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By John Reese, Jun 29 2017 11:58AM



Trying to distil the essence of a good book down to a few short words is a thankless task because the qualities that define good books are, more often than not, quite elusive. Experts with a special sense for the written word are numerous, from reviewers to authors opinions vary whilst popular opinion and word of mouth speaks volumes. What we can say for sure is that a good book is far more than a well-written novel. It’s literature that stands the test of time but if you thought such gems were rare you’d being gravely mistaken. Quite often those books that win the most acclaim are those that benefit from a sizeable marketing budget whilst there are an overwhelming number of good books out there that remain sadly overlooked.


A good book is one that connects with its reader on an emotional level and that’s true for all genres. Taking its reader on a compelling journey of escapism for every page that is turned but how powerful that connection is often depends on what its reader needs from it at that particular point in their life. Trawl the web and you will quickly come up with numerous top tips for writing a good book but when you really get to the crux of them there are only two which dominate. Keep these in mind when looking for your next book to read and even if it’s not on a bestseller list you may find yourself unearthing a hidden gem.


1: As a species us humans are visually stimulated, we create mental images when reflecting on things and a good book has to paint a picture for its reader. We are, after all, the sum of our experiences with related memories and a good book should stimulate them so that we can make that all important emotional connection to its characters and the challenges they face. It’s amazing how many authors miss this point, especially debut authors, but one author who has this down to a fine art is Dan Petermeier whose debut novel Summer Letters has received much deserved praise and a host of excellent reviews. You can read our review for Summer Letters HERE




2: Not only are humans visually stimulated we are relationship driven. Humans rarely thrive in isolation and a good book should first and foremost seek to forge a relationship between its characters and its readers Think of point one above as a quick hit. Emotions are quickly stimulated and just as quick to subside. Readers want characters they can connect with in terms of dreams, experiences and passion. It’s why romance novels remain forever popular. Readers want to feel invested in a books characters and the author who gives them this creates a captive audience.


You can cut and dice the points above in any way you want and there are many more you could add but at the end of the day these two are the absolute bedrock of a good book and the author who ignores these does so at their peril. One more note though, and it’s an important one. We said at the start that a good book is literature that stands the test of time and is far more than a well-written novel. Some readers and far too many authors get hung up on the quality of writing. The story should always come first and if the writing is good enough word of mouth will ultimately decide how good a book is.


As we always say, any view is subjective and what we always aim to do with our blog posts is to provide a point of reference upon which you can build. We hope we’ve given you something to reflect upon. Whatever your thoughts we are always open to comments and ideas and if you have a good book you’d like to submit for review you can do so HERE



By John Reese, Apr 9 2017 11:52AM

There are a number of essential techniques a mystery writer must master if they ever want to top a bestsellers list. They are entrenched in the genre and the expectations of its readers and none more so than the ability to deliver genuine suspense.


For new or fledgling mystery writers a lack of suspense is often the proverbial kiss of death that will see a novel plummet to the depths of obscurity but get it right and readers will come in their droves. It sounds simple enough to achieve. A few stock tricks of the trade. A cliff-hanger moment, a cleverly contrived twist in the story and of course the all-important reveal but in employing this approach on its own far too many writers end up delivering a formulaic plot that leaves much to be desired. Don’t get us wrong, every genre has an element of formula, it’s what distinguishes one genre from the other but look to the best ever mystery writers and the one thing they have in common is that they have all created great characters. Stock tricks of the trade are great and employed properly showcase a writer's understanding of their craft, but writing a novel is first and foremost about engaging a reader's imagination and central to achieving this is the development of great characters. To really stand out from the pack mystery writers need to create characters that their readers genuinely care about and for better or worse have the innate power to move them.


In our ever more liberal world where we have, to some degree, become increasingly desensitised to violence there is a propensity in mystery novels towards ever more gratuitous levels of it. It does, however, need to be proportionate to the character and their response in the face of it must be never preclude the reader from being able to place themselves in the same situation and imagine what they would do in the same set of circumstances In doing this an author creates characters that live and breathe on a page, that readers become invested in and more importantly fearful for. The suspense becomes real because the reader cares and this is where the magic of genuine suspense is to be found.


