“What can I say about Unholy Warrior? There are so many praising cliches out there that certainly fit, but do they mean anything anymore? Let’s skip them and jump right into the story.
Rebane Nordstrom, the MC makes for an unlikely protagonist. Although she has many admirable qualities—she’s a fighter, she’s courageous, she is determined to let nothing get in her way—she is also a cold-blooded killer. But it’s war, and if she wants to live, she must be able to do anything necessary to survive. A highly skilled sniper for the Spetznaz–the elite of the GRU, Russia’s Military Intelligence Agency, she is a valued prize for the enemy, the European Union.
When Rebane is captured, she knows she faces torture, unspeakable horrors, and in the end—death. She is taken to a formidable prison where she meets Major Weisser, a giant of a man capable and willing, to do anything to get answers. And to satisfy his twisted needs. The author, Rebecka Jäger takes us inside the mind of Rebane, and I for one was with her every step she took through hell, in her goal to reach the sanctity of her father’s cabin. Miss Jäger is an artist, and paints a vivid picture of a devasted world, one that even our worst nightmares pale in comparison. And in Rebane, one finds a realistic character who must fight everything from the harsh arctic weather to a man who has an army behind him, and won’t let go. Kudos Miss Jäger!”
Subscribe to today’s bestselling Dystopian authors for a chance to win a paperback of The Stand by Stephen King, Winter World by A.G. Riddle, After the Flood by Kassandra Montag, The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, plus, a Handmaid’s tale enamel pin, a banned books notebook, a set of Fallout coasters, a double-sided Shatter Me bookmark, a Hunger Games travel mug, and a dystopian dreams candle. (For US-dwellers).
If you’re looking for a fast-paced adventure, grab your copy of Unholy Warrior.
A reviewer said: “Miss Jäger’s talent shines through in this dystopian thriller, and UnholyWarrior is not just unstoppable action, it’s a psychological battle as the reader peers into the mind of a woman who survives unspeakable atrocities. I, for one, remained enthralled from the beginning to the unexpected breath-taking end.”
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Twenty-five years after the nuclear war, the world is still a harsh, frozen place. Second Lieutenant Rebane Nordstrom, a sniper in the ranks of a Russian elite reconnaissance unit, doesn’t know how to give up…ever. After someone assassinates the president of the European Union, the EU forces capture her and her lover. He soon disappears, but Rebane has no time for grief. She faces her worst nightmare in the form of Major Weisser, a man who commands the European Union counter-intelligence with an iron fist.
Thrust into a world ruled by torture, and constant fear, the battered, weakened Rebane knows her only chance of survival is to escape from the fortress that holds her captive. Faced with certain death, she becomes an unstoppable force, and escapes the womb of hell. But her battle is far from over. A race across the post-apocalyptic badlands starts, but the man hunting her is a force of nature. Weisser destroys everything in his path. Can the Invisible Zone—the furthest corner of sub-zero Scandinavia—wipe out Rebane’s footprints in the snow?
No woman is an island, not even one as capable as Rebane. She saves a teenager named Liva, and an alliance forms between the desperate women from the opposite sides of the conflict. As the Russian Federation and the European Union head toward the final battle for diminishing resources, Liva proves to have aces up her sleeve.
Spirit animals and ancient Nordic deities have their role in the surprise outcome of this spy thriller. Where arctic weather wipes out armies, heeding an omen can spare your life.
A while back, I asked my Facebook group for authors, which aspect of being a writer caused the members grey hair. And that’s why this post deals with book marketing. Yes, writing the damn thing took years and cost me all my spare time! But that was nothing compared to the struggle of saying in public: “This is an excellent book, and you should read it.”
Remember that when it comes to marketing, what the customer wants is king. Do you have an ideal reader in mind? If not, now’s the time to picture him & her.
An Ideal Reader
“An ideal reader is the fictional person to which a book would most appeal. Most frequently, they represent a specific age group and interest or experiences, but in some cases, an ideal reader might also represent a certain ethnicity, religious background, sexuality, or other identifying markers.”
