How to Get Those God*&n Book Reviews: 4 Alternative Tactics

I know from personal experience and from sweating with my fellow authors that hunting down reviewers has become exponentially tougher in this last year or so. Goodreads has clamped down on their author solicitations (even to your followers/friends). Amazon’s top reviewers are so flooded with requests that most no longer accept requests. Even book review blogs have months-long backlogs, at least the ones that don’t charge a fee. The list of challenges goes on and on, but we’re not interested in whining. No, this post is all about solutions.

So just what is an author, even an established one, supposed to do? Not in a vague, philosophical sense, but what concrete steps can I take today to get more reviews? Here are four tips to ramp up your review rate. Full disclosure though: there is a fair amount of elbow grease involved.

I) Squeeze more out of your mailing list.

This is a simple, but perhaps scary step. Even successful sales-oriented emails often have a 30-40% unopened rate. Many authors just shrug and ignore those unresponsive subscribers, but there is opportunity in this seemingly uninterested segment of readers.

Try waiting 48 hours and then send a new campaign to those subscribers that never opened the first mailing. This time, offer a free copy of your latest release if they’re willing to leave a review. Make sure the free offer is clear in the subject line. For example, “Free copy of __ by __ enclosed.”

In most cases, you’ll see a 70-80% open rate and better than 60% click-through rate. That’s quite a bit of engagement squeezed out of a supposedly dry well.

Admittedly, there is a risk involved here. You are conditioning a sizeable chunk of your mailing list never to buy your work, since they’ll receive a free copy soon. This will cost you a few sales, but on the other hand, most of these subscribers wouldn’t have bought your book anyway. So at least you can wring a few reviews out of them. It’s a small trade off that, in my experience and for other authors that have taken the plunge, is definitely worth the trouble. Give this a shot for your next new release.

II) Get more engagement from your back matter.

It’s no shocker that an informal “call to action” section, also known as begging for reviews, at the end of your book is the best time to generate reviews, but how do you squeeze the most reader engagement out of that short paragraph? In my experience, a great call to action has less to do with hitting the right emotional buttons and far more with removing any obstacles in the way of leaving a review.

Here are four of the most common stumbling blocks keeping even enthusiastic fans from leaving feedback. At the end of the list, I’ve included a sample call to action with suggested resolutions for each roadblock in practice.

  • Never even seeing the call to action.First and foremost, make sure your request begins on the very same line as “The End” and doesn’t start on the next page. That sounds so trivial, but this little change can usually double the number of eyeballs on your action call in the first place.
  • Time constraints.Explicitly state that you’re looking for any sort of feedback, no matter how short or generic. Some readers hear “leave a review” and immediately equate that with “write a book report.” Even if they’re willing to help, few have the time. So they table writing a review for later and… well, life gets in the way and things are lost in the shuffle. Make sure your readers know that even an emoticon thumbs-up/down is better than nothing. Of course, as an author, you prefer insightful and novella-length critique, but as a publisher… heck, you’ll take whatever you can get.
  • Confusion between reviewing and rating.Remember that after the last page is finished on a Kindle eReader, Amazon has a pop up page asking the reader to “rate this book” and sometimes answer survey questions about the story’s quality. This is why you have so many readers contacting you and saying they left a review, but you aren’t seeing anything new on the book’s product page. Your fans aren’t being duplicitous. It’s just that the retailer isn’t clear about what they’re doing with this feedback and how it differs from a product review.
  • Motivation. Sure, you created something entertaining, but the reader has already compensated you by purchasing your work. Thank goodness for everyone that goes above and beyond and leaves some feedback, but let’s be frank. No one owes you a review, no matter how simple and clear you’ve made the process. You, a stranger, are asking for a favor. It’s perfectly normal for the reader to demand something in return.

Now, per Amazon’s Terms of Service, you can’t offer anything other than a free copy of the book being reviewed in exchange for feedback. That said, you can offer free copies of other books to anyone signing up for your beta reader/advance reader/ mailing list, as long as reviewing this particular book isn’t required. You could even do some type of giveaway contest. Be creative, but the goal here is to offer something of value for the reader if they’ll just contact you. The very act of prodding them into emailing you or reaching out over social media encourages most people to leave a quick review. If not, you’ll have a second chance to remind them when they contact you.

