THE JAMES MASON COMMUNITY BOOK CLUB discussion

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Authors and Their Books > Book Review versus Book Blurb

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message 1: by Keith (new)

Keith Rommel (keith_rommel) | 14 comments I am wondering what gets the readers attention the most. Is it the dust jacket blurb or reviews from fellow readers?

Review (taken from Amazon):
I think it's fair to say that Keith Rommel's The Cursed Man took me by complete surprise. The blurb from Amazon made it sound like this would be a fairly routine story. A man - Alister Kunkle - believes he is haunted by Death itself, so much so that anyone that even talks to him dies within 24 hours. To spare those around him, Alister has himself committed and placed in almost complete isolation. He exists this way for 20 years, when a caring young doctor enters his life, determined to prove that Alister's curse, as he calls it, is the creation of a sick mind, and that she can help him. That's not a particularly novel setup, but while a most writers would make the truth about Alister's condition fairly obvious, Rommel keeps you guessing the whole time.

Alister's past is revealed slowly and in such a manner that the reader strongly empathizes with him. You come to see that as monstrous as Alister's living conditions are, that really is the only option. He has tried everything else, but that only lead to more death. Complete isolation is the only thing that has kept the people around him alive. And then, with just a few short paragraphs, all of that is thrown into question and you're back to square one: is Alister cursed, or is he just crazy? But while this trope is often handled quite poorly, Rommel does it in such a graceful manner that it only adds to the mystery surrounding his character. You're as confused as Alister. Are the events that have defined his life real, or are they the workings of a disturbed mind? It is a subtle insanity, and it is portrayed as convincingly as I've ever seen.

The final act is simply chilling. Rommel takes the creeping sense of horror he's cultivated and turns it loose on the reader in a manner that rivals anything I've read from the masters of the genre. This is an ending that will stay with you.

I believe Keith Rommel is going to be a writer to watch. There were a few small technical problems with the book - dialogue didn't flow as naturally as it could have and the jumps between the past and present could have been structured a bit better are the two that stand out the most - but as a storyteller, Rommel is leaps and bounds beyond many bestselling horror and suspense writers. All he needs is a little exposure, so I encourage everyone to give this book a shot. You won't be disappointed.

Blurb:
Alister Kunkle believes death is in love with him. A simple smile from friend or stranger is all it takes to encourage death to kill.
With his family deceased and a path of destruction behind him, Alister sits inside a mental institution, sworn to silence and separated from the rest of the world, haunted by his inability to escape death’s preferential treatment.
But when a beautiful psychologist arrives at the institution and starts offering him care, Alister braces himself for more killings. When none follow, he tries to figure out whether he truly is insane or if death has finally come to him in the form of a woman.


message 2: by Richard (new)

Richard (nemzep95) | 18 comments It's a bit of both. I mean I pay close attention to the blurb, whereas sometimes I'm nervous to read reviews in case they have spoilers (although I generally still read a few of them).


message 3: by Keith (new)

Keith Rommel (keith_rommel) | 14 comments I don't suppose I am one to put too much into a review (as a reader) as if the description of the book is something I am interested in, I buy the book. But as a writer, reviews do mean a lot. It helps spread "word of mouth" and it also gives insight into how differences of opinions can be from person to person. I have always found that the most fascinating part of reading people's feedback.


message 4: by Richard (new)

Richard (nemzep95) | 18 comments I as a reader don't put tooooo much weight into reviews, but sometimes it provides a sense of flaws people saw in it. Granted some reviews can just be unnecessary rants, or just a sentence saying the person read the book. But generally I've already decided I want to read the book by the time I'm reading the reviews.


message 5: by Keith (new)

Keith Rommel (keith_rommel) | 14 comments Another question that I have would be whether or not the review has more merit if it is coming from a large organization as opposed to your average Joe?


message 6: by KOMET (new)

KOMET | 674 comments Occasionally, I will read The New York Times Book Review, because I have a generally high regard for it. One review in particular I read a year ago impressed me so much that I bought the book in hardcover (and this is from a person who hugely loves paperbacks) ---

