The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Part III)

fall autumn book

Several weeks back, we began this series by introducing the idea that marketing—specifically marketing as regards self-published books—is a kind of alchemy. Alchemy, we discovered, has a lot of meanings or connotations, but we continue to run semi-officially with the Merriam-Webster definition of alchemy as “a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way.” We spent some time during the next post examining this definition further, as well as its historic inflections and how that translates into focusing on what makes your writing and method special. Last time, we looked into the guiding question of “what’s next?” Which, as it turns out, is taking your existing habits and tweaking them to better serve your marketing goals–in a sustainable fashion that won’t undercut your existing routines and interests.

What comes after “what’s next?”

Next comes the holiday-specific part! Now that you’ve eked out some additional sustainable habits (that will continue working in your favor year-round, of course!) it’s time to think about what little bits of “extra” you can fit in around the holidays that support your ongoing marketing strategy and also take advantage of all those little things you can only do around the holidays.

Thanksgiving

To hit upon some high points we keep returning to year after year on this blog:

Thanksgiving is a time for doing, every bit as much as it is about giving and receiving. After all, the whole “giving and receiving” thing gets a real workout around Christmas. And in a smaller sense, at Halloween and even Veteran’s Day, when we give thanks to our servicemen and women—very important in its own way, but not the only mode of being to inhabit as a self-publishing author.

Thanksgiving is a time for activity, for wrapping up all the things that have been left unfinished at other times of year—a time for completion, for stepping back and looking at the whole and then by golly sitting down and filling in the holes. The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving isn’t just to give and receive thanks; the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to get ‘er done. To see yourself and your book and your marketing campaign and your social media strategy through the rough patches that inevitably accumulate on the leading edge of the end of the year. It’s not, contrary to legend, a time to sit around and kick up your feet and wait for good things to happen (or, more appropriately, to pop out of the oven and onto your dinner plate). Delicious as a fresh-baked cobbler is, it’s not quite the point.

If we wanted to look all the way back to the Quakers and the First Thanksgiving—and let’s face it, like it or not Thanksgiving is a time rife with nostalgia and historic musings—we should be honest about what it was like for them. They only celebrated because the gifted foods and skills given them by the local tribes kept them from starvation—and then, only just. The Quakers almost starved. Many of them did starve. It was not a time of plenty; it was a time for surviving, and for acknowledging those who helped them to survive. The time for celebration isn’t after everything is done and the harvest is in; the time for celebration is now, when the struggle and the busy-ness and the insanity is at its height. Tap into that spirit and, in the spirit too of the diagramming and recording we’ve done since our previous post, start brainstorming the ways you can merge celebration with marketing. Will throwing an event at the local library do that for you? Will putting up posters around town? Hosting a discount or giveaway on your blog and book sale page? Think of those strategies which you can put together quickly, easily, and without adding undue stress at a busy time. We’ll be back next week with more thoughts on specific events, tips, and tricks you can use that fit the bill for simple and stress-free!

These holidays, I hope you know that we here at Self Publishing Advisor are a part of your network, a resource to enable your resilience. We’re here for you this Thanksgiving season, to help you get it done–and to help you celebrate your wonderful book!

fall autumn book blanket coffee

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

Self-Publishing News: 11.13.2018

november

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

“Kevin Guest does not recall the date his family’s lumber mill in Columbia Falls burned to the ground. A trusted employee had sparked the blaze while welding,” opens this recent article from the Daily Inter-Lake‘s Duncan Adams. The article follows the self-publication of Kevin Guest’s new book, All the Right Reasons, and his subsequent appearance in October on The Dr. Oz show to promote the book. The book, which purports on its cover to teach the “12 Timeless Tips for Living a Life in Harmony,” chronicles the rest of that one particular story–among others–as an illustration of these principles. Says Guest, “My parents were devastated, but because kindness and forgiveness were two of my dad’s core values, I don’t remember ever hearing him say anything derogatory about that employee.” Afterward, writes Adams, “Francis Guest and a partner rebuilt the lumber mill and carried on. The employee who inadvertently started the fire still had a job.” Throughout the book, Guest draws upon a deep well of family experiences and principles. Although his roots are in Montana, he now lives in Utah, where he works for USANA–and is not hurting for money. Why did he choose to self-publish, Adams asks? “Not to make money,” he answers. “He said he is donating all proceeds from the book to help feed starving children.” For Guest, self-publishing is about crafting a legacy which will live on through the generations. Read more of Adams’ excellent article at the link!