Of course, as with anything, it takes time to hone and perfect a craft but with our above thoughts in mind we have put together our top 3 tips to get you underway.


1: To make your protagonist feel real give them a personal demon to confront as their story evolves. It could be a phobia or a seismic event in their back story. The important thing is to foreshadow the moment your protagonist is forced to confront it. Do it right and you will have your readers braced on the edge of their seat,


2: With TIP 1 in mind never forget that in real life there are always many things beyond our control and it should be the same for your protagonist. Life is often unpredictable and we don’t always get the desired outcome. Threats can materialise where we least expect them and whenever we are faced with personal danger the stakes are invariably high with potentially life changing consequences. Above all though, you need to keep it real and within the realms of possibility. Stretch the limits of credibility too far and many readers will disengage. It is all about striking the right balance.


3: Life is rarely easy and it shouldn’t be for your protagonist. It is often the struggle that defines the reward and this is something you should always keep in mind. Just as bad news will always attract more interest it is the perils and obstacles your character faces that will ultimately hold a reader’s attention. Make things too easy and you not only pass on golden opportunities for character development you will lose that all important air of authenticity which readers crave.


Now forgive us for repeating ourselves but as with anything, crafting a potentially bestselling and truly suspenseful mystery takes a lot of practice and few authors get it right first time but one author who has made a great start to her career is P J Mann with her debut novel A tale Of A Rough Diamond. You can find our review HERE




As we always say, any view is subjective and what we always aim to do with our blog posts is to provide a point of reference upon which you can build. We hope we’ve given you something to reflect upon. Whatever your thoughts we are always open to comments and ideas and if you have a book you’d like to submit for review you can do so HERE



By John Reese, Mar 31 2017 01:21PM


Now there’s little point in taking on board the tips above, investing your time and money and then not tracking the results you’re getting. Building an instantly recognisable author brand takes time and you won't necessarily get it right first time. Keep on top of your results, be prepared to make refinements and in time you will develop an author brand and presence which will not only see your readership grow but markedly increase the number of books you sell.


As we always say, any view is subjective and what we always aim to do with our blog posts is to provide a point of reference upon which you can build. We hope we’ve given you something to reflect upon. Whatever your thoughts we are always open to comments and ideas and if you have a book you’d like to submit for review you can do so HERE.


Branding is important in any business and whilst often overlooked by authors, particularly those who are self-publishing it is an essential element of any authors marketing strategy. Strong brands get noticed and for authors, this means selling more books. Most authors start out simply wanting to write but developing an author brand means having a clear idea of what you want to be known for. It’s critically important for an author to connect to their audience and branding must be consistent with marketing. Work your way through our tips below to ensure you have the right branding strategy in place.


1. Define Your Brand

First and foremost authors need to look to what their competitors are doing. Bestselling authors are very good at defining the USP’s (unique selling points) that make their books different and why readers should read them. Begin by writing down a few sentences which succinctly describes why your book is different from the others in your genre. It needs to be compelling and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from friends and other authors whom you respect.


2. Develop Your Messaging Strategy

Social media platforms and social messaging mediums can sometimes be overwhelming but there’s a reason why Facebook, Twitter, Google plus and Linkedin remain the most popular for authors. Together they literally reach billions of potential readers. Unfortunately, far too many authors fail to refine the messages they are promoting and in doing so fail to optimise their brand or zero in on their target audience. Above all, you must be consistent when it comes to developing your author brand.