I realize this part seems convoluted and indirect, but this subtle nudging really helps increase not just your review rate, but the level of detail explored in the reviews.

Sample Call to Action:

[1] THE END… I hope you enjoyed my little tale. Please don’t forget to give this book a quick review on Amazon. [2] Even just a two-word, “Liked it” or “Hated it” review helps so much. Positive or negative, I am grateful for all feedback from my readers.  [3] Please just swing over to the book page [link] and toss up your review, since the star rating you leave on the next page won’t be visible online. Amazon simply uses that feedback for their internal recommendation engine.

[4] If you’re interested in becoming a beta reader and receiving FREE advance copies of new releases, just shoot me a head’s up at: __ and I’ll add you to the list. While not required to receive free new releases, I’d really appreciate it if you could leave a quick review of [this book’s title], of any length (one or ten stars, doesn’t matter). This is not a marketing or spam list. You will only be contacted to send you free copies of new releases. Thanks again for your support.

III) Direct approach: How to craft effective review query requests.

Whether you’re submitting requests to reviewers of similar books or semi-professional book review blogs, you’re wasting your time if you aren’t pre-screening and customizing your requests. The shotgun approach just doesn’t work any longer. Here are some sample request templates, with a line-by-line breakdown explaining just why they’ll increase your chances of getting attention.

Direct approach ground rules:

Pre-screen. You should only request reviews from people that meet the following criteria:

  • Have a public profile. They list an email and/or website publicly. Don’t stalk them. General rule of thumb: if you can’t find their email within 30 seconds, don’t keep looking. This doesn’t mean you can’t PM someone on a social media network, however. As long as you follow the site’s rules.
  • Target only people who have left reviews of a similar book. Not just readers that listed themselves as a fan or rated the book, but those that took the time to write a positive review. If you aren’t sure which book to target, go through the “also bought…” on your product page or bestsellers in your sub-genre. There are free 3rd party services that show you most of your related Amazon products. Here is one particularly useful example that even includes degrees of separation: http://www.yasiv.com
  • Follow the author guidelines for any social platform. For example, some groups on Goodreads are great places to reach engaged readers, but be careful. Goodreads has strict rules on unsolicited contacts. You do not want your author account blocked for spamming. Like many social sites, they have a clear do/don’t list for authors: https://www.goodreads.com/author/guidelines
  • Customize your pitch. This seems time consuming, I know. Especially if you’re sending out hundreds of requests, but it’s absolutely necessary. It actually saves you work, since a custom contact email will likely have a response rate between 40-50%, whereas generic ones usually have less than 10%. You also won’t annoy potential prospects by coming across as a spammer. You can still use templates, but the beginning needs to be personalized. See the sample below.
  • Once contact has been made, NEVER follow up unless they reply to you. If you don’t hear back from someone, don’t send them a reminder. Don’t joggle their elbow. If they agreed to do a review, took a free copy and haven’t left a review in months, oh well. Your time is better spent moving on to someone else rather than prodding them.
  • Only use this direct approach for giving away free copies to review. No exceptions. Any kind of unsolicited attempt to make a sale, even letting them know about a huge discount, is spam, by definition. Expect to be ignored.

Okay, ground rules out of the way. Let’s get down in the weeds.

The order of your first paragraph will make or break your proposal. I’ve been on the receiving end of these requests for years, as well as tried out dozens of approaches myself. So far, this method works well (60% response rate across all contact methods). Get straight to the meat of the conversation and then try to hook them. The exact opposite approach of traditional book review requests.

Many authors prefer to lead with a long preamble about their story, motivation for writing or personal biography. They want to be interesting and engaging, but most reviewers don’t care. They’re looking for books that are relevant to their interests. If they don’t know exactly what you want in the first two sentences and why that’s uniquely related to them, they won’t keep reading. Or worse, mark you as spam.

Sample query email for a private individual who has no specific submission guidelines:

 Hello Mr. /Ms. X,
[1] I just read your review of “(similar book)” by ___ and I found it (non-generic compliment and specific reason why you agree). [2] Based upon that review, I’d like to send you a complimentary copy of my (specific sub-genre): (book title). [3] This is a tongue in cheek, but realistic tale of a Second American Civil War breaking out in the near future. Neither right nor left wing political.

