Book Reviews: Some Quick Tips

The struggle for book reviews is real and while I put together a much longer guide about that struggle here are some quick tips to get more of them and how to deal with said struggle…

Leave a message in the front and back of your book to tell readers that reviews are important – this is obvious but sometimes overlooked. Many readers including me once upon a time never thought of leaving a review for a book. Remind your audience.

Fill that gap elsewhere by reviewing other authors works. You probably know how it feels to struggle for reviews so helping the industry will eventually help you. Plus reading, that’s supposed to fun right? But seriously, if you do help a few authors they might be inclined to return the favour but don’t expect it. Above all you’ll earn some trust and maybe even make a friend or two. Book reviews are partly the reason for my social media success.

Think about some book promotion or advertising because a lack of reviews is probably due to low distribution/visibility/sales. Theory would suggest that more sales equals more reviews… There are a stack of ways to advertise your book and I tend to use book promo sites every so often. The higher end sites also have higher end readers who review. More about those sites here

Shout about it in a few different ways because communication is key just like the first tip. On social media talk about the importance of reviews and then when you do get a good review share it and say how much you appreciate it. Make a thread on Twitter or put a review billboard together like this one…

Give incentives to reviewers because sweets for the sweet… from sending a reviewer a signed book to saying thanks to even giving them a shout-out or putting their review quote on the cover of a future release – these things provide some incentive for reviewers to share their thoughts.

Organise a pre-release and offer copies of your book to readers on the condition they review it on publication. If your self-published this will be easier, but basically offer your final manuscript to readers to review it early.

Try to compartmentalise the feeling of that struggle because it will never really go away and take it from me, my comedy ‘The Teleporter’ has over 130 reviews and I’m always wanting more because the chase is endless. I also have seven books published so if I spent every hour of every day worrying about the struggle I would get nowhere. My advice is to work on other things. Write that next book or blog post. Be busy and it won’t even cross your mind because that struggle is a state of mind.

Appreciate that it is really hard not just for you but for everyone published because it really is hard to get reviews. My debut book that dropped back in 2016 has 34 reviews and has sold thousands of copies. You are not alone.

Approach a book blogger because many of them are always looking for something new to read. Of course check out their blog and see if your work fits within their taste. Try to be personable in your approach. As a standard, offer a book blogger a free e copy for that review and be sure to read their submissions policy if they have one.

Talk about it with other authors because my Twitter DM’s, comments section on here and my Patreon are always open for any author in need. Reach out to one another because together our struggles are smaller, especially when we talk about it.

Time, above all is your friend here. Good things in writing take time and reviews take a lot of time to collect for a book which will be around a lot longer than all of us. Remember that. Most of these tips are long game style methods. Be in it for that journey.

Thanks for reading, this post is just a preview of another I have planned soon over on my Patreon which is my latest venture and a place where I intend to help more authors with coaching and future guides. If you sign up to one of my tiers you’ll get a free copy of my self help book Consistent Creative Content which has a whole section dedicated to reviews. Peace out, rock and roll man!

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Lee Hall

Thank you to Fevers Of The Mind for the opportunity to be interviewed and of course to talk about writing.

Fevers of the Mind

with Lee Hall:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Lee:

My writing journey began when I was around twelve years old. It was a rainy Sunday afternoon when I first started typing stories about robots in the future on a Windows 98 computer. The majority of my teen years were spent sporadically exploring the concept of writing stories while I did some all-important reading.

Influenced heavily by science fiction with a tech theme Michael Crichton was an author who grabbed my attention a little later on but the first real immersive adult book I read was ‘The Lost World’ by Arthur Conan Doyle. The majority of my story telling influences came from television and cinema with shows like ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and films like ‘The Faculty’ and ‘Final Destination’.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Lee: These days I tend to be influenced more by…

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Question of the Hour Presents: Author Neil Christiansen

Hello friends, today I present an awesome ‘Question of the Hour’ interview by a fellow author and blogger.

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I present you with the latest victim of my random questions author Neil Christiansen.

