October 2021

Goodreads Giveaway is finished

The Goodreads Giveaway is officially over. 1130 people requested the book – much more than I could have ever hoped, considering that I am a new author. Congratulations to all the lucky winners. I hope you’ll enjoy my book. To all the others – thank you for showing an interest in my book and for having included it on your reading list.

But this doesn’t have to be the end of our interaction – by subscribing to my newsletter, not only will you receive a free book (“An Angel for a Sinner”, a romance story with a touch of paranormal), but you will also be the first to know about my oncoming releases and promotions, which will give you the chance to get my books at a reduced price or free!

Goodreads Giveaway is finished Read More »

„Salford World War” – A Book Review

Another book I have received a free copy of in exchange for an honest review was the “Salford World War” (Will World War 3 start IN Salford?) A Romantic Crime Thriller for 2014 by Mike Scantlebury (published in 2014/republished in 2018). To describe the process – I was contacted on Twitter by a PR manager (hired by the author, I suppose) to ask if I was willing to read the book and post a review on Amazon and Goodreads. I said yes. It was straightforward and in good faith on both sides, and I was happy to do someone a favor, but also to read a romantic crime thriller, which guaranteed to be exciting and different from most of the books I’ve reviewed so far. Admittedly, I was also attracted by the promise of a romance, and there was some romance in the book, indeed – except that the main male protagonist turned out to be as romantic as a rotting piece of wood and I wanted to bludgeon him to death on several occasions throughout the book. But we’ll come to that later.

I will skip my usual rating system for this book as well and write a focused assessment fit to be posted on Amazon (or anywhere else), where people do not have much time to invest in reading long and rambling reviews.

The book’s main protagonist is Amelia Hartliss, who is a secret agent given an important task of protecting an official from China, who comes to visit Salford. The premise of the story is that there are many who want the Chinese official dead, and if they succeed, the consequence might be that China will issue an ultimatum to Great Britain, because the assassination happened on their soil, which in turn might lead to World War III, similar to what had happened in World War I. Here, I am not sure the idea holds water – for the start of the World War I it was not really important where the assassination took place but who did it. Therefore, even if the Chinese official was killed in Salford, it would still matter who killed him. You can’t just start issuing ultimatums because the secret service of the country supposed to protect the emissary you’ve sent consists of a bunch of people incapable of protecting their pet hamster, let alone a foreign visitor. Or you can, but then you don’t really need anyone assassinated at all.

However, the author makes a good job of selling the idea, so after accepting this as a possibility, we join Amelia in her efforts to organize the visit and at the same time figure out who has murdered a good friend of hers (and a former lover), while in parallel trying to understand if she has a personal life at all and any kind of future with Mickey, a fellow spy. By the way, Mickey is the one I’d like to bludgeon to death, simply because of the way he is treating Amelia throughout the book, and if she has any brains at all, she will delete his phone number and try to forget the guy existed. But, to get back to the main topic, the events unfold, and we discover that almost nothing is as it seems (except that Mickey is truly horrible as a boyfriend), and Amelia kind of succeeds in the end, except that it turns out it was not her success after all. Now, at that point, if I had been treated like they’ve been treating her, I would’ve probably quit my job, left my boyfriend, and found me a therapist, but Amelia is tougher than that, so she decides to stick around – for a couple of more books.

So, why should you read the book? It’s fun, and the convoluted story gets properly unraveled by the end of the book. Mind you, there are 11 books before this one dealing with the same character, so I missed the background information. Perhaps the author could put in front a short synopsis of the stuff that was happening before the book Nr. 12. Then it would be easier to understand certain references in the story. Also, I like Amelia (even though she seems a bit too trustworthy and quite incapable for a secret service agent). She is a nice character, and I am curious what will happen to her. I like even Mickey a bit (but only a bit) because he is kind of rough but honest. However, not boyfriend material. Not at all. What I didn’t like was the way dialogs were written, because I had sometimes a hard time figuring out who said what and if they have said it at all or only wanted to say it. I also did not fully manage to follow many characters who came in and out of the story and were insufficiently described and sometimes acted in a way I could not entirely explain. But if you can overlook these weaknesses, and if you like an action-filled story with a nice female lead character, then you’ll have fun reading this book.

My final verdict is 3.5 *.

Interesting, action-filled story with a twist at the end, but with some incomprehensible and confusing moments, and not much romance.

„Salford World War” – A Book Review Read More »

Promoting a book – or not (Part 3)

My book promotion journey threatens to become a book on its own. I might put all posts together and publish them as instructions on what to do (and what not to do). On second thought, I think there is plenty of similar books out there, but on third thought, they might be lacking my singular and very personal touch.

So, let’s see what’s new on the book promotion horizon of Verena Key world.