Why do they read? For entertainment, romance, or thrill? To escape or to find information?
Tip: Study what makes an ideal reader for famous authors of the same genre.
Mold your product for the ideal reader:
Write your next book with your focus group in mind (at least somewhere at the back of your mind)
Design your pitch (choose what to stress)
Cath the eye of your ideal reader with your marketing message (plus book cover & title)
Follow through and modify the message as you go
Do a bit of industrial espionage (the marketing message of similar authors)
Know your niche
Social Media Content
Social media is about sharing, and you must establish a connection before you can market, or people will just avoid you. Think about topics that you share with your ideal reader. Those topics can involve hobbies and other non-book-related stuff. Use them to stir conversations and encourage your followers to discuss. Follow other authors’ accounts and learn from them. Exchanging help among peers is advisable because someone has struggled with the same issues.
How do you react to “BUY MY BOOK!” posts? Which ads and messages catch your attention? Make a list of what causes a positive reaction (the cover image, the setting, the information, etc.).
Tips for gathering followers (and marketing your book):
Connect with your ideal readers (and people who converse with them)
Share their interests
Stir up a conversation–discuss the process of writing your book (historical research, a traumatic event or injustice which compelled you to write)
Find out what your followers and friends want (polls, questions, competitions)
Support other authors. Give tips and advice–lend your expertise.
Show them who you are (a selfie wouldn’t hurt now and then, show your pets and non-writing related hobbies)
Bring your book into life by discussing relatable topics
Go behind the scenes and show your journey as an author.
Be a reader
Take a look at your followers. Activate top follower badges, and thank your loyal supporters.
If you cannot afford a professional book designer, use time to make a beautiful cover in Canva, for example. Canva offers cover templates which you can browse by genre. Pay for professional photographs. We writers take for granted that readers pay for our book. The photographers need to eat too.
When you have a gorgeous cover (the face of your book), use that eye-catcher in your social media posts.
Remember to create a continuous brand. The same colors, fonts, and related book covers for a series all support your brand, which your customers recognize everywhere. Use consistent account names and steer clear from difficult letter+number combinations.
The website establishes your brand as a writer and acts as a base for directing traffic. Remember to take care of your search engine optimization so that your potential readers find your page among millions. From your site, direct readers to retailer sites, invite them to join your mailing list through free downloads. Ask people to follow you on social media.
How to earn those fantastic five-star reviews which you can boast across your existence on the web? First and foremost: write top-notch quality (means pay a professional editor).
Ask people to review:
Ask for a review at the back of your book and on social media
Offer an ebook for free
Ask for comments in your paid ads
Search for book bloggers and email them
Swap reviews with other authors
Once you have subscribers on your newsletter list, ask them
Offer an advanced readers copy (ARC) and establish an ARC launch team
An advanced reader’s copy is used for promotional purposes before publication. Offer ARCs to readers who will post endorsements and write reviews. An ARC should be free of charge and offered in exchange for newsletter subscriptions because those email addresses are worth their weight in gold. Market the ARCs through every channel at your disposal and gather a set of names as your ARC launch team.
Most big platforms offer paid advertising, but remember than reviewing and recommending other writer’s books is an essential part of building your community.
Ads on Amazon
“In addition to selling your book on Amazon, you can also promote it there, too. If you do decide to buy advertising, choose the sponsored product ads option. This pay-per-click ad allows you to target Amazon users with keywords that are related to your book.”
Remember that paying for a Facebook ad doesn’t mean you’ll get results as book sales or even clicks on that Amazon link. At the heart of any successful Facebook ad campaign is understanding your marketing goals and thus choosing which action you want the ideal reader to perform. Start by experimenting with a few bucks and register what works. Link your FB ads with the other measures mentioned in this article.
“The first thing to clear up is that there are different types of authors and different goals for your book. And once you are clear on the next step, a reader should take with you, your marketing strategy becomes clearer.”