‘Neil Christiansen has a way with words and imagery that pulls you into the gritty underworld of Chicago, in his modern noir thriller Dark White. Dynamic characters finding their way through the gray landscape of morality. Hold on it’s quiet the ride.’ -My Review of Dark White

Why do you write?
Everyone asks this question and I don’t really understand it. I don’t think people ask singers why they sing or bricklayers why they lay bricks. I write because I’m compelled to. I have stories in my head and they belong on paper. I hope people read them and like them, but even if they don’t I still have to write them.

What do you get out of it?
At the moment I get pride and my own satisfaction. I also get grief from my family…

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Hall of Information Interviews: Marc Cavella

The exploration of unique voices in story telling has returned with another Hall of Information Interview. Fellow author and story-teller Marc Cavella shares an insight into his world, from writing all the way to the niche but ever so interesting subject of politics in pro wrestling.

Q1. Let’s jump right in and start with writing. Where did story telling begin for Marc Cavella?

The first thing I really remember sharing with a bigger group was a class assignment that I wrote in sixth grade. We had to write a fake advertisement for a product we’d created. I ended up writing an ad about a machine that administered corporal punishment to children so parents wouldn’t feel guilty about doing it themselves, and it got a huge laugh from the class. (Bear in mind that we were sixth graders.) I remember that even our teacher was crying with laughter (and yet she still only gave it a B+). That’s probably when I first learned that something I wrote could have a cool effect on people.

Q2. Your latest book draws influence from an interesting subject– the politics of professional wrestling. This is a unique basis for a story and one I found highly enjoyable as fan of wrestling and reader. Please tell us more about ‘The Ballad of Ricky Risotto’ and what influenced the story?

“I’ve always been a huge fan of pro wrestling. I used to watch every show I could find when I was a kid—WCCW on ESPN when I would come home from school in the afternoons, WCW and NWA on the weekends, and all the old WWF shows like Superstars, Main Event, and Shotgun Saturday Night. So I’ve pretty much been watching wrestling for as long as I can remember—and I was an especially big mark for guys like Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior, The Four Horseman, and the von Erichs.

At the same time, I’ve always been the kind of person who wanted to learn about the history of the things I liked. So as I got older and the “business” became more exposed via the internet, and later, social media, I started to dig a little deeper into wrestling’s past: The people who ran those old regional promotions like Jim Crockett and Verne Gagne, how the old territories worked and competed with each other, and how the business itself had evolved from the carnival circuits that ran shows around the country at the turn of the century.

So all of that together really served to influence the story and let me combine a bunch of different aspects into one piece. I enjoyed the opportunity to write it.”

Interesting, as a kid and teen I was drawn to watching wrestling, it made for great entertainment and escapism. Today much like you I enjoy the political element just as much.

Q3. I think we can agree the more prolific days of pro wrestling are behind us but that won’t stop us from looking back. Are there any moments or stand out personas that you have been drawn to over the years? What names would consider to be all-time greats that would perhaps make up a ‘Mount Rushmore’ of the industry?

Man, that’s a great question. I was always a big fan of tag-team wrestling. The Hart Foundation was definitely my favorite, even though I couldn’t stand Jimmy Hart when I was a kid. (I have a great appreciation for him now, though.) I also loved teams like Legion of Doom and Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard.

Stand-out moments for me will always include The Ultimate Warrior vs. The Honky Tonk Man at SummerSlam in 1988. I loved The Ultimate Warrior as a kid and when I heard that music and Gorilla Monsoon’s famous call of the match, I yelled so loud that my mother came in to the living room to see if I was okay. Watching The Undertaker toss Mick Foley off the top of the cage at Hell in a Cell is something I’ll always remember, too. I was watching that show with some friends, and I remember looking around the room and seeing everyone’s faces just absolutely frozen in shock and surprise. I didn’t think he’d survived that fall, and then he goes on to get thrown through the top of the cage and down onto the mat. Insane.