3. Create A Logo And Tagline That Makes You Stand Out

It’s simple but incredibly effective. Create a tagline and logo for your books which is aimed wholly at your target audience. One that resonates with them and the genre in which you write. Working in tandem they will grab the attention of potential readers and provide a compelling reason to explore your books. In doing so refer back to TIP 1


4. Zero In On Your Marketing Strategy

Branding and marketing are intrinsically linked but ultimately it’s your marketing strategy that promotes your brand and books to the outside world. Sadly the days of reaching a critical mass of potential readers for free through social messaging platforms is fast receding into the past. More and more authors are turning to paid adverts through the likes of Facebook and Twitter and many are seeing impressive results but you have to be strategic about what you do and work to a strict budget. You don’t need to have a vast marketing budget to get your message out. You do need to be focused on your target readership and you have to connect with them. This is why branding is so important. Be strategic about what you do. Have a marketing plan in place and equally as important be clear about how you will measure your results.


5. Build a website

Too many authors get wrapped up in the immediacy of social media and neglect their websites. Your website is your shop window on the internet and you need to drive traffic to it. It’s the one place you control everything and it should not only be consistent with your author brand but the ultimate stop for readers who want to find out who you are and more about the books you write. When building your site always keep TIP1 foremost in mind


Rome wasn’t built in a day and developing an instantly recognisable author brand takes time. One author who continues to develop her brand and build an enthusiastic following is Sue Lilley. With a consistent marketing message, she is rapidly developing an author brand that readers can readily identify with. You can catch up with our review of her latest novel, High Hopes HERE.


Now there’s little point in taking on board the tips above, investing your time and money and then not tracking the results you’re getting. Building an instantly recognisable author brand takes time and you won't necessarily get it right first time. Keep on top of your results, be prepared to make refinements and in time you will develop an author brand and presence which will not only see your readership grow but markedly increase the number of books you sell.


As we always say, any view is subjective and what we always aim to do with our blog posts is to provide a point of reference upon which you can build. We hope we’ve given you something to reflect upon. Whatever your thoughts we are always open to comments and ideas and if you have a book you’d like to submit for review you can do so HERE.



By John Reese, Mar 22 2017 06:04PM



3 Of Our Favourite Covers. You Can Find Their Links At The End Of This Post
3 Of Our Favourite Covers. You Can Find Their Links At The End Of This Post

Our latest author survey focused on what makes great book cover design. We have all heard that age old adage “never judge a book by its cover,” but the reality is that more often than not we do.


What makes a great book cover design? Is it best to buy a book cover design and where to find book cover design tips? These are questions every author should be asking themselves but let’s first look at some sobering statistics. Our recent author survey was aimed at authors who have redesigned their book covers post-launch after poor or lagging sales and who had opted to use the services of a professional book designer. Now let's be clear and say we are not talking about pile them high sell them cheap stock images where you find the same stock images popping up on multiple book covers by different authors. We were specifically focusing on original book cover design.


Polling over 5000 authors we found just 176 who had used a bespoke cover design service in the last year and 64% had seen an immediate increase in book sales as a result of their investment! We then asked them to quantify their increase in sales as an average over a three month period. It’s fair to say that there were significant differences in terms of volume but in terms of average sales across the 176 respondents, they saw an increase over the preceding period of 263 books each. That’s an additional 46,288 additional books sales or from another perspective lost book sales if they hadn’t invested in a book cover makeover.


The statistics are certainly sobering but they pale compared to the results we got when we polled 3000 of our readers, asking them if a mediocre or bad cover would deter them from reading a books description or opening paragraph. A staggering 76% said it would!


Now we should also point out that of the 176 authors who had used a professional book cover design service all of them were Indie authors or contracted to smaller publishing houses. This means that in the majority of cases they were responsible for approving or creating a book covers that they felt reflected their novel and if we take the numbers at face value they could have done a better job first time around. Make no mistake, your book cover is as critical as the blurb and title and this isn’t something you can afford to learn through trial and error.


Now professional book designers come at a premium which many authors can’t readily justify so we’ve put together 6 tips which will help you make an informed choice when it comes to choosing a book cover that will help you achieve the sales to which you aspire. When you break it down it’s incredibly simple, sometimes you just need someone to point out the obvious and steer you in the right direction.


