Saturday Book Review: “The Thundering Herd: Farm Life in the 1950’s and 60’s”

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, courtesy of Midwest Book Review:

the thundering herd farm life john e peltier

The Thundering Herd:
Farm Life in the 1950’s and 60’s;
Looking Through the Lens of Duty in Vietnam.

by John E. Peltier

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478765332

Synopsis*:

These stories begin with brief family histories that bring the Peltier and the Scottish Keillor families together. John was the fifth of the twelve children that Wilburn and Barbara Peltier raised on the flat salt grass prairie of Southeast Texas after they married. The life they created for their family on their rice farm and cattle ranch provided fertile ground for the life experiences that are shared in these settings. At the age of nineteen, naive and fresh from the farm, John was drafted into the U.S. Army.

After surviving boot camp and medical corpsman training, he found himself in Vietnam. John used his time in the military and its experiences as the backdrop to describe life growing up. Writing this book intensified the realization of the valuable life lessons that his family and the farm and ranch taught him. After mustering out of the Army in January of 1969, he settled back into civilian life and finished his education.

Disaster struck in 1969 when his father suddenly died of a heart attack at the age of 54, leaving five of his siblings still at home and all without a father. He discovered the two earthy loves of his live – his wife Janie and the vocation of construction – at the same time and place. As a result, Janie and John have a beautiful family and he birthed Peltier Brothers Construction, a company which has provided a great livelihood not only for him and four of his brothers, but for nephews down into the next generation. Both Janie and the company also taught him lessons he never expected to learn. Those stories, plus an incident with the fangs of a deadly rattlesnake and a light essay on grass and water, are included in this book.

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Critique:

5.0 out of 5 stars — Nice summer read!

Regretting the loss of family history at the passing of his father, John Peltier set out on a personal journey to preserve the legacy of his family by penning “The Thundering Herd: Farm Life in the 1950’s and 60’s; Looking Through the Lens of Duty in Vietnam”. This series of memoirs spanning his early family history in the 1600’s to the present day is best described as extraordinary in its ordinariness. Once the early roots are established through family lore in the first two chapters, the contemporary Peltier family stories switch back and forth between childhood memories and current (Vietnam war) era events. Not unlike Forrest Gump, you join the Peltier family as they go through life experiencing from a personal perspective events such as Hurricane Carla, the Vietnam war, and the rearing of the next generations through both lean and prosperous times. In this day when everyone has their nose in technology, it provides a warm reflection of what life was like for families growing up in rural Texas in the 50s and 60s when kids would leave their homes and not come back until dinner time and parents did not have to worry that someone would take them.

reviewed by Dr. Eileen R. Garza of Midwest Book Review ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

A thoughtful, well-written, at times entertaining and educational, book illustrating basic family values that survive specific times or wars. It illustrates the best of American farm life and the kind of citizens it can produce.

This book is also another view of the Vietnam War, showing the human side of the country from a young solder’s point of view. His stories and photos illustrate things that the U.S. Army did to help the Vietnamese people, even the families of the enemy Viet Cong, that the public has not always been made aware. Especially interesting is the section on the author’s visit to the orphanage of the children born to U.S. soldiers. The children were sadly ostracized.

– Amazon Reviewer Amazon Customer

Regretting the loss of family history at the passing of his father, John Peltier set out on a personal journey to preserve the legacy of his family by penning “The Thundering Herd”. This series of memoirs spanning his early family history in the 1600’s to the present day is best described as extraordinary in its ordinariness. Once the early roots are established through family lore in the first two chapters, the contemporary Peltier family stories switch back and forth between childhood memories and current (Vietnam war) era events. Not unlike Forrest Gump, you join the Peltier family as they go through life experiencing from a personal perspective events such as Hurricane Carla, the Vietnam war, and the rearing of the next generations through both lean and prosperous times. In this day when everyone has their nose in technology, it provides a warm reflection of what life was like for families growing up in rural Texas in the 50s and 60s when kids would leave their homes and not come back until dinner time and parents did not have to worry that someone would take them.

