Noah Padgett and the Dog-People: Categories, Blurb, Excerpts, and a Poll

NPDP ebook_image

Fingers crossed, official publication day for Noah Padgett and the Dog-People is set for Friday, 9th September, although I might have a soft launch a couple of days earlier to marry up the paperback and kindle editions on a single Amazon Product page. With my début novel, Desiccation, I had to email Amazon to ask them to do this, despite the fact that it’s meant to happen automatically. Such is life.

Before things go live, I’d appreciate a little feedback on my product description for Amazon and/or your votes in a 24-hour poll.

I’m happy with the four sentences below that are a replica of the blurb on the back cover of the paperback edition, but please let me know if there are any glaring errors that I’ve missed. I’m also happy with the Audience Guidelines, which will go at the foot of the blurb.

The area that I need help with, is deciding which of the two excerpts from the novel would work best as a prefix to the blurb. In other words, the excerpt is the first thing a prospective customer will see, so it needs to draw them into looking at the rest of the description, encourage them to read the sample pages in the “Look inside” feature on the product page, and then buy the novel.

I’ve decided to market this novel under the main category of Juvenile Fiction/Animals/Dogs and the secondary category of Juvenile Action and Adventure. The reason for not marketing it under Fantasy, is because there isn’t a Juvenile category for “General Fantasy”, only “Fantasy and Magic”. Noah may have many attributes, but magic isn’t among them. He has to survive by his wits, not the waving of a wand!

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The Blurb

Noah Padgett’s new stepmother Kate treats him as the worst inconvenience in the world and wants him to disappear out of her life, along with the nuisance puppy that his father bought him for his birthday. Her wish comes true, although too fast for her to notice.

Mad entrepreneur Monsieur Percival Poodle is the self-appointed ruler of Zyx, a dimension where Canis sapiens is the predominant species.  Percival likes to collect alien specimens, and two of them have just arrived in his dimension from Earth. One is a primitive four-legged chocolate Labrador and the other a human boy.

Mercenary Lurcher Sergeant Salt works for the highest bidder and makes it his policy to extract maximum profit from jobs. This means selling his alien captives separately, however much distress it causes them.

Fate has already stolen Noah’s beloved mum from him, replacing her with a stepmother from hell. Now it seems that Fate has struck again and stolen Noah’s beloved puppy, leaving him to languish in a high security hospital for criminally insane Canis sapiens, with no apparent means of escape.

Audience Guidelines

Average Grade level 6
Readability fairly easy
Younger Middle Grade Advanced Readers (aged 8/9)
Upper Middle Grade/Lower Young Adult (aged 10-13)
Older teenagers and adults who enjoy reading children’s fiction

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The Excerpts

A. The hall clock strikes midnight. Noah counts its chimes from one to twelve. He tells himself the ravenous clouds are just a preview to a fantasy game: that there’s no harm in checking things out.

He clicks the link.

B. With every beat of his heart, his yearning grows for home, or rather for random things to do with his city. The sound of seagulls, swishing waves, and a gale-force wind whipping flags about poles; the smell and taste of salt; slimy green rock-pools full of crabs; old shells; vinegary fish and chips wrapped in paper and eaten out in the fresh air; hot pavements; shimmering roads; cycling through traffic jams; the stink of petrol and diesel fumes locked in a heat haze: anything other than this sterile whiteness and deep silence, broken on and off by muffled dog barks.

My Latest Amazon Book Description & This Week’s #Kindle Countdown Deal

Desiccation_by_Sarah_Potter

Almost six months have passed since my launch into the world of indie publishing with Desiccation. Have I enjoyed the experience? Yes and No. It has been a huge learning curve and there are things I wish I’d known before.

One tip, to those thinking of going down the same route as me, trial and error learning is all very well, but it’s best not to obsess over your Amazon stats on a daily basis if you’re not to give yourself a nervous breakdown. It’s better to focus on something less volatile and more positive, such as the amazing amount of publishing knowledge you’ve accrued along the way that you can apply to your next project and retrospectively to your first novel when you have your second one out there. But more about that over the next few months.

So here’s my latest book description for Desiccation. This is the one I’ll keep (“Phew, at long last,” I hear you all say!).

