fronts – don’t just talk about your work, engage and get that following higher. My top advice when it comes to selling books is to sell yourself by being present online. Be social and post stuff that aims to inform, inspire, engage and help others – this might be more of a long term thing but go for it for the sake of that book!
  • Review books in a similar genre – start making your presence known in that genre by supporting it. Supporting fellow authors is a guaranteed way of getting noticed trust me. Some authors might even return the favour.
  • Reach out to BETA readers and then ARC readers who will leave early reviews upon release – people are the power when it comes to books. If they are true supporters they’ll spread the word through their own social media reach. Perhaps ask a higher profile author who writes in the same genre to take a look and offer to have their review quote on the cover. This one might take some socialising and the debut author might struggle but having folks in your corner will help.
  • Make sure your book has a good basic anatomy – nothing sells books more than a professional looking cover and an enticing blurb. Do your best to get these as awesome as possible. When you’ve got the final book cover it would also be a good idea to create a book banner to share on social media and pin to the top of your profile. I made the book banner below, pretty nifty right?
  • Set up a pre order, a price promotion and self promote – even if this is your debut novel I would suggest setting up a pre order for the e version via Amazon. Least this way you’ll already have an Amazon page and then you can share that link. You’ll be surprised at the folks who come out of the woodwork to support and pre order that book. You can even set up that pre order months before release. As an incentive, perhaps set the price for the pre order lower than what it will be after release and remember to tell your social media following about it.
  • Organise some advertising – there are book promo sites out there that will have a specific new book release package. This is worth exploring to enhance your reach. Here’s my list of promo sites.
  • Organise the official release – create a Facebook event for the launch day of your book and make a spectacle of the date. Invite friends and potential readers. Schedule a blog post on the day which leads into…
  • Blog about it – the pre release days of a book make for some great material to document via a blog. Talk about the story, the setting, the characters, share the blurb and share anything else relevant.
  • Promote other books on your back list – this only applies to those with other books but it’s important to bring them into play. Run a price promotion and mention you have another work coming in that promo.
  • Get yourself out there – there are plenty of places to submit guest posts and reviews to that might have a higher reach or following than you. This blog boasts a 700+ following and is looking for guest book reviews and articles.
  • Contact local press – its always worth reaching out to local press about your book because you never know if they are looking for some news to feature on a slow week. Is your work unique or does it have an interesting back story – local press love that sort of thing.

That’s 12 things an author can do prior to release to generate sales and I guarantee there’s probably a lot more. Now hindsight is a wonderful thing and all but what about those with books already out there? What can we do to sell our already published works?

Things you can do After Release

We’re sticking with the Back to the Future Theme here…
  • Run a promo or sale – like any other product out there books can benefit from being discounted or even free. You can do this any time after release to get some sales. Combine this discount or even free promo with some advertising and things might start to turn around. Reaching out to the right higher profile book promo site might result in your lucky day.
Getting a Featured Deal with these guys is a huge step in the right direction
  • Let readers find you – this is a longer term strategy but just going about your usual business of blogging and supporting fellow authors will eventually get you noticed in a positive light. I’m saying this because it happened to me. After deciding to offer indie book reviews on this blog back in 2018 my views have continually improved and so did my sales.
  • Write more books – another long term one but having more books on your shelf equal more choice for potential readers. If someone liked one of your works they will at least attempt to find out if there are any more. I’ve released 6 books in 5 years and experienced a gradual increase in sales over that time. Consistency is key.
  • Try not to worry so much – Good things take time and it might actually be a constant battle to find sales. You might never be fully satisfied so don’t let it get to you. Back when I had even 4 books released there were some months when I sold nothing and now after so many years and more releases I sell on average a book every 5 or so days. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was your legacy…
  • Consider lowering the price permanently – I’ve never sold an e book for more than $2.99 so maybe consider aiming for lower than that. If your an indie I’m pretty sure you don’t rely on book sales for income so consider keeping your e books at 99 cents – this normally guarantees a few sales.
  • Reach out to some book bloggers for a few reviews – the more ratings a book has the more chance it has of selling and most book bloggers will accept a free e copy in exchange for a review.
  • Blog about it – you can still blog about your work long after it has been released. Perhaps an in depth post exploring 5 reasons why someone should read it or even a ‘making of’ post. Talk about it and be honest, readers are drawn to that.
  • Social media – every now and then I will share the link and cover art via twitter. It’s important to remind your following what you’ve written and what is available. On twitter those shameless self promo posts are good for visibility, especially on the weekends.
  • Read an excerpt out loud – go live on your social media and read a passage or excerpt of your work. Show your beautiful face and a passion for that work you created.

