Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Most Beautiful Trolls: On Reviews.

Johh Bauer, 1915.

Louis Shalako

'Look at them, troll mother said. Look at my sons! You won't find more beautiful trolls on this side of the moon.' > John Bauer.

Sample Reviews for Heaven Is Too Far Away.

A great and epic read.

An awesome, epic read. I wasn't so sure if it was a work of fiction because What I felt so real. What a ride.... enjoyed every page. Great book. > Barry Burch.

One of the best books I’ve ever read.

First of all, let me restate the title of this review: This is by far one of the best books I've ever read. The story is great, the technical aspects of it (flying, gunnery, etc) can be held up next to the many WWI flying memoirs I've read, and I haven't loved a literary character this much since Bernard Cornwell introduced me to Richard Sharpe (there are a lot of similarities between the two).

The writing style is that of a memoir, written in the first person from the point of view of what I imagine is a much older WIll Tucker reflecting back on his days in the RFC. The writing is so well done I could almost picture listening to Tucker telling his old flying stories. The plot and his irreverent commentary are seamlessly entwined together and the result is an absolute joy to read and immensely quotable. As for the plot, I thought it seemed a little far fetched at first (assassinating the Red Baron?) but Shalako made it work and well.

All-in-all, any enthusiast of the Great War and WWI aviation in particular should give this book a read. You won't be disappointed and for the price, what have you got to lose? I'm already reading it a second time and it's just as good. > M.J. Thomas


as long as you don't read it as factual this is an entertaining read with the first half being more entertaining than the later chapters which drag somewhat. > Lee Whitfort.

I agree with your comments regarding the use of the modern idiom and the shaky style. Somewhat entertaining but could probably profit from the use of a competent proof reader. > John Cameron.

Okay, here are some sample reviews for The Handbag’s Tale.

A purse is found next to a dead man in an alley. He had been at a party with drugs, gambling, sex, and alcohol. There a many suspects - but which one? This very short (31 pages) book follows two police detectives as they piece together the facts. A lot of story in a little book with a surprise ending. > Quanita’s Reviews.


A murder is committed in a Paris alley. This is just the latest of eleven reported over the previous three weeks. This time the victim is a well known and universally liked banker with one fatal shot between the eyes. This tale is presumably set during the dawning years of the twentieth century. Forensic science is in its infancy and large city crimes are solved by interrogation and luck. As lead detective Gilles Maintenon interviews an avalanche of humanity, slowly a picture comes into focus. Like a French Sherlock Holmes, he shifts through the witness statements, picking out bits and determining the facts from fiction. The brevity of the story and the search for a red haired woman (I’ve always been partial to redheads) keep me ponderously reading on. This story would have probably rated higher by me if more attention was given to details. It reads like a summery and doesn’t add anything to really grab the reader’s attention. Like a play, the narrative is divided erroneously (as each section has multiple settings) into three scenes. I will use a quote from the book that nicely sums up this author and his works: “Prior history is the best indicator of future behavior.” I must say that the redhead was eventually found so let me end this review on a positive note (with another quote from the book): “No honest effort is ever wasted.” > Thom Swennes

Here are a whole slew of Goodreadsreviews and ratings with no additional comments.

In the case of Heaven Is Too Far Away, the reviews seem to contradict each other. When I read the first review, my initial impression was of a troll review, using a bit of reverse psychology as it seems very unlikely that a first book by an unknown author could really be ‘one of the best books I’ve ever read.’ That, I think, is the benefit of multiple reviews. The truth probably lies somewhere in between two extremes.

In the case of The Handbag’s Tale, the first two reviews I ever got in my life, were lovely, four-star reviews by people who clearly enjoyed the book. They seemed knowledgeable, and appreciated the fact that there was some experimental aspect to the story.

Then, one day I opened up Goodreads or Amazon, I forget which, and saw a whole slew of one-star reviews, where it appeared the reader had purposefully set out to slam an author they knew nothing about, made sure to point out they hadn’t actually read the book, etc. (In other words, trolls. – ed.)

I can honestly say that my blood ran cold. My body tingled all over, it sort of flashes over you in that adrenalin-rush. The fight-or-flight instincts are fully aroused in that moment.

As authors, we all know the facts. The best thing to do with troll reviews is to ignore them. And of course, that’s very hard to do.

The worst thing is the sense of psychological rape, that sense of absolute powerlessness.

We know there’s nothing we can do about it.