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Janet Beckett is a science scholarship girl who believes there’s a rational explanation for all paranormal phenomena.
There is, if you happen to meet a know-it-all hippie pixie who lives in a dimensional transcendental toadstool.

Samantha Hamilton-Brown thinks she’s Queen of the Universe and can do as she pleases in her role as new head girl of Toffdene boarding school.
She can, until aliens cut her reign short and screw with the minds of almost every student and teacher in the establishment.

Joe Buckell is leader of a delinquent mod gang and fancies getting his end away with some hoity-toity daughters of the élite.
He does, but not in the way he hopes.

When desiccation threatens, you’ll do anything to survive.

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This week there’s a Kindle Countdown Deal that runs from today until 27th May, with Desiccation for sale on Amazon (UK) and Amazon (US) at the discounted price of £0.99 and $1.43 respectively.

I’m always a bit shy in coming forward, but I’ve got to learn the art of more proactive marketing. What’s the saying, “If you don’t ask you don’t get”? Or “What is there to lose? The worst that can happen is for people to say no”.

So here goes…

  • If you haven’t already read my book, please buy the Kindle version of my book while it’s going cheap. 
  • If you have already read my book and enjoyed it, please tell your friends about my Countdown Deal.
  • Please, everyone, share about my Countdown Deal on social media.

Thank you 🙂

 

That Eureka Moment re Book Blurb -v- Physical Assault by Blueberries

A big thank you to everybody who responded to my cry of despair earlier this week in The Nightmare of Writing Your Own Amazon Book Description. You all gave me some excellent feedback, which resulted in me deciding to start from scratch. Although Version 4 was the clear favourite, it still had its flaws, the main one being that it focused more on a secondary character than my main protagonist.

So here is what I’ve come up with…

Perched on the clifftops at Helmstone-by-sea, British boarding school Toffdene exists in splendid isolation, pretending the Swinging Sixties aren’t happening outside its walls.

Janet is a science scholarship girl who believes that all paranormal phenomena have a rational explanation, until she meets a hippie pixie who lives in a dimensional transcendental toadstool.

Something stirs in the dark of the old tunnel leading from the playing fields down to the beach. Soon the teachers and pupils develop a hive mind determined to ensnare Janet in its collective consciousness. The hippie pixie might have cured Janet’s acne with a single kiss, but his claim that he can fix what’s wrong with everyone else by mending an interdimensional rift is quite another matter.

I did have a struggle over deciding whether “Swinging Sixties” is/are singular or plural in the context above. When I threw it open to discussion in a writing group I belong to on Facebook, the majority of people said it was plural. Mister is insistent that it’s singular. Two online grammar-checkers said it was okay with either and one other threw out the singular version.

Blueberries

As for those blueberries, all I can say is one person’s superfruit is another person’s  poison. There was me thinking that book marketing (especially the part about describing my product) was causing me such stress that it was giving me severe palpitations bad enough for me to think my end was nigh. The only time in the day my heart was desisting from gymnastics was first thing in the morning. But half-an-hour after my supposedly healthy breakfast, which included a handful of blueberries, my heart would go haywire. Then I remembered that my pulse had been perfectly even, at around 63 beats per minute, prior to inclusion of the little blue blighters in my morning fruit salad, so I stopped having them and, hey presto, no more palpitations.

Now I’m feeling calm, I’ve decided to run an Amazon giveaway for the next seven days now ended, where one person gets to win has won a paperback copy of Desiccation. Entrants just have to choose a number and hope that it’s the preset winning number that I’ve chosen. Unfortunately, at the moment giveaways are only happening on amazon.com, which means they’re only open to US citizens, so sorry to disappoint my fellow citizens in the UK.

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful week, and watch out for those rampaging blueberries 😉

The Nightmare of Writing Your Own Amazon Book Description

Question: What does an author do when all the advice about writing a book description for Amazon is contradictory?

Answer: She slowly goes mad.

Writer's Insanity#1

I have a big problem. My family is sick of me footling around with the words that might make or break a book sale, quite apart from the possibility that Amazon will get cheesed off with me revising my book description every other day.

Here is some of the advice out there, all of it from proclaimed experts.