– Amazon Reviewer E. Garza


saturday self-published book review

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

Self Publishing Advisor

selfpubicon1

From the Archives: “Should You Pay for a Book Review?”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

∗∗∗∗∗

[ Originally posted: April 15th, 2011 ]

As an author in the self-publishing industry, reviews for your book are very important.  A book published by an unknown author has little chance of gaining attention, while the same book (and the same “unknown” author) with a number of positive reviews can begin to gain momentum.  Those positive reviews can help persuade potential new readers to buy the book and the word-of-mouth continues.

You may have already received reviews from some of your friends or colleagues, so what next?  There are some free review services where you can send a copy of your book.  These services are a great resource; however, because they are free, the reviewers get inundated with books and can’t review every book they receive.  Their services can also take several months and the reviews are not guaranteed to be good.

In addition to free review services, there are some services available where you can pay to be guaranteed a review.  That said, the review is still not guaranteed to be good, but if you are confident in your book (which you should be, after all you wrote and published it!), you shouldn’t need to worry about that.

Here are three pay-for-review services you can start with:

BLUE INK REVIEW

Standard Review is $395 for the review to be completed in 7-9 weeks.

Fast Track Review is $495 for the review to be completed in 4-5 weeks.

BlueInk considers for review any book that has been published (self-published and indie published).  They review e-books, on-demand books, printed books in any format, English translations and English-language submissions from outside the United States, as well as galleys. They do not review manuscripts pre-publication.

FOREWORD CLARION REVIEW

The cost is $305 $499* and turnaround time is 6-8 4-6* weeks.

Open to all books and publishers, Clarion promises an objective 400 – 500 word review/critique with a quick six to eight week turnaround. The review will be posted on the ForeWord website (if the publisher desires), licensed to the three top wholesale databases, and made available to the book’s publisher. This service is ideal for books that haven’t received review attention elsewhere.

KIRKUS INDIE REVIEW

 

Standard review is completed in 7-9 weeks for $425.

Express review is completed in 3-4 weeks for $575.

The Kirkus Indie program gives independent authors a chance to obtain an unbiased, professional review of their work, written in the same format as a traditional Kirkus review. A book review can be an essential and powerful tool for promoting your book to literary agents, traditional publishing houses, booksellers, and, most importantly, potential readers.

by Kelly Schuknecht

When it comes to reviews, there’s so much to say that it’s almost inevitable that I would have to update and expand upon what I wrote back in 2011–after all, the world doesn’t hold still for anyone, and that’s certainly true of both the internet and the publishing industry, as well!  You will note that I have already made note of several changes in regards to pricing and timing for the ForeWords Clarion review options (marked with an * each time), but what about the larger picture?  Can we still mount a defense for paid reviews in a world where Amazon and Goodreads are king, where product pages provide ream after ream of short, easy-to-digest reviews from laypeople like you and me–and FREE reviews at that?

national review book reviews

If you suspected I might have a simple and short answer for you, I’m sorry to let you down.  Saying “yes” casts aside all of my many thoughts about the value of those unpaid product reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and saying “no” discounts the ongoing benefits that longform paid reviews still offer.

Let’s start with Amazon and Goodreads.

I’ve written in detail about the virtues of garnering lots of good reviews on Amazon and Goodreads before, specifically in my series on Self-Publishing and Merchandising from May of 2015, where I broke down the distinctions between these kinds of reviews and blog-based reviews.  And the statistics speak with resounding and repeated certainty that readers use the metrics provided by Amazon and Goodreads as one of their first and most important decision-making tools.  If readers search for a title they’re fairly certain they’re going to like, only to find that it has lots of poor reviews on Goodreads or a low star rating on Amazon, they’re not likely to follow through and buy it, no matter what else they’ve read that’s positive.  And if readers stumble across a title by accident that they weren’t actually looking for, but it ends up having fabulous reviews, they’re actually fairly likely to pay money to purchase it!  Search engines like Google have tweaked their algorithms to push books that are rated highly on Goodreads and Amazon to the top of their index, so you should never, never discount the importance of asking friends, family members, and other members of the public to post a positive review to these sites.