The real fear of course, is that the same people will keep coming back, and make a real science of hounding you, and slamming your books. We all hope to be successful, and we all hope to make money. We see this as having a real impact on other potential readers. The real trolls want to scare you away. They want you to be paranoid or something. The funny thing is, after a few years, they’ve moved onto someone else. I still get readers. I had three novels and one novella out at that time. It really does feel like the end of the world. Hell, fourteen novels later, I’m still not sure if I can really write or not. It’s not like some of us have massive sales numbers to back up any claims or simply to give us confidence.

Five years ago, I had no reviews at all. Not a one.

Perhaps that is the difference.

Now we have dozens, maybe even scores of reviews. We still get less-than-glowing reviews. Every so often, a troll stops in and pisses on our gate. Every so often, someone takes the time out of their busy day to give us an honest opinion of the book.

The simple fact is that 99.9 % of readers never review a book in their lives. Those that do often confuse it with a book report from elementary school. The best reviews excerpt memorable passages from a book. In the case of criticisms, the reviewers really ought to give an example, but again, they’re not professional readers. They’re just people giving a quick thirty seconds out of their day for whatever reason. Without amateur reviews, I probably still wouldn’t have any reviews at all.

We may never get a professional magazine review in our lives, and that's probably the case with the majority of independent authors writing today.

We learn quite a bit about books and reading and readers when we get reviews. It’s important to listen to them, and to try and understand from their perspective what we did right or wrong, without letting it cripple or embitter us.

It goes with the territory, and it is best to remain philosophical. We will basically manage our own attitudes and perceptions, and let them manage theirs.

It's their dime, after all. As far as this writer is concerned, the trolls are beautiful people.


Read here about our Billion Dollar Giveaway. Please grab any free title that catches your fancy. There's no obligation.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Active versus Passive Discoverability.

Louis Shalako

Active discovery is when a product is actively promoted.

Over the last twenty-four hours, our blogs have garnered 784 hits. It’s a bit startling to realize that in the same period, we sold one ebook via Google Play, for a grand total of $0.31. At the same time, according to Google analytics, we earned $2.32 from our blogs.

At one time, it was our sense that a blog would have to get about two million page hits, before the author would see a $100.00 cheque from Google. That’s obviously not true, because we just theoretically earned $2.32 for only 784 hits.

What happened, was that somebody obviously clicked through on one of our AdSense ads. 

Those ads are contextual. If we’re talking cars, like Ian Cooper on his blog, Google presents readers with automotive ads.

If Dusty Miller is talking about love, romance or just plain sex, Google presents ads the most appropriate that they can find for the category.

Passive discoverability would be when you publish a blog post and do essentially nothing.

There are other things you can do. If you have an opt-in email list, those subscribers would automatically get a post in their inbox every time you wrote something. That one’s a tough call. If you only write once a week, it might be a good idea to begin building such a list. Presumably, the subscribers to your blog would also be interested in the contextual ads, because it’s in their category, and they might be more likely to click through. If you write a lot, if you write on any subject under the sun that turns your crank, the email list might not be all that useful.

At the present time, Shalako Publishing, Long Cool One Books and Larga Fresca Uno Libros don’t have a subscription email newsletter. We’ve never been entirely sure what to put in it. 

That’s one reason.

By actively posting our blogs on Twitter, we got a half a dozen retweets. This brings us page hits from unique users. It’s not the same thirty to seventy people coming back all the time. It brings a bunch of them in a short period of time, and this creates a kind of heat or velocity in algorithms. Google’s payment algorithms are pretty much top secret, but the more active the account, the more weight it may carry in terms of the blog.

From personal experience, a passive blog might bring in a few page hits in a day based solely on content and SEO/specific searches by key word or subject.

For an unknown author, writing fiction or industry observations, how-to or informative content, getting readers and reads takes a little more active approach.

Here’s an article on active versus passive blogging.

Passive discoverability and active discoverability go hand in hand. What is interesting and mysterious is the relationship between the blog, the social media we post a blog on, and the fact that we did sell a book on Google Play last night, which we can tell from our analytics/speadsheet on that platform.

The thing to do there is to change the link in the ad once in a while. Promote Google Play for a while, then do iTunes or Amazon, or any other platform where the books (or other products) are sold.

With Google blog widgets, we can put our own ads on the page along with Google’s. Smashwords now has an html widget, easily pasted into any blog or website. Zach Neal has one on his blog.

If the reader can click through on an Adsense ad, they can sure do that with our ads too. In terms of passive discoverability, a good cover, a good blurb, interesting titles, in genres and categories that people want to read, the usual rules still apply.

