1st Anniversary – new look Relaunch

In a few weeks (July 1) On Swift Wings will have its first anniversary and to celebrate I’ve commissioned a new cover and a new look for the novel!

I’d like to do this for a few reasons.

  • The novel has been out for a full year, and I have learned so much about book publishing in this time, I want to celebrate by treating myself to a fresh design.
  • It makes the existing cover unique, and a sort of first-edition for the book. After the new cover is completed it will not be available anymore, so you’ll have something of a collector’s item when Brett M. Wiens becomes a household name… even more of a household name.
  • I believe that the current cover doesn’t tell the reader very much about the story. It doesn’t tell me that it is an fantasy/adventure/satire at a glance.
  • My click conversion rate on Amazon is obscenely low. I have the reviews now, and readers have been enthusiastic about the book, but everybody does judge a book by its cover, and I want the cover to encourage people to give the book a try.

I have a few options (plus unlimited revisions) for the new cover and I’d love to get your thoughts, votes, and feedback. A fun little distraction from the strange world in which we find ourselves these days.

Option 1 – Yellow Font, Green Water, Drowning Cygnus
Option 2 – White font, Dark Blue Water, Plane Crash Cygnus
Option 3 – Castle on cliffs, Calm water, Sun shining on Cygnus

You can also comment on this post directly, or reach me at my Facebook page.

You can also preview the book by clicking below, or preview the first five chapters by clicking here. If you haven’t had a chance yet, give the preview a try, I’m confident that you’ll enjoy the story.

Click Here for Preview

Also, please, please, please review the book! Somebody I know once said that they wouldn’t read a book that didn’t have a 4-star average with over a hundred reviews… I’m only 91 reviews away!

Thank you, and may your world always grow!

BW

New Review and Webpage Relaunch

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One of the largest online book communities (onlinebookclub.org) finished its review of On Swift Wings yesterday. The review is excellent, but their keen-eyed reviewer was able to identify a dozen typos in the book and by rule had to deduct a star for that. The three star (out of four) review provides the most detailed review summary I’ve received thus far and some glowing praise.

The descriptions of the unknown lands were very vivid. I can still picture some of the scenes in my mind very clearly, days after completing the book.

I truly appreciated the writing style of the book. It has its own unique tone and the author’s use of language was skilled and enjoyable.

Overall, for me, this story was a pleasure to read. The fantasy aspects were engaging and kept me wanting to find out what would happen next. The social commentary was done with a clear and thoughtful voice. It was easy to follow.

I recommend this book to those that enjoy considering the state of the world, societies and how we all fit together. Readers who relish stories of different people in foreign lands will also appreciate the novel.

Snowflake for OnlineBookClub.org
https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=137836

Per the reviewer’s notes, I’m preparing the revision with my formatter, Indie Publishing Group, a new version should be available in the next couple days. The reviewer also would have liked to know more about some of the loose ends regarding other characters, but I intentionally kept some things vague to allow the reader to imagine for themselves.

Hopefully these changes will be enough to earn that coveted fourth star.


The other cool news is I’ve completed a redesign and relaunched my webpage right here at https://www.brettwiens.com. The new page features the book trailer more prominently, adds a review format to the front page, and more links to retailers and review sites. I will be adding details from the most recent review shortly.

Furthermore, you can now choose to be added to my mailing list. I promise to use it only sparingly to announce either new book releases or significant deals.

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Give the book a try by clicking the preview below, or grab your own copy today!

Read a preview, grab your copy!

During these challenging times, a good book delivered to your phone, tablet, kindle, computer, or even to your door might be just the remedy!

May your world always grow!

On Swift Wings Wins!

2020 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Award Winner

March 23, 2020 – On Swift Wings was today announced the Regional Literary Award Winner for the Canada West Region. It was also awarded second place in the Humor/Satire category.

The full list of awards winners can be viewed here.

The annual literary awards were established to honor writers who self-published or had their books published by a subsidy publisher, small press, university press, or independent book publisher geared for the North American reading audience and written in English.

Get your copy of this award winning novel today! The cover art will be updated with the award seal soon.

2019-2020 Literary Award Finalist

On Swift Wings has been named a finalist for the 2019-2020 Literary Awards from ReaderViews.com! There are quite a few categories, but On Swift Wings was nominated for best General Fiction/Novel, and best Fiction – Canada West Region.

A list of the finalists is available here: https://www.readerviews.com/2019-2020-literary-awards-finalists

If you haven’t had a chance yet, check out the book here, the Kindle version is only a few dollars on Amazon.

Winners will be announced next week on March 23rd.

On Swift Wings is also nominated in onlinebookclub.org’s 2020 Book of the Year. This is a popular contest, so I need your help! Vote for On Swift Wings today! https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelves/book.php?id=415208&boty=1

Thank you to everybody who has voted so far, currently 3rd place and only four votes from second!

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelves/boty-leaderboard.php

May your world always grow!