And what about paid reviews?

While longform essay book reviews have largely become the province of periodicals with paid subscription models like the London Review of Books or the New York Review of Books, they are far from dying out in terms of popularity–they’ve merely found their niche readership, and a powerful one at that.  It’s hard to estimate the exact impact of one positive longform review, but collectively, consider: the discerning reader needs an evaluation of content, of structure, of tone, and of many other aspects of a book’s nature than what can be provided in a brief burst of opinion on Amazon.  The discerning reader wants to know: what do the experts think?  Not everyone is looking for the lowest common denominator of shared public opinion (or so one of my college professors once opined) … sometimes they want to hear from one learnéd voice, in detail, the full warp and weft of a book.  This is why paid reviews are still worth their money–they reach the discerning reader.  And guess what?  Discerning readers are very likely to be a go-to resource to their friends and families, access points for dozens upon dozens of other new readers.  Discerning readers are amplifiers, advocates, and arbiters of your book’s larger footprint.  So yes, we shouldn’t forget about the paid review.  It has a place in the larger scheme of things, the larger framework of reviews and marketing.

They do not determine or reflect the actual value of your book, but good reviews–both paid and unpaid–do determine who is likely to buy it next.

 

If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

Saturday Book Review: “The Legacy of Skur: Volume One”

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, courtesy of Blue Ink Review:

legacy of skur

The Legacy of Skur : Volume One

by L.F. Falconer

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 978-1478761914

Synopsis:

The Legacy of Skur is as grim a fairy tale as one could want. Volume One begins with Fane’s quest of misfortune upon the mountain of Skur which ultimately leaves him imprisoned there. His sole companion has come from underground. And his only protection is a crystal talisman. When Fane’s brother, Kael, is unwittingly thrust into the care of Fane’s newborn daughter, he also gains possession of the crystal talisman. Yet when the talisman’s rightful owner comes to demand its return and holds Fane’s daughter for ransom, an impossible choice must be made. How much is Kael willing to sacrifice? More than he realizes. Fane’s daughter is the legacy of Skur. She’s four and a half feet tall, wields a sword yet is no warrior, claims the title of wizard yet cannot cast a spell, and of the two parents she never knew, only one was human. Her story has only begun….

Critique:

L.F. Falconer boldly embraces complex narrative devices in The Legacy of Skur, the second of what promises to be an epic saga.

The tome reads like three fantasy books in one: Each of three sections boasts its own well-crafted characters, distinct tone and unique perspective. The first part follows Fane, the son of a warrior intent on becoming a wizard. Along with his companion Jink, Fane sets out to scale the ominous mountain Skur in hopes of bringing back gold and other riches guarded by the dragon Ragg, but the mountain ultimately ends up being his prison. The second part focuses on Fane’s warrior brother Kael, as he brings up his brother’s infant daughter, finds love and wages his own battle against the shape-shifting dragon. Fane’s grown daughter Elva is the protagonist of the third part, which is rooted in themes of legacy, revenge and redemption.

Although the book spans several generations and explores the Tillaman Realm, a world full of magic, mystery and complex mythology, Falconer ties everything together through characters and setting. She works to distinguish each story, using different tenses and perspectives, adjusting her narrative style to fit each epic chapter.

Throughout, the author offers a well-honed approach to storytelling, employing descriptive prose and a vast vocabulary. This description includes—as with George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga—plenty of graphic details regarding sex and violence. Even typical battle scenes contain far more bloody detail than one finds in J.R.R. Tolkien or Terry Brooks novels; after a battle with a monstrous boar, for instance, one character gleefully dines on the beast’s entrails and manipulates its corpse. This, and the shifts from first-person to third-person perspective, may make the book a bit too challenging for casual or young fantasy readers.