My Queer War by James Lord

My Queer War by James Lord


I'm also the sort of reader who will read reviews written in a book I've purchased, provided that the reviews pertain to the book itself.


message 7: by Keith (new)

Keith Rommel (keith_rommel) | 14 comments @ Komet - And did the book live up to the review that influenced you to buy the book?


message 8: by KOMET (new)

KOMET | 674 comments Hi Keith,

In answer to your question, from what I've read of the James Lord memoir thus far, it has met my expectations. (As the son of a Second World War combat veteran --- who, like Mr. Lord, served in Europe --- I am fascinated with memoirs from that war.)


message 9: by ~Geektastic~ (new)

 ~Geektastic~ (atroskity) I try not to rely too much on either reviews or blurbs, but I appreciate reviews a little more. Blurbs are often written by someone being paid to fit the selling points of a book into a tiny space, and they are often misleading. Reviews are often the gut reactions of someone who has actually experienced the book, and they may not be perfectly unbiased, but I trust them a little more.


message 10: by Jewel (new)

Jewel (jewela) | 24 comments It's funny how we all differ when it comes to things pertaining to writing. I like reading reviews of my books, both positive and negative, because the positive ones give me a boost and help make it all worth it. The negative ones just serve to remind me that as a writer, you can't please everyone so I don't even try, because it would only change the voice of my writing.
I don't read many book reviews, period. If the blurb sounds interesting to me, I buy it or check it out at the library. If I like it, great, if I don't like it enough to read it again, I take my purchased book to a neighborhood used book store and trade it in. I don't feel like I've lost anything:-)


message 11: by Keith (new)

Keith Rommel (keith_rommel) | 14 comments Amber and Jewel, both very good points. While we're on a roll here, I would also like to bring up the topic of a paid review. Good business practice? Or do you stay far away from it?

When it comes to paid reviews I am dead set against them and feel they are bad business practice. I have many points for this reason and I won't bore anyone with the details unless they would like to discuss.


message 12: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Shimotakahara (lshimo) My publisher just finalized the blurb on the back of my book and as a first-time author, I'm kind of on pins and needles.... It's a strange experience reading about my book turned into a cover blurb! Here it is: http://shimosreadinglist.blogspot.com...


message 13: by Keith (new)

Keith Rommel (keith_rommel) | 14 comments It is very well done. You should be proud.


message 14: by Jewel (new)

Jewel (jewela) | 24 comments Some people do pay for reviews, but I just can't do that. I want an honest opinion, even if the reader thinks my book stinks. (I would just take the person's name in vain a few times, stitch his or her name on a pin cushion and jab it until the stuffing comes out, then move on:-))
But I would need that honesty.


message 15: by Keith (new)

Keith Rommel (keith_rommel) | 14 comments @ Jewel - I agree with you 100%. If I were to pay for a review I think the lingering question of how honest that review was would always nag me. An unbiased opinion rules--whether it's good or bad.


message 16: by Jewel (new)

Jewel (jewela) | 24 comments You definitely learn how to be thick-skinned, that's for sure. (But the pin cushion really does help:-))


message 17: by Keith (new)

Keith Rommel (keith_rommel) | 14 comments The pin cushion seems like a great idea and I will have to give that a try. You have any marketing strategies worth sharing?


message 18: by Richard (new)

Richard (nemzep95) | 18 comments Keith wrote: "Another question that I have would be whether or not the review has more merit if it is coming from a large organization as opposed to your average Joe?"

