Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: book review

Review of APE ~ Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki & Shawn Welch


Considering the World-Wide Web, this blog is written by a Nobody.

I doubt my review of this book will read by more than about 30 people.

Still, it’s getting so much press and the main author is so well-known that I felt it necessary to review it, to protect those who care about what I say

Here’s what the authors say about the book:

APE is 300 pages of tactical and practical inspiration. People who want a hype-filled, get-rich-quick book should look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you want a comprehensive and realistic guide to self-publishing, APE is for you.”

My review will follow some snippets from other reviewers:

Jason Epstein, former editorial director of Random House—“This book will become the standard guide to this new publishing universe.”

Alan Rinzler, editor of New York Times bestsellers—“It’s the best, most thorough book I’ve seen on self-publishing to date, packed with valuable information, techniques, tips, and advice for every author.”

Shira Gal, SEO Geek and Published Author—“While I like Kawasaki’s writing style, the book contains about 50% fluff – I found the first part of the book too long and the last part too short.”

A man who’s been blogging for three months—“I give this 5 stars and recommend this to any aspiring author.”

The book costs about $17.00 (print) and $10.00 (e-book) on Amazon.

Since a good friend of mine had given me an Amazon Gift Certificate, I bought the e-book edition.

I don’t make a practice of reviewing books and I’m almost sorry I thought I should read this one.

I didn’t waste my time because I can share my experience here and hopefully caution aspiring authors against thinking that this book will be the only one they have to read.

In fact, about 90% of what’s in the book is available with a bit of intelligent searching on Google.

I’d estimate about 70% is available through this blog—either what I’ve said or sources I link to.

Please realize I’m not saying you shouldn’t read this book—just be sure you don’t accept it as the “full package” it’s being marketed as

One of it’s best features is all the links it contains to various resources writers may need in their quest toward publishing.

Thing is, you don’t have to buy the book to get those links.

They’re right on the book’s website >>> Here are Ape’s 350 links.

Have you read the book?

If so, what’s your take?
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For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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A Book Review That Teaches The Author Something About Typos . . .


The review is of Notes from An Alien and the reviewer is an inmate in Maryland, U. S. A. who’s been incarcerated for 32 years and is serving a life term.

Here is his review:

“It started a bit slow, but I found it completely worth reading. I thought the concept of a living sentient planet was a creative way to broaden one’s vision of what constitutes life.

“Reading Notes from An Alien is enhanced if the reader has at least a moderate conceptualization of Theology and Philosophy.

“The generational transitions are effective for conveying the elemental need for societal consistency. Well done!

“For those who read it in depth, it can be very thought provoking and, in my opinion, that is the primary purpose of the written word. I feel that if a writer fails to ignite creative thought, then the writer has essentially failed the reader.

“I look forward to a continuation in the series.

“Thank you for sharing your creativity, Peace should be everyone’s primary objective in life.”
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Apart from the education this review gave me about the intelligence of a prison lifer, I must say it’s the most welcome review I’ve gotten for my novel

This gentleman then proceeded to give me the following information:

Editorial Notes:
page 26 , line 26, word eight should read “than” instead of that
page 60, line 20, word eight should read Their” not “They”
page 83, line 4 from bottom of page, I’ve waiting” should read “I’ve been waiting”
page 95, line 4, “relative” should read “relatively”

These typos were missed by the editor, a number of authors who read the book, and myself

Yet, before receiving this bit of editorial help, 8 other typos had been identified—typos which this man didn’t see

Yes, wonderfully weird proof that we often read a book with typos and never see them.

And, the typos we do see are often not the ones others see

Fascinating………
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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Some Reviews Feel Better Than Others


There are reviews and there are REVIEWS.

Even amongst all the good ones, there are those that make a deeper impression on the author.

And, there can be reviews that are good for the book but don’t make the author feel good

It’s even possible to like bad reviews, as was indicated in our post, Bad Reviews Are Good ?

As far as Notes from An Alien goes, the post, “Almost” “Reviews”, had me saying about a particular review, from a humble reader who struggles with the English language, that, “No writer could ask for anything more………

Still, a treasured review from a humble reader is different than a treasured review from another author—cherished in different ways.

There are a few reviews from authors on our Review Page but one was just released that has special reverberations

Jane Watson is the Australian author who wrote Hindustan Contessa.

You can read an interview with her here.

She is my best friend

Some may think that last comment “invalidates” a review of my book from Jane.

But Jane knows me, perhaps better than anyone; and, knowing something about the author can infuse a review with special insights.

I’m including her review here but also giving you the link to it at Amazon since it could help sales a bit if you went to the site and rated or commented on Jane’s review :-)

The Thinking Person’s sci-fi

“I loved this book. Notes From An Alien is a deep epic with many voices, which work together to create a concert of meaning, which is both instructive and profound. The book is quite ‘documentary’ in style and structure, yet the writing has intense lyrical moments which draw the reader in.

“The story, told through science fiction, expresses the belief that world peace is possible and can be everlasting. The writer uses a clever technique of telling the story as a history of a distant planet. Soon however the reader comes to realize that this struggle could be the history of Earth itself in the future.

