Sunday, 30 September 2012

September Report



Okay so September has been and gone and I am excited by the progress that the blog has made. From August we have made good progress in striving to achieve quality impartial reviews; giving readers as much information as possible without spoilers. So let’s look at some positives and negatives of the month.

Positives

·         We had 300% more visits in September than August.
·         Like for like that is 180% daily visits to the site than in August.
·         I reviewed 4 novels, 1 marketing site and gave a post on why bad reviews are not always so bad.
·         We changed the rating system so book ratings are fairer to all
·         Our review of Bublish greatly increased our visibility to the rest of the internet.
·         We are having guest posts now on the blog
·         We now have two followers.

Negatives

·         Request for reviews are still slim on the ground, and 50% of requests are for books in genres that we do not read.
·         Sunday still appears to be a bad day for the blog, with little traffic.
·         Our Facebook page and twitter are not doing so well.

My aim for the coming months is to build on the platform that I have already got and make the brand image what I want it to be; detailed impartial reviews. I also want to increase the number of guest posts that we have on the site. With the daily traffic that I am now achieving when I am not advertising and the boast I get when I have a new article to read, it is a good time to get those guest bloggers in.

Good day to all.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Changes in the Rating system:



Okay, so I’ve done some deep thinking and the system that I’ve been using the past few weeks isn’t really working for converting our marks into Amazon / Goodreads star rating. So what I have decided to do is change the score you need for each star rating. To be fair to previous reviews and to make life easier, their ratings will not be altered. However these are the new levels for all books being reviewed from and including “Sins of the Father” by RJ Palmer.

0-39 – 1 Star
40-59 – 2 Star
60-79 – 3 Star
80-89 – 4 Star
90 – 100 – 5 Star

The idea of this is to make sure that not too many people get the top 5 star reviews. In my opinion not every book should be 5 stars. Only the best should achieve that result. But looking at the old scoring system, getting a 16/20 average over the five sections would have gotten you a 5 star still. Which is silly, if your grammar is out and your characters are well drawn out, then you shouldn’t get 5 stars. Don’t get me wrong, if you got a 1 or 2 star I am not saying you shouldn’t publish, but my opinion is that I didn’t like the book and it needs some work.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Review of "Sins of the Father" by RJ Palmer



Story Overview:

Bowen is a boy who is sent to a middle ages monastery by his neighbours after all of his family is killed. There he is brutally tortured until one night he escapes. Aaron is a minister in modern day America, who has recently been struggling with the world around him and how his job fits in with it. However when he falls over one day in church he is taken to see the torture of Bowen in past and as the days go past he visits Bowen more. That is until he has sleep therapy and the visions go away. But then Aaron is introduced to an autistic child at a mental institution that looks exactly like Bowen. Suddenly Aaron finds himself traveling down a path he never thought he would.
 
Cover Page:  18/20

The cover page is simple, yet effective. The image of a child being burned on the crucifix is very striking and conjures up all sorts of images in which we can all associate with. Yet its simplicity doesn’t give much to the plot, or the time frame in which the story largely takes place, which may be its weakness. The font is perfect for the title and story of the book, giving more away about the story than the front cover.

Character (and their development):  20/20

The characters are well portrayed and very realistic. Aaron is the minister that none us imagine when we think of religious leaders, but that is more to do with the preconception of them rather than the character. Aaron instead gives a more down to earth and human appearance to ministers that is refreshing from the stereotypical character that I have often found in other novels. His movements and thoughts are perfectly drawn out and his character development is done so well that it truly feels linear.  Other characters are portrayed with the same delicate touch that makes them believable and lovable. The actions of the autistic character, named Lucian by another patient at the medical centre, are beautifully crafted and seemed to be well researched.

Storyline: 18/20

The storyline is well thought out. Unlike most novels, there is not one single thread that the reader must continuous go along and consider at the time, but a number of well drawn out threads that lead into one large story plot. I don’t want to give the story away, or any clues as to what happens, preferring you to read it yourself, but I can say that every moment was an eager moment to discover what the next card to turn would be. Unfortunately I think that certain story plots were easily left by the wayside and forgotten, but if they were brought back or even in it from the start and more drawn out it might have gotten top marks.

Style:  15/20

The author certainly has talent, but I feel that it is in need of a little refinement. The description was lovely and was really scene setting, but at the same time long and complicated words were used all too often when simple language could have conveyed the message and not made sentences seem chunky. There isn’t a huge amount of dialogue in the novel, mostly concentrating on the thoughts and actions but when there is dialogue it is wonderfully created and seems the most natural of conversations.

Unfortunately what really let the style down are the very long sentences and paragraphs in places. For the most part the writing was really good. But at more than one point the paragraph took up more than a page on my e-reader and sentences had 4 or even 5 commas in it making reading a chore in places.

