Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Seeking Those Elusive Reviews

As an author who is working with an independent publisher, I must participate heavily in the promotion of my books or suffer with putrid sales numbers. Similar to other types of media, professional and user reviews of your book have a huge impact and can encourage consumers to purchase your product with confidence. While book PR has unique aspects compared to other types of media, reviews are critical for a book's success.
To prepare for my impending book release, I conducted research to find book review sites that I thought would be a good fit for my book. Over the period of three weeks, I visited over 350 book blog sites, deciding to target about a third of them. With my book formatted and finalized, I immediately began to contact book bloggers and review sites that cover YA fantasy novels.
Over the period of a week, I contacted over 100 sites that would accept digital copies for review. I would have contacted more, but many sites weren't accepting requests due to an overwhelming backlog of books to be read.
Sadly, only eight bloggers agreed to conduct a review of my book. Half of those sites, and a few others, also offered to post an author interview. Most of the blog sites have yet to offer any response.
With the advent of self-publishing and the growth of independent print houses, book bloggers have been inundated with review requests. Some claim to receive over 100 review requests a day. Although only four major publishing houses remain, they each produce 1000's of books each year. Those big publishers are offering books to these review sites, consuming reviewer bandwidth and taking priority over the smaller guys. It’s understandable that these bloggers will bend-over backward to review a book for Penguin Random House or HarperCollins. If they don’t, they won't see future books from these big publishers. However, where does that leave indie and self-published authors?
My publisher is a mid-size indie, printing about 150 books a year, yet I couldn't even get one reviewer in ten to consider my work. Many of the reviewers that I researched flat-out reject any self-published material, leaving self-published authors in an even more dire predicament. So what can we do?
Many sites offer a paid review service, some by professional reviewers while others are book bloggers who have capitalized on the overwhelming demand. Who can blame them? When demand outstrips supply, it is our right as a capitalist society to charge more for the product or service.
Another option is to beg everyone you know to read your book and leave a review on sites such as Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and others. This is tricky because Amazon will ferret-out and remove any reviews posted by people you have friended on Facebook. System abuse forced their hand some time ago, due to a proliferation of biased 5-star reviews for sub-par books devaluing the importance of a review on their website. I can’t fault them and would rather have consumer confidence in a few reviews than have 100's of reviews that readers deem meaningless.
In summary, I attempt to sift my way through this quagmire, hoping to eventually achieve the magical number of 100 reviews on Goodreads and book eCommerce sites. When that day comes, I will throw a party and anyone who has posted a review is invited. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Book Cover

There is a famous saying "Never judge a book by its cover." However, human nature says otherwise. The cover creates an impression about a book and plays an important role in its success.
The image presented needs to tantalize the reader, enticing them to scoop your book off the shelf for further inspection. If aren't drawn to the cover, the reader moves along and your wonderful story never gets the chance to be told. After spending thousands of hours crafting a beautiful tale, you lose a reader just because the cover didn't peak their interest. It's not fair.
Knowing this, I had some ideas in mind for my cover design. I needed a cover that spoke to my main two audiences: teens and fantasy geeks (like me). The image had to intrigue them enough that they felt compelled to pick the book up, flipping it over to read the synopsis on the back.
After a number of iterations with the graphic artist, I now have a cover. It's not quite what I imagined, but I am happy with it. I'm hopeful that the image of the character holding a book of magic alludes to the secrets that readers will discover within the pages.
Check out the cover and let me know what you think. If I get enough positive feedback, I may submit it for a cover contest once the book is released.
For more information about Jeffrey L Kohanek and his books, visit 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Science of Magic

Raising her hands in the air, lightning blasts from a sorceress's hands. With the wave of his wand, a wizard freezes an enemy in a block of ice. How is this possible? It doesn’t matter; you are just supposed to believe. Magic needs to be mysterious, right?
It shouldn’t be.
Having read a plethora of fantasy novels, I’ve come to appreciate authors who take a practical approach to magic. Having a well-defined logic behind how magic functions is when it truly has the power to captivate my imagination. If I don't understand magic and the rules behind it, how can I picture myself using it? I believe that the best magic is just a science that we haven’t yet discovered.
Logic defines the magic that exists within the world of Issalia. While readers won’t know anything about the two sides of magic when they begin The Buried Symbol, they will feel like apprentice-level magic users by the end.
Magic is a powerful tool that can be used for good or ill intent. When abused, magic can create problems and be destructive. However, it can also make the world a better place by improving society and saving lives. Brock, the protagonist in my story, is a planner and problem solver. After he discovers a new magic by acting on instinct, he learns to hone his skills and begins to use magic as a tool to solve problems. The practical use of fantastic powers helps readers to really consider the possibilities that these new abilities present and how our world might be impacted if this magic became a reality.
After all, magic is just a science that we haven’t yet discovered. Once you understand this new science, it all makes sense.
Let me know what you think on this subject.