However, for adult fans of the genre who appreciate experiments with narrative conventions and aren’t repelled by graphic elements, Falconer offers an intriguing and well-crafted fantasy of epic proportions.

reviewed by the staff of Blue Ink Review  ]

Here’s what some other reviewers are saying:

As I was reading this book, The Legacy of Skur, a blockbuster movie-in-the-making was all I could picture. Every chapter, every scene, was laid out before my eyes with such precision, such mastery, such descriptive prose that only a master at the craft of writing could accomplish, and L.F. Falconer is just that.

This “grim” tale could do no wrong. While darker than I normally like and gorier than I normally tolerate, it had me absolutely hooked from the very first page, the very first scene.

I pictured everything as if seated in a movie theatre, watching this tale unfold on a silver screen in panavision and technicolor. Move over Lord of The Rings because this Legacy needs to be seen and heard by the masses!

My heart was pounding from the get-go in Part One reading Fane and Jink’s trek to the dreaded mountain of Skur, and their encounters with Larque and Seret and Ragg were marvelous.

Ms. Falconer’s words jump right off the page and onto the silver screen of my imagination . . . it’s THAT good because this author is that good! I cannot wait to get my hands on Volume Two. Hurry it up, Ms. Falconer. Your loyal fans await the next exciting installment with bated breath.

– Goodreads Reviewer Elizabeth Good

L.F. Falconer is one of my favorite authors. This book was no exception in its complexity. It was like reading three different books that were all connected. The writing was superb, and the characters compelling. I learned a new word on almost every page. That being said, I wish I had known it was a dark fantasy going in. I’m more of a PG-PG13 reader and this book deserved more of an R rating. Plus, it was dark, which is not my preference. So, it’s a matter of taste. If you want a fantastic dark fantasy, you’ll love the Legacy of Skur. I guarantee it!

– Amazon Reviewer j. turner

Book Trailer:


saturday self-published book review

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

Self Publishing Advisor

selfpubicon1

Paid Review Services, Are They Worth It?

Books reviews are very important in the publishing industry, especially for new and self-published authors. Book reviews help authors promote their work and increase their credibility. In the highly competitive publishing industry, the success of your book depends on positive reviews.

A book published by an unknown author has little chance of gaining attention, while the same book (and the same “unknown” author) with a number of positive reviews can begin to gain momentum.  Those positive reviews can help persuade potential new readers to buy the book and the word-of-mouth continues.

So how do you get reviews?

You can start with friends and colleagues. Just be sure to encourage them to be honest in their reviews. Readers won’t be convinced to read your book just because your mom thinks you are amazing.

Next, there are some free review services where you can send a copy of your book.  These services are a great resource; however, because they are free, the reviewers get inundated with books and can’t review every book they receive.  Their services can also take several months and the reviews are not guaranteed to be good.

In addition to free review services, there are some services available where you can pay to be guaranteed a review.  That said, the review is still not guaranteed to be good, but if you are confident in your book (which you should be, after all you wrote and published it!), you shouldn’t need to worry about that.

Here are three pay-for-review services you can start with:

BLUE INK REVIEW

Standard Review is $395 for the review to be completed in 7-9 weeks.

Fast Track Review is $495 for the review to be completed in 4-5 weeks.

BlueInk considers for review any book that has been published (self-published and indie published).  They review e-books, on-demand books, printed books in any format, English translations and English-language submissions from outside the United States, as well as galleys. They do not review manuscripts pre-publication.

FOREWORD CLARION REVIEW

The cost is $305 and turnaround time is 6-8 weeks.