BW

Review Success

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Certified Five Stars

The reviews are starting to come in at a greater pace, and my biggest push won’t even start for another three weeks when the Giveaway on Goodreads comes to an end and a hundred new readers will get a copy of On Swift Wings all at once. I’m extremely excited by the reviews I’ve been getting so far, all of which are four or five stars. It is a phenomenal feeling to read that somebody enjoyed or loved the book that I worked on for so long and into which I invested so much. Whether a friend or a stranger, it is wonderful to hear these words (and to get 4-5 stars on every review so far is just icing on the cake!) Thank you to everybody who has or intends to post a review! You can check out all of my reviews (of which I’m currently aware) here. I intend to post review highlights like these with each blog post from now on!

A unique and wonderfully detailed literary fantasy novel.

IndieReader Discovery Awards Verdict

If you love satire, you’ll love this book.

RinnyC – Amazon Review

The conclusion to his adventures is as exciting as it is revealing of the mysteries of life. Rollicking and fun!

Romuald Dzemo – Readers’ Favorite

Incredibly smartly written.

RinnyC – Amazon Review

Readers will feel like they are waking from a dream with a “Wow” after reading this book.

Romuald Dzemo – Readers’ Favorite

His journey makes for a compelling read.

Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

The author is a great storyteller.

Romuald Dzemo – Readers’ Favorite

Enraptures readers.

IndieReader Discovery Awards Verdict

This is a must-read.

Romuald Dzemo – Readers’ Favorite

The author does a fantastic job of using descriptive detail to bring the characters and places to life.

Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

A deftly written story… designed to offer pure entertainment.

Romuald Dzemo – Readers’ Favorite

An exceptional job of rewriting the political satire.

Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

Readers will see that this is a multilayered tale. They can just sit back and enjoy this adventurous journey, or they can delve deeper and observe the issues presented that relate to politics, economics, sociology and philosophy.

Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

Please do keep the reviews coming, whether you post on Amazon, Goodreads, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, or anywhere else, it is all extremely valuable to me. I love all quality feedback. Thank you for taking the time to let me know your thoughts!

Free Book Giveaway

100 copies of On Swift Wings are available to win via Goodreads (Kindle Version.) If you’ve been on the fence about getting a copy, put your name in here and try to win a free one!

It is an implied condition that when you finish reading it, you provide an honest review. I’m really excited to see what people think of it. Early reviews have been very positive (4-5 stars.)

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/302467-on-swift-wings-the-travails-of-cygnus

You probably need to sign up for a Goodreads account, which if you aren’t familiar is a huge community of book readers. People share what they want to read, what they are reading, what they have read, and reviews. You’re welcome to connect with me on Goodreads here as well. It is another public forum where you can ask questions or discuss the book. A favourite activity for me is discussing the book with my friends who are actively reading On Swift Wings right now and hearing their thoughts about various subjects and ideas presented therein. All interaction there is helpful as well. Engagement helps keep things relevant. It would also be really cool to hear some cross-talk among readers as well.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19267796.Brett_M_Wiens

Other Marketing Stuff

Book Contest Award Winning Author
Readers’ Favorite
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I mentioned that On Swift Wings has been nominated for a number of awards in categories like Debut Author, Literary Fiction, Fiction, Fantasy, and Adventure on ReaderViews.com, IndieReader, and Readers’ Favorite. A few of them are progressing. Readerviews and IndieReader are closed for new entries, while Readers’ Favorite closes on June 1. Fingers crossed.

One thing that I definitely didn’t know about when I started this was marketing. I honestly thought that I could just publish a book, somebody would read it, pass it on to the right person, and it would catch on all by itself. This has unsurprisingly proven to be naive, as a million other books are hoping for exactly the same thing. This is why I need your help to pass on the word and review the book (hopefully positively.)

I’m formulating a more detailed plan now, and it is wimpy and simple, but still miles ahead of where I started, comments and advice are always welcome.

Step 1 – Get the book into people’s hands.

I got it out to a number of friends early hoping to get reviews, I’ve added the above giveaway, I tried an Amazon giveaway. I’ve donated books to libraries and schools. Right now, the goal is to get people to read the book.

Step 2 – Get reviews and get known

I underestimated how important reviews were at first, I wanted to get reviews (and still do) but it dawned on me a while ago that nobody is dropping money on a book that has no reviews or that wasn’t recommended by a trusted friend. I’m pursuing this more actively now, through the giveaways and contests. If I can get a dozen reviews, that would help immensely. When people start to see that a book is well reviewed and that most people like it, they are more likely to buy it.

Step 3 – Advertise

Once the book has sufficient reviews and maybe an award, advertising should help a lot.

Step 4 – Publish a new book

This is a long way off, no doubt, but continuing the momentum and restarting the cycle should help.

Thanks everybody once again for your support. May your world always grow!

BW

Bookspotting and Progress

Bookspotting

Bookspotting – Finding On Swift Wings and Friends

One of my favourite things about writing and publishing a book is seeing where it ends up. I’ve seen the book in bookstores and libraries, I know that there are people reading my book on three continents, and several countries from Goodreads and from people sending me pictures.