As far as my wrestling Mt. Rushmore goes, the first name that comes to mind is Ric Flair, obviously, seeing as he was the biggest draw of an entire era and he was the total prototype for what a modern wrestler should be—fantastic at all aspects of technical wrestling, but one of the best promos of all time and a masterful storyteller. Bret Hart is always going to be up there for me, too. I read something recently that said he’d never injured an opponent in the ring, and yet his offense still looked stiff and believable. I think you’d have to put Hulk Hogan on there, as unpopular as he is with a large segment of the wrestling community, simply because of how big a star he was and how he helped to raise the industry’s profile so much during the 80’s boom. And as much as I want to say Andre the Giant or The Fabulous Moolah (as controversial as she is), I think you can make a case that Chris Jericho belongs up there as well, given that he’s had long runs as the top guy in multiple promotions working a variety of different styles for about twenty-five years now.

Great memories and moments. Of course I agree with all the names mentioned, that hell in a cell match is something I always use introduce those who have never watched wrestling before, it normally hooks them in…

Q4. And just briefly what’s your take on the current wrestling industry?

“The current generation is probably the most athletically talented, but I just can’t get into it like I used to. I think it’s gotten too bland for my tastes, to be honest. I don’t need a steady diet of chair shots and barbed wire, but once WWF became a publicly traded company, the corporatization really kicked in and it became very milquetoast to me as a whole. There are still some wrestlers who do great work both in the ring and on the mic, though.

Q5. Let’s talk books. Do you have any other works currently available and what can we expect next in terms of writing from Marc Cavella?

My first novel, “Tabernacle”, is available on Amazon and all other major outlets. “Tabernacle” tells the story of Edward Jones, an incredibly successful salesman who sells a product that none of his clients actually wants. I like to describe it as sort of a genre mash-up—it’s a dark comedy, but it’s also literary fiction with some suspense, noir, and neo-Western elements to it as well. It’s gotten some very nice reviews so far and I’m always glad when people tell me they enjoyed it. John Cena and Alexa Bliss make very brief cameos in it, so it has some ties to the wrestling world as well.

I’m currently working on some sequels. “Place the Flowers” follows Edward Jones as he eases into family life (sort of), but not without his own gritty twist to it. And I’m working “The Man from Coronado,” which focuses on Lance Sacramento, one of the wrestlers who appears in “The Ballad of Ricky Risotto.” I’m hoping to make a trilogy out of those wrestling-based novellas and release them as a paperback anthology in the summer of 2021.

Sounds like you have some awesome projects lined up for next year.

Here’s my recent review of ‘The Ballad of Ricky Risotto’

Check out Marc’s Amazon page here

Q6. What interests do you have outside of writing?

I love reading, certainly. I’m also a huge history buff, as mentioned previously, and that extends to lots of different topics beyond wrestling and sports. I’m very interested in military history—I love going to the national battlefield parks we have here in America, especially the ones dedicated to the U.S. Civil War—and I’m lucky enough to live in an area that has a lot of Revolutionary War battlefields and museums, too, so I try to go to those whenever I can. I also enjoy poker and other card games as well and spent way too much time in casinos when I was in my mid-twenties.

Q7. Tea, Coffee, beer or wine?

Coffee, personally. But even that’s a rarity. I tried to get into wine for a while but I don’t think my palate is sophisticated enough.

Excellent choice, my problem is I like all 4…

Q8. Do you have a favourite movie or go-to television series? Feel free to name a few and why?

My favorite movies are Goodfellas and Rocky. (I’ll argue to this day that the original Rocky is completely underrated, even though it won Best Picture.) They’re just very well-written stories about people who are on the edges of society, and I’m always a sucker for stories like that. Back to School starring Rodney Dangerfield is one of my favorite movies of all time as well and one that I quote way too often, as is Back to the Future. I also think Predator is a fantastic movie. People look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that, but it’s actually an excellent sci-fi/suspense movie. As far as TV shows, I’ll go with my staples: Seinfeld and Frasier.

Great movies! Especially Goodfellas and Back to the Future although all you have mentioned are from an awesome era in cinema. I find myself quoting Predator a lot these days and Frasier of course is my go-to sitcom!

Q9. A hot topic over on Twitter these days, do you have any must read book recommendations?

I’ll always recommend “The Sun Also Rises”—Hemingway at his best. And Robert Graysmith’s “Zodiac” is one of the scariest nonfiction books of all time. If you dislike either sleeping or feeling safe, you should definitely read it.

Both excellent choices – the Zodiac film is a hidden gem also!