Big news from the science fiction and fantasy community! Locus recently posted the news that Bowker, the industry number-cruncher, “has updated their self-publishing statistics with numbers from 2017 – the first year with more than one million self-published books carrying ISBNs. Bowker counted 1,009,188 ISBNs issued to self-published authors, a 28% increase over 2016.” The article goes on to note that while this number looks pretty high already, it may not even remotely touch the real figure, “as many ebook authors don’t bother with ISBNs at all since Amazon, the dominant ebook retailer, doesn’t require them.” Such enormous growth is not especially new to self-publishing; the indie corner of the market has seen steady (and sometimes exponential) growth since its origins in the early 1990s. (Although if you read this article from Jamie Fitzgerald of Poets & Writers from 2913, it’s pretty clear we’ve been self-publishing–sort of–since clay tablets and cuneiform were a thing.) There’s no sign that things are slowing down, either, or that reader demand for new material is lessening. It’s always a good time to get in on the ground floor of self-publishing!

There’s no one-size-fits-all path to follow when it comes to breaking into the self-publishing market, as military romance author Cristin Harber discovered. In a recent article for Zebra, contributor Kris Gilbertson tracks her progress from early days retreating from busy days working in grassroots politics to a crucial stage of exploring her options and pursuing workshops on craft and publication. Writes Gilbertson, Harber’s introduction to self-publishing came as an unexpected–but welcome–surprise: “In July 2013, at an Atlanta writing conference, Harber set up a meeting about a traditional contract situation, but she had time to fill. She went to a workshop where three prominent names in romance writing – Barbara Freethy, Bella Andre, and Lilliana Hart – were presenting about self-publishing. It was a new and not fully accepted concept then. Harber stepped in out of curiosity, with no intention of following up, but found herself enthralled.” And she did follow up on that workshop, mastering the skills necessary to format and publish her work, then building a fanbase through careful planning. Now a New York Times and USA Today Best Selling author, Harber “realized early on that more than an entrepreneur or small business owner, she was a whole publishing house: the researcher, the CEO, CMO, CIO. When her website was hacked last year, a Go Daddy tech asked to speak with her webmaster. She said hold on a moment, paused, then said ‘Hello!'” Packed with wisdom and riveting in its own right, Gilberton’s profile of this titan in the self-publishing field is well worth a read.


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Self-Published Book Review: “An Inky Summer”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

an inky summer by fred and cheryl lowman

cipa evvy merit

An Inky Summer

by Fred and Cheryl Lowman

ISBN: 9781478777434

Synopsis*:

When 12 year old Freddie discovers Inky, an American crow, sitting on the fence near the back steps of his house, it is the beginning of An Inky Summer. Read this true story and laugh as this crafty and intelligent corvid upsets neighbors and relatives with his antics.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Featured Review

A Wonderful True Story!

A delightful book! This book will not only be enjoyed by children, but by the adults who read it to them. The story will make you smile, laugh, and maybe even cry. It takes you back to a simpler time when kids didn’t have all the electronics in their lives. You will never look at a crow in the same way after reading this story. They are truly a very intelligent creature that we should learn more about. Also the illustrator, Dan Carsten, did an excellent job in bringing the story to life with his vibrant drawings. A must read for all ages!!!

– reviewed by Crowman on Amazon

Other Reviews

A Special Encounter to Enjoy.

A wonderful remembrance that is recalled and shared with the reader. It create’s our own wish to have an “encounter” with a creature to recall. It is a heart warming story that expresses much honesty and joy in the what may be if we are accepting. This story sparks the imagination and is made that much more special knowing it is a “true story”.
Well done!

– reviewed by Boppa on Amazon

Great Read!

