Pitch Challenge: A Little Help Please

I could use some help here.

Beta readers are going over my new book – The Mark of the Spider: A Black Orchid Chronicle – and I’ve started working on the pitch materials.

Not to put too fine a point on the immediate challenge, I have to reduce a 529-page manuscript to one line or one sentence. Think of the short descriptions on best seller lists:

An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.  (Casablanca)

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. (Shawshank Redemption)


That sort of thing.

So, how about some feedback? In the samples below, which one would move you to buy or read the book?

Sample 1

A. Photographer cursed with the power to kill with his thoughts.

B. Photographer cursed with the power to “think” people to death.

Sample 2
A. An ancient spider demon curses a photographer, giving him the power to kill with his thoughts.
B. An ancient spider demon curses a photographer, giving him power to kill with his thoughts but no control over the power.

Now pick one: Sample 1 or Sample 2. Discuss. (Sorry. I had a flashback to my days at Campion Jesuit High School.)

Let’s try that with something a little longer. Which of these three moves you?

Sample 3

An ancient spider demon possesses nature photographer Sebastian Arnett, giving him the power to kill without touching, but Sebastian does not always control his lethal new powers.

Sample 4
A photo assignment in the highland jungles of Borneo turns deadly when headhunters lure victims with tales of a mythical black orchid. One survives but is cursed with the ability to kill with his thoughts, a power he does not control.
Sample 5
Sebastian Arnett doesn’t believe in demons, but one believes in him. And it curses him with the power to kill with his thoughts.

I’ll post the results in a week or so. I need reaction from at least 11 people, so get right on this. Tnx.

BTW, if you don’t want to leave a comment, send me an email.

Thank You, VVA, for a Great Review

Vietnam Veterans of America welcomes authors to send copies of their books and memoirs about the Viet Nam war for review.


I sent HOTEL CONSTELLATION to book editor Marc Leeson just after publishing; yesterday he emailed me a link to a review written by David Wilson.

Here’s an excerpt:

This memoir is engaging and well-written and more honest than Haase had to be about how callow and inexperienced he was with just about everything.

Take a look; support the VVA if you can.

Self-Pub: Still Bewildered

With the publication of my Viet Nam memoir two weeks ago, I have learned a huge amount about self-publishing.

For instance, I learned how to get it formatted properly and loaded onto more than a half-dozen book sale platforms – Amazon| AppleBarnes & Noble | Kobo | ScribdSmashwords – being the most popular.

After several tries, I managed to set up sales of paperback copies on Amazon. (Granted, I don’t understand why people who ordered it on launch day got their copies in two days, while my bulk order placed five days before launch took almost two weeks to arrive.)

Now Amazon has thrown me for a loop again. Take a look at this screen shot and see if you can identify my quandary:

Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 9.15.38 AM

Yep, there it is. Right under the paperback box. (Absolutely not legible on your smart phone.)

Three “used” copies of Hotel Constellation are for sale already. (Thank you for buying, whoever you are. Fast readers. Or non-readers. Thank you anyway.)

But wait. The used copies cost more, in one case really a LOT more, than a new copy.

As an old newspaper business editor, I confess I don’t understand these economics.

Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 9.04.14 AM

Really, californiabooks, you expect to sell it used (but like new) for twice the cost of a new copy? (And the new copy comes with a FREE version of the ebook.)

Anyone with insights should contact this old dog, because he still wants to learn new tricks. (And if you’ve read it, please rate it on Amazon or Goodreads. Tnx.)