Archive for » May, 2011 «

Northanger Abbey: A Review

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is the first book she wrote but the last published.

It’s about the very young and naive Catherine Morland who has never ventured from her little home town of Fullerton her whole life until a very lovely older couple with no children offer to take her to Bath.

I have to admit I think I actually like this Austen book more than Pride and Prejudice, infact I think it’s perhaps my favourite of her books. I’ve always loved Austen’s books, mostly because of the author’s wit and delight in mocking the oddities in the people around her through characters with absurd personality traits, but also becuse of her very clever way of telling a story from only one perspective.

A lot of novels written recently feel the need to explain to the reader all the motives and reasons for each and every character by alternating between the viewpoints of the important people. I think this is too much information. I infinitely prefer to work out the motives of the other characters myself rather than have it told to me. In my opinion a good writer allows the reader to figure it out but doesn’t tell the reader what the other people are thinking at all. It shouldn’t be necessary.

Half the delight in reading a book is discovering all the delicious intricacies of each personality represented. Where is the fun if the writer tells the thoughts of each character? Is it not much more engaging to be left pondering as to the meaning of an action along with the character being affected?

Another reason I loved this book was because of Austen’s way she, on a few occasions, talked to the reader directly. She interrupted the description of Catherine reading a novel to explain her viewpoint on novels of that type.

I always try to work out some of the character of an author when reading their books as it can often come out in the subtelties of the way they describe things, so having the author interact directly was something I enjoyed. It was yet another insight into Austen and her world through that of her writing.

So in short I love Austen for not assuming I’m not bright enough to work out her characters and their potential motives. For expecting her readers to actually have a think about what she might have meant and what she might be trying to say. But mostly for having much more amazing characters and interesting moments in her books because of it all.

Promoting a self published book

Once a book is completely finished with cover, formatting and all the uploading to all the various sites is done, the real hard work begins.

Most writers will agree, writing they can do. Selling themselves and making their name into a brand that people trust to write well is entirely another matter, especially in this shifting age of ebook self publishing and reduced numbers of paper sales. So far my approach has been these things.

  • Social networking
  • Pricing
  • Blog reviews
  • Giveaways
  • Blogging

I think Social networking has become a big part of promoting anything these days and to a large degree goes without saying. Also covered which ones of those I’m using in a recent blog here.

Pricing

A lot of traditional publishers have adopted a model of pricing where they price their ebooks above or the same as their paperbacks, in a few cases even as much as their hardbacks. ebook readers are savy though. They know that it doesn’t cost the publisher or author anything to sell them an ebook. There is no printing, storage or anything like that. There are a lot of readers that refuse to pay more than $3-4 for a ebook. There are even some readers who won’t pay more than $1

Pricing the book right is, therefore, imperative. Most authors are pricing full length novels of 5ok+ words at $2.99 with shorter novella’s and poetry being around $1.99 and short stories being $.99

Blog reviews

This has been one of the most time consuming for me but potentially the most rewarding (assuming you’ve written a good book). I’ve found there are several ways to go about getting these.

Trading with other authors by giving each other free copies of your book in return for theirs. This works well if you are happy to read anything you are given and can do a good review. Has the potential to mean people give good reviews when they don’t want to, however, out of fear of getting a bad one back. It can also lead to good opportunities of working with other authors though and is sometimes the most rewarding way of working and helping other authors.

Searching for book reviews of the same genre can also be effective but can be time consuming, as it’s usually best to take a good look at the blog and check if they accept self published ebooks and are right for your book etc. Blog reviews are one of the best types of reviews you can get these days, however, so the time investment is completely worth it. Their reviews will stay on the internet forever (most of the time) and will continue to drive traffic to your books long after you have moved on to other books.

Giveaways

While lots of giveaways can be expensive they are a great way to get people to take notice of your reviews from blogs as well as your own blog. Everyone likes something they can get free. If your blog is well designed and interesting those new viewers can sometimes turn into long term fans.

Blogging

This one kinda goes without saying too. The best direct way you can get your own brand and name out there is to write things for people to see. Blogs can be the quickest most cost effective way of doing just that.

You do have to make sure your writing is good though. It’s difficult to get people to come back if you are not helping or your posts are full of spelling mistakes and grammar errors.

While all of the above is useful to get sales, the best way to promote yourself is to write good books and to keep writing. If you write well and have patience and perseverance you maximise your chances of having other people talk about your work and spread the word.

Lots of new reviews.

I’ve been very excited to find I’ve had three new reviews of my book on Amazon.com in the last week. All three were high reviews and it’s been really nice to hear of people enjoying something I have written so much, especially as it can be quite hard going marketing the first book for an author. So many people don’t want to take a gamble on a name they’ve not heard of before.

To top it all off the second reviewee also runs an Amazon list for what he considers are the best indie authors out there and I’ve now had my book added to the list.

I’ve updated my book page here with a few small quotes from some of the awesome reviews I have but because I was so excited about them I wanted to share the three newest ones in full here.

1) 4 out of 5 stars

A beautiful adventuress, pirates, treasure, and romance, oh my! The language can be a little stilted, but the plot takes off from the first page and never lets go. Great fun! – Lisa Deckert

2) 5 out of 5 stars

“With Proud Humility” by Jess Mountifield revives swashbuckling adventure stories.

This is a good story told very well. Author Mountifield sets a new standard on adventure stories and crafts characters like they are people we know. This is a nonstop high seas adventure with a powerful female leading character.

This book achieves a level of quality that earn a 5 star rating. Buy this book and get ready for a tale with pirates, lost maps, a hidden treasure horde, danger and intrigue. This is one of the books you won’t want to put down. This would be one author to follow for future books as well. – Patrick Donnell

3) 4 out of 5 stars

Here I thought I was getting a nice thrill ride, sword, pirates, explosions. A good old fashioned pirate adventure, if you will. The author managed to tuck in a perfectly good romance as well. You know, a good one, without the bodice ripping and creative genitalia metaphors.