Now, this is the most important advice I can give you about book marketing. If you just press the publish- button on Amazon and start shouting your marketing message across platforms, you’ve already lost the momentum which you can build beforehand.
You don’t have to throw a lavish launch party in person. You can do it online and record a Youtube video for further use. Even if the idea of an actual event doesn’t get you all excited (because you have to turn up in person and talk about your book in front of people), planning a launch means setting dates for all the marketing operations pre-and post-publication. It requires knowledge and action based upon your ideal readers.
Take care of your SEO and write a list of suitable hashtags according to the genre.
Do a cover reveal
Build hype before ARCs, ebook and print publications
Create merchandise and plan how to distribute it
Build your community (make a list of people who can spread the message)
Ask family and friends for help (yes, this includes your author friends)
Contact book bloggers
Contact possible reviewers
Devise social media posts and send them to your supporters via email:
Tell them when to post and where: a call to action
Design a post for FB, Twitter, Instagram, and so on, complete with images and hashtags. Remember allowed text length in different media.
Make posting easy
Join Facebook groups and ask the admins if you can post about your launch
And remember to have fun. We don’t become writers unless we have a dream.
Your book is the calling card of the professional writer. You’ve spent years polishing the sentences and ridding each page of typos. Perhaps you’ve hired the quintessential artist to create the cover but remain unsure if the chosen title wins the hearts of readers. Have you aligned the title with the genre and the central theme? Is the subtitle absolutely necessary? Some writers decide upon the name at the beginning of their first draft. Others have their finger hovering over the publish- button and still wonder if another title would cut it better. Want to read a serial-killer mystery with a reptilian twist? Buy your copy of Romance Kills from Amazon.
My best advice for any novelist is this: Google the titles you have in mind. If another author has published with the same title, what consequences can follow? I’m sure you’ve heard about the CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE controversy? Tomi Adeyemi and Nora Roberts used the same name for their books which ignited a fury on social media. “Regardless, you can’t copyright a title. And titles, like broad ideas, just float around in the creative clouds. It’s what’s inside that counts.” —Nora Roberts For more information:
A small deviation from a popular title looks like a solution. For example, the word “Lycan” returns thousands of books on Google, and so does “Vampire.” Depending on how you handle your SEO (search engine optimization), you can drop to search result page 1001 or earn the first headlines. If Amazon has several other books by the same name as your brainchild, readers get mixed up, and the social media marketing (which you worked your butt off to create) loses a percentage of its impact. Go for Lycan if werewolf heroes fill your plot, but a surprising point of view makes all the difference. Work with your title and invent a fresh twist: The Lycan Queen, Path to The Lycan Zone, The Lycan Plague… twist and turn, add the setting and spiritual question… and Google if someone has already used that. Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid a namesake, with between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone, depending on which stats you believe. And that’s fine. There might be movies and videogames, and comic books by the same title and their themes differ from yours. If you write about religion, do you want the search result to include a game which features demonic assassins? Again this depends on your audience and genre.
Use my Worksheet on Book Titlesto turn your book’s name around. (Download files from the Internet at your own risk.) Before I named my post-apocalyptic spy thriller, I went through a hundred options. I considered the MC, the theme, and setting, but you can add your own angles.
Be specific and bold if you need to add something through a subtitle. Sell your product to the masses, but your caption must follow the Amazon rules:
No claims of a bestseller, or rank or anything of the sort
No claim of deals, discounts or reduced price
You can’t reference other books or any other trademarks
No reference to other authors
“Subtitles are where an author can hone in and pack a punch with an artful turn-of-phrase. The subtitle has a distinct role apart from the primary title. While your book title clearly tells readers what the book is about, the job of the multi-faceted subtitle is to speak to the precise benefits readers will receive from your book.” Source and more information: https://kindlepreneur.com/how-to-select-a-subtitle-that-sells/
Keep it Simple
The Internet houses an abundance of quizzes and statistics to find out the best book titles of the 21st century or the top-notch of entire human history. Agatha Christie and Philip K. Dick were the masterminds of name creation, but remember that fashions change. More information: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/276.Best_Book_Titles Although some of the most memorable books carry complicated and quirky names, it doesn’t mean you must use the same method. You’re not a classic writer who belongs to the reading program of each college, are you? If you want your customers to remember the name of your book as they open their laptop and start browsing, don’t over-complicate things.
