3 Stars

Basic Beginner’s Guide but Others May Be Better

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Publish Children’s Books by Caterina Christakos

3 star

3 Stars

The title of Caterina Christakos’ short guide sold me on it, but a short read later left me wondering if I should have picked a different book. It’s very short – perhaps ten pages. While packed with information, it does not offer many new tips or suggestions for authors who have already published one or more books. The guide offers some money-saving advice that could prove valuable but is generally available elsewhere. It does not go far enough in giving the reader value for their money by offering more options. In the audio books section, for example, it did not make reference to Audible.com, Amazon’s audio bookseller, or producing an audiobook using Amazon’s ACX. Perhaps this was an oversight or the guide needs to be updated.

Although advertised as a resource for publishing children’s books, the guide is applicable to writers of many genres. This is a plus in that you don’t have to be a children’s writer to get something out of it. On the other hand, a children’s writer may not find Ms. Christakos’ guide useful enough to make it worth buying.

There are other, better reference materials on publishing children’s books, including free options such as newsletters and publishing guides for writers that provide more in-depth information. If you are a beginning author who needs some general information to get started, this might be the book for you if it’s reasonably priced. If not, take a pass and check out other resources.

Publishing Children’s Books is now available at:

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Shelfari

Analytics Book Out of Date but Still Relevant

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The Amazon Analytics Bible: How To Use Analytics To Sell More Books On Amazon And Make Better Marketing Decisions

By Tom Corson-Knowles

3 star

3 Stars

I read Tom Corson-Knowles’ guide to insights on how to use analytics, the science of logical analysis, to sell more books. I was initially disappointed because although his “bible” is just over a year old, it’s already out of date. Disregard everything he suggests in the first few chapters on how to embed third-party links on Amazon to understand your customers. Amazon has since changed its permissions on Kindle Digital Publishing and Author Central to disallow the kind of third-party tracking Corson-Knowles recommends. It’s futile to try (as of February 2014). Do yourself a favor and avoid hours of headaches trying to make it work. For this reason, my initial conclusion was to give the book a one-star rating until the author updates his book or Amazon allows embedded third-party links again.

As I read further, I discovered some valuable insights on book analytics that, ironically, could be applied through other sales channels than Amazon. The author offers some good advice on the general use of analytics that may be applicable to other e-bookstores and your own website and e-books. I haven’t tried it yet and don’t have any specific suggestions but am convinced that the author’s recommendations are still applicable beyond Amazon’s ecosystem. The book merits a five-star rating for this alone.

Because Corson-Knowles’ guide is out of date but has some general points that are still valid, I split the difference and gave it three stars. There may be other, better books on using analytics to sell books. If this guide is free or less than a dollar, it’s still a worthwhile read as long as you avoid the headache of trying to do what it says to do.

The Amazon Analytics Bible is now available at:

Amazon

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The Last Days Lasted for Days

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The Last Days by Joel Rosenberg

3 star

3 Stars

I read Joel Rosenberg’s thriller “The Last Days” to expand the range of authors I read in this genre. Two years later, I finished his book. Getting through it became a personal quest to see if I could finish what I started. I didn’t dislike the book enough to stop reading it, but it didn’t spark my interest the way that other thrillers have.

The author obviously has a deep knowledge of Arab-Israeli politics and knowledge of Middle Eastern politics that gives the book an air of realism missing from other thrillers, right down to using real figures such as Yasser Arafat. At times Rosenberg veered into speculative territory that left me shaking my head, suggesting, for example, that the U.S. Secretary of State would conduct peace negotiations in the Gaza Strip. The author’s in-depth explanations of world events and political undercurrents that would do well in a textbook bogged down the story.

Surprisingly, the book lacked nonstop action and suspense that I would have expected from a story about efforts to avert a war between the Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans following the assassination of a major political figure and the killing of the U.S. Secretary of State. The few action scenes rescued the book at critical moments, but I would have preferred more of them to keep the story moving. The beginning and end are dramatic with a couple of well-placed nail-biter scenes interspersed. Otherwise, Rosenberg’s detailed descriptions and long-winded dialogue left me disinterested.

“The Last Days” had enough redemptive qualities to merit three stars. It’s a book for those who like cerebral, meaty thrillers who aren’t expecting the protagonist to single-handedly strong arm the bad guys.

The Last Days is now available at:

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Goodreads