To me it's not necessarily whether it's a company or a regular person. I prefer ones that are helpful, as in they lack spoilers AND they aren't merely a sentence and tell me a lot about the book.


message 19: by Jewel (new)

Jewel (jewela) | 24 comments I'm still a work in progress, but I've found that I've sold a great deal more of my self-published novels than my traditionally published ones. One reasons is the publisher of those books has never done anything to market them. I've done it all. Which is why I've sworn off traditional publishers and started my own little company, but I couldn't have done it without my genius husband's mad skills:-) I like the freedom of self-publishing and I know that my books will go as far as I'm able to take them.
I started publishing ebooks before the emergence of Kindle and Nook, and my books are available in both formats now. The days of "Oh, it's just an ebook" are long gone now, and let me tell you that phrase used to drive me insane. Now when I tell people I have a new book out, the first question I get is, "Is it in Kindle format?" Makes me smile every time:-) Now all my ebooks are available in paperback, thanks to Createspace.
When I release a new book, I do everything humanly possible to market it on a tight budget. I place ads, do the fliers and bookmarks, and give them to everyone I come in contact with. Besides Amazon and B&N, I list the ebooks on Smashwords, Offthebookshelf, and anywhere else I can list them. I set up signings, throw open houses, do book groups, schedule speaking engagements, etc. But one thing I discovered that has been really helpful is uploading free reads on Wattpad.com. I was kind of wary when they contacted me about it because I figured no one would buy my books if they could read them for free, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made as far as my writing career. Because of the way it is set up, readers can't download the books and they can only read them on their computers or phones. Since doing this, the sales of my Kindle books have increased dramatically.
So that's basically it. Any and everything I can do (within reason, because I'm not going to sell my kids or anything:-)) I do to sell books.


message 20: by Keith (new)

Keith Rommel (keith_rommel) | 14 comments I too am a member of Wattpad but never posted a full book. That is an interesting tactic that I will have to really consider. Thanks for sharing as I'm sure a lot of people can consider that as well.

@ Richard - does it make a difference to you whether it is s paper copy or a printed copy? Preferences anyone?


message 21: by Brick (new)

Brick Marlin Jewel wrote: "I'm still a work in progress, but I've found that I've sold a great deal more of my self-published novels than my traditionally published ones. One reasons is the publisher of those books has never..."

Very cool! I've published Raising Riley on Scribd.com and Dark Places of Rest on Smashwords.com. Both websites have given me the blessings to have my books downloaded many times.


message 22: by Keith (new)

Keith Rommel (keith_rommel) | 14 comments Brick ` Do you have any marketing tips to share? Anything special that you do others might find helpful?


message 23: by Brick (new)

Brick Marlin Keith, I usually try to market my work by linking my work on Facebook and Twitter. Fortunately, I have had a lot of readers stop by and download my two of my ebooks for free. I've had the opportunity to book sign in not only large bookstores, but smaller ones that sell used books - which, I find quite fun because I can discount my books for the avid reader on a budget! My book An Ensanguined Path is now available for Nook, as well as Kindle format. Sectors is the start of a long series I am in the process of achieving and I am trying to propose the very next book in the series to an agent.

To add, word-of-mouth is always a good thing to market your writing.


message 24: by Timothy (new)

Timothy Pilgrim (oldgeezer) | 145 comments Hi Jewel,
More power to you young Lady, well done.
As for what counts, most reviews of 'mainstream' i.e conventional books aren't worth the paper they are printed on! Why? because they are written by people who work for the same ultimate boss as the publisher. Most of the big publishing houses are owned by the various media giants.
The reviews which really count are those by a reader who actually bought the book under discussion. Ultimately these are the only ones which count!
All the best Paul Rix [oldgeezer]


message 25: by Jewel (new)

Jewel (jewela) | 24 comments Timothy wrote: "Hi Jewel,
More power to you young Lady, well done.
As for what counts, most reviews of 'mainstream' i.e conventional books aren't worth the paper they are printed on! Why? because they ..."


Amen, I totally agree:-)


message 26: by Keith (new)

Keith Rommel (keith_rommel) | 14 comments To any author/reader and non threatening person that would like to network with me on TWITTER, friend me--I always friend back:

@keithrommel



http://twitter.com/Keithrommel


message 27: by Keith (new)

Keith Rommel (keith_rommel) | 14 comments @ Timothy: My most favorite response yet!


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