[4] If you are interested in reading this story, you can download a free review copy from:

Kindle format: [Hyperlinked to Dropbox]

Epub format: [Hyperlinked to Dropbox]

[5] There is no obligation to review this, of course. The copy is yours to keep (DRM free), but if you are willing to leave an honest, frank review on Amazon whenever you get a chance, that would help immensely. I am grateful for any feedback you can offer, either positive or negative. If you do leave a review, please be sure to mention that you received a free copy to review, in order to comply with Amazon’s Terms of Service.

Here are the Amazon and Goodreads pages if you would like additional information:

– (I wouldn’t put in short or tracking links in this case. Turns some people off.)

Thank you very much for your time,
(real name or nickname, not pen name)

However you word your request, here are the key points to keep the reader from shrugging this off as spam:

[1] The first sentence needs to answer the question: “Why am I being uniquely contacted?” Don’t blow smoke up their rear. Be honest and specific and you’ll see a high response rate.

[2] The second sentence explains exactly what you want and why. Important to squeeze in that this is free. Any hint of trying to make a sale will tick people off.

[3] The third sentence is your hook. This is different than your generic book description. Here you try to establish a relevant connection to the potential reviewer or at least show your book is similar to the work they enjoyed. The possibilities are endless, but the core principle is the same as for all promotions: relevancy. In the above example, the reviewer had little public information in their Amazon profile, but complained in his review that the source book was “too right-wing political.”

[4] Remove any barriers to reviewing. You’ll see a huge increase in engagement if the reviewer mustn’t do anything other than download the book. No commitments, no risk. Take out that extra step of responding in order to get their copy.

[5] Aim for the soft sale. Keep things pressure free and professional for best results.

Normal book review blog query request

The same fundamental still applies and is even more critical here, since these people likely receive many requests every day. So establishing relevancy and then the hook, while religiously following their submission guidelines, is absolutely vital. That’s why I suggest offering a little something extra, like in the following example.

I wish I could take credit for this one, but this was sent to my book review blog. The request did not even loosely fit into the genres or type of author I explicitly spelled out in my submission guidelines. Still, he persuaded me not only to review his work, but even prioritize his book. When I pressed the author for details on his strategy, he admitted that this was a form letter which he only slightly customized for me. Here’s what he wrote with a line-by-line breakdown why it was so effective.

“Dear Pete [1],

I was really excited to find your military-fiction focused blog and hoped that you would be interested in reviewing xxxxx. I’m not a vet. However, the research sources for this story are vets. [2]

I’m a teacher in xxxxx, Colorado. My school coordinates with xxxxx to bring local authors into the classroom. I’m donating all April proceeds from my literary thriller xxxxx to support that program. So we hoped that you would be interested in doing an interview or a guest post about the fundraiser, as well. [3]

xxxxxxxx is a thoughtful and character driven literary thriller. Think of it as Jason Bourne meets Good Will Hunting. [4]

[description, bio, links, etc…]”

This author got what he wanted with only a few minutes of effort. Here’s the highlight reel:

[1] Shows he read all the blog’s details if he got to my preferred nickname.

[2] Established relevancy right off the bat, even though neither he nor his story were relevant to the blog. Excellent example. A civilian successfully pitched a highbrow, coming-of-age literary tale to a veteran’s blog that primarily reviewed war stories and zombie apocalypses. Mainly by that one sentence which established a relevant connection despite the odds.

[3] Double hook. A charity giveaway (or close enough) and he offered some small promotion opportunity for me in return. It’s the thought that counts. Classy.

[4] Finally comes the generic stuff that most authors lead with. I had pretty much already decided to review his book before I even got to the details. His great blurb just sealed the deal.

All the details of this pitch aren’t reproducible, but the theme is. Establish relevancy or some connection first, hook the reviewer and then close the deal with your blurb. Pretty much the opposite approach most authors, publishers and even some agents take.

IV) Where to spray around free copies.

Always good general advice, but here are three specific methods.