8.) To be scientifically accurate, I’ve booked Books Butterfly again, this time a platinum option (or something like that), which cost me more than the initial 80 $ top 200 push, but my book was also not free, although it was almost free (0.99 $). As before, they promised way more than they could deliver. The promotion was supposed to run for 2 weeks over their social platforms and they guaranteed 100 + downloads. I had 8 downloads altogether (counting KU reads), and at least 3 of those were the consequence of the tweets I booked over the eBooks Habit (just couldn’t resist). This time I decided to report that to the people from Books Butterfly, and they agreed to run the promotion for the remaining 92 books in November. They are very nice to talk to but something tells me that in November I won’t have much more downloads. Admittedly, “Forest Magic” is not the best book I’ve written, but it is also not the worst book in the universe, and certainly is better than many books out there that get hundreds of reviews. And maybe I am being partial, but I think I’m also realistic at least a little bit.

9.) Bargain Booksy ran my 0.99 $ “Forest Magic” again, and this time I had 30 book downloads after only one day of promotion with them. Not to mention that my last promotion of “The Neighbor” with them had brought me several sorely needed star ratings on Amazon. So, obviously, Books Butterfly could learn from them, and try to build their audience according to their preferences. Also, Bargain Booksy is very transparent and I actually see where my ad is posted and how it looks like – which cannot be said for Books Butterfly.

10.) Paid ad on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog site

Something new I tried was to pay 50 $ for a month worth of advertising on SBTB site. I came across this blog while aimlessly surfing the Internet and became a big fan. I like the informativeness of the site but also the humor. Some of the book reviews I read there made me laugh until I cried and I suggest them to anyone who needs a mood boost. At some point, I also realized they posted ads for a very accessible price (when you compare it to Amazon or Facebook paid ads). Besides learning how to make an animated GIF in Photoshop (I had no idea that was even a thing), I had around 25 clicks so far on the ad. I also advertised the Goodreads Giveaway (I’ll come to that) using that ad, so whereas I can’t tell how much overall effect it had on my sales, or on the number of entries for the Giveaway, I like to think it did have some effect, considering that I did not really advertise the giveaway through other channels.

11.) Goodreads Giveaway

There is a pop-up widget right on my homepage telling you all you need to know about it. For the uninitiated, Goodreads is a great platform where people talk about books and other book-related stuff, post reviews, blog, exchange ideas, or simply support each other. I became a member some time ago and like to go there occasionally and exchange opinions with other authors or readers. Goodreads use to organize these giveaways for free. However, recently Goodreads has become a part of the Amazon universe, and as we know, in that universe nothing is for free. Except what they allow you, and a giveaway is not one of those things. Opinions are divided as to the usefulness of the whole process, but for 119 $ you are now allowed to give away 100 free copies of your book. So, essentially, you are buying your books from Amazon and the people on Goodreads distribute them to the interested readers. Theoretically, one could also gift copies of the book to random people, but the trick is exactly that – I do not know 100 random people who might be interested in my book. Goodreads does. So I pay them to share that knowledge with me (indirectly). Considering, however, that this really increases the visibility of the book on Goodreads, and has gained me some followers, I think it is not such a bad deal. I was convinced that I would have trouble collecting even 50 entries, but so far, almost 600 people had entered the giveaway and I am impressed by the number. For all of those who do not get a book, I would be quite happy to organize another promotion on Amazon and inform them when they can download the book at a reduced price, but I don’t have the means to contact all of them. I’ll try and post a notification on my Goodreads author page at some point – maybe they’ll see it.

12.) Reviews, reviews, and reviews!

Yeah, they are important. After a lot of effort and waiting, I finally got my first written review on the book “Neighbor”. Thank you so much, whoever you are, for taking the time to write how you liked my book. And even the comment that they found the end too short – I think that, too. I still think I had to make it that way because there was not much more to say after that last chapter and I had to finish the story somewhere, but when a reader complains that 400 + pages book is too short, it only shows that they really liked reading it and wanted more! I am inclined to write a whole extra chapter just for that one person, and if I find time I will 🙂 Having such a nice review attached to my book led to an increase in sales, I believe (because I’m sure it was not the amazon ads that helped). So, readers, please, review our poor books. Honest reviews are the best advertising there is. Having said that, yeah, I have been offered to pay for reviews, but I am not a fan of such things, so I won’t. Even if they try to make it sound like I am not really paying for reviews, but for presenting my book to potential reviewers, blah, blah… It’s paying for reviews, essentially. So,… no.

I’ve had many other interesting experiences in the past few weeks – signed up for a workshop on writing, will attend a romance writer’s week organized by ProWritingAid, am supporting the development of a new serialized fiction platform called Resurgence Novels, and have written two interviews about myself and my books. But more about that later. I’m obviously having a blast and will report back soon!

Promoting a book – or not (Part 3) Read More »