Spelling and Grammar:  15/20

To say that the spelling and grammar is poor is a little bit of an over statement. There are some mistakes littered throughout the novel but nothing serious. The main points have been mentioned before, long sentences and paragraphs and some awkward wording in places.

The main issues is the formatting, something that I don’t often mention. On the contents page the formatting changes from “CHAPTER 1, CHAPTER 2” to “chapter 19, chapter 20” which unfairly makes it look like it could be a poor book. I also noted there were two chapter 26’s. Also the paragraphs most of the time have line breaks for them but from chapter 6 some paragraphs are just indented and there are a couple of times when a paragraph break happens mid sentence. These are easily fixed errors and if they were corrected, would instantly move this sections grade up. But as it stands it does look odd in places and needs correcting.

Conclusion:  86/100

It seems like a tale of two halves with this book. The story, characters and the initial look of the book are fantastic, putting it up with some of the best writing that I’ve had the pleasure of reading for a while. However at the same time, the style grammar and formatting is in need of a little improvement. I feel there is great potential in the author and the story is strong enough to be read by the masses, but I think that some people will be overly critical for the use of some words and the formatting mistakes.

So I’ve broken it down to one question: Would I recommend the book?

Yes. Despite the errors, the story and characters are strong. The formatting can be fixed and the use of words is not wrong, just not warranted by the mass market. If a reader can get past these, they’ll have a great read that is full of excitement few authors can achieve.


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Thursday, 20 September 2012

Analysis of Bublish – A New Marketing Method that is Back to Basics



What is Bublish?

Bublish is a new social platform which authors and readers can interact. Authors can show off excerpts from their works and include behind the scenes information to give the readers a better perspective of their work. The main aim of the website is to recreate the brick and motor bookshop experience.

How does it work?

When an author signs up they can upload up to 30 books to their profile. These must be done in epub format (explanation will follow). One uploaded, the author can then choose segments to share with the Bublish community (i.e. readers) and attach some author notes to them. It’s these author notes that are the most interesting aspect of Bublish as they are unique and act almost like a director’s commentary on a DVD. These give the reader a unique and personal perspective of your book that readers on amazon or other retail sites won’t have. This in marketing terms is gold dust. No longer is your book just a collection of words strung together into a story that only once complete will readers fully appreciate, now your stories have personality in every excerpt that you decide to share.

Gone are the days where the reader had to endure the front matter of copyright notices and notes of thanks as part of their preview. Now authors get to choose what to show off, giving readers the taste of what is to come throughout the book, not just at the beginning. Also with ‘bubbles’ (excerpts) being unlimited per book, authors are not consigned to the usual 10-20% that a lot of online retailers insist on.

At the moment readers can read, share through social media and buy books right from a bubble. In the future, readers will be introduced to a variety of book bubbles from genres and topics they select when they join and introduce readers to new works that their clever systems think the reader might like based on their previously browsing history.

How does Bublish make money?

Bublish gains money from commissions on the sale of books it does through affiliates like Amazon. Although there has been talk of creating premium accounts, Bublish have stated that a thorough look through the economics of the publishing industry has shown that the selling of ebooks is the by far the best money maker. Hence in the meantime expansion of their commercial side would be through social commerce experiences rather than building premium tools. This is in my opinion a very sensible move. As an author; the feeling that someone would essentially pay for better exposure would undermine the basic concept of the website and would turn likely turn me away from using the service.

Why do you have to upload your entire novel / book to Bublish?

This question is one that had me concerned for a while. It wasn’t until I saw the process in place and was told of the security system in place that I felt reassured. Essentially publishing a bubble is very simple, but only because your entire book is already loaded onto your profile. It literally takes seconds. Also because it is in epub format it is already formatted for e-readers so readers can see what your book will look like on their kindle or nook.

Security was a big concern of mine, and rightly so in a time of torrent sites. However Bublish announced on a webinar that I attended that the security is incredibly tight as the books are stored on the Amazon cloud. They even shared a story that when their development team, which worked in another office, attempted to gain access the owners of Bublish got a call from Amazon on the mobile and home phone making sure the development team could access the data.

Even if a pirate was desperate to copy my work from my bubbles, people can’t highlight and copy the text direct from the bubble, leaving a determined pirate to type my book word for word. It certainly is not the easiest way for them to get a copy of my books.

So what are the positives?

The one thing that new and existing authors struggle with is exposure. This is where Bublish will work for authors. Without doing too much of work, Bublish will connect authors with the readers that have an interest in their book. Readers can be connected with authors that would normally be lost in the sea of self published books. By gaining exposure authors can gain new readers, fans and sales. Additionally Bublish have hinted at functions that would allow for authors to host special events with their readers – getting more connectivity between readers and writers.