  1. Try this for one month: an unofficial policy of handing out free copies to any reader who contacts you for anything. Even those just liking your Facebook page. Many of these folks will have already read your work, that’s how they found you in the first place, so this also serves as a gentle reminder for them to leave a review.
  2. Librarything. Yes, I realize the giveaways are not nearly as effective as they once were, but does that matter? For just a few minutes of your time, you can usually net a handful of reviews. It’s small payoff, sure, but requires little effort. One cool feature with LT is that you can “queue up” multiple giveaways at once. For example, try running perpetual four-week giveaways, each beginning the day after the last ended.
  3. Mailing list sign up and free book offer on product page. If you have a cheap first-in-series tale that you’re plugging hard, then try leading your description off with a link to your mailing list squeeze page. Something along the lines of: “For a limited time, you can get this book for free by signing up to my new release list: [short link]. Please just copy and paste into your browser to receive your free copy.

Please feel free to add your favorite review hunting tips in the comments!

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Three Brute Force Methods To Ramp Up Your Proofreading Game

The next best alternative to investing money in professional proofreading is investing your own valuable time. So here are three time-intensive, but proven strategies to polish your manuscript.

1) Change your reading patterns.

The goal here is just to get out of your comfort zone and trick your mind into believing you’re working on something new. One of the most difficult proofing obstacles for an author to overcome is their intimacy with the story. Our brains can’t help but strive for efficiency in all things, and that grey sponge sure loves solving puzzles.

So while you’re struggling to meticulously dissect a tale you’ve spent months sweating over and have nearly memorized, your overzealous noggin’ is helping you to death. Rather than flagging errors, your mind tries hard to gloss over all those typos, odd commas and homonyms. Your sub-conscious is so ruthlessly task-oriented that it just corrects minor mistakes without fuss and passes a summary to the head office. It’s an impressive feet, four shore, butt annoying aztec. The following basic steps will help kick you out of your comfort zone and refocus your mind.

a) Conduct your proofreading away from the computer screen, using a different medium than you prefer for pleasure reading. For example, if you usually read hardcopy books, then proofread on an Ereader or mobile device. For Ebook lovers, go old school and print out the manuscript.

b) Review with extra-large text. If you print your book, then use at least an 18-point font. If you’re proofing on an electronic device, then zoom in two levels or more than normal.

c) Expose only the line you’re reading. Again, the subconscious loves to skip well ahead of what we can consciously process and feed our brains what they expect to read, rather than what’s really there. Use a sheet of paper or ruler to block out the next line so your mind stays laser-focused.

2) Read backwards. For sentence-level clarity, start reading from the end. Tackling every line, or at least each chapter, in reverse is tiresome and confusing, no doubt, but that’s the point. The goal here is to strip away all context, narrative and even logical consistency, so you can focus on each sentence in isolation. Swim against the current instead of just floating along and you’ll smash into plenty of flotsam that would have otherwise sailed past.

3) Dictate and transcribe. This is the heavy artillery, but it does work wonders if you have the time. Most computers have free software already installed that can read the text out loud, such as Narrator for PC or Text to Speech for the Mac. As the computer dictates, simply transcribe the text into a new manuscript. Awkward phrasing and typos are amplified and ring out every time the narrator stumbles.

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Maximize Reviews Generated by Your Back Matter.

It’s no shocker that an informal “call to action” section, also known as begging for reviews, at the end of your book is the best time to generate reviews, but how do you squeeze the most reader engagement out of that short paragraph? In my experience, a great call to action has less to do with hitting the right emotional buttons and far more with removing any obstacles in the way of leaving a review.

Here are four of the most common stumbling blocks keeping even enthusiastic fans from leaving feedback. At the end of the list, I’ve included a sample call to action with suggested resolutions for each roadblock in practice.

  • Never even seeing the call to action. First and foremost, make sure your request begins on the very same line as “The End” and doesn’t start on the next page. That sounds so trivial, but this little change can usually double the number of eyeballs on your action call in the first place.
  • Time constraints. Explicitly state that you’re looking for any sort of feedback, no matter how short or generic. Some readers hear “leave a review” and immediately equate that with “write a book report.” Even if they’re willing to help, few have the time. So they table writing a review for later and… well, life gets in the way and things are lost in the shuffle. Make sure your readers know that even an emoticon thumbs-up/down is better than nothing. Of course, as an author, you prefer insightful and novella-length critique, but as a publisher… heck, you’ll take whatever you can get.
  • Confusion between reviewing and rating. Remember that after the last page is finished on a Kindle eReader, Amazon has a pop up page asking the reader to “rate this book” and sometimes answer survey questions about the story’s quality. This is why you have so many readers contacting you and saying they left a review, but you aren’t seeing anything new on the book’s product page. Your fans aren’t being duplicitous. It’s just that the retailer isn’t clear about what they’re doing with this feedback and how it differs from a product review.
  • Motivation. Sure, you created something entertaining, but the reader has already compensated you by purchasing your work. Thank goodness for everyone that goes above and beyond and leaves some feedback, but let’s be frank. No one owes you a review, no matter how simple and clear you’ve made the process. You, a stranger, are asking for a favor. It’s perfectly normal for the reader to demand something in return.