“The plot turns in many remarkable ways but mostly the book seeds in the mind a desire to think about the worlds it describes and how they may have come about. The characters are finely drawn, not the least is the narrator, Sena, whose voice begins the narration in a most intriguing way. She has a poised intimate voice and her method of addressing the reader is arresting:

“‘I am a woman from a star system about twelve light-years from Earth. If you choose to believe me, my story might be considered a history lesson—how to achieve unity and peace—a lesson that Earth desperately needs. If you choose to not believe I’m real, my tale might be considered a science fiction story about how to achieve unity and peace—a lesson that Earth desperately needs… I’ll proceed on the premise that I am real.’

“How can we resist such an invitation to listen?

“She goes on to make the observation:

“‘And, even though I’m speaking to you now in what’s called first-person point of view, most of the story will be told in what writers call third-person omniscient, which means that the other people in this tale won’t be the storytellers. This is what writers on Earth use to give them more freedom of expression—jumping from an overall point of view to very personal views and back out, much like what a camera does in a movie.’

“Which is apt because, for most of the book, I felt the reader was watching the stories unfold in a cinematic fashion, so much so that I am hoping that someone does make this into a movie! This is Dune without spice but with plasma as a far more potent symbol of connection. In fact as I read on I realized that Plasma was one of the most important ‘characters’ in the book. The concept of plasma as a connecting force or medium is fascinating. I found myself on several occasions looking up the index of science-based books in bookshops looking for the word.

“This is the Thinking Person’s sci-fi, which is more speculative in nature than fantastical. The philosophy is about understanding the self as a part of a broader connected universal family. You are left with the conviction that the events it describes could happen and by the end Sena’s words seem like a prophecy and a warning. Go read it!”
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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

“Almost” “Reviews” . . .


How short can something be before the “experts” say it’s not a review?

My dictionary gives a first definition as: “A new appraisal or evaluation”.

There is a special page on this blog used for “normal” Reviews of my books.

This post will give three very short “reviews”… and, I’ll add this post to the Review Page :-)

The first “review” arrived as an incident related to me by a prison librarian.

Johnpaul Mahofski placed my book, Notes from An Alien, in his library at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Maryland.

Someone checked it out then, a couple months later, someone else checked it in.

It was in bad shape, the pages and cover wrinkled so badly that Johnpaul decided he had to replace it.

My book had suffered the same treatment that books of the inmates’ most popular genre, Urban Fiction, had suffered—being passed around so much they began to fall apart

The second almost-review happened today.

Once a book is released and promoted on the Web, an author is well-served by having a Google alert set up to see everything being said and done about the book.

Without my interacting with Tamela Quijas, she created a post with images and links to my book, saying: “I’ve fallen head first  into the world of Sci-Fi.  I’ve absolutely LOVED the novels that have passed my desk…The latest Sci-Fi thriller on my reading list is Notes from An Alien…”

Tamela doesn’t give any of her own opinions about my book but the layout of the post is “A new appraisal or evaluation”.

The last review is still short but much sweeter.

My long-time, never-met-in-person friend Catherine Roberts had received a free copy of Notes from an Alien but was struggling with the language, not being a fluent English reader.

She went ahead and purchased the book and sent me this charming email:

“Yesterday I received your book in the mail, I already read most of it last night and today, I was already a bit familiar with it, since you sent me the whole script over the internet, but I find it much more interesting to read from the book …truely exceptionel good writing a bit complex in a few areas for me that is a norm since I never studied true difficult words in english, I look them up…also I think I reconize quite a few of the people that are mentioned in fictiouse names. I love the book Alex, and you are a absolutely great writer as far as I may state.”

No writer could ask for anything more………
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Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Bad Reviews Are Good ?


“Any press is good press”, is an old promotional maxim that can generate some weird stunts in the media.

Some authors have capitalized on bad press, even manufacturing it; most cringe at the thought.

I found two authors who like bad reviews. Not just tolerate but like them :-)

My book‘s not been around long enough to draw negative reviews though I’m sure they’ll come.

I have had beta readers who couldn’t “get into” the book and a number of nitpicky grammarians but many authors I respect have praised the book.

So

How does an author learn to like bad reviews?

Mike Mullin, author of Ashfall, gives a good account of his first one-star review in, Why Bad Reviews Rock. My take-away was, “Even a bad review means someone cared about the book enough to talk about it in public.”

Mike then goes on to describe some cogent reasons for sharing and linking to those reviews.

There’s also a great comment stream after the post :-)

Mike also points his readers to Jay Lake’s post, [publishing] Reviews.

After Jay links to a bad review and shows his basic optimistic attitude, he says: “…even when a reviewer just says, “Nope, not for me, didn’t like it at all”, that’s ok with me. Because I believe right down to the bedrock of my writer’s soul that the story belongs to the reader. It doesn’t matter what I intended, or thought I executed on the page, or what any other readers thought. If a reviewer (or any reader) doesn’t like the book (or story), that’s their experience of it, and they cannot be wrong. It’s their experience.”

“It’s their experience.”, reminded me about a post I wrote back in January, Rewriting While You Read ~ We All Do It….

Have you or a writer friend gotten “bad” reviews?

Do you think sharing them is helpful?

Have you learned a few writing “lessons” from bad reviews??
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