Archive | August 2013

Writing a Book Description

One great thing about self-publishing is you can keep rewriting your sales copy until you hit on something that sells.

It’s time for me to write a better book description. Right now on Amazon and Smashwords, I start off with a short blurb:

Three lovers, as a way to save cash, seek out a real estate agency that specializes in poltergeist activity. What they find in their prospective house will test their faith in God and their faith in each other.

Then I have the very beginning of my book, which is an explanation of the Jacobi House, the house the book revolves around. It was always meant to be a placeholder until I could write a more persuasive book description.

After looking at some other horror novel book descriptions on Amazon, I took a new stab at my own, writing the first thing that came to mind, and I like it, at least more than I thought I would. As always, I would love your thoughts on it. Especially before I put it up for the whole world to see.

Portland, Oregon, has many famously haunted locations, but Howard, Isabel, and Grip are steadfast skeptics. For these three lovers building a new life together, there is no such thing as a haunted house, so why not capitalize on other people’s superstitions and buy a mansion on the waterfront at a fraction of its market value?

What could it hurt to at least take a tour?

Life isn’t a horror novel, and a house’s dark history is not its present. A house that was a brothel, then an insane asylum, and then a cult church is still just a house.

The three lovers don’t realize one flaw in their logic: the present can be even worse than the past.

Reality can be more horrific than any ghost story.

The problem with writing these things is I end up overworking them to death. I’ll let this one live for awhile and look at it again with fresh eyes in a few days.

Until then, happy writing and even happier publishing.


New Cover


I just wanted to post a small update about my new book cover.

Mainly I made the text more dimensional, trimmed the front image, and added a new quote from a review. I also added a bit more red. It is a horror novel after all.

I like it, but what do you think? Is it better or worse?

Get my book for FREE!

If you’re a reader that likes to spread the word about good books, and would like a free review copy of my novel, use this coupon code on Smashwords to get it for free:


Here is a Link to the book.

The coupon will run out the 25th of August, so don’t put it off too long.

I Got My First Review!

It’s the first real review I’ve ever received. I couldn’t be happier. I think I’m going to go read it again! I’ll be in my bunk.

Three Writing Tips! (from a now published author)

  1. Take care of your health. Get some exercise! Eat a large, leafy salad dressed with a little olive oil, garlic, salt, black pepper, and lemon. Drink water. While writing can be good for the mind, it can also distract you from the needs of the body. A healthy body helps you write.


    mollydot 2008

  2. Keep your self-esteem up. Low self-esteem can negatively affect your productivity, networking, and the marketing of your book. Exercise should help, but also spend more time with positive people. That includes you; be kind to yourself. The kinder you are to yourself, the more you will like yourself. If your book had been written by a friend, how would you describe it to them after reading it for the first time? Do yourself some favors (take a walk, take a 10-15 minute nap, take the time to really listen to the lyrics of music you love, or find a book you love by the first five pages). Note: The reverse is also true. The worse you treat yourself, the more you’ll hate yourself.

    JAS_Photo 2010

    JAS_Photo 2010

  3. When uninspired, read to see how other writers do it. Dissect sentences. Look at transitions. Read with a writer’s eye. When you write, you have an extreme amount of power. That fact is easy to forget. When that happens, writing can feel pedestrian. Seeing the true power of writing properly wielded can reignite the yearning you need for the creation of new realities.

Progress: The Forgiving (my horror/suspense novel) has been published on Amazon and Smashwords. House of Cabal: Episode One still needs a lot of work. I’ll give a more thorough update in the near future.

Tough Love, Blog

Almost a year and a half ago, I started to focus on strengthening my “media platform.” That included this blog and my twitter feed. I wrote:

With the rise of the internet and our virtual lives, an established platform is a must for any writer, even those going through the channels of traditional publishing. Readers want to connect, and connected reads buy books and spread the word. A writer is nothing without excited fans and followers.

So how is my media platform creation going? Let us check in.

Jamal Afzal

Jamal Afzal 2007

Views to my blog haven’t really gone up since the first few months, despite the fact I now have a book available. Currently about twenty people a week visit my blog. I have more than a thousand people following me on twitter, but only a few respond to anything I tweet. This leads me to believe that maybe about twenty people pay attention to my twitter posts, if that. Not great.

After posting a code on this blog to download a free copy of my new horror novel, only two people used the code.

So where have I gone wrong? I have a few ideas.

My brand is an undefined mess. Most of my readers have very little clue as to what kind of writer I am. I also haven’t identified my audience. Horror or thriller readers? Joss Whedon fans? Clive Barker fans? White gay guys? Anyone and everyone is not a target audience.

My posts are too sporadic. I post whenever I feel like it and with no respect for any predictable schedule.

Many of my posts are self-indulgent and not all that helpful to my readers. Are my blog posts my random thoughts, self-help for self-publishers, or thinly veiled advertisements for my book?

I’m tempted to start from scratch. My blog has fifty followers. Not bad, but how many of those people are even reading my posts, and more importantly, finding my posts worthy of their time?

It’s time to try a new strategy.

Onward and Upward

Here I am, trying to get my first novel into your hands. I’m now more than a writer, I’ve published my novel, and now I’m focused on marketing, and for the first time, I’m realizing that’s kind of amazing. Before this is all over, I’m going to know the whole ebook business, inside and out.

I’ve changed the look of my blog to reflect my new book. Less people are visiting, but I guess I’ll just keep posting stuff and see if things pick up.

You can buy my novel on Amazon here, and if you want it in some other format it’s on Smashwords here.

When I figure more things out (find something that works), I’ll post more advice updates. Right now, new people are reading my stuff, so I am grateful for that. I’ve already received some positive feedback from readers who aren’t close friends.

I’m still trying to figure out the next step. Onward and upward, as they say.