Hooking The Customer
I look at the cover and the title in conjunction: to find out what the book offers for me. The process of naming a book reminds cover design. You feel compelled to add each detail which interests you as the author, but what hooks your potential customer while he or she browses your product (title, front cover, blurb, info about the author, etc. ) to asses if it’s worth the price? Will your book stand out, intrigue people if they have thousands of other books to choose from? “Titles are essentially short hooks that advertise your book using the fewest words possible. It’s also what readers look for first when they discover new books, and can take less than 5 seconds to make a decision.” Source: https://self-publishingschool.com/book-title-ideas-choose-perfect-title-book/ Form a mental image of your reader: who is the one browsing your book in the bookstore? What would catch his attention? Elements of Title Generation:
Genre: General Fiction, Western, Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction, Non-Fiction. Even if your style is a hybrid, you should be able to elevator pitch it. Explore genres: https://www.goodreads.com/list/tag/genre
Important location of the story.
The theme: the underlying message, or ‘big idea.’ What critical belief about life do you convey? This idea must transcend cultural barriers and should be universal in nature.
What is the oppositional force in the story? The antagonist/a force of nature/ the evil within? Some book covers and movie posters feature the antagonist, and the title can do the same.
What’s at stake in the story? The fate of the world or the survival of a revolution? A warrior’s honor? A doctor’s career amidst a foreign war?
Where does the conflict stem from? Your book features a perpetual struggle which dates from time immemorial or your MC faces a threat from outer space?
Occupation of the protagonist?
Main characters goal? Can the customer see the intention from the cover or read it from the title?
Positive traits of the protagonist: a man on a mission, a woman of courage.
The negative trait of the main character: does his weakness pose a challenge, what will she sacrifice to win, can something threaten the MC’s goal? Self-doubt, fear… and so on.
Symbolism: paint a colorful scene or include the familiar spirit of the MC. A metaphor allows readers to visualize complex or challenging subjects. For example, Harry Potter’s scar is symbolic of his bravery, a badge of honor.
The sidekick or the mentor: if you’ve written a killer sidekick or a significant part of the plot depends on if the MC heeds the wizard’s advice. You have a colorful posse of YA heroes who combat an authoritarian ruler, and the close-knit group could feature in your title.
Whether you write thrillers or fantasy, you’ll engage your Main Character in battles for life and limb. Nothing beats experience when it comes to describing a sequence of near combat. Take classes in Jiu Jutsu or Krav Maga if your hero uses his body to stand up for himself. You don’t have to engage in a Mixed martial arts cage fight to know how it feels. The beginner’s course in any martial art will help you sort out a few basic questions. I watch clips of Michelle Waterson or Ronda Rousey to learn. The MMA and WWE sports are different from Hollywood fight scenes. The fighters bind each other, and the straight punches which reach the opponent with a thud/smack belong mostly to the movies.
Rebane Nordstrom- my MC in Unholy Warrior, fights dirty and my book features some iconic Russian Systema moves to evade an overpowering assailant. I asked my Defendo instructor to attack me- the things we go through to write! Don’t worry, he went easy on me, but I never forget to raise my hands to shield my chin after that. One hit to the jaw and: lights out. Only in Hollywood do people get hit in the head with a metal pipe and go on kicking. In real life, you’d earn a visit to the ER with a skull fracture and a brain injury.
There’s nothing wrong with creative freedom. If you have dragons and magic in your book, what stops you from inventing new fighting skills? Forget realism but remember a few basic rules which help your readers relate to your MC: the danger is an inherent part of raising the stakes. You must allow your hero to be weaker than the opponent at times.