Open to all books and publishers, Clarion promises an objective 400 – 500 word review/critique with a quick six to eight week turnaround. The review will be posted on the ForeWord website (if the publisher desires), licensed to the three top wholesale databases, and made available to the book’s publisher. This service is ideal for books that haven’t received review attention elsewhere.

KIRKUS INDIE REVIEW

Standard review is completed in 7-9 weeks for $425.

Express review is completed in 3-4 weeks for $575.

The Kirkus Indie program gives independent authors a chance to obtain an unbiased, professional review of their work, written in the same format as a traditional Kirkus review. A book review can be an essential and powerful tool for promoting your book to literary agents, traditional publishing houses, booksellers, and, most importantly, potential readers.

I’d love to know, have you used a paid review service? How was the experience?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

BlueInk Review Now Offering Services for Spanish Language Books

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to increase their credibility and promote their books. One of the most popular review sources for self-published authors is BlueInk Review, and they are now expanding their services to include Spanish language books.

BlueInk Review was founded by  internationally known publishing professionals, literary agent Patty Moosbrugger and award-winning former book review editor of the Rocky Mountain News Patti Thorn. While fee-based, all BlueInk reviews are honest appraisals, written by professionals drawn largely from mainstream media outlets or editors who have worked at well-respected publishing houses. Worthy titles are not only featured on the company’s website but are also vigorously promoted to publishers, librarians, literary agents and booksellers. BlueInk acts as means for readers and industry professionals to find the “next generation” books worth selling, stocking, purchasing and reading.

BlueInk offers a host of other services as well, including articles with self publishing tips, places for authors to tout their sales successes, lists of important writing resources, classified ads, and much more.

To learn more about BlueInk Review, visit http://www.blueinkreview.com.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Should You Pay for a Book Review?

As an author in the self-publishing industry, reviews for your book are very important.  A book published by an unknown author has little chance of gaining attention, while the same book (and the same “unknown” author) with a number of positive reviews can begin to gain momentum.  Those positive reviews can help persuade potential new readers to buy the book and the word-of-mouth continues.

You may have already received reviews from some of your friends or colleagues, so what next?  There are some free review services where you can send a copy of your book.  These services are a great resource; however, because they are free, the reviewers get inundated with books and can’t review every book they receive.  Their services can also take several months and the reviews are not guaranteed to be good.

In addition to free review services, there are some services available where you can pay to be guaranteed a review.  That said, the review is still not guaranteed to be good, but if you are confident in your book (which you should be, after all you wrote and published it!), you shouldn’t need to worry about that.

Here are three pay-for-review services you can start with:

BLUE INK REVIEW

Standard Review is $395 for the review to be completed in 7-9 weeks.

Fast Track Review is $495 for the review to be completed in 4-5 weeks.

BlueInk considers for review any book that has been published (self-published and indie published).  They review e-books, on-demand books, printed books in any format, English translations and English-language submissions from outside the United States, as well as galleys. They do not review manuscripts pre-publication.

FOREWORD CLARION REVIEW

The cost is $305 and turnaround time is 6-8 weeks.

Open to all books and publishers, Clarion promises an objective 400 – 500 word review/critique with a quick six to eight week turnaround. The review will be posted on the ForeWord website (if the publisher desires), licensed to the three top wholesale databases, and made available to the book’s publisher. This service is ideal for books that haven’t received review attention elsewhere.

KIRKUS INDIE REVIEW

Standard review is completed in 7-9 weeks for $425.

Express review is completed in 3-4 weeks for $575.

The Kirkus Indie program gives independent authors a chance to obtain an unbiased, professional review of their work, written in the same format as a traditional Kirkus review. A book review can be an essential and powerful tool for promoting your book to literary agents, traditional publishing houses, booksellers, and, most importantly, potential readers.

DISCUSSION: What are your thoughts on pay-for-review services like these?  Do you have experience with any of the above?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT:
Kelly Schuknecht works as the Director of Author Support for Outskirts Press.  In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.