Now, per Amazon’s Terms of Service, you can’t offer anything other than a free copy of the book being reviewed in exchange for feedback. That said, you can offer free copies of other books to anyone signing up for your beta reader/advance reader/ mailing list, as long as reviewing this particular book isn’t required. You could even do some type of giveaway contest. Be creative, but the goal here is to offer something of value for the reader if they’ll just contact you. The very act of prodding them into emailing you or reaching out over social media encourages most people to leave a quick review. If not, you’ll have a second chance to remind them when they contact you.

I realize this part seems convoluted and indirect, but this subtle nudging really helps increase not just your review rate, but the level of detail explored in the reviews.

Sample Call to Action:

[1] THE END… I hope you enjoyed my little tale. Please don’t forget to give this book a quick review on Amazon. [2] Even just a two-word, “Liked it” or “Hated it” review helps so much. Positive or negative, I am grateful for all feedback from my readers.  [3] Please just swing over to the book page [link] and toss up your review, since the star rating you leave on the next page won’t be visible online. Amazon simply uses that feedback for their internal recommendation engine.

[4] If you’re interested in becoming a beta reader and receiving FREE advance copies of new releases, just shoot me a head’s up at: __ and I’ll add you to the list. While not required to receive free new releases, I’d really appreciate it if you could leave a quick review of [this book’s title], of any length (one or ten stars, doesn’t matter). This is not a marketing or spam list. You will only be contacted to send you free copies of new releases. Thanks again for your support.

Miscellaneous Review Notes:

1) When you’re sending out free book copies, always, always, always remind the reader to mention that they received a free copy. Besides being illegal to not disclose compensation, disclosures are such a common practice nowadays that many readers just assume a review without a “verified purchase” tag and the free disclaimer is bogus.

You can include the reminder already for the reviewer. All they have to do is copy/paste:

As is standard publishing practice, I received a free advance review copy of this book in exchange for my feedback.

2) Like with any review system, you will (it’s a law of nature) receive some negative feedback that you feel is unjust. The vast majority of authors have no problem with that, but a small minority can’t accept this reality. For those writers, I don’t know what to say other than, “Suck it up, buttercup.”

Almost all negative reviews include valuable, albeit painful, lessons to learn. Even if you believe that a particular review is utterly false and has no value, be thankful that person took the time to write anything and remember that reviews are for readers, not the author. No matter what, don’t respond. Do. Not. Engage. Never. No exceptions.

Ninety-nine times out of one hundred, it’s only a passing rant and they’ll drop the issue… unless you spark a dialogue. Then you’re playing with fire. Ask any author; nothing good comes from such discussions. Even something as innocuous as, “I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the book. I’d be happy to offer you a refund,” can blow up in your face in a hurry.

The same goes for negative reviews posted in the comments section of your blog or social media pages. For example, on one of your Facebook posts. Far from being a safe place to vent, any strife here will be even more visible than on the retailer’s site. Be professional at all times, especially when you don’t feel like one. Don’t even bother deleting the negative comments; that’s only inviting trouble. This is one problem that will go away just by being ignored.

 

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Best Bang For Your Buck: Editing vs. Marketing Budget

Here’s a common concern I hear from many authors and, in all honesty, voiced myself when I first dived into publishing:

I’d like to have my work professionally edited, sure, but I’m not made out of money. My manuscript is around 70,000 words, so that’ll run me $350. Roughly the cost of a Bookbub advertisement! Why should I spend my limited funds on editing instead of marketing?

I understand that investing in editing sometimes feels like a risky proposition, but it’s vital to remember that pro-editing and intense marketing go hand in hand. At the simplest level, advertising gets your readers in the door, but quality is what keeps them coming back for more.

