Tag Archives: reviews

Books and Word of Mouth

You find a book, let’s say you randomly pick it up at the library while browsing the shelves for something new to read, or you do it at the bookstore, and its from a author that you never heard of, and more than likely, most people hadn’t heard of either, but the book’s description makes it sound like something you’d want to read. So you read it. You find that you enjoyed it so much, you tell your friends, family, co-workers, and others about it. Eventually, you read every book this author puts out. You might like some of the novels, you might dislike others, but this once unknown author to you now has a loyal reader all because you decided to try something new.

Or, like many others these days, you see a book mentioned on Facebook, Twitter, or on some message board somewhere online(unless its mentioned on TV and then its an instant bestseller, especially if Oprah mentions it), you ignore what seems like spam a few times, but one day you’re convinced to try it out. You read it, like it, and then tweet about it, like the book’s page on Amazon, like it enough to review it, and even share your new find on one of your many social networks. You do the whole digital word of mouth thing without going anywhere and your small amount of influence convinces others to take notice of those books, who influence others, and so on. Plus, you like the author so much, that you sign-up for the author’s newsletter or blog, follow them on Twitter, and join their Facebook page, where you buy every single novel hereafter.

For a lot of authors, Word of Mouth is the only way they find readers.

Here are a couple of ways to spread the word about a novel you enjoyed and helping the author out at the same time (which you’ve probably seen in one form or another on various authors’ blogs):

1. Mention the book online, like on Myspace (if you’re still there), Twitter,  Facebook, message boards, or wherever you frequent that allows you to mention books, and include a link to the store or author’s site.

2.  If you have Pinterest, create a board, like a “Favorite Books,” or “Book You Read Recently,” and link it to either the author’s site of store where you bought it from. The author might even be on Pinterest, so you could also follow their boards and “like” the book board they created for that particular book.

3. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, church members, etc through e-mail, phone, text, or talk to in person about the book. Include what you liked and why you think they might enjoy it. If you want, give them a copy of the paperback to read if you have a paperback copy, or even lend them the ebook version, depending on your e-Reader.

5. Leave a review on Amazon, B&N, or wherever you bought it from, you can even leave a review on all the sites if you want. If you’re on Goodreads, Shelfari, Librarything, etc, you can leave a review there.

So reader, how have you been influenced to buy a book? Through Word of Mouth or by way of something else?

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More reviews & the Book trailer

Here is the book trailer I made for Times of Trouble. You do what you can afford….

And I received another review on Amazon, a 4 star:

“scarily prophetic!April 16, 2012

By Dirtboy’s Girl

Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
The way Mr. Ball writes I wonder if he isn’t living as a fly on the wall in the White House. You meet the characters and can feel their joy and sadness, anger and frustration as he tells the story. There were points in the story where I found myself talking to my Kindle telling Brian what I thought he should do next. Fast paced story that has you reading until the end. Another awesome “novel” by Cliff Ball!”
Plus, my parents sent a paperback copy to the late preachers’ wife (Mary Singleton) of a church I grew up in in Tempe, AZ, which was Tri-City Baptist (now in Chandler) and she sent a letter back saying she enjoyed it, she bought 5 more copies, and would ask the church library to stock it. Very cool!

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Stats for The Usurper in November

I decided to let The Usurper go free in November (and it’s still free, no thanks to Kobo not changing the price) with the understanding that I was going to get blasted by the perpetual Negative Nellies on Amazon (or elsewhere), but I thought it would be a good way to get my novel in the hands of readers who would have never seen it otherwise, and who may enjoy it. I had at least one person who did enjoy it, and she even sought me out on Facebook to tell me how much she enjoyed it. Another one e-mailed me, said they enjoyed it, but nitpicked a couple of things about how this or that was wrong (like the fact that Beatniks were in 1962, not hippies. I deleted that one line that was in the novel).

On a couple of those negative reviews on Amazon, I engaged the reader, asked them earnestly how I should fix a couple of issues they had, and they were surprised that I wasn’t flying off the handle, but that I asked and responded back in a positive way. Biggest issue was commas. Apparently, I had way too many. I was taught in college that more punctuation is better than not enough, (I’m constantly editing traditionally published novels in my head when they don’t have commas or periods where they should that should break up ideas, etc.) but people say it’s distracting. Ok, fine. Another issue was the character names, which I did to push buttons, and I’d say I did a good job of that, because it has pushed a lot of peoples’ buttons. So, taking all of this in stride, I spent a couple of days looking for too many commas in the novel and fixing them, fixing stupid grammatical mistakes that are made when you do make changes, and I also changed the characters’ names that were too similar to real life names because I felt that I had pushed enough buttons to satisfy my enjoyment of pushing those buttons.

