Hip To Be Square

I decided to take the weekend off from working on Universalis and instead see what I can do to increase Stars Rain Down’s sales. The process has so far involved taking a hard look at my materials, asking myself what could be better, answering as truthfully as I can muster, and then improving what I can.

As my mother always said, “If it isn’t working, change it!”

Actually, she never said that, but I like to pretend she did. Makes it feel like I’m taking advice from someone more qualified than the voices in my head, but I digress…

The first thing that was badly in need of updating was the book’s ad copy, i.e. the description that accompanies it wherever it’s sold. The old copy was just a redressed version of the query letter I wrote for prospective agents, meaning it was about 3 years old and written with the major constraint of fitting in a single page. You can read the original ad copy by following this link.

The problems with it were numerous. It was awkward, unfocused, vague, and finishes by talking about the book from a thematic perspective, which I somehow doubt really excites readers. Overall, I give it a C-.

My primary goals for the replacement were to focus on plot and character, and inject a much needed dose of personality at the same time. Here’s the new copy that should be going up on Amazon sometime in the next 24 hours:

Meet Marcus Donovan; astronomer, day dreamer, and smart ass. He was just another researcher in a jumpsuit until he saw something that didn’t fit. At the time, it seemed to be nothing but a blip on a sensor read-out, an asteroid that wasn’t an asteroid, but it became his obsession. He named it Zebra-1, and now he’s hurtling through the solar system on a mission to see it in person.

Meanwhile, the Earth has its own visitors. Seven massive vessels appear out of nowhere and rain hell down from orbit, reducing civilization to a pile of ashes and rubble. Our world is conquered before anyone even knows we’re under attack.

Enter Jack Hernandez, a search & rescue specialist and true blue everyday hero. After crash-landing in the wasted ruins of China, he links up with the scattered resistance and begins to fight back. Having witnessed the invaders’ cruelty first hand, he’s driven to do whatever it takes to make them pay in blood.

Neither Jack nor Marcus ever could have predicted it, but humanity’s future now depends on them both. One will be bonded to an ancient warship and asked to lead, while the other is imprisoned, tortured and forced to submit; before it’s over, they’ll each face challenges beyond imagination in a savage war as old as time.

When the stars rain down from the sky, who will rise up to meet them?

Read a free sample today!

Better? I think so, but I’m sleep deprived. I’ll probably feel differently tomorrow after a good night’s rest, but it’ll do for the time being.

Next up was the cover. Now, I honestly love the original cover, but (here’s that motto again) if it isn’t working, change it! I gave the cover a nice long look and I had to admit that the typographic elements needed work. Also, because of the way I laid the image out, it was suffering badly as a thumbnail. When I asked myself how to improve it, my answers were… well, a little odd.

While browsing around Amazon to look at other covers, I ran across a few albums (ya know, with music and stuff), and something about them kept grabbing my attention. Their thumbnails seemed so much bigger than the ones for books, and I could make out a lot more detail. It’s because they’re square.

Why not follow suit? I mean, ebook covers have been aping their dead-tree cousins, but I don’t see any particular reason why. The aspect ratio is an entirely arbitrary requirement when it comes down to it, so I figured I might as well go crazy. I rejiggered (that’s a technical term) my cover to fit in a square form-factor, adopted one of my alternate color schemes (just for the heck of it), and sat there for a while wondering whether I’d gone completely batshit insane (pardon my French).

Here’s what I came up with:

Have I gone completely around the bend? Will customers think it’s an album? In order, I don’t know, and I don’t know. However, I’m fairly confident that this image will stick out like a sore thumb, and I could use a bit of sticking out right about now.

Last and probably least, I also rewrote my signature-length ad copy because the previous one just sucked. Here’s the replacement:

In the ashes of invasion, mankind struggles for survival.
Some will run,
Others will hide,
And a few will rise up and fight back.
What would you fight for? What would you die for?

All told, not a bad bit of work for a Saturday night. It remains to be seen whether any of this will have an effect, but I can afford to do some experimenting. The one thing I haven’t touched is the price for fear that I’ll sell at the same rate, and make 1/6th as much money. If it isn’t working, change it… unless you’re afraid to!

While I’m here at 5-bleeding-30 in the morning, I may as well post the newest free copies of SRD and Vengar, which I also spent a bit of time on this weekend. I’m providing both files in ePub today because it’s easily been the most popular format, accounting for ~80% of all downloads. I’ll be focusing my efforts on ePub more as time goes on.

Get your free downloads while they’re hot!
Download Stars Rain Down
Download Vengar the Barbarian

Alright, I’m off to try some of that sleep I’ve been hearing such wonderful things about.



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Filed under ebooks, Oktopod Operations, Self-Publishing, Stars Rain Down, Vengar


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