A well-edited book is not just a point of professional pride, but also a marketing “force multiplier.” While a book advertisement campaign is a one-time event, carefully polished novels continue earning back that editorial investment many times over. Whether a short story or epic novel, books that have been professionally edited enjoy several competitive advantages:

  • Repeat Business: Drastically increased read-through to the rest of your series.
  • Point of Sale: Ramps up the “conversion rate” of your retail product page by minimizing negative reviews, maximizing positive reviews and guaranteeing the best “look inside” sample possible. Nothing hampers sales as much as a single review stating, “I loved the story, but the editing was just…”
  • Subscription Services: Significantly reduces the did-not-finish-reading (dropped books) rate. This is particularly valuable if your book is enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, since you’re being paid per page read from all those borrowers.
  • Brand Loyalty: Dramatically improves the number of sign-ups to your mailing list, which is the gold standard of book marketing and the key to building a lasting publishing career.

As you can imagine, even a modest increase of 10-20% in any of these metrics would recover your investment in short order, but that’s just the beginning.

With over four million e-books for sale on Amazon.com alone and an average of 3,000 new works uploaded every day, it’s more crucial than ever to stand out from the pack. Of all the options for investing in your publishing business, professional editing gives independent authors not only the best bang for their buck, but the best chance to thrive in this ultra-competitive marketplace.

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Brand New Post-Apocalyptic Survival Thriller

Book1

Thanks to everyone’s support, I’ve just launched a brand new post-apocalyptic thriller series, For Us The Living: Judgment Day. This new thriller has all the over-the-top action of the Second Civil War series, but without the politics. Just a no-holds-bar action romp with a few survival tips mixed in. Hope you enjoy! Please read on for a synopsis.

Download for only $0.99 during the next 48 hours or FREE for Kindle Unlimited members.

For Us The Living: Judgment Day

The war lasted minutes, but the fight’s far from over…

Sergeant Danielle Walker is on a hostage rescue op in Yemen when a mysterious EMP strike changes the world. Cut off from civilization and deep within insurgent-held territory, Walker and her team must team up with old enemies to defeat a merciless invasion force…a foe that’s already mopping up their worldwide conquest. 

In the post-apocalyptic ruins of America, her prepper husband, Dixon, struggles to bug out of Judgment Day. None of Dixon’s expensive preparations are enough in a world on the brink of annihilation. With nothing but his wits and the clothes on his back, Dixon must survive a cutthroat new-world order to save himself and his stepdaughter.

Please visit the Amazon page to read a free sample.

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Memorial Day 2015 charity drive by military veteran authors

Memorial Day 2015 Veteran’s Charity Challenge: Gone, but Not Forgotten!
During Memorial Day week, from the 22nd to 29th of May, more than 70 veteran authors will pledge 100% of their print, ebook and audio book royalties to their favorite charity supporting veterans or a large flat-rate donation. In most cases, these are organizations that assisted the authors personally and they are trying their best to give back.

Veterans from each service branch and every conflict period, from Vietnam to even active duty authors, are pledging. This diverse collection of works includes New York Times and USA Today Bestsellers and covers most genres. From romance to action-adventure and everything in between, there’s something for every taste here!

The ultimate goal of this event is to raise at least $10,000 for the 20+ charities they’re supporting. If you aren’t interested in purchasing any of the pledged books, you can always make a direct and public donation. We track the money raised for each charity and spotlight bonus donations here. Whether you contribute to the best performing or the least performing, either way your donation will be put to good use!

The complete collection of participating books and charities can be found here:
http://bit.ly/vetsgiveback

If you are interested in helping support or promote this event without having to donate, please share this charity drive on Facebook, Twitter or your website. Every little bit of help makes a difference! #vetsgiveback

https://www.facebook.com/vetsgiveback

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Free Audiobook Giveaway

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068]

Thanks to everyone’s help, the audiobook version of Power Games is finally here. I lucked out and landed an outstanding narrator. He makes Morgan Freeman look like a two-bit hack. 😉 I’m happy to give out 5 Audible.com freebie codes ($21 value each) for the audio version to anyone willing to toss up a quick review when finished. I only have a handful of free codes left, so I’m afraid it’s on a first come, first serve basis. Even if you’ve already read Power Games, perhaps some of your friends would enjoy a free audiobook? Nudge nudge, poke poke.