The idea of the notes on the excerpts is an excellent idea and gives the books a more personal touch. Image if you could get the thoughts of Charles Dickens when you read the moment that Smike dies in Nicholas Nickleby? I know that I would love to have the thoughts of several authors when I read their books, and this platform will give readers that chance. For authors that personal touch helps give the book an emotional attachment to readers that increases their chances to selling the book.

With every new bubble that you post for a book, new content is added to the website. This content is considered new content by search engines, which better improves an author’s potential search ranking.

Future benefits of the site are immense; as it expands I am sure that new opportunities for author and readers will expand exponentially as well.

So what are the negatives?

As far as I can see, there are limited negatives for the Bublish platform. The idea of authors paying for extra promotional tools seems to go against the main aims of the site, but that is something that is not implemented at the moment and there are no plans in the near future to do so. Also the limited nature of the site at the moment, the single affiliate link, limited connection between author and reader are things that at the moment limit the effectiveness of the promotion. However to be fair to the site, it is only in its beta stages and is doing well.

Verdict

To be honest, I like the new website. It is a simple design yet effective in marketing. Authors can easily create new content and readers can share bubbles with just as much ease. In regards to their goal, I think that the team have achieved that experience of the bookshop to the best that the web allows, but at the same time improved upon it giving authors a brilliant platform in which to launch their work into the global literacy industry. With future developments in the pipeline I can expect the opportunities and the diversity offered to authors and readers to expand exponentially. So whether you love reading or writing I would suggest joining Bublish now.

I would like to thank Kathy Meis for answering my questions in relation to the Bublish platform and providing the image used in this article.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Review of "The Legend of Rachel Petersen" by "JT Baroni"



Story Overview:

Christian quits his job when he is passed over for promotion on the grounds of not being technical enough. Moving out of the big town he and his wife buy a house that is in need of some serious work while he starts writing a novel. His beginning efforts are ‘terrible’. But one day he stumbles across a gravestone, on it is the name Rachel Petersen. Christian decides to write her story, where she is a murdering ghost. But when the book becomes a best seller, Christian starts to imagine that Rachel is coming after him.
 
Cover Page:  15/20

The cover has lot of material on the front. The ghostly girl certainly adds to the atmosphere that the author is attempting to create, but the added extras of what I can only presume to be snow (derived from the snow in the storyline) adds to a cluttered cover. Although it will please some people, I don’t personally think it does the cover any good and that it detracts from what should be the main focus of the cover.

Character (and their development):  12/20

The characters are effectively portrayed, but I see little development in them throughout the book.  This could be the little amount of time that the characters have with the reader. Christian and his wife are really only in the beginning and the end, while other characters are only in the middle and neither set really interact.

My major concern is that you spend nearly a third of book investing your time into Christian and his wife, almost cheering him on to become a good writer. Then your perspective is changed to that of the Christian’s book characters and in your mind you are wondering how long you have to invest in these characters. This creates a poor relationship between the reader and the characters. But just as you get comfortable again, the character set changes, then changes back, before just for the end, you are back with Christian as he releases his bestselling novel.

Storyline:  16/20

The storyline, in which ever one you wish to concentrate on is not a bad one. It certainly has its uniqueness. In fact I would go as far as to say that with a little refinement to certain areas of the style and characterisation could turn this novel into the bestseller that the author writes about. Even the story within the story is good enough that a little extra would push it up.

I think the concern is that there is no depth to the storyline, nothing compelling the reader to keep reading once you get to the legend of Rachel. Instead the story is driven by whether Christian will or will not become a successful writer and how he fares. And I don’t think that this is what the author intended.

Style:  12/20
  
The actual writing of the novel is not bad. The style of the sentences and paragraphs is good. But a more descriptive tone would probably have pushed it up a little bit. It did feel at times as if I was reading an account of what was happening line by line. Instead as a reader I want the atmosphere, the actions and the thoughts of the characters to be described so I can imagine the whole world in which the characters live in. This lessens the horror part of the book which could have been on the level of several well known horror books.

Another problem for me was the story within the story, element. It would have been a great story if either of the stories was picked up and ran in throughout the book. But unfortunately the author chose both and the books effectiveness is lost.

Spelling and Grammar:  20/20

I could not see any mistakes so there is nothing more that I can say.

Conclusion:  75/100

This is a book that has a great number of ideas but tries too hard to mesh them all together into a single storyline. This probably would have done better as two short novellas or novels but together they are damage the other. Saying that it is not a bad book and I would say that casual readers of horror may enjoy the book, but not those hard core horror fans or those who like to see the characters develop.


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