My MC loses a fight in the crowded, narrow cell. Here’s an excerpt from Unholy Warrior:
“There’s no need to pick up a fight, Miss Nordstrom. Stand down and spare yourself from a beating,” Weisser said with a matter-of-fact voice.
Rebane ignored him and targeted the next man who stepped in: a stumpy, wide-shouldered guard who opened his telescope truncheon with a swift hit. He drew his arm back to smack her, but Rebane evaded with a simple Systema move: stepped aside and nudged him. As he folded on the bunk, she delivered a hook into his kidney and wrenched the truncheon from his grip.
The second guard leaped at her, and her baton slammed into his thigh above the knee incapacitating his leg. His attempt to punch her missed and he slumped on the floor. Guards number three and four bumped into each other in the narrow doorway. The duo hesitated when they saw the injured guards writhing on the floor. They exchanged glances before the bigger one rushed forward. The sequence seemed to amuse Weisser who leaned against the wall.
Rebane backed up until her shoulder blades met the cold cement and lodged herself between the washbasin and the bunk. She tried to leap over the bed and go around the attacker, but her pelvis hit the washbasin, and she crash-landed over the blankets. The bigger guy managed to grab her shirt. She extended her left hand, and the bony base of her palm cracked his nose. He fell on the floor as blood gushed into his cupped hands. The next man got kneed in the stomach. Rebane lost hold of the truncheon while she grabbed his neck and mashed her knee up repeatedly.
The master alarm went off and filled the corridor with a deafening noise. A swarm of men toppled her, but she managed to kick nuts, thighs, and shins. She scratched the faces which came near enough and bit into the flesh of a hairy forearm. Rebane didn’t let go until a crowd of hands and knees pinned her to the floor and forced her jaws open. The first blow landed at her shoulder and watered her eyes. A jackboot stepped on her diaphragm. Tears forced out when she squirmed and battled for air. It took just seconds for her to lose the fight.
“Stop!” she screamed when the violent hands tore her clothing and fists pounded at her ribs.
A boar of a man sat on her stomach and growled into her ear. Rebane spat at him which only angered him more. Weisser’s voice toppled the screams and the commotion. He grabbed the boar by his fatigue collar and tore him away from Rebane, but the next madman mounted her and banged her head against the cement floor.
Choose Your Weapons
A baton can do terrible damage at the hands of a skilled user, but when you get threatened with a knife, the stakes assume a different intensity.
One cut can bleed your hero out, or sever a tendon (which means your arm or leg becomes useless). Blocking someone wielding a blade isn’t simple. Books and videos offer help to a writer. I like to refer to Combat Knives and Knife Combat by Dietmar Pohl & Jim Wagner, but you can find great resources on Youtube as well. If you want to get the hang of sword fights, join a Kendo club or try some Medieval martial arts the European way.
At Arm’s Length
One trick I like to use when I write a battle is grabbing anything at arm’s length in the setting and throwing it at the opponent. This is an essential skill in writing action: you cannot omit the environment even if you don’t want to utilize foreign objects.
Consider these elements:
Are your opponents facing each other on an open field or in a tight space?
What dangers are present besides the assailant(s)? Can traffic or avalanche kill the hero?
What can the MC use to his advantage?
The season: darts of wind-hurled snow can stop you from seeing, and the wind will raise clouds of sand. It’s hard to escape in knee-deep snow, and a sweaty combatant is difficult to grab.
The time of day: will darkness provide cover or the sun blind you? The atmosphere of the fight is vital!
Escape is always an option: can the MC run without being hit in the back by a bullet or an arrow? Remember to zig-zag, which makes the bad guy miss.
Can the heroine speak her way out of a threatening situation? Both escape and avoiding the battle altogether are the wisest options if you listen to my Defendo instructor.
Use the element of surprise: a trained soldier will see the punch coming if you draw your arm back before you strike.
Every kick and punch must be backed up with the rotation of the torso and the weight of your body. There is the correct and the wrong way to do this.
Both clips have high energy, and I love the moment when Daniel Craig watches how the attacker dies.