You’ll notice the list of methods after release is smaller because the preparation is way more important but that doesn’t deny the fact after release methods are any less important or effective. It is perceived that the first 30 days of a book’s release are the most important for future sales but I’d beg to differ especially if you can achieve a good promotional run. It took three years for my third book to gain any kind of traction along with my 4th. It’s great to do as much preparation as possible but that doesn’t doom a book for eternity because in marketing and book sales anything can happen.

There is also another often overlooked resource and that’s to ask your peers. The writing community is full of different folks on different parts of their journey and they have valuable experience. I put the question out on Twitter and so here’s some wisdom from those who have sold:

The best way to figure out sales and marketing is research. Saying your no good at marketing is old and cliché. If you can write a book and tell and effective story then you can sell it, The Google is also there for you and so am I. Check out my Resources section for plenty of pointers on all things book selling, marketing and wider social media. I’ve got a guide book coming soon which is what this post was inspired by.

I hope you enjoyed this rather in depth look at why our books aren’t selling and if you have any other methods not mentioned then please hit me up in the comments! If you just want to shout and vent about not selling books, that’s welcome also!

Weekly Ramble #100

One Hundred Rambles. One Hundred moments in time. One Hundred thoughts of days and times gone by to reach this point. A literal roadmap of my blogging past that’ll probably be imprinted on the internet forever or at least longer than I will be around.

Statistically February 2021 turned out to be the greatest month ever for the Hall of Information so finishing that month with my Hundredth Ramble is kind of aligning for me. It’s funny because near enough halfway through it the numbers were dwindling to the point where I was concerned maybe someone had been spreading rumours about me or something. I rolled up my sleeves, dug in and got into the blogging like I’d never done before. For it I got rewarded with nearly two thousand views. Flexing an engaged twitter following helped along with an important interview and of course continuing onwards with as much content as possible. The BookBub featured deal continues to bring new eyes to this place while the established followers continue their support, a winning combination.

The news in the UK is good. We’re driving towards daylight and away from the shackles of a pandemic that made it’s mark. For everything it took away it gave me as an author and blogger opportunity. Now I am looking to innovate what I have as a blog and by introducing external content from fellow bloggers. Some of you know I have opened my doors to guest posts and I will also be re-blogging fellow bloggers articles. If you want a re blog just reach out because together we can all achieve more!

For everyone who has joined this journey, from the first ramble to number one hundred, thanks for being a part of it!

🚢𝓑𝓸𝓸𝓴 𝓡𝓮𝓿𝓲𝓮𝔀⚓️“Talented Found”by P.W. Browning⚓️

Introducing author and book reviewer Ellen Khodakivska who reviews YA Fantasy novel ‘Talented Found’ by P.W Browning…

Ellen Khodakivska

___

🚢Genre: YA fantasy novel

Pages: 270

Language: English

Publisher: ebook

Release date: 2020

⚓️Reading this book was as if I was invited to a feast under the sea. Suddenly, a vigorous dispute breaks out among the sea residents. Their emotions go high, and a disagreement turns into a fight. The only way to escape is to catch an anchor of the merchant vessel that passes by. But there a controversial surprise waits for me there.

🚢The Plot: In this splendid YA fantasy novel, a reader follows 16 y.o. Shaylin. She is fearless and smart, kind, and helpful. She lives on board of merchant vessel run by Captain Trell since her early childhood and considers the crew to be her family. She enjoys her work onboard, despite the fact it is pretty dangerous for such a young girl. Meanwhile, she involuntarily gets…

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Weekly Ramble #99

Things are shaping up rather well for Book #7. It’s edited and pretty much ready for BETA reader eyes. Only then will I really know if we’ve got something good. Perhaps that’s always been the thrill for me, putting out a book and not knowing how it will be received.

Fashioning everything I have learned in both authoring and blogging has been something I’ve had to re-visit a number of times since August because the learning curves are still emerging from this journey that’s continual. Figuring this whole deal out from scratch has given me a bunch of stuff to write about with hopes just an ounce of it will be effectively passed on to someone who needs it. In this world of authoring and blogging online there is no better feeling than helping others and then seeing them succeed. I’ve said before a victory for one author is a victory for all.

Reviews are still coming in for The Teleporter which seems to still be selling even at a higher price. Perhaps soon I should do another promo run just to capitalise on the exposure it continues to have. The only thing is now, that book has a huge amount of reviews compared to everything else. I should get promoting them. New eyes seem to be on this blog and near enough every effort I have online, it’s kind of strange…

Book Review: The Teleporter

A shout-out and thank you to fellow author Dave Williams for this awesome review of ‘The Teleporter’.
Make sure you head on over to his blog and show it some love!

