Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Dirty Dealings - Zeta Cartel Series By AJ Adams

  Title: Dirty Dealings
Series: Zeta Cartel #3
By: AJ Adams
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Genre: Dark Suspenseful Romance
I could’ve fucking strangled her. She knew it too because she stepped away quickly. “Touch me and I’ll have you!” she snarled.

“Bruja mala leche! What the fuck do you think you’re playing at! You can’t push me around!”

“Sure I can.” Her eyes were slate grey, the same colour as the sky, and just as cold. “I need help, and you’re going to give it.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“I’ve got a situation. I need someone who isn’t afraid of murder and mayhem.”

I should have charmed her, offered to help and maybe it would have settled it, but I was too mad to even consider it. “Help you? Over my dead body!”

She shrugged. “We can do it that way, too.” She took out her phone. “I’ll call you soon, hopefully within the hour. If you still refuse, I call Smith.” The eyes were hard. “I’d rather not shop you, because I hate that bastard, but I will if you make me.”

I gave her my number. I mean, I wanted to kill her, but in London they notice things like bodies in the street. Especially if you’re careless enough to do it in broad daylight next to a cop shop.

Quique is having a bad time. Back in Mexico his marriage has fallen apart and his wife has made him a laughing stock by cheating on him. Now he’s in London and finding himself out of his depth with a complex commercial deal. To make things worse, Natalia Truelove, a chef and pub manager, is blackmailing him. Quique is ready to commit murder and he’s pretty sure who his first victim will be.

Warning: Dirty Dealings contains strong adult language and themes as well as graphic violence and sex scenes.

AJ Adams is a Scottish-Dutch author currently living in Malaysia. In her regular life she is a columnist and feature writer. She works from home, where she is closely snoopervised by cats, Target, Guido and Swooner.

Monday, September 18, 2017

If you're breaking into writing, check out these three tips I put together after reviewing for publishers

Apart from my own writing, I beta read for friends and the occasional new author.  I’ve also gone back to reading and reviewing for medium and large publishing houses.

If you're breaking into writing, this is what I found.

Forget Reviewer Geographical Locations.
In the old days when books were only available in print, and write-ups appeared in local print media, it was important to make sure that reviewers were living in your publishing area.

It made sense because a glowing review in the Hindustan Times meant nothing if your novel was only available in New Zealand.

Some reviewing services still stick to this mode, and so do some publishing houses. If you’re in print only, that’s okay. But if you’re into e-publishing, I think it's a mistake. 

Tip: All that matters is that your reviewer has the eyeballs you’re looking for. Pick people who have a following on Goodreads, Amazon or Facebook. The best are those who are active in a fan group that your book fits.

“Real” Publishers don’t know how to format ARCs for Kindle.  (Or maybe they do know but they can’t be arsed.)
ARCs are never perfect and that’s fine. But there’s a difference between having typos, grammar errors and a few snafus and a hot unreadable mess.

I’ve had books that have no paragraphs, books that have missing pages, and books where the formatting changes abruptly fine to completely absent from one chapter to another.

I try to be kind, but there were two ARCs that were so badly put together, that they dropped a star in my review.

Tip: if you’re an author and you think your publishing house is handling your ARC, for God’s sake check on their work.

Editing seems to be a vanishing service.
Writing a book is a major project and you can’t do it alone. In the old days your publisher held your hand and helped you pinpoint difficulties in your MS. This included structural editing so the flow worked right and you had no plot holes. It also included fact checking. 

Of course it was a big task, for the publishing house and the author. There would be at least one edit and rewrite; often two or three.

I’ve read ARCs that appear to have no editing guidance at all. I’m talking characters that go missing, inconsistencies and other really big problems.

I’ve refused to review some, just handing information back to the publishing house, but I wonder how many new, unknowing authors are messed up by not having a proper partner.  

Tip: if you’re working with a publisher, don’t assume that getting your book done quickly means it’s awesome. Your partner may be lazy or cutting costs. Before you sign a contract, agree on what they will do and what you will do.  

Note:  I'm full up for reviews and beta reading until December 2017

Sunday, September 3, 2017

How To Get Reviews - a quick guide to what's what...

Are you trying to get your novels noticed and hitting a wall? Here are some tips on the different kinds of reviews you can source, what they do for you, and how to get them.

