New Speed reviews from the author of Water Music

water music

I met Chris Botkin a few weeks ago through an online group we’re both a part of. Someone in that group asked everyone about their hobbies, and there were a few writers in the group. That sort of spread off into a side discussion among the writers, and the next thing I knew Chris had read Four Things My Wife Hates About Mornings and was offering to court Jean if I kick an untimely bucket.

So, when someone reads Four Things and comes away with an understanding of how awesome Jean is, that person is okay with me.

Chris and I chatted online a little about the book, and he reviewed it on Amazon.

Then he started reading the Jackson Speed novels, and has left reviews on the first three Speed books.

Every night before I go to sleep I pray that when I wake up in the morning I will find that I have a new review on Amazon. And every morning I rush downstairs in my pajamas, sit under the Amazon tree and call up my list of books hoping to unwrap a shiny new review.

Most mornings I am disappointed.

But lately I’ve been able to unwrap Chris’s reviews, and they are among the shiniest of reviews.

I love a review – even a 1-star review that complains about 15-year-olds getting laid – and I treasure every review I’ve ever received. But Chris’s reviews are magnificent. Even if you don’t want to read any of my novels, you should seek out and read Chris’s reviews on Amazon because they make my novels sound very interesting!

As I noted, Chris is also a writer. I am reading his novel Water Music, but it’s a little bit longer than a Jackson Speed novel (by about 250,000 words!) and so I’m still working my way through Water Music.

Chris is a talented craftsman with words. He constructs his sentences with a cadence that marches through his story. In Water Music, he’s created a vocabulary of words for his imagined universe. Typically, this is the sort of thing I find tedious and might well turn me off of a book, but Chris’s language flows seamlessly into the consciousness of the reader and is easily interpreted.

I’m not far enough into Water Music to provide anything near a review, but I can say that I’m looking forward to the moments I can snatch away to read it. There is something very simple and endearing about the universe of the Traeppedelferes, and I am easily caught up in it. Also, reading it, I have an expectancy that each new chapter is going to bring me deeper into this world and it will be a lovely immersion.

Where I’m at in Water Music, there is something a little magical and a little sinister going on in the world of the Traeppedelferes, and I’m excited to know where Chris is taking me.

You should check it out if you enjoy fantasy novels, which I ordinarily do not. So, maybe you should check it out even if you don’t enjoy fantasy novels.

When I am finished reading it, I’ll give it a proper review. But I have this feeling about Water Music that even when I have completed reading it I will not be finished with it. It seems to me that Water Music is the sort of book that stays with you even when you hit the end.

Help a brother out, leave a Jackson Speed review

Help a brother out ... please leave a review if you've enjoyed a book.

Help a brother out … please leave a review if you’ve enjoyed a book.

If you have read and enjoyed any of my books, I would really appreciate a short review on Amazon. Reviews help sell books. Even if I handed you a copy and you didn’t buy it from Amazon, you can still go to Amazon and leave a review.

It doesn’t have to be long or thought out or grammatically correct. A word or two: “Fun read!” or “Enjoyed it!” would be very helpful to me. One of the best reviews I’ve received was from someone who said the book was so funny “I cried and almost pee my underwear.” Do I care that her pee is present-tense and her tears are past-tense? Not at all. I’m just glad she’s soaking wet from top to bottom.

Or, if you’re a bit more verbose, a longer review is always very helpful, too. If you can describe the book or what you enjoyed about it – even what could have been improved – all of these things are worthwhile and helpful to other readers who are considering reading the book.

Obviously, if you were ambivalent about the book (3 stars) then that’s not going to help me, and if you absolutely hated it (1 star or 2 stars) then I’d prefer you keep your opinion to yourself. But if you hated the book so much that you feel compelled to leave a one star review, I do hope you’ll be specific about why you hated it and give other potential readers an honest accounting of your opinion.

But I think I’d rather have an honest 1 star review than a fake 5 star review.

I know people are enjoying the Jackson Speed books because sales of all four of the Jackson Speed novels are consistent. Clearly folks are reading a book and coming back for the next book in the series.

I was recently lamenting the lack of reviews to a friend of mine. I told him that I’ve had more people email me through my blog to tell me they enjoyed the books than have posted a review on Amazon – and that’s something I don’t understand. Especially when Kindle readers get a prompt to post a review when they finish the book. For someone to email me through the blog requires at least another step or two.

It might be that people get to the end of a Jackson Speed book but never get the prompt because they don’t reach the last page after the endnotes. It may be that the endnotes are dooming me from getting reviews.

Based on my sales reports from 2015, it looks like I picked up somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 new readers in the United Kingdom and another 30 new readers in the United States who read all four of the Jackson Speed novels just in 2015. There were others, too, who read some but not all of the books. That doesn’t include the folks who bought books in 2014 (and we won’t talk about 2012 and 2013 when my sales were so poor I thought about never writing another novel again).

If half of those people who bought all four books in 2015 (and presumably did so because they enjoyed them) would leave a review, it would help me out so much. Instead, I only received one review on a Jackson Speed book in all of 2015.

All the conventional wisdom on novel writing tells me that reviews will improve my sales. Someone recently told me that Amazon has an algorithm that kicks in when a book reaches 50 reviews, and writers find it difficult to get traction before they have those 50 reviews. At the rate I’m going, I’ll be dead and gone before my books start getting traction.

I am deeply grateful to everyone who has read a Jackson Speed book and come back for a second one. Those people who have read all four of the books are the people who keep me writing. I love you folks more than I love my dogs (and you come in very close behind my children, and on some days you’ve got them beat, too). You can’t understand the feeling I get when I see a copy of El Teneria sell and a few days later I see a Blood Tubs sell and then an Orange Turnpike and then a High Tide. It’s like I can watch someone enjoying the Speed books (and yes, I realize, it may not necessarily be the same person, but I like to imagine it is).

So please don’t misunderstand me begging for reviews to think I’m not grateful. Every time I look at a sales report and see that people are reading my books, I am humbled and so very thankful.

But I really need some reviews, too.

Seriously, me begging for reviews is so much better than me begging for spare change on the side of the road. Help a brother out.