For nearly a week, The Usurper was top 100 overall for bestselling free ebooks on Kindle, topping out at #21 ( I wish I had taken a snapshot of that), along with the #1 spot on political fiction free ebooks, while currently sitting 3rd in the same rankings (snapshot November 15):

I was stunned by the amount of downloads I had in a week. It amounted to double the amount that either of the other 2 books got when they were free for two weeks. The week of Thanksgiving, I managed to set the price to $.99 (after B&N had raised the price back up), and it stayed that way until the Monday after, when I tried to go to $2.99, then Amazon discovered it free on Kobo, and its been free ever since. I had a total of just about 12,101 free downloads(I can snapshot the KDP totals if anyone doesn’t believe me), but I had more sales of The Usurper at $.99 than I had for the whole year previous on Kindle, at right around 500 (totaling 12601 downloads). Unfortunately, I also had 16 refunds for this FREE e-book. I don’t know if that’s a statistically good thing or not.  Yesterday, I got the stats from B&N through Smashwords, and I sold 140 free copies there (not sure how anyone on B&N sees free e-books that aren’t trad published, I must be blind). As a side effect of the e-book sales, I even had 22 copies of The Usurper in paperback sold, more than the whole year it’s been published. Very cool.

Thank you to everyone who bought/downloaded a copy of The Usurper, whether you enjoyed it or not.

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New book review of The Usurper

This is a new review of The Usurper that was done on Manic Readers:

MR Review
Rating:

Reviewer: Amanda
Review:

The usurper, Gary Jackson, is a hateful soul. His entire life was planned by the Soviet Union before he was even conceived by a volunteer KGB agent. Gary was raised to hate the USA and all of its citizens and ultimately be the man of the countries undoing.

In The Usurper, we follow Gary’s mother for a short time but the star in the novel is undeniably Gary. He is trained and educated with the sole purpose of ending the USA during his middle aged years. The Usurper is filled to the brim with conspiracies and some elaborated history lessons. This is a terrific thriller but I would advise the reader to be open minded when reading due to Gary’s and the Soviet’s cold-heartedness. It would be relatively easy for a conspiracy theorist to become enthralled with this novel and the intricacies of Gary’s life. I did notice there are some points in the novel when the storytelling is very brief and dry, which I am not a huge fan of. However, there are many more other parts of this novel that are gripping and make up for that dry style of writing. Overall, The Usurper is an attention-grabbing story and an eye opener on many levels. Although The Usurper is a work of fiction, many instances could be comparable to some going-ons in our world today. Ball indeed did a terrific job with his imagination.

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More reader reviews

Two new reviews for The Usurper, one from Goodreads and the other on B&N:

From Goodreads, from Heather, who won a copy of the paperback:
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/126805727

This is the first Cliff Ball book I’ve read…and I’d have to say that if he writes another political thriller … I’m in! “The Usurper” is a fast-paced fictional story that has non-fictional elements in it of events that really happened. Cliff makes you think ‘could this really happen?’ He makes it all seem possible…which is a scary thought! This book had lots of twists and turns that kept the reader on the edge of her seat throughout the book. I gave this book to my dad to read since he likes the same kind of books that I do. I’m sure he’ll have a good review as well. Thank you Cliff for writing this book!

On B&N, from a reader named Linda:
http://my.barnesandnoble.com/communityportal/Review.aspx?page=Review&reviewid=1575412

I agree with the other reviewer’s statement that it is Clancy like. The characters don’t have as much depth as Clancy’s, but Clancy has developed his over many books. This book was very similar to current events, with a frightening back story created. This back story was, unfortunately, plausible – at least in the goal if not the execution. It builds off of the fears of the cold war and moves into the role and power of government in our lives, as well as the battle of capitalism vs. socialism. This was filled with lots of symbolism and relations to actual current events. In summary, a very good read and I look forward to reading more by this author.