Q10. And lastly, a question I ask all interviewees. If there is one sentence of advice you give to someone with dreams of becoming a writer, what would you say?

“It’s going to be an incredibly challenging, difficult, and unpredictable road, but you can definitely succeed at it if you never give up.”

Wonderful advice and a great interview. Thank you Marc Cavella for taking the time to give us an insight into your world.

You can find Marc over on the Tweet machine and check out his awesome site where you can find out more.

And so the bell rings on another Hall of Information Interview. Thank you for joining us. See you in the next one!

Weekly Ramble #89

November is a strange and long month. I’ve always called it the month of lethargy and it is in some senses. It just keeps going. The sky is normally grey and the weather turns along with the nights that seem endless, much like this year. And what a strange year this has been.

I’m still quite hopeful that quite possibly my best news is yet to appear. One is allowed to be optimistic and of course vague as the ace up my sleeve is paper thin, but it’s still an ace. Perhaps all my efforts have been building to something bigger, that’s the hope and hope is something that has kept me going time and time again throughout the slog that 2020 has been. Keep reviewing books and good things will happen, keep blogging even when everyone was taken over or distracted by fear and good things have happened. It’s turned out to be the biggest period of growth and success I’ve known to the point where others are noticing. Supporters are returning week in week out – this ramble series, the most viewed normally each week. Folks that care and perhaps even want me to succeed, ah the dream. Not once has this writing, blogging and social media-ing deal ever felt like work, although I treat it that way, if something get’s a good reception I just go with it and hope things stick.

All I have tried to do is carry on and support others like I wish to be supported. The give as good as you get philosophy but perhaps flipped around although my expectations are always grounded. We’ll see what happens next because that ace beckons…

Hall of Information Interviews: Despoina Kemeridou

And so a new venture of discovery begins. With the aim to celebrate unique voices in writing and eventually the wider creative world, let me welcome you all to the first ever Hall of Information Interview. 

We’ve got 9 questions with multi-genre author Despoina Kemeridou who hails from Greece and is days away from releasing her second book. A huge amount of people have already pre-ordered it and we’ll get into that as well as plenty of other writer related stuff.

Those who have been tuning in for a while will know we reviewed her first title a little over a year ago and that’s where we shall start… 

Q1. First and foremost, let’s talk about fairy tales. Your first book ‘Fated to Meet You’ sits quite well within that genre while also having a modern edge. Is there a classic fairy tale that sticks out as your favorite?

“My all-time favorite fairytale has to be Rapunzel by the Brothers Grimm. I love all the different versions of this beautiful story (Disney, Barbie, manga and book retellings etc.). The original story is supposed to be much darker than other versions, but I still enjoy it and am glad it has a happy ending.”

Indeed Rapunzel is a truly wonderful story about hope and family.

Q2. Social media plays quite a big role in modern book marketing; your Twitter following is over 19,000 which is rather incredible. What’s even more impressive is the short time you took to achieve that. For anyone looking to grow their following, what is your twitter success strategy?

“I would recommend having an active social media presence. Commenting on other’s posts, tweeting daily, and answering to people who comment on your posts. Hosting a #ShamelessSelfPromoSaturday is also an amazing idea to discover new reads, and authors. Also, a good bio and a pinned tweet on Twitter are really important to have in your profile, since they are what a potential follower/reader will see first.”

Solid advice and proven by such an impressive following!

Q3. Where did writing stories begin for Despoina Kemeridou?

“I started writing when I was thirteen. I loved reading since I was a small child, and that spiked my imagination a lot. I remember daydreaming about different stories, and at one point I decided to sit down and write. I used to write by hand back then, even though my handwriting was terrible. One of the first books I’ve read was Jane Eyre and The Magician’s Nephew. I don’t believe there’s a particular book or author that influenced my writing – maybe unconsciously, but I’m not sure.”

Q4. On Twitter you recently shared quite an interesting yet wonderful story about the village where your Grandparents live, please do tell us more (Princess…) and how much of an influence is family to you and your writing?