  • If you don’t write a description of at least 500 words the search engine algorithms won’t pick it up
  • Use all 4000 characters allocated to you by Amazon
  • Keep it under 150 words
  • You have a few seconds to grab a buyer’s attention, so do it in two sentences
  • Put all of your keywords in the Amazon description for SEO optimisation
  • Putting your keywords in the description serves no purpose and irritates Amazon
  • Add snippets of reviews at the foot of your description
  • Amazon does not allow snippets of reviews in the description

I could give many more examples, but will stop there.

Now I’m going to ask my family of bloggers to imagine they’ve never heard of me and they’re looking to buy a book on Amazon.Desiccation ebook_image

Then I would like them to tell me which of the book descriptions below (if any) would grab them enough to commit to buying a copy of my novel. If you don’t like science fiction and fantasy, you’ll need to imagine that you love this combination of genres, just for the purpose of this exercise.

The numbered examples are in the order they were created, beginning with the one based on the blurb on the back of my book (which I no longer thinks passes muster).

Beneath the last example is a poll for you to complete. Any further feedback much appreciated.

Example 1

Autumn Term 1967, Samantha, the new head girl, intends to reign supreme and exploit every loophole in the system to her advantage. This includes running an illicit nocturnal business in the gymnasium and conducting midnight seances in the library, but she hasn’t bargained on rough London mod, Joe, entering the equation.

Scholarship girl Janet senses a disruption to the natural order, impossible to explain away with science.  Soon, the teachers and pupils start to exhibit multiple personality changes and develop a hive mentality, with Janet the despised outsider.

And now a hippie pixie who claims he’s an expert in repairing dimensions wants Janet’s help to mend what Samantha has broken before it’s too late…

Example 2

St Trinian’s meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Autumn Term 1967, mayhem breaks out at an élite British boarding school on the south coast of England. Samantha, the new head girl, intends to reign supreme and exploit every loophole in the system to her advantage. This includes running an illicit nocturnal business in the gymnasium and conducting midnight seances in the library, but she hasn’t bargained on London mod, Joe, entering the equation. Leader of a gang on probation for petty crimes, Joe has suffered a lifetime of bombardment by malign spirits. Now, thanks to the head girl’s flirtation with the occult, he has become the conduit for something that pales these spirits into insignificance.

Haunted by the mysterious death of the school caretaker the previous term, scholarship girl Janet senses a disruption to the natural order, impossible to explain away with science. When teachers and students start to exhibit multiple personality changes and develop a hive mentality, Janet becomes the despised outsider. Can she trust, as her protector, a hippie pixie who claims he’s an expert in repairing dimensions? And will she muster the courage to help him reverse a catastrophe that could destroy humankind?

Huddled in a corner, watching, loathing, their world lost to them. A human had dragged them here, away from their own kind. Alone, abandoned, drifting in a world in between.

Example 3

When mayhem erupts at a British boarding school, scholarship pupil Janet discovers the narrow dividing line between magic and science. It’s 1967 and the new head girl Samantha intends to play the system for all its worth, but this backfires [on her]* big time after she invites some delinquent mods to a seance and their gang leader causes an interdimensional rift. With bodysnatching aliens on the rampage, the pupils and teachers develop a hive mentality determined to ensnare Janet into its collective consciousness. Can she entrust herself to the protection of a hippie pixie who claims he’s an expert in repairing dimensions, and will she muster the courage to help him reverse a catastrophe that could destroy humankind?

[* I’m not sure if the words “on her” are necessary]

Example 4

Huddled in a corner, watching, loathing, their world lost to them. A human had dragged them here, away from their own kind. Alone, abandoned, drifting in a world in between.

When mayhem erupts at a British boarding school, scholarship pupil Janet discovers the narrow dividing line between magic and science. It’s 1967 and the new head girl, Samantha, intends to play the system for all its worth, but this backfires big time after she invites some delinquent mods to a seance and their gang leader causes an interdimensional rift.

With bodysnatching aliens on the rampage, the pupils and teachers develop a hive mentality determined to ensnare Janet into its collective consciousness. Can she entrust herself to the protection of a hippie pixie who claims he’s an expert in repairing dimensions, and will she muster the courage to help him reverse a catastrophe that could destroy humankind?

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my post and complete this poll 🙂