I just loved this book. It really captured a perfect time in a young boy’s life. I was drawn in right away, and it made me want an “Inky” crow as a pet for myself. I learned a lot about crows. In the past, I would just see them as large, black birds; and now I am looking for individual personalities when I see them. The illustrations are wonderful and brought the book to life. A perfect read!

– reviewed by Gail V. on Amazon

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Thanks for reading!  Keep up with the latest in the world of indie and self-published books by watching this space!

Self Publishing Advisor

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The Alchemy of Holiday Marketing (Part II)

halloween

Several weeks ago, I introduced the idea that marketing—specifically marketing as regards self-published books—is a kind of alchemy. Alchemy, of course, has a lot of meanings or connotations, but we are now semi-officially running with the Merriam-Webster definition of alchemy as “a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way.” We spent some time during the previous post examining this definition further, as well as its historic inflections and how that translates into focusing on what makes your writing and method special.

This week, briefly (because it’s Halloween!),  we’re going to take a look at that guiding question, “what’s next?” After all, if you’ve been following along with our previous posts, you’ve already diagrammed your daily habits and figured out what marketing strategies you’re already doing, or which your existing schedule makes easily possible.

Next, it’s time to work on the hard part: making room for more marketing.

I call this the “hard part” because this is where several different things can happen: you can either go too far, or you can go not far enough. Both are common problems, and the key is to use the descriptive work you did in the previous post as a guide here in the proscriptive part of the process. Instead of just shoving one-size-fits-all solutions into a life that’s already crowded with precious activities, habits, and routines, you have to introduce new habits carefully, like when you bring home a new cat to meet the cats you already have. (It’s Halloween; you can let me have this one weird cat metaphor, right?) You do so gradually, with an eye for sustainability, and with respect for the cat, schedule, and skills that are already in place.

There’s no point introducing something if it just won’t work with who you are and what you like to do; this is why going too far and changing your existing routine or stretching your existing skills beyond your ability to cope will only end in disaster. (Keeping with today’s theme, those failures may just haunt you forever–in a legitimate, “I don’t ever want to try this again, even slightly, in any context, now that I’m so frustrated and/or burned out on this one all-or-nothing attempt” way.) Do you enjoy spending time on social media? Are you an Instagram guru? Take ten minutes of your day and set those aside for Instagramming on behalf of your book on top of what you already do for yourself in a private capacity. Do you enjoy having your kids “help” you out in the kitchen? Snap some “behind the scenes” pictures of the fun and use them in your marketing. (They may just be your “publishing team” from here on out.) Do you like to sit down and write 1,500 words before breakfast each morning? (NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow! Get ready!) Use one of those mornings to draft a 1,500-word press release instead of your usual genre.

If you tweak an existing, routinized habit or skill of yours to serve the greater marketing agenda, your alchemical magic is far more likely to take hold, and a tweaked habit is far more likely to become a sustainable part of your daily, or weekly, or monthly recipe than if you try to cram something in that doesn’t fit.

So? Step one was to see what you’re already doing. Step two was to adapt it, just a little, to fit your new needs. What is step three? Well, we’ll be back in two weeks with more on marketing alchemy!

And in the meantime ….

happy halloween

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

 

Tuesday Book Review: “Notes from the Trenches: A Musician’s Journey Through World War I”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

notes from the trenches gary foster

cipa evvy merit

Notes From the Trenches

by Gary H. Foster

ISBN: 9781478792741

Synopsis*:

The Terror and Triumph of WWI in a Soldier’s Own Words…

The Foster family of Wisconsin were vibrant and happy in the early years of the 20th century. Like many families in the area, they were descended from German immigrants and had a healthy appetite for hard work and beer. Barbara Foster, widowed early in life, created a loving home for her children Leo, Ottilia, Mary, and Kunigunda. They were all musicians, forming their own orchestra and playing in regional and local venues. But despite Woodrow Wilson’s promises, America found itself drawn into the Great War overseas, and Leo Foster, bugler for the Wisconsin National Guard, was sent to the front lines. Nearly a century later, this book reconstructs Leo’s World War I experience from letters, newspaper clippings, and photographs from Leo’s footlocker. Nothing compares to the immediacy of the war experience in a soldier’s own words. Notes from the Trenches follows Leo from stateside training to the horror of the Meuse-Argonne offensive and his battle-weary return home in May of 1919. Full of wit, good humor, and honesty, these letters provide a fascinating window into the War to End All Wars, with insightful organization and context from Leo’s grandson, Gary Foster.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Featured Review

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Notes From the Trenches” by Gary H. Foster.]


