Cheap Books = Lots of Reviews


My first novel, “FantasticLand”, was on sale in ebook edition for $1.99 a few weeks back and as a result, something happened that I’m still trying to process.

People seem to really like my book.

I’m not trying to be self deprecating. I mean, I like my book and there’s a team of editors and agents and such that also like my book. I trust in their taste but it’s one thing to get a book published and another thing to read reviews like this:

“I knew this book was going to be scary. The reviews on the back and word-of-mouth prepared me for that. But I’ll admit, when I started the book and saw it was written as a series of interviews, I thought the level of action and suspense would somehow be muted or diminished. Boy, was I wrong! I was hooked from the beginning and stayed up way too late reading, and even after I put the book down, I kept thinking about the story and the characters. I love how each interview built on the previous one but added a new perspective and dimension to the story. It gave enough information to get your heart rate up and left just enough to the imagination to really freak you out at all the right moments. I’ve never read a book quite like this, but I loved it. I highly recommend it!”

Or this one:

“FantasticLand is a fantastic voyage into the depths of the human soul and what lengths one might stoop to when faced with a tragedy. It is written in the style of interviewer and interviewee and quite believable at points. If you are a fan of the technique of investigative reporter ala Max Brooks and the post apocalyptic World War Z, this book is for you. While there are no zombies in this story, the real monsters are the young men and women who are set in a circumstance where there are no consequences to actions taken. Some times the real horror of this story is the things that are not said but rather implied. People pushed to extreme limits and the struggle to hold on to one’s own humanity give this book chops, a difficult thing to accomplish when dealing with horror fiction.

You have to ask yourself. “To which tribe would I belong?” I hope I am never put in a circumstance where I have to find out.

I look forward to other books by Mr. Bockoven.”

Of course, there are negative reviews, but just a few and none of them are of the “you suck” variety but more of the “I was disappointed” or “not what I expected in a negative way” sort of thing. And I’m used to disappointing people. OK, I’m being self deprecating.

You can visit the book on Amazon and read all the reviews here.

What’s the point, then? Two fold. One, I like pointing out any and all “gold stars” I get because part of me is still in awe that all this is happening. And I like selling books. But, secondly, I really want to give a hearty, heart felt and humble thanks to everyone who read and reviewed the book. I can’t go into this too much, but right now some folks are looking at my book for a project and while I’ve been told it’s selling “modestly” (I don’t find out until June), I was able to point to the reviews of “FantasticLand” as something impressive. I could not be prouder to do so or more thankful for everyone who took the time.

It’s going to take a while to process all the positive reviews but it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing to have to work through.

Entry 2/20/17 – Escape…Good


HT to the Lincoln Escape Room, a place I’ve been to twice and enjoyed myself thoroughly each time. Check them out at lincolnescaperoom.com

Over the past few months everyone has heard varations on the theme “I want to bury my head in the sand”. This isn’t a political thing. I live in Nebraska and this winter we’ve received almost no snow and we wore shorts in February this week. Of course, it’s climate change, mankind’s greatest challenge that will eventually be the source of unimaginable misery and suffering but hey…70 degrees in February!

It’s easy to want to bury your head in the sand, is my point.

Of course, this is why many people read and read fiction in particular. It’s an escape, it takes up space in your brain that might otherwise be filled with some impending crisis, worry, fear or anxiety. I think that might be why anxious people read. You can worry about fictional characters with little or no consequence.

I’ve found this extends to writing, or at least the kind of writing I do, which was a surprise to say the least. As I’ve talked about before, I’m a discovery writer, a process which my fellow Nebraska writer Liz Boyle says is like “letting the characters take you for a ride”. I like that description because I’ve found it to be true. In the short amount of time I’ve carved out for myself to write each week I can count on coming out of that time in a pretty good mood, just like I do when I’m reading something particularly compelling. Not that my stuff is particularly compelling, but I’m surprised and sometimes thrilled at where a story is going and that functions as escapism.

This has two practical effects.

  1. It makes “working” on the writing part of my job pretty close to play time and
  2. It’s lent me a better understanding of why so many people take up writing.

The last few months have shown me there are a lot of writers out there – secret writers, aspiring writers, people who dream of having a bookshelf full of their work if not something more. I understood the appeal (obviously). The solitude is nice, the control is unlike anything else, the results concrete. But now I think there’s a bit more to it. Writing is an escape as much, if not more than reading is.

It makes sense. The characters you create occupy that same space in your brain as the characters you read about. Your sense of imagination and plotting kick in whether you’re reading or writing. The mechanism is the same, just slowed down in the case of writing.

The point is this – if you want to write, try to take into the process that same joy you find in reading. I think this applies for fiction and nonfiction (although as a former reporter, nonfiction takes a lot more work in my experience). The more you can enjoy what you’re writing as you’re writing it the more likely you are to come back and the more likely your brain is to have fun with it.

Let me know how that works for you.

Looking for A Few (Hopefully Good) Reviews


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I started teaching a few weeks back. Stay with me, I’m going somewhere and there could be a free book in it for you.

While I am massively grateful for the chance to teach as a college again and for the nice little chunk of change it brings in, I’m kind of sucking when it comes to “promoting my debut novel”. Which is funny because I was never that good at it to start with. So I’m asking for help.

One thing that will help me find folks interested in nasty little thrillers like “FantasticLand” is through the social media site “Goodreads”. If you’re not on Goodreads I recommend it as it’s helpful to track books you want to read and gives you a nice little endorphine boost when you finish a book and get to market it as “read”. It’s free and they don’t bug you too much. Go sign up.

One way Goodreads helps readers and authors is by promoting books with good reviews within the genre. If you like, say, “The Girl on the Train” it will promote other thrillers of its sort with similar positive reviews. Which is where you come in.

I am going to send out 5 digital copies of “FantasticLand” to friendly folks who would be interested in giving it a review on Goodreads. Here are the conditions.

  1. You must not mind reading the book in PDF form and have some way to do that (preferrably an e-reader like a Kindle)
  2. You must super duper promise not to put the thing online. Because you could do that and then I would be really upset and probably not talk to you for a while.
  3. We reach an understanding that when you’re done with the book, you write up what you think on Goodreads, which means you have an account and use it from time to time.

Anyone interested, please let me know via my facebook page or shoot me an email at *protected email*. Thanks for considering it, friends.