Friday 22 May 2015

Would you BUY or PASS? (2)

My contribution to Rosie Amber's weekly Friday Five Challenge!

It's an interesting exercise for writers ~ it shows the little things that can put potential readers off that click-buy

Anyone with a blog can join in ~ here's what you do:


1) Go to any online book supplier
2) Randomly choose a category
3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which instantly appeals
4) Read the book bio/description, and any other details
5) If there are reviews, check out a couple
6) Make an instant decision: would you BUY or PASS?

You can check out others' contributions on the #FridayFiveChallenge hashtag on Twitter (click link!)  This week I chose the subject 'rock humour' (and was, ahem, delighted to discover my book FULL CIRCLE on the second page!!).  I had a five minute browse up and down, and was eventually attracted by this cover and title.

Dispatches from a Dilettante by Paul Rowson (links to book)


I loved the cover - it makes me think of a much travelled journalist drinking a cool beer outside a rundown bar in Cuba, or similar!

Here's the blurb:

Dispatches from a Dilettante’ is a rampage through a chaotic career, encompassing rock music, religion, royalty and renegade kids - stretching from the Caribbean to Cambodia.
It’s a memoir on the absurdity of endeavour and a restless lifestyle spent working exceptionally hard trying to avoid it.
There are close encounters with Jimi Hendrix, the Prince of Wales, ex footballers and the current Head of the Catholic Church in England, together with bar room brawls and board room bitterness.
Whether it’s the drugs and desperation of life on a Welsh housing estate or discussions in the Gardens of Highgrove it’s a life lived whimsically, from the higher echelons of business to the gutters of Phonm Penh.
It’s about a music-loving meanderer who has never quite got over being at Woodstock.


Hmmm.... reading between the lines I suspect that the close encounters with people like Hendrix were but fleeting, and the 'gardens of Highgrove', etc, is careful name-dropping, added to impress the potential reader.  Cynical, moi?  It all sounds a bit smug and 'oh, I'm such a hilarious and fascinating maverick'.  I have an inkling it might be much made of nothing much all the way through; the reference to 'the gutters of Phnom Penh' doesn't mean he was actually in them - and it's spelt wrong!  Actually, the more I read the blurb the more I find it a tad nauseating.  

Reviews:  Six, all glowing five stars, five of them written shortly after publication.  I got the impression (by looking at what else they've reviewed) that at least four of the reviewers are friends of the author.  I'm the first one to say that there is nothing wrong with real life friends reviewing your book if they've genuinely enjoyed it, but six five stars and nothing else at all means that either he's rubbish at marketing (fair enough), or nobody else considered it worthy of review.

Price: £5.10 ~ you're having a laugh!  At that price, perhaps it didn't sell well enough for anyone else to know if it was any good or not.

So would I buy or pass?  Pass, for sure!  Memoirs by unknown writers are all over Kindle, for a couple of our English pounds or less, and many of them are about stuff you really want to read about, not just some bloke telling you how wacky he is.

Now, I must go to #FridayFiveChallenge and read everyone else's... 



  1. Wouldn’t be my cup of tea either, but the cover is eye catching.

    1. Yeah - love the 'world weary journo' thing about it!

  2. I have to agree with your pass, although "never quite got over being at Woodstock" would make a terrific statement on one's tombstone...

    1. I suspect his might be more 'never quite got over NOT being at Woodstock', though....

      I could write mine: 'From the heady days of the festivals of the late 1970s, to encounters with Ian Dury and Steven Tyler, to two months living on rice and beans, 12 hour days as a deli manager and a spell owning a shop in the competitive 1980s....' and none of it would be a lie, just made to sound as if it's interesting to someone other than me, which it probably isn't, mostly!!!!

  3. I'm struggling with the long word on the front cover - I'll put my hand up and say I don't know what "Dilettante" means. Yes I went to my faithful OED and it wasn't much more enlightening, so the author has lost me as a buyer already. Now if he's got a large ego he'll probably tell me I'd struggle with the rest of his book if I couldn't get past the title. If he wants to learn about his craft and improve his chances of sales I think he could learn much from this and Terry's comments about the book blurb. A pass my me too.

    1. Rosie, I suspect this book might be full of words that are designed to show how clever he is...! Yet he could start by correcting the errors in the blurb, and perhaps putting it down to a price that might encourage people to buy it; it's at 533K in the Amazon rankings, which means it probably hasn't sold for about 3 months.

      To me, 'dilettante' means a person who appreciates the finer things in life, but on a superficial level, one who is a bit of a raconteur but doesn't actually DO much! Not sure if that's absolutely accurate, though.

  4. I can't believe the price of some of these books. Would pass on this one too. I just want to know more about your encounter with Steven Tyler!

    1. I know, it makes you want to say, don't you actually LOOK to see how much other Kindle books are before you decide on a price??!! As for Mr Tyler, I just met him a couple of times at signing sessions. Lovely chap! Unlike my sister, though, who ended up running the European division of their fan club, and thus met him on many occasions - he even rang her up once!!!

  5. Actually, it's quite a well written blurb, in that he does include some interesting stuff (Ok it may be a tad euphemistic and as you say, prob untrue) but as one who struggles to write convincing blurb, I'm quite impressed.Wouldn't buy it, for reasons you give..if he's that unknown, it's unlikely you'd get more than his ''at a great distance'' impressions

    1. I agree, the blurb's well written, which is why I had to read it a couple of times before I understood what the book probably is - a well written piece of self indulgence!