4 out of 4 stars


Get an in-depth look into World War I from a soldier’s perspective. Leo Foster’s eagerness, pride, humor, bravery and sense of patriotism will surprise you in Notes from the Trenches by Gary H. Foster. His life continues to inspire his lineage with many following in his footsteps.

A young musician of German ancestry from Wisconsin joins the 32nd division famously known as ‘Les Terribles’. His new journey takes him across the states, then to France and finally to Germany in a bid to fight for his country even if this means that he loses his life in the process.

Told by Leo Foster’s grandson Gary H. Foster who served in the Navy, Notes from the Trenches reveals the content of many letters that Leo wrote to his family. His mother and sisters seem to have been quite close to him. Even in the heat of war, Leo good-heartedly continues to taunt his sisters in his notes. His concern for Kuni, Mary, Tillie and his mother, Barbara shows in every letter. It is clear that he was more concerned over their welfare more than his own as he made every effort to reassure and encourage them.

Perhaps the most impressive bit of Foster’s book is that it reveals the true picture of war, the sacrifice that families have to endure both for the soldiers in the front lines and the family members left behind. Leo’s mother, Barbara, must have been a strong woman to have endured all she went through and still hold on and hope for the return of her son. The destructive nature of war is shown especially in the later letters written by Leo.

The letters are obviously in the first person which adds to the storyline’s authenticity. Leo’s humor as he constantly refers to his weight and love for ‘eats’ adds a unique comical strand which helps to lighten the weight of the account. His mention of love interests heightened the book’s appeal and gave me a glimpse of his personality.

The book is very well researched. Every letter is carefully placed in chronological order and life after World War I is also covered.

Ultimately, Notes from the Trenches fosters the spirit of patriotism and touches on an incredibly important part of history that shaped whole nations. It also reveals a history that is too powerful to be forgotten and a people’s resilience and bravery that should always be valued. I rate Gary H. Foster’s account 4 out of 4 stars.

– reviewed by EmunahAn on OnlineBookClub.org

Other Reviews

One is amazed that despite the raging horrors of war and the …

“Notes from the Trenches” is a fascinating glimpse back in time to World War I. It is fair to say that this war has been largely overshadowed by World War II and the conflicts that have since followed. As a result, bookstores have an abundance of material on those subjects, but only a handful on the War to End All Wars. This book puts World War I in the hands of the reader as written by bugler Leo Foster in his letters home to his mother Barbara and his sisters. The colloquialisms, daily routines, and wide-eyed wonder of a young man experiencing the Old World as new in the midst of conflict are fresh on the page. The author allows Leo to speak in his own words, while guiding the reader through the broader historical events of the conflict. This has the effect of giving the reader the chance to experience the war much the same way Leo Foster’s mother and sisters would have through his letters. Readers will find Leo to be brash, humorous, and possessing a brand of “gee whiz!” American optimism that seems to have largely faded from American civic life. One is amazed that despite the raging horrors of war and the normal hardships of life in that era, there was a strong attitude of pressing forward and making the best of whatever happened in life. Certainly something to glean from this book, as well as a newfound appreciation for the sacrifices of so many of that generation that our modern world continues to reap the benefits of. I highly recommend this book, and as a reader who had (I’m embarrassed to admit) a very limited knowledge of World War I, I think this is an incredible way to be introduced to the story of that conflict and the sacrifices of so many true heroes like Leo Foster.

– reviewed by Brady Christian on Amazon

A Gripping Documentation of Life on the Battlefield from a WWI Soldier Who Fought For Freedom

Rarely is there any documentation of the thoughts in real time from the men in the field who fought during WWI. Without technology or the sheer opportunity and willpower to document such emotions as they occurred, the personal trials of the fighting men in the “war to end all wars” seems lost to the ages. Then comes along Notes From The Trenches, a gripping book that recounts the actual perspectives of Leo W. Foster, a bugler in the 121st Machine Gun Battalion, 32nd Division in WWI.

