Thursday, June 4, 2015

A call for a few good beta readers

As some of you may know, my writing and promotional efforts were sidelined during 2014 due a personal tragedy.

I am back now, and there are lots of new books and short stories on the way.

And that means…

That I need beta readers!

I know you have questions: Do you have to sign anything? Will I require a background check? Do I drug test my beta readers? (No, no, and no.)

Below are the relevant details, in an easy-to-navigate Q&A format.

Q: How does this work?

During the upcoming weeks and months, I am going to be offering free Kindle versions of certain books and short stories (both new ones and some from my backlist).

When I offer something for free, I’ll send you an email with a link to the free giveaway on

Most of my free giveaways last from 2~3 days, so you’ll have that time to download the free book to your Kindle.

To join the beta reader list, simply send me an email at

Q: What kind of books do you write?

Most of my books fall under the category of “literary genre fiction”. I write crime novels like Blood Flats, corporate thrillers like Termination Man, and supernatural thrillers like the highly rated 11 Miles of Night.

As a reader, I like books with memorable characters, fast-moving plots, and plenty of action. Those are the types of stories that I try to write myself.

If you aren’t familiar with my novels and short fiction, you can read samples of many of them on this site, or with’s book preview feature.

Q: I’m suspicious. Don’t you care about money? Why would you want to give stuff away?

Simple. I am a prolific author, but thus far I haven’t been a very prolific marketer. As a result, a small number of people regularly read my novels and like them, but I need to reach a wider audience.

So to answer your question: I would like to give away a few hundred Kindle books in order to sell a few thousand or a few ten thousands—or maybe even a few million. (A person can dream, right?)

Q: What do you want me to do if I become a beta reader?

You don't have to do anything. (See the next Q&A point).

My humble request, if the mood strikes you, is that you might post a review on Amazon, or simply rate the book on Goodreads.

If you really loved a book and decided to tell your Twitter followers and Facebook friends about it, you would have my eternal gratitude and possibly earn your way into my will.

But none of the above is required in any meaningful way, which brings us to…

Q: Do I have to review every title? Are you going to check up on me?

Absolutely not. Like I said, you don’t have to do anything.

I would be thrilled if you reviewed two or three titles out of ten. I’ve been on beta reader programs myself, and I realize that not every book inspires a review.

My only request is that you have some intention of possibly reviewing something sometime. Maybe

But you will absolutely not be pestered for reviews. That would be a good way to achieve the opposite of what I am trying to accomplish. I want readers to love me, not hate me.

Which brings us to….

Q: If I review a book, do I have to give it 5 stars?

I’d obviously be thrilled if everything that I write thrills you. I want to become your favorite writer, bar none.

In the real world, however, the fact of the matter is that not every book by every author thrills every reader.

Writers who attempt to fake their popularity do so at their peril. If you’ve spent much time on, you’ve no doubt seen cases in which a given book has a suspiciously high number of 5-star reviews. (And these reviews always contain vague superlatives like, “Ten times better than any book by Stephen King!” or “Amazing!”, or “The greatest novel ever!”).

A few years ago, there was even a scandal regarding the purchase of positive reviews:

I should note that the above stories are from 2012, and Amazon has since taken steps to clean this situation up. Nevertheless, the fact remains that if you see a title with 1,287 5-star reviews consisting of a single sentence each, you have reason to question the authenticity of the unanimous 5-star rating.

Below is the more typical spread of ratings for an Amazon title that has done pretty well with reviewers. (This example is actually taken from one of my older nonfiction titles.) There are a fair number of 5-star reviews, also many 4- and 3-star ones, along with a handful of reviews from people who thought, for whatever reason, that the book mostly sucked.

Now, I am not encouraging you to write a negative review, either. My request (if you choose to write a review and/or rate a book) is that you respond honestly, without trying to “game the system” in either direction.

Q: If I sign up for this mailing list, will you flood my inbox with daily, random thoughts on politics, the meaning of life, anecdotes from your childhood, and other miscellanea?

No. If I am feeling chatty in a general sense, I have my blog, my Twitter account, and my YouTube channel for that. The sole purpose of the mailing list is to convey free book and short story giveaways.

You will receive no more than two emails from me per week…and often much less.

Q: What if I want you to stop emailing me?

Simple: All you have to do is send me a “remove” email.

Q: When does this offer end?

I will probably always offer freebies and deals on Amazon. (All writers and publishers do that to some extent.)

However, the immediate period is like the opening week of a new restaurant, when the management passes out lots of coupons, and offers every party of two or more a free appetizer.

There will be many more free offers over the next few months than there will be six months from now, or a year from now.

So if you sign up now, you can be like those new restaurant patrons who get the free appetizers and heavily discounted meals—before everyone in town knows about the restaurant, and there’s a forty-minute wait for a table every Friday night.

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If this sounds good to you, send me a quick message at Put “Mailing List” (or something like that) in the subject header.

Thank you!