“I was having second thoughts about sharing that story, mostly because I was a bit embarrassed, but in the end, I’m glad I did. So, my Grandparents live in a village that’s located in the woods, called Chorouda. Anyone can find it by searching on Google Maps, and take a look at what kind of village it is. It’s pretty small, and lately there are only three permanent residents. There used to be more, but since they are mostly elderly people, most of them stopped coming, or visit once in a while. I love that village for the beautiful and breath-taking views it offers. There are many trails one can follow, if they’re looking for a small adventure in the woods! I have lots of photos from that place on my photography account on Instagram.”

We’re glad you shared this story too, some of the best stories are the real ones!

Q5. For just a few moments, let’s move away from writing. What interests do you have outside of being an author?

“I love drawing, even though I’m not really good at it. I usually draw characters in manga style. When I have some spare time, I like going out and taking photos with my camera. Is reading too mainstream to mention? Yeah, I love reading, too. It’s a part of me.”

Art By Despoina Kemeridou

Instagram @dkemeridou

Looks pretty good to me!

Q6. Tea, coffee, beer or wine?

“Wine. God, I love a glass of wine when I’m writing! However, in winter I prefer a hot cup of tea.”

Excellent choice!

Q7. You have a new book which drops in a matter of days. A paranormal romance short story; what can you tell us about it?

“Indeed. My upcoming book is titled “Mark of a Demon”. I was mostly inspired by a manga I’ve read a thousand times since I was a teenager called “Hanatsukihime””.

mark of a demon

Available for Pre Order now!

 “Torn between the world of the living and the dead, Heather tries to live a normal life. With a demon to protect her, and weird creatures lurking all around her, that seems almost impossible. What is the meaning behind the mark on her chest, and what secret is her aunt keeping from her?”

It sounds awesome and we will be adding it to the TBR list! The cover looks exceptional and so see speaking of covers…

Q8. Both of your books have great covers. Even though some say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, they do. How important is an effective and eye-catching book cover to you? And who designs yours?

“I don’t want to sound harsh, but I do judge books by their covers. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t usually read the blurb. If I see a book with an eye-catching cover, I’m most likely to buy it without checking it’s contents. It’s mostly the reason I always pay much attention to my covers. In my newest one, the mark in the middle is drawn by me. I wanted it to be unique.”

“Both my covers were designed by my boyfriend, Evan Dimu. He is also in charge of formatting my books in both ebook and paperback format. I don’t know what I’d do without his help and support.”

I’m with you on that one. Covers are such an important part of the book marketing process.

Q9. And finally if there is one sentence of advice you would give to someone with dreams of becoming a writer, what would you say?

“Don’t give up, and never listen to anyone who tries to interfere with your dream of becoming what you want.”

Despoina Kemeridou; an author with a unique voice we would like to thank you for taking the time to answer our questions in this first ever Hall of Information interview!

‘Mark of a Demon’ is available now! 

Check out my review here…

For more information and an exclusive excerpt check out Despoina’s Instagram here. 

And of course I highly recommend you follow her on Twitter if you don’t already. You can also find her on Facebook. 

Readers old and new, I appreciate you taking the time to read this Hall of Information Interview, hopefully see you in the next one!

Swinging Sanity by N.F. Mirza – Review

A brave expression of feeling through poetry that is both thought provoking and inspiring… 

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To convey deep personal thoughts and feelings through poetry and then release it into the world is an incredibly brave thing to do. That’s exactly what this collection is. It starts with a poignant and deep quote from Edgar Allen Poe about the subject of insanity which immediately sets the tone of embracing anything but the ordinary with pride. Throughout readers will be treated to meaningful and quite inspirational quotes from the likes of Charles Bukowski and Sylvia Plath.

From self harm, depression, anxiety, loneliness, love, individual suffering and pain to everything else that centres around our sanity, you’ll see it represented here without any reservations and with honesty – something the world needs to talk about more. The many poems and verses that make them up are full of emotion and can be related to.

‘Just Like a Drop of Water’ stood out and I found ‘A Long Wordless Day’ spoke to me along with ‘Those Enchanting Nights’ amongst many others.

For anyone who is a fan of immersive poetry and for those looking to take on a read that is different but also very honest, I recommend this book. It tells a story while also being inspiring.

5 Stars – I really enjoyed this one! Reviews left via Goodreads and Amazon. Be sure to follow the author’s Stoner on a rollercoaster blog here