Plus, a review for Shattered Earth from a reader on Goodreads who won a copy of the paperback:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/149311972

Just finished this book. It was not at all what I thought it would be. The story line was was so imaginatively written, very interesting. I haven’t read a sci-fi, fantasy book written in such a way to be so interesting. I really liked it. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but it is obvious that a lot of thought went into the writing of this book. The story line and the history aspect of the story kept me involved in the story from the beginning and had some really fun and interesting twists. I really enjoyed this book and hope to read more from Mr. Ball.

 

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18 Ways to Help a Book Author You Love

Reposted from http://hipriestess.com/writers-resources/

18 Ways to Help a Book Author You Love

Eileen Flanagan, author of The Wisdom to Know the Difference, wrote a blog post about a year ago telling friends of book authors how they could help the author sell more books. You can read her blog post here: http://bit.ly/9v5TgA.

I thought I’d include some of the highlights of her help list, add my own comments, and provide a few more ways that friends can help book authors to sell more books.

If you have a friend who is a book author, please use these suggestions to help them out. If you are a book author, please share this page with your friends (so they can help you out).

1. Buy your friend’s book. Encourage other friends to buy the book. Go to your local library or bookstore and encourage them to buy the book. Buy books as gifts.

2. Don’t put off buying the book. Don’t wait for the holidays to buy the book as a gift. First, the sooner you buy, the more confidence you’ll inspire in your friend. Second, media and other decision makers pick up on a book based on the momentum the book inspires. The more sales at the beginning of the book’s life, the more attention it will get from key decision makers, the media, and consumers.

3. Where should you buy the book? First choice: the indie bookstore nearest you (that will help your friend get her book into that store on a regular basis). Second choice: a chain bookstore like Borders or Barnes & Noble (if they start selling the book locally, they might buy books for more stores in the chain). Third choice: the author’s website (the author makes the most money when selling direct). Fourth choice: buy direct from the author. Fifth choice: Buy from Amazon.com (preferably from the link on the author’s website).

4. Recommend your friend’s book. If you like the book, recommend it to friends. Blog about it. Tweet a review or mention. Share a note on Facebook. Recommend the book to your book group. Review her book on Amazon.com, BN.com, GoodReads, Library Thing, and other reader social networks.

5. Tell your friend what you like about the book. Provide your friend with support by telling him something you like about his book. Was it a good read? Did it move you to tears or laughter? Did you learn something new?

6. Help your friend get speaking engagements. If your friend is comfortable speaking, recommend your friend to your Rotary Club, Jaycees, church, Friends of the Library, bookseller, garden club, school, etc.

7. Recommend your friend’s website. Link to it from your website, blog, Facebook page, etc. Tweet about it. When your friend writes a blog post, link to it. If your friend tweets something great, retweet it. Feature a quote from your friend’s book on your website. Or tweet the quote.

8. Create a Wikipedia page for your friend. While authors can’t create their own Wikipedia page, other people can. Every book author deserves a Wikipedia page, since a published book grants the author at least a modicum of fame. On the Wikipedia page, feature a short bio, a bibliography, a link to the author’s website.

9. Help your friend with the media. If you know of any newspaper editors or reporters, magazine editors, radio producers or hosts, TV show hosts or producers, columnists, bloggers, etc., send them a copy of the book or a note about the author. Or tell your friend about your connection, and introduce her to your contact.

10. Pray. Prayer always helps. Pray for your friend and his book. If you’re not into prayer, ask your favorite tree to help.

11. Ask. Ask your friend how you can help her. You may have some talent, connection, specialized knowledge, etc. that might be just the thing she needs. Or they might just need some of your time to help pack and ship some books or make a few phone calls.

12. Do a video review of the book and post it on YouTube and other video sharing websites.

13. Help your friend make some videos for the book. Every author needs a cameraperson, a scriptwriter, a producer. Again, share on YouTube and other video sharing websites.

14. Look for specialty retailers. As you drive around your own hometown or a nearby larger city, keep on the lookout for specialty retailers that might be interested in selling your friend’s books. Cookbooks in gourmet shows, do-it-yourself books in hardware stores, children’s books in toy stores, art or history books at museum shops. Make the contacts yourself or pass them on to your friend to follow up.

