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I just digested a rather dense essay that speaks to some of the themes running through my forthcoming book, Displaced: A Darkening Path. In this essay, Russell Hittinger, who holds the Warren Chair of Catholic Studies and is Research Professor of Law at the University of Tulsa, traces Catholic teachings on how people live in the contexts of family, polity, and Church, and how these teachings have responded to competing ideologies. You can find it here.
Hittinger explains that the Church has long held that a person must live justly within the domestic, political, and ecclesial societies to achieve human happiness. He then traces the threats posed to family, political life, and religious institutions by the French Revolution and – in our times – by both the cultural revolution of the 1960s and what Pope Francis has called the techno-economic revolution of the global economy and global communications.
The former revolution shook the ground under the three necessary societies, upending political forms, subverting the Church’s authority and slackening familial ties with measures like no-fault divorce (yes, Napoleon started that).
The revolutions of the last 50 years have made out these necessary societies to be all but optional. Marriage and children, political action and affiliation, and religious devotion are now seen as mere lifestyle choices rather than frameworks within which a person may discover and then become what he was made to be.
Throughout these events, the Church has sought to teach “in light of a non-negotiable principle . . . that we are domestic, political, and ecclesial animals who achieve perfections by rightly dwelling in the perennial societies.”
“But,” Hittinger concludes, “sowing and harvesting the daily bread of this social principle remains a difficult labor.”
For Frank Smith, the protagonist of the Displaced series, these ties are at best duties he begrudgingly fulfills. At his worst, he disregards or wantonly violates them.
And that’s only before his world falls apart.
When I planned the launch of my new novel – The Point of Escape – I lined up several dozen advance readers. Each received a free e-copy of the book in exchange for posting a review on launch day.
Problem was, a good percentage of these folks ran into trouble when trying to post their reviews on Amazon. Either they were told they couldn’t post without buying the book (this isn’t true) or the link didn’t work for them. Many have called and emailed to say, “I tried but I can’t!” Bummer. Maybe you’ve had the same experience. This post will explain the best process.
So, the first thing is to have an Amazon account (if you already have one, then scroll down to “BUT WAIT!”). Setting up an account costs nothing, but is necessary to post a review (so is making a purchase of some kind; more on this below). Go to the Amazon homepage (www.Amazon.com) and scroll your mouse over the “Your Account” dropdown menu, and click on the “New customer? Start here” hyperlink that appears beneath the yellow “Sign in” button:
Fill in the information and click on the “Create Account” button.
You’ll be taken back to the Amazon homepage, but this time you’ll be recognized:
Now, at this point, you will need to buy something in order to be able to post a review. It can be a $0.99 ebook, or a $0.01 paperback, anything. Hey, it could be my book (the ebook version will only set you back $2.99). Amazon just requires that reviewers be customers.
Now, from any Amazon screen, type the book title into the search field, and click “Go”…
…which will take you to the search results page. The Point of Escape will be listed first:
If you look to the right of the ratings stars (note the 5-star rating for The Point of Escape, folks), you’ll see a hyperlinked number indicating the number of reviews posted, 17 in this case. Click on the link, and you will be taken to the Customer Reviews page:
Click on the “Create your own review” button, and you land here:
Scroll over the stars to select the rating you’d like to give the book, and then type up your review in the “Write your review here” box. Amazon will require a paragraph (sorry, I was wrong about one-word reviews), but not a lengthy one:
Yes, I deleted this “review” and hit the “Clear” link to erase the rating after I took this screen shot. For demonstration purposes only, folks.
Note that when you place your cursor in the review-drafting box, a title box opens and a “Submit” button appears. When you are done, click on this button, and Amazon will tell you that…
Within a day you will receive an email telling you that your review is live, and I will be eternally grateful.
“BUT WAIT!” you say. “I ALREADY HAVE AN ACCOUNT, AND I DOWNLOADED YOUR BOOK, JUST LIKE YOU ASKED!”
Yup. Some folks have had problems posting reviews by the above method. So…..here’s the work-around.
When signed into Amazon, you will see on the Amazon banner the “Hello [your name]/Your Account” link:
Click it, and it takes you here:
If you scroll down, then you will find:
Note the third and fourth links under “Community.” “Product Reviews Written by You” takes you to…well, to a list of reviews written by you. But “Your Reviews” (oddly enough) takes you to a reverse chronological list of all the products you’ve purchased (or downloaded for free) from Amazon for which you haven’t yet written reviews:
From here you know the drill: rating, review, heading for your review and “Submit” button.
So, I hope this clears up the process, and enables you to post reviews for all manner of products on Amazon.
Wow! What a launch day!
After spending the day posting to dozens of sites, sending dozens of messages on Goodreads and Twitter (and getting politely asked to stop by the former and suspended by the latter!), and clicking on the “Refresh” buttons on the Kindle Direct Publishing sales report and the Amazon book page, I called it quits around 6:30 pm. I was happy with the results. Sales stood at 125, breaking the triple-digit goal I’d set. Comfortable in that this metric had been met, I headed out for a local concert with some friends.
A good time was had by all.
By the time I got home and checked One Last Time, though, sales were over 200! That’s twice the goal I’d set. And, the book stood at #25 in the General Humor category for free Kindle books, just under 2,000 overall. Not too shabby for first novel.
And then, this morning, this greeted me:
That’s right. Almost 300 downloads, three times my goal. Whoot!
Curious, I headed over to the book’s Amazon page and saw this:
#13?! That’s above the fold. And teetering on the top 900 overall! [And the news is even better. In the time it’s taken me to compose this post, the book has climbed to #12 in General Humor and #863 overall.]
I share all this with you, well, because I’m so excited. But more so to say thank you to all those who lent their support and spread the word. Writing the book is only part of the process, and I owe a debt of gratitude to all those who have helped make this launch a success.
And the launch goes on. Today is The Point of Escape‘s second “promo” day (i.e. it’s free!), so keep spreading the good word, and I’ll keep you posted on how things shake out.
Here it is! When I decided to offer hardcopies in addition to ebooks, I went ahead and asked my cover designer to work up the spine and back cover. I think I said something like, “I have no idea what this should look like!” No problem. Less than a week later, this image arrived in my inbox. True to form, Ares had produced a beautiful design with minimal guidance. Perfect. And thanks again, Ares.
And it arrives just in time because………..the release date has been set and is fast approaching. Yes, folks, at midnight on Thursday, July 31st, The Point of Escape: A 4-Hour Novel will be available for purchase on Amazon, either as a Kindle ebook or in hardcopy. Yay! Between now and then I will share with you more about the book and the deals I’ll be offering. In the meantime, enjoy this new visual and mark your calendars!