For more information about Jeffrey L Kohanek and his books, visit 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Cast of Characters

At the age of seventeen, the protagonist in The Buried Symbol teeters on the edge of adulthood. A tragic event causes Brock to reconsider his role as the Empire has defined it, choosing to break free from society’s bonds in pursuit of a better life.
His mother's influence during early childhood, followed by a difficult upbringing after her untimely death, imprint him with a deep sense of compassion. Possessing an insatiable curiosity and a Sherlock Holmes-like sense of logic, he has a tendency to identify a secret from a minuet clue and then pursue the truth at any cost. These traits, along with his God-given abilities, lead him to discover a magic that has been buried for centuries.
His friends have their own dark pasts, leaving them emotionally damaged and feeling incomplete. They gravitate toward Brock, drawn by his likeable personality and strong belief in right and wrong. The relationships that Brock establishes within the story say as much about him as his action do. 
Brock’s companions include: his loyal childhood friend, who is homeless and lives on the streets of his home town; his quiet, yet massive roommate who is destined to be a great warrior; a quirky brainiac who creates amazing inventions; a jolly giant; a brooding aristocrat; and his strong-willed girlfriend, who is hiding secrets of her own.
From his beginnings at the coastal city of Kantar, throughout his journey to Fallbrandt, and within the walls of the Academy itself, Brock meets a vast array of interesting characters. Among them is a powerful rival, intent on seeing Brock destroyed in any way possible. The actions of this rival are among many obstacles that Brock must overcome in pursuit of his dream of becoming an Academy Master.
I invite you to follow Brock on his journey. Expect to fall in love with him and other personalities found within the pages of The Buried Symbol. When you finish reading the story, let me know how you feel about his rival. Do you despise him or do you feel sorry for him?

For more information about Jeffrey L Kohanek and his books, visit 

Monday, April 4, 2016

So, What's Your Book About?

It’s a question that I hear often, yet struggle to find a suitable response. Any reply does an injustice to the depth of the story. However, I realize that question will not go away, so I need to pinpoint the ideal answer.
Many elements exist within the novel, including action, adventure, mystery, magic, romance, fantasy, suspense, comedy, drama, and others. While these terms are descriptive, none properly portray the feeling that I wish the reader to experience.
When I began the creative process, I made a conscious decision to write a story I would have cherished when I was seventeen, since that is when my love for books first reached its peak. Accordingly, I focused on the elements that were common in the reading experiences that I have most enjoyed.
First, I needed to create a rich world with a dramatic history. I made it similar enough to our own that it was easy to understand on a basic level, but included complex undercurrents that are exposed as the story progresses. Since I was inventing my own world, it could operate according to the rules that I define. Those rules, including how magic functions, would be the basis of my tale.
Second, my story needed characters with depth. Character investment is the key to triggering emotion within the reader. I wanted the characters to be easy to identify with, yet complex and flawed. Whether its love, hatred, laughter, sadness, fear, or any other number of emotions that I wanted to draw from the story, the reader must feel some sense of emotion for the character first. 
The third element that I decided to target was a sense of discovery. My favorite moments in reading come when a secret is revealed. It feels as if I, as the reader, just uncovered a treasure chest in the form of a new piece of knowledge. Accordingly, I decided to construct my tale so that the reader is continually discovering something new or is tantalized by a secret soon to be exposed. Not only is The Buried Symbol written to present a constant sense of discovery, I have outlined the whole trilogy with that precept in mind. This is why the tagline for my first book is Discover a Magic, Buried and Forgotten…
There is my short answer to the question above: My book is about the Spirit of Discovery. Discover the secrets hidden within the pages, you might find a little magic for yourself.

For more information about Jeffrey L Kohanek and his books, visit