15. Look for other sales venues. If your friend’s book is about retirement, check out accountants, tax lawyers, etc. who might be interested in buying copies to give to their clients. Health books, children’s books, and cookbooks might interest doctor and dentist offices. Health clubs might be interested in exercise or diet books. Again, make the contacts yourself or pass them on to your friend to follow up.

16. Suggest catalogs, associations, and other special sales opportunities. If you receive mail order catalogs that feature books like your friend’s book, tell her abour the catalog. The same with associations, groups, corporations, etc. that might be interested in buying bulk copies of your friend’s book.

17. Help them sell rights. If your friend’s novel would make a great movie and you have a connection to an A-list actor or producer who might be interested in making the movie, introduce your friend to your connection. The same with TV producers, audio publishers, agents, etc.

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Reader reviews for The Usurper

Currently, the Usurper has 6 reviews, 5 of which are 4 star on Amazon.

Brian says: Cliff weaves an interesting story with enough connections to real happenings in the world today that this book seems to be non-fiction. Just when you think you know where the story line is going Cliff changes up on you. While some things are predictable others are not, which adds to the enjoyment of the book. Some events catch you totally off guard. While it may seem to start slow stick with it, you will not be disappointed.

Tracey says: The Usurper is not usually my favourite type of novel but Cliff Ball really surprised me. This is a very fast-paced, action-packed book once you get past the first few chapters. I think what impressed me the most was Ball’s very accurate depiction of the power of indoctrination. In many ways it was a rather chilling view of what ‘could have been’. If you like political thrillers then I highly recommend it. I only took away a star because it wasn’t really my kind of book so I couldn’t get as lost in the story as I would’ve liked.

JC says: I just finished reading The Usurper and enjoyed the book. I love the concept of this book and the ending caught me totally off guard. The Usurper is a quick read. There are many correlations with the real world that most of us can relate to. If only they had turned out differently. The book smacks of conspiracy theories. Who knows, this book could possibly be one of those that, in a few years, will make us wonder, “How did the author get so close to the truth?”

Check out this link for a full list of where to buy The Usurper. Remember, there are only 9 shopping days left until Christmas.

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More details on my new services


I just wanted to go into more detail about my new venture, Digital Writing Services.

Having done some research of my own, mostly as an Independent, self-published author myself, I’ve seen what I think are some massively over-priced services for proofreading and editing. I decided on $1 a page because it makes sense to me, anything over $3 just seems like price gouging to me. Then, you get all these convoluted prices when it comes to word count plus page count, with me, it’s straightforward, especially since I suck at math. I also enjoy proofreading and editing, which might be weird, but that’s just how I am. You will know that I’m passionate about what I’m doing and will do my best to offer you the best service possible.

Secondly, for $10 a year per novel, an author can get their novels posted on my website, the link called Author Showcase. You will have a main page, with links to your website, social networks, and bio. It will then link to another page with your novels posted there. You just provide blurbs/summaries, any reviews you may have, and where the novel can be bought online or offline. If you choose to not continue with this after a year, you can unsubscribe through Paypal, since all purchases will be through Paypal. I wanted to have readers looking for undiscovered authors or semi-discovered authors and they can find something new and exciting to read. I am also offering PDF conversion for $10 per book if you need the service, so that you can upload to Kindle, Smashwords, or wherever you want your book as an e-book.

Third, if you know anyone who is a college student that needs essays and research papers proofread and edited, I offer that for $5 per paper. My requirements will be that those essays should already be formatted to MLA, APA, Chicago, or Turabian style.

The site also has forums that anyone who signs up to be a member, which is free, can go to talk about books, publishing, or anything within reason. The blog has a feature to where anyone who is a member can post their own blog posts. Post about your latest review, talk about what inspires you, etc. Check out the links page where I have compiled a big list of useful websites. Feel free to suggest any I may have missed. I will also offer book reviews at a future date, with the price set at $50. This includes posting the review on blogs, social networking sites, press releases, every online bookstore where your book is sold, and bookmarked on Digg, Stumbleupon, etc

I wanted a website that was interactive, but due to my lack of programming skills, patience, and open content stuff is just above my head, this is about as interactive as it gets for now. Once I think this venture is successful, I’ll get someone to build something on WordPress or Joomla, and hopefully realize exactly what I want. Remember that Digital Writing Services opens for business on May 17th. Hope to see you there!

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