If interested, please let me know in the comments or shoot an email to: authorrapeters@gmail.com

Here’s a five-minute sample:

Thanks everyone,
Pete

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Tormented Slumber by Paul Deaver

Slumber

Genre: Psychological Thriller/ Literary Fiction

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Pages: 14

Veteran Author: Yes (Currently Active Duty)

Availability 

Kindle: YES   Kindle Unlimited

Click on a YES above to go to appropriate retailer.

Description:

War doesn’t always end after the last shot is fired. Returning home begins a whole new battle.

A veteran discovers that demons followed him home from the battlefield and threaten to destroy his life. The soldier regains hope when he finds unexpected allies to confront his worst nightmares.

Author:

“The author is active duty Army.”

My Two Cents:

I usually don’t bother reviewing shorts, but then again, few short stories ever roped me in like this one. This is surprisingly upbeat for a tale about wrestling with PTSD, and yes, has a happy ending. Well polished story too. If you’re a vet or want to understand them in 15 minutes, this is definitely worth the read.

Go ahead and help a soldier spread the message by snagging a copy for FREE with a 30 day free trial of Kindle Unlimited.

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Veteran’s Day 2014 Charity Challenge: Gone, but Not Forgotten!

On Veteran’s Day 2014, 50 veteran authors will pledge 100% of their print, ebook and audio book royalties to their favorite veteran’s charity. In most cases, these are organizations that assisted the authors personally and they are trying their best to give back.

Veterans from each service branch and every conflict period, from Vietnam to even one author deployed to Afghanistan at this moment, are pledging. This diverse collection of works includes New York Times and USA Today Bestsellers and covers most genres. From romance to action-adventure and everything in between, there’s something for every taste here!

The ultimate goal of this event is to raise at least $10,000 for the 15+ veterans charities they’re supporting. If you aren’t interested in any of the books available, they have a page set up ranking the money raised for each charity and spotlighting bonus donations here. Whether you contribute to the best performing or the least performing, either way your donation will be put to good use!

The complete collection of participating books and charities can be found here:
http://bit.ly/VeteransDayChallenge

You can also chat with many of the veterans authors during a live online event on Veteran’s Day.

Note: For the sake of transparency, each author will post their donation receipts within 90 days. If you are a veteran author, they are accepting submissions until noon (EST) on 11 November. Please visit the Writer’s Cafe at Kboards for submission details:
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,199976.0.html

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Patriarch Run by Benjamin Dancer

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Genre: Psychological Thriller/ Action and Adventure

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Pages: 314

Veteran Author: No

Availability:

Kindle: YES Nook: NO Smashwords: NO Paperback: YES Audiobook: NO

Click on a YES above to go to appropriate retailer.

Description:

“PATRIARCH RUN is a thoughtful and character-driven, coming-of-age story. Think of it as Jason Bourne meets Good Will Hunting.

Billy discovers that his father might be a traitor, that he was deployed to safeguard the United States from a cyberattack on its military networks. After that mission, his father disappeared along with the Chinese technology he was ordered to steal–a weapon powerful enough to sabotage the digital infrastructure of the modern age and force the human population into collapse.

Against a backdrop of suspense, the story explores the archetypal themes of fatherhood, rites of passage and self-acceptance through a set of characters that feel alive on the page.”

Author:

“Benjamin is an Advisor at Jefferson County Open School in Lakewood, Colorado, where he has made a career out of mentoring young people as they come of age. Benjamin wrote the novels PATRIARCH RUN, IN SIGHT OF THE SUN and FIDELITY. He also writes about parenting and education. Learn more at BenjaminDancer.com.”

My Two Cents:

The clipped, lightning fast tone of this tale reads more like a screenplay than your typical meandering literary fiction, at least in the beginning. That’s not a bad thing though. There’s still incredible depth to the characters. It’s refreshing to see an action tale that’s not afraid to tackle big emotional themes like PTSD, the morality of conflict and broken families. Brings more realism to the book.

Don’t expect to figure this story out ahead of time. Just enjoy the ride. The twists, sometimes dark, are completely unexpected. Been a while since I read an ending that I didn’t see coming! The only weakness, in my opinion, were the deep introspective moments during action sequences near the end. The climax seemed somewhat diluted.

Still, a fun, well-polished tale with more depth than I expected. Definitely worth the read. A thriller with a soul.

Follow the author at:

http://benjamindancer.com

https://www.facebook.com/PatriarchRun

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