The book captures in vivid detail the sacrifices, wonder, elation, disappointments, tensions and an overpowering desire to win at all costs as documented by a young man who voluntarily leaves the comforts of his Wisconsin home to fight “over there” in the battlefields of France, documented through the actual letters written by Foster and sent to America. More than 90 letters, kept for decades in the soldier’s stored footlocker, are showcased in their raw and largely unedited form, all organized in chronological order with added color and perspectives from the author about the events that led to American victory in Europe.

Notes from the Trenches is a solid read, and it’s an intriguing glimpse into the real-life battles of a war fought a century ago.

– reviewed by Mark Foster on Amazon

 


tuesday book review

Thanks for reading!  Keep up with the latest in the world of indie and self-published books by watching this space!

Self Publishing Advisor

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Self-Publishing News: 10.29.2018 – October Round-Up

october month

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing, wrapping up what’s new for you and yours in October 2018.

One of the things we love most about science fiction is the same thing we love about self-publishing: it’s created, by and large, by a community of people who believe in taking whatever path fits the situation best, fits the individual creator best, and which best enables writers of so-called “niche” material to reach their (so-called) “niche” audience. For many science fiction authors, especially now, this translates into self-publishing their science fiction, bridging the gap between two of our favorite things.

How did this come to be a thing for science fiction authors? Adam Rowe of Forbes (poor guy, we keep quoting him, he so reliably writes interesting material about self-publishing!) describes how this, ahem, stellar connection came to be. Writes Rowe, “Today, prolific writers can earn six-figure incomes entirely through stories self-published on Amazon. If they’d lived in the mid-twentieth century, those same writers might have instead turned to science fiction magazines, a source of income that has all but dried up today.” The transition from magazines (print) to self-publishing (mostly digital) hasn’t been seamless, it has been lucrative. Rowe quotes the numbers: “Together, self-published indie imprints and indies with no listed publisher make up the largest segment of speculative fiction ebooks sold over the past year, at 46.2% of all ebook units sold in the genres of science fiction and fantasy, according to industry data service Bookstat.” That’s a huge chunk of the new science fiction and fantasy reading material out there! Read Rowe’s full article for more great background on the history of this new normal.

It’s a proud day, indeed, when self-publishing makes The Frisky! This is not a lengthy piece, but it is an important one, as The Frisky’s readership likely includes many newcomers to the idea (much less the lived experience) of self-publishing. This piece, half press release for a new publishing company and half sterling information that applies to anyone looking to publish, details some of the broad-strokes information new authors need to know before pursuing any option. It’s quick, it’s straightforward, and it’s probably exactly what first-time readers need to know to get started in looking for more information on the subject. Many kudos to The Frisky for supporting what we do!

We haven’t given you too many interviews lately, but this one we really couldn’t pass up. Published in the Gaston Gazette (of North Carolina fame) by contributor Michael Barrett, this piece features the work and backstory of author Megan Allen. Allen, who struggles with chronic pain herself, transmutes this experience into the genre of young adult fantasy in her latest self-published release, Magic Headaches. According to Barrett, the book follows the story of “Elinor, a young woman whose headaches give her access to an enchanted world known as Morland.” There’s a practical benefit to writing the book, Barrett notes, in that it provided Allen an outlet for her frustrations over the way the general public perceives and responds to chronic pain. Writes Barrett, “Because everyone gets a headache from time to time, Allen was used to people offering remedies for kicking them, and sensed many people don’t understand what she copes with. Writing the book became her way of processing her own feelings, while also helping friends and family to understand her mindframe.” Not one to let the world get her down, Allen not only conceived of this creative outlet, but pushed through the pain to finish her manuscript and, now, self-publish it. You can learn more about her and Elinors’ fascinating–and enlightening–journeys by reading the full article!