Though the dialogue may seem somewhat stilted to some. It is set in the colonial era and is a period piece. The author did a very good job keeping the dialogue in that period. Not only that, but she took a female lead character and made her a powerful, wily and fully capable force to be reckoned with in an era when women, even certain levels of nobilty, were seen as little more than property and means to an heir. The way Marie gamed the Victorian/Colonial era societal structure was both inventive and thouroughly satisfying.

I honestly don’t know why this book would be billed as a romance, all good stories will have an element of romance to them, that that’s what Jess Mountifield has turned out: A Good Story.

But, Mike? Seems like you loved it, why only 4 stars?

Well, I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s plain to see that the author was in Marie’s head. She is a well defined and whole character, very compelling and very believable in that way. I only wish she would’ve gotten into some of the other character’s minds that way. Some of the secondary characters almost seem like set dressing at times. Mountifield tells the story in a limited 3rd person view. To this reader at least, it would have be better served as told through a 1st person view point. That would’ve solved a lot of the issues with lack of knowledge of Marie’s adversaries and allies motivations.

The sticking point: Marie is an avid poker player, this reader is not. To someone that enjoys playing cards in a competitive manner, the level of detail and strategy put into the card games in the novel would be an added bonus, to me it was tedious at times. I only wish the author would’ve put the same level of detail into some of the battles in the book. The end was open enough to suspect a sequel or possible series. I’d look for it based on this work.

Overall, a good read, and highly recommended. – Mike Jordan

All three reviews made me smile in their own way and while they each have the odd point of critisism, considering it’s my first book and I am hoping to address some of those problems in later books, I’m just pleased I managed to entertain a bunch of people with something I wrote. It’s also amazing that my characters were so well grasped by the readers, especially Marie. I love my characters and for me writing is very much just me telling their stories so I’m very glad I managed to portray her well.

If this has finally enticed you to actually check out my book you can download the kindle version from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and for the 40% free sample and as many other formats as exist you can also get at Smashwords.

Don’t have a kindle or ereader I hear you cry, well no worries! You can get the kindle app for your computer, almost all smart phones, iphone, ipad, you can even get the epub format from Smashwords and transfer it into your itunes library to read on an ipod!

And the really best part is it costs less than a starbucks coffee!

As Sure As The Dawn: A Review

As Sure As The Dawn is the third and final book in the Mark Of The Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers.

The third book follows one of the more minor characters from the first two parts. Atretes, the German from the Chatti tribe who was taken from his village and forced to be a gladiator, is the main character with the Christian widow, Rizpah as his love interest. It starts off in Ephesus, not long after Atretes has finally won his freedom. Atretes and Rizpah intitally do not like each other very much but they have a common bond, which eventually soothes their relationship, in the form of Atretes son, Caleb. Rizpah is employed as his wet nurse.

They then set out on the very long journey from Ephesus, to Germany and the Chatti tribe. Both characters have a very different approach to travelling and they clash frequently. This often results in Atretes getting the whole family into some kind of danger and then having to be rescued from it by one of the other Christians in the travelling group. Both characters are quite hot tempered and stubborn and it causes many interesting moments for them both.

As it is usually with Francine Rivers, the locations were very accurately and stunningly described and all her research was very well done. I also found these characters even easier to relate to, especially Rizpah. There was something about the way she thought, felt and her reaction to Atrete’s temper that I could understand. I may have had something in common with her stubbornness too, just maybe.

For me the magic was very much in the ending of this book though. It was very well written with plenty of unexpected but fitting twists and turns. I gobbled the book up very late one evening and couldn’t go to sleep until I had finished it.

Definitely a 5 out of 5 stars for this one.

 

The Plan: May 2011

Last month’s progress:

Last month my aim was to do some t-shirt designs, finish my front cover for the print edition of my book and work on the graphic novels. I mostly made good progress in all three areas but didn’t get any of them finished. What I did do, however:

  • Finished polishing and emailed to my uncle 8 complete t-shirt designs.
  • Gathered everything for my front cover bar the hemp rope and mahogany table.
  • Worked a small amount on the language for one graphic novel.
  • Spent approx 40 hours networking and promoting the book.
  • Wrote 5k words of the new book
  • Typed 20k words (including emails and blogs)
  • Started planning my third book
  • Worked approx 10 hours for Flight
  • Spent approx 20 hours reading

As a result of promoting the book, it’s now listed as a featured ebook on the digital catalogue site Digycat. These guys have all sorts up here so if you are interested in browsing for new books it’s a good site.

There are also going to be two opportunities to win free copies of my ebook during TheRomanceReviews summer competition as well as a lot of other fun stuff and prizes. Click the picture to head to their blog and keep tabs on them. I’ll link and blog again closer to the date as well. They do have smaller contests running in the meantime, however.

I’ve had a review from another author as well with a few more in the pipeline. With the book being considered for a Top Indie book list as well as being on the ‘to review’ list for three other blogs. I’ll link all those from the blog here as the appear. My best quote so far though – “The plot takes off from the first page and never lets go. Great fun!” – Lisa Deckert.

Finally, I’ve also been interviewed for the blog Freelance and Fiction and they also have lots of other author interview, book reviews and events. While new this blog shows a lot of promise so please go check them out and watch out for my interview.

This month the plan is to finish the first draft of the newer novel, as well as continue to make progress with both graphical novels. I’d also really like to have the final t-shirt designs done and ready for the launch of the website and company. I’d like to find time for some more of the work on the third novel as I’m hoping this will be the start of a series of novels. More on that when I’ve finished plotting.