Over the course of time, the blog has a lot of material. Google’s own ranking system values or optimizes for authorship, uniqueness of content, activity, and of course the sheer number of people visiting the site.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Welcome to Our Billion Dollar Giveaway.

Louis Shalako

Welcome to our Billion Dollar Giveaway.*

Since September 2010, here at Shalako Publishing, Long Cool One Books and Larga Fresca Uno Libros, we have distributed approximately 90,000 ebooks and PODs.

Mostly for free.

Hi, my name is Louis Shalako. I’m not just the president, I’m also a reader.

For that reason, also the fact that the goodness of my heart just pisses out of my pores sometimes, I have decided to give away a billion dollars’ worth of books.

Now, it would be too easy to conclude that we’re doing it for the love.

But the fact is, this marketplace should not have pissed us off.

Here is a small sample of what we are offering.

The Spy I Loved. Dusty Miller.

It’s a calculated risk for the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service in the classic game of spy-versus-spy.

Rogue C.I.A. agent Aubrey Herschel needs something to trade for immunity. More than anything, he wants to go home.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, heavyweight Liam Kimball has been brought in to search for the highly-classified EMERALD spy satellite, scattered all over northern Ontario.

Lindsey is working for the summer at Uncle Dale’s resort, The Pines, where a mysterious guest steals her heart without half trying. If only he wasn’t so good-looking—or such a bastard.

In a game where there are no rules, sometimes no clear objectives, it’s a question of who gets there first—and who gets hurt.

Silent Service. Zach Neal.

Lieutenant-Commander Oliver Dunbar and the crew of E-17, thirty men and boys in a steel cylinder a hundred and eighty feet long, must penetrate the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus and get into the Black Sea. The inland sea has been an Ottoman lake for hundreds of years. It’s their job to sink the ships that sustain the Empire, in support of an imminent campaign on the Turkish mainland. Lined with shore batteries and some very big guns, the straits are a dagger pointed straight at the Sublime Porte. With submarine nets, mines and enemy warships everywhere, they’ll be lucky to make it out with their skins intact.

Taken. Ian Cooper.

After a successful raid, where they stumbled onto the greatest prize of all, leader Daron shares the rewards with his men. It’s a question of trust, loyalty, generosity and prestige. They know enough not to damage the merchandise, and the girls are very beautiful. A short and barbaric story.

m4m. Harold C. Jones.

Henry gets an odd response to his personal ad in the m4m section. It’s a blind man, who claims he isn’t even gay. It’s just that he’s so desperately lonely. He might be willing to consider it. After all, people in jails do it all the time. Lester might just be in luck, as Henry’s a bit tired of the Craigslist crowd anyway, with their peculiar feuds and jealousies. A short story of gender-bending erotic romance.

Speak Softly My Love. Louis Shalako.

To fall in love is to be young again. To count the cost is to die a little bit inside. In Speak Softly My Love, Inspector Gilles Maintenon goes out for a quart of milk and stumbles across a dead man. The trouble is, when the dead get up and walk away. They have one too many missing-person reports, too many wives, girlfriends and other mysterious blondes.

Enticing as it is, Gilles has a heavy court schedule. Without a body and a firm identification, what can they really do? It’s a time of budget restraint and limited resources—and the work keeps piling up. The suave but inexperienced Detective Hubert, and the raw but persistentDetective Tailler must handle the case. All Maintenon can do is keep his mouth shut and let them give it a shot.

In this, the fifth in the noir Inspector Gilles Maintenon Mystery Series, author Louis Shalako transports the reader into the gritty reality of murder in Paris, 1931. An unforgettable mystery, one that is dark, witty and entertaining.


If the reader clicks on any of the above author’s names, on (or in, or at) pretty much any online bookseller carrying the works, they will find any number of other free titles. The reader is welcome to take one or take them all. The only exception is Amazon, where the author cannot set a price at free and the Gods and Jeff Bezos price-match and set things for free on some sort of whimsical basis know only to themselves.

In the past, we’ve had a July Blowout every summer. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be randomly setting books for free until all of our titles are free. That kind of kills two birds with one stone in terms of promotion…we’re all about efficiency here.

If the reader is absolutely determined, we probably can’t stop you from buying a book. In the meantime, if that is your choice, then we certainly thank the reader.

It probably does go to support further literary endeavors in some small way.

Thanks for reading.


90,000 books at an estimated value of $5.00 each, equals $450,000.00 worth of books. At a price of ten bucks a book, that would be more like nine hundred thousand. Anyways, you get the idea.

As you can see, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got a ways to go yet.