Dave Williams

cover for The Teleporter

The Teleporter by Lee Hall

This is an entertaining superhero story about Kurt Wiseman, who’s bumbling through life. He loves booze so much, having a hangover on a Tuesday morning is not out of the ordinary for him.

Kurt once wrote a graphic novel — One Night in New York — and that seems to be the extent of his ambition beyond drinking at his buddy Douglas’s bar. Kurt could write another graphic novel, but hasn’t made the effort. And he makes minimum effort at his job.

But when an accident happens at his place of employment, Kurt’s life is changed forever. The kind of change along the lines of Peter Parker getting bitten by a radioactive spider and Dr. Bruce Banner shot with a gamma ray. These changes dramatically transform their lives.

Kurt’s new power to teleport cracks the cycle of lazing around at his job during the day…

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Literary fiction, headhopping, writing “rules”, and self expression

Re-blogging some important words of passion by Brooklynn Dean. Be open minded about art – I wish more writers spoke this way…

BRAIN BARF by Brooklynn

As I’m writing Deification’s sequel, I’m fully aware of my “head-hopping”, but here’s the thing— I like it.

I write omniscient third-person narratives which means they see everything everyone is doing in a scene. Why shouldn’t they also see what everyone in the scene is feeling? This is how I write. I’m not changing it. It makes sense to me (even as someone with a BA in English), and writing is art. It shouldn’t be bound by what others expect to deem “correct”. It should come from the artists exactly as it’s meant to. If that style isn’t for you, then don’t pick up books written in it. But don’t be shitty and act superior.

Literary fiction explores characters and their minds, and I’m not going to neglect a character and his thoughts and feelings simply because I’ve just described his scene-partner’s thoughts and feelings. This is how a conversation…

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A Concise List of Book Promotion Sites

Book promotion sites are a great way to advertise a free, discounted or full priced book. Over the many years of promoting my work I have built up quite a list of sites that have been effective in helping me get some much needed sales or downloads and now it’s time to help a fellow author.

What are Book Promotion sites?

For beginners Book Promotion sites are an advertising method that utilises a large reach of people through email subscribers or their site might get a lot of traffic because it’s popular. The general consensus with these sites is that they advertise something that’s either free or discounted so you’ll need to organise pricing depending on what a site will offer. Some will advertise your work for free while others will charge. Basically you are paying to use their voice which is probably louder than yours. Having sold more e copies of my work than paperback I’m inclined to say book promo sites focus mainly on e books.

This list is broken down into three different tiers. The high end, the middle of the road and lower end. They are listed this way to reflect on price and overall effectiveness. My tip would be to use sites from all 3 tiers in a single promotion for the best results. All of the sites listed can be found through a quick Google search.

The High End…

BookBub

E Reader News Today

Freebooksy

Bookrunes

Robin Reads

Except for the early days, every one of my promotional runs has included one of the above sites. BookBub particularly are very hard to get in with so be warned. Their featured deal if you can get one is the ‘holy grail’ trust me. You can read more about BookBub here. Some of these sites also expect your book to have some reviews but check their specific submission policies for more info.

Price Range: Anything north of $40

The Middle of the Road

Pretty Hot

Armadillo E books

E book Booster

It’s Write Now

Awesomegang

Bookwerm

Bookdoggy

Bookhippo

Ask David

Book Angel

Book Bongo

These sites are probably the most effective for the money I have paid. Using a few of them in one promo can be particularly effective. Not all of them will charge you a fee also.

Price Range: From $10 to $25 – dependent on the package/ some sites are free

The Lower End

Indie Book of the Day

Book Goodies

Discount Book Man

Bookzio

Whisper reads

Free 99 Books

Reading Deals

This is Writing

While this list is classed as the lower end that doesn’t reflect fully on how effective they can be when stacked alongside other book promo sites. They are down here because all of them offer a free package.

Price Range: Mostly free but up to $5

Book Promotion sites are an effective way to market and drive sales for a book but they are not the only way to sell. You can read much more about marketing, book promotion and all things writery over in my resources section. I have a self help guide book coming this May, so watch this space.

My top tip when it comes to marketing is to focus on getting people to invest in you as a person by being active in the author arena online. This can be as simple as leaving a review for a fellow author’s book or having a presence on social media. Look after fellow wordsmiths and they will do the same.

If you haven’t got a platform or blog for leaving reviews I have just opened submissions for them on this site which gets thousands of views. There’s nothing better than authors promoting each other and so I will promote you extensively if you have a book review or article you want to publish.

Of course thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next one!