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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Tuesday Book Review: “Cursed”

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.
When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

cursed jeanne blanchet

cipa evvy merit

Cursed

by Jeanne Blanchet, PhD

ISBN: 9781478747901

Synopsis*:

The year is 394 CE. Christianity has recently been declared Rome’s state religion, and the empire’s pagan temples are being shut down. When Christian Princess Serena accompanies Theofilus, a young priest, to oversee the closing of Vesta’s sanctuary, she pilfers a necklace from the statue of a goddess, inciting the head Vestal to call a horrific curse down on her and her family. Cursed traces the remainder of Serena’s life as she wonders if the curse will destroy her completely and attempts to cope with her gradually rising desperation. Meanwhile, Father Theofilus embarks on a lifelong quest to find the priceless antique Palladium, which had been housed in the sanctuary and which he plans to donate to the Church as a means of furthering his ecclesiastical career. Stilicho, Alaric, Theodosius I, Bishops Ambrose and Augustine, and Saint Jerome are among the fascinating individuals who return to life in this historical fiction thriller. Their exciting adventures are set against the background of the fall of the once-mighty Roman Empire, the rise of Christianity, and the mass migrations characteristic of Europe’s turbulent fourth and fifth centuries.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Featured Review

Jeanne Blanchet’s “Cursed” is an epic historical account of Christianity’s strong entrance into Roman culture, and how religion came to be more absolute than the power of even the emperors.

Christian Princess Serena and a young priest and aspiring Bishop of Rome, Presbyter Theofilus, make up two of the principal characters in the cast. Serena is pampered and used to living a life of luxury.  While her heart is often in the right place, she is easily misguided, however, by material aspirations and the beauty and allure of things, like jewelry.  Presbyter Theofilus started out as a promising young military prospect but turned his sights on the Church when religious traditions in Rome became overrun by Christian teachings and power.  What these two young people learned during their years, as did every other Roman citizen and intruder, was that Christianity’s power was to be stronger than anything else.

“Cursed” starts out strongly and is filled with rich details and obvious research.  The terminology which the author inputs into the story represents long hours of academic study, which help produce an authentic picture of Rome in its final century.  While the details remain strong throughout the novel, the pace staggers a bit as the story progresses.  It seemed that the author’s aspirations for the novel almost became a little too broad.  Whereas the synopsis of the book intimates at the book being about a young woman being evilly cursed by one of the remaining pagan priestesses, or Vestals, of Rome, and about Presbyter Theofilus’s journey to find the antique Palladium, these storylines become a little blurred.

While most of “Cursed” takes place toward the end of the 4th century CE, there are various chapters that almost randomly go back in time 30, 40, or 50 years.  One contains details about the coming of the Goths, while another provides backstory on the current Bishop of Rome.  While the historical details are strong, the context of why these chapters are included in the midst of the main story is lost.  I think the too-broad aspirations and outlook for the plot ended up overshadowing the intended theme and main point of the book, albeit unintentionally.

I am not sure I would consider this a read for the general audience.  The historical and technical terms may make the prose seem a little dense and hard to understand.  I am a history student and an aspiring historian, so the inclusion of the historical facts was perfectly normal, easy to understand, and even exciting to me, but it may pose as a barrier for those who aren’t as historically inclined.

“Cursed” certainly shows a lot of promise as a work of heavily research historical fiction.  The idea for the story is unique and captivating, and the characters are unique enough to make you want to know what happens to them by the end of the book.  In the end, “Cursed” by Jeanne Blanchet is a great example to aspiring writers of how important structure, pacing, and context are in contributing to the overall understanding, execution, and package that is a novel.

– reviewed by Megan Weiss on Reader Views

Other Reviews

History come to life.

The author has taken the historical account of early Christianity and the fall of Rome and woven together a most descriptive narrative to bring the events to life.

– reviewed by Nancy Redmond on Amazon

This book has inspiring attention to detail and emotional depth. The knowledge and research that went into the writing of Cursed has made it a real page turner that pulls you right in and won’t let you put it down.

– reviewed by MacLennan on Amazon

 


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Thanks for reading!  Keep up with the latest in the world of indie and self-published books by watching this space!

Self Publishing Advisor

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