1 The overarching theme of your book should be reflected in your cover design. This will encourage a sense of anticipation that your target readers will want to explore.


2 Keep it simple. Novels are by their nature complex don’t try and cover all aspects of your novel in the cover design. If you can find one powerful image that connects the reader to the essence of your story they will want to turn the pages of your book.


3 Don’t get carried away with text and colour. Your colour palette should capture the ambience of your novel. There’s a reason why book covers in the Horror genre tend to be dark and book covers in the Romance genre tend to be lighter or lean towards warmer tones.


4 If you have a recurring symbol or image throughout your story, ask how you can incorporate it into your cover design. Symbolic images can have a profound impact on a reader and providing they are original can really set your cover apart from others in its genre.


5 Authors more often than not work extremely hard to get book reviews and there is no place to add a great book review than on a book cover, especially when it’s from a well-known source.


6 Solicit feedback on your book cover before going to print. Not from friends or even close acquaintances. Use social media and don’t be quick to disregard feedback because it’s not what you want to hear.


As always we like to keep things simple with a view to helping you focus on points which are particularly salient and hope this post proves helpful. If you have a great cover then why not enter it into our Book Cover Award. It is FREE to enter by clicking HERE with a $3000 promotion award for the winner. You have nothing to lose and it’s a great way to promote your book.


For Bishop's War cover and our review click HERE

For How To Train A God cover and our review click HERE

For An Unknow Woman cover and our review click HERE



By John Reese, Mar 20 2017 07:56AM



Metaphysical fiction is one genre that has particularly benefitted from the continued growth in self-publishing. Many more authors are now writing it and whilst it still remains something of a niche market it‘s literary contribution can never be underestimated. At the centre of most Metaphysical musings is the ever prevalent question of “What is the meaning of life”. In broad terms, it tends towards those more elusive elements. The ones we intuitively experience or sense but for which we lack objective measurement or explanation for and therefore struggle to explain.


It’s a fascinating genre in which to publish but it isn’t without its trials. Readers are drawn to Metaphysical Fiction because the ideas within are interesting but with a publishing market as saturated as it is and with more books published than at any time in history the challenge is how to broaden its appeal. On a superficial level, Metaphysical ideas permeate through multiple genres. Fantasy, romance, sci-fi, thriller, mystery, historical and contemporary fiction, but here the emphasis is more often than not on the story and the mechanics of storytelling first with Metaphysical elements invariably being clichéd plot devices.


It’s worth remembering that when writers lose touch with the purpose of storytelling, stories lose their power to engage the reader on anything more than a superficial level and Metaphysical Authors need to remember that metaphysics in fiction is not ample enough on its own. When a reader chooses fiction over nonfiction they expect a good story, and if metaphysical fiction is to become a mainstream genre then authors must deliver one. Readers can be quite unforgiving and if a genre fails to fully engage them on the first read they are quick to move on and so the real challenge for Metaphysical Authors is to make their stories not only meaningful but entertaining as well.


A fine example of an author who has achieved this is Rea Nolan Martin and her Award Winning novel The Anesthesia Games. Clarion Reviews said, “Visionary spirituality is rarely as well represented in literature as it is in The Anesthesia Game” whilst our own review in which we called it “A wholly original metaphysical and visionary novel from a luminary voice in Women's Fiction” can be found HERE.


The best writer’s don.t write to simply entertain their readers, they write to change their perception too and Martin certainly falls into this category. Delivering a Metaphysical narrative that is grounded in ordinary human existence but in a way that propels her story forward by exploring how her protagonist deals with events which in turn leaves us reflecting on the deeper meaning within. Metaphysical fiction must be as exciting as the ideas it contains and it’s a point that Metaphysical Authors must take on board. To open up brave new worlds of understanding, thought and reflection.


As we always say, any view is subjective and what we always aim to do with our blog posts is to provide a point of reference upon which you can build. We hope we’ve given you something to reflect upon. Whatever your thoughts we are always open to comments and ideas and if you have a book you’d like to submit for review you can do so HERE.


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