The last clip is from the Kurt Russell movie Breakdown. A car chase evolves into a duel between a semi-trailer and pickup truck. The fighters wield multiple weapons and the use of the deadly bridge, in the end, is a stroke of genius: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ovVlk6jCBY
Don’t Overdo The Details and Mind The Players
Know the capabilities and weaknesses of your hero/heroine before you tap your fight scene. My MCs (so far) are women who get attacked by opponents with a larger mass. Evasive movements allow them to strike back and to go for the opponent’s sensitive parts. When it comes to the laws of physics, a force has both magnitude and direction. If your knight is a big guy, he’ll use his mass as a blunt force weapon. Wearing armor and yielding the long sword is hard work, especially if you’re trying to stay on top of a galloping horse at the same time.
In the receiving end of the blows, anatomy, and physiology come into play. If your book takes place in the Middle Ages, knowing the common battlefield injuries helps you understand the weapons of the era. Find out what a beating causes to the human body. The method isn’t used as torture for nothing! The physiological side becomes increasingly important if you write murder mysteries and the key leads come from the killer’s ammo and the ME’s autopsy report.
Letting the reader glimpse a hidden world is a standard trick in the thriller and mystery genres. For example, the usual “slitting of the throat” in Hollywood style isn’t the way to go if you’re a commando sneaking upon a German guard in WWII. I was quite proud of myself when I wrote the “correct” way. However, my training as a Radiographer caused me to overdo the anatomy lesson. No one wants to know if your MC cuts the external or internal carotid artery of the victim with her knife! When your knowledge broadens, the temptation to write detailed descriptions (which get in the way of action) increases.
Don’t Teach The Bird To Fly Or The Fish To Swim
If something comes naturally to your character, use it. Remember Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man (1976)? The movie shows him running from the start and in the climax, he outruns the Nazi’s henchman. The film is a classic thriller for a reason. I never looked at dentists the same way after Laurence Olivier’s excellent performance as the Villain Dr. Christian Szell. Dustin Hoffman excels as well, and the film has terrific control of tension build-ups and releases all the way through.
The fight-or-flight response is automated because it helped animals survive the challenges of evolution. The symptoms, which even the most battle-hardened hero experiences, offer a writer many ways to put the reader into the skin of the character:
Acceleration of heart and lung action; you breath faster and your heart gallops
Paling or flushing, or alternating between both
Digestion slows down or stops- long-term stress causes harm
General effect on the sphincters of the body (urinary tract and bowel)
Constriction of blood vessels
The liberation of metabolic energy for muscular action
Dilation of blood vessels for muscles- the blood gets directed to the places which you need for resistance or escape.
Inhibition of the lacrimal gland (responsible for tear production) and salivation- your mouth becomes dry, and you cannot release tears
Dilation of the pupil
Relaxation of the bladder- you need to pee, or you wet yourself
Loss of hearing- you don’t remember everything afterward!
Tunnel vision (loss of peripheral vision)- anyone who has experienced this knows what I’m talking about
Overactive or overresponsive reflexes. Adrenaline or noradrenaline facilitate preparation for violent muscular action.
Uncontrollable shaking or shivering
The subjective experience of danger is unique. Don’t forget to describe the character’s emotions. Remember, the fight-flight reaction impairs some senses and enhances others. The emotional response is delayed in most cases. Allow your heroine to deal with a traumatic memory afterward as she heals from her wounds. The rule of action-reaction, remember?
The natural capabilities of the MC help him deal with a surprise attack. You can train your hero until basic moves flow from his muscle memory—this method is used by law enforcement and the military. But anyone who has experienced a traumatic situation knows the phenomenon of freezing. The same person can fight successfully on one occasion and freeze on the next.
“Fight flight freeze is a description of our responses to threat. In recent years, the fawn response has been added. To fight is to confront the threat aggressively. Flight means you run from the danger. When you freeze, you find yourself unable to move or act against the threat. With fight and flight both unavailable to you, you may find yourself hiding from the danger. Fawn is the response of complying with the attacker to save yourself.”