Trade Journals. In the old days, when book sales were all through bookshops and libraries, publishers would get the news out about new titles through trade review journals like Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, and Booklist. 

These typically offer a short blurb that outlines the plot (without spoilers, of course) and then adds a very short opinion of what the book was like.

If they love your book, they might say, "A rip roaring ride" for a horse mystery or  "Screamingly funny coming-of-age novel" for a humorous chick-lit novel.

If they hate it, they might say, "A great plot with exciting twists and turns, but let down by a dull hero and appalling writing."

Do you want to use them? If you're publishing traditionally then your publisher should be doing this for you as bookshop owners and librarians still check trade journals (although many are now only online or using mailing lists).

For indie authors, it might not be worth the cost. A review usually costs around $500 and what you get for it is mostly a plot summary.  You will only get one or two sentences of review; and it may not be an endorsement.

Do trade journal reviews boost sales? I think it's important to note that they don't claim to do so. Even so, some authors like to buy them because they feel it's 'proper'. Me, I think it's a waste of time - although it will give you a damn good blurb!

Newspaper Reviews. What you get ranges from a tiny mention that consists of a thumbnail cover and a sentence to a full-blown critical review with your book cover and you, hopefully looking super cool.

Do you want this? YES! Whatever they print goes out to thousands if not millions of readers, and so it's mega publicity. If you have a half way decent publisher, your novel should be written up in the media.

However, getting in might be difficult if you're an indie. Publishers and bookshop chains spend a fortune on ads, so they tend to control what books are covered.

Suppose you get a spot in the paper, will they be nice about your book? Some newspapers have real critics who will give a proper evaluation. That's pure gold, although you may not like everything they say.

A few will only say nice things. That's usually when a publisher spends so much money on ads, that the paper won't let anyone 'insult' the client by trashing their product. There are more and more of these about because newspapers are losing readership and going bust. I don't like it, and I think all-positive reviews are further killing newspaper readership, but it's the way of the world.

A few newspapers are famous for being super rude. Should you avoid those? No! It doesn't matter if they trash you because people don't necessarily agree with what's written. Even if you get trashed soundly, you'll probably make lots of sales anyway. Just look at the evil things they said about Fifty Shades of Grey.

Bottom line: If you know a journo, beg them for an in. If you can't get into the book pages, ask for a lifestyle feature. Abase yourself. Offer lunch, flowers and chocolates.

Quid Pro Quo "Critical"and "Professional" Reviews. Small presses who can't afford to net big newspapers will trade reviews with each other in a 'scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' way. That's when you get endorsed with names like Limpid Press.

They will even buy your book on Amazon so that you get a glowing Verified review. To a newbie, that looks terrific but I think it does very little for sales because they are so transparently fake.  Most are written by people who have only skimmed the book lightly. I can see through them in a heartbeat, and I think readers can too.

Do you want these? If your publisher arranges these, awesome. If you're an indie, I wouldn't worry about these.

Blogger and Reader Reviews.  Here you give away your book and you have no control whatsoever over what they write and where they post.

If you're publishing traditionally, these are nice but not necessarily vital. Harlequin sells titles by the hundreds of thousands and some have less than ten reviews - and crap ones too. It doesn't matter a jot, because people buy their stuff anyway.

However, if you are an average novelist with an average publishing house, or an indie, then you need these reviews. They create buzz and if you get a decent percentage endorsing you, they lead to sales. If you get rave notices from reviewers with a following, you're all set for a best seller.

How do you find reviewers? There are plenty of book tour operators who will help you with this. The problem is that many will take your money and then do bugger all in terms of promotion. My advice is to pick a book in your genre by an indie that's doing well. Do a reverse search to see who's doing their promo. Then book with the same company.

There are also corporate review finder services. Some like NetGalley cost around $400 for six months while others like LibraryThing and Goodreads Read 2 Review groups are free. They will connect you to readers but the drawback is that many will take your book and not review. I found that LibraryThing had a review rate of less than 4 in a 100. Goodreads has done better for me, with about 8 in 10 posting.

You can also do it yourself. I put together a review team of twenty bloggers and reviewers, and arrange for a blitz before I publish. I write to them individually, and I make sure they like my kind of novel. However, it's time intensive and you have to make sure you get the timing right.