Last week I asked for people to send me pictures with the book, and here are a few that I received (and a couple of my own.) It is neat to think that people are reading my book in Comox, Digby, Texas, Austria, Massachusetts, Edmonton, and of course a lot in my hometown, Calgary. It is also really cool that to have friends supporting my efforts. I really appreciate you all!

A lot of friends have been updating me while they read the book and have talked about parts they have read. It is a little like being in a book club. It is really fun to hear what people are thinking, especially when they are digging into the satire or some of the foundational ideas. Keep the commentary coming, I love to hear it! If people wish to send more pictures, I’ll include them in future posts here.

Progress Report

Reviews and Interviews

I’m working hard to get my book in front of reviewers and my target audience. It is a crowded market, but I’m seeing some progress here. I got my first formal review from readerviews.com and an interview from them as well. The first interview that I did was a while ago at IndiePublishingGroup I’m also expecting a few more reviews out of this, but it may take a while.

Awards

Additionally, On Swift Wings has been nominated for several awards: readerviews and indiereader in best debut, Western Canadian, literary fiction, and fantasy categories. At the very least, this will likely result in a few more reviews and maybe some killer publicity, who knows?

Book 2

As for the second book, working title: Immortals, I scratched out all of the work I had done before because I didn’t like the voice and style and rewrote the first chapter and started the second. It brings a whole different challenge for me, but I’m enjoying the process with a little more experience under my belt this time.

Thanks to everybody for reading, may your world always grow!

BW

2019 Season of Giving

Price Drop, Donations and Royalty Summary

December is a fun time of year, and I’m trying to make it a little bit better in my own way. When I released my book in July, I really knew very little about the art of publishing and marketing a book. I would still describe myself as a rank novice in these spaces, but I have learned a lot.

Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation Logo

One commitment that I made and continue to uphold is to donate 20% of the author royalties and other special events to children’s hospitals. This morning I wrote a check to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation to support their wonderful efforts. I would strongly encourage anybody who is able to donate to their local children’s hospital as well.

CBE Logo

My second drive has been to try to get my book to as many people as I can. I’ve offered the book to several local schools. So far, only a couple have accepted, but I am handing off a copy this morning to a local school. I’m really excited at the possibility of my book helping to elevate literacy and support our schools as well. For any of you that aren’t from Alberta, there has been a great deal of cuts made to our education budget. If I can help out a little, then I’m thrilled to do this.

FormatPrice
eBook$2.99
Paperback$12.95
Hardcover$34.95

At the same time, I’ve donated several copies of books to the local library, and to little free libraries near my house. This adventure wasn’t about the money when I started, and I still would rather a thousand people read the book and from it earn nothing, than have a single reader give me a thousand dollars.

To this end, I’ve changed the price structure of the book drastically in time for Christmas. (They are as low as I can now make them without taking a loss on each copy sold.) – Prices vary at different retailers.

If you are still looking for your own copy of the book, it can is available everywhere online, and in several local bookstores.

Begging for Reviews

Please
Please Review
Please Post a Review!

One last thing, please post a review of On Swift Wings. Amazon, GoodReads, Indigo, or anywhere else. Better yet, post it to all three! The biggest hurdle I face right now is getting outside of the friend zone. The only way I’ll achieve that is by word of mouth. Recommend the book to a friend, or post a review online. I love feedback. A few readers have been keeping me up-to-date on their progress, and I love hearing their thoughts, feedback, and criticisms. It’ll only take you a minute to type in your thoughts, please help!

Book Analytics

A good novel can be read on many levels. There is always a superficial layer, the story itself. A compelling story can be followed and enjoyed by the widest targeted audience. Beneath the surface, there are often layers of complexity and literary devices at play. Metaphor, themes and satire can be cloaked or revealed transparently. We all learn about this in grade school, and some go further in university really dissecting books for everything the author intended (or maybe didn’t) to present the reader. Here is a slightly, more data-driven way to dig into a book. I loaded the entire content of both On Swift Wings and Gulliver’s Travels into a data analytics workflow to compare and contrast the styles and contents. A few tools used here include sentiment flow, word correlation, word complexity and vocabulary. There are some fascinating details that can be revealed. I hope you’ll enjoy this data analysis of these two novels.

By the way, the script I wrote takes about 5 seconds to run once I have the manuscript, whether from Project Gutenberg or a text/word file. If you’d like to see the same analysis about your book, or a favourite public domain book, just let me know.

Comparing Sentiment Flow

Sentiment Flow Analysis in On Swift Wings
Sentiment Flow Analysis in Gulliver’s Travels

I think these two graphs are particularly interesting. The top two bar charts are an analysis of sentiment value in On Swift Wings (my book) and the bottom two are for Gulliver’s Travels. You’ll note that I’ve blocked out the end of On Swift Wings. I don’t wish to spoil any surprises about whether the ending is happy or sad.

For background, the BING model determines a raw count of whether a word should be deemed “Positive” or “Negative.” Simply put, if the bar is above the line, then the corresponding 1% of the book has more positive words than negative ones. The AFINN model scores different words according to whether they are very positive, somewhat positive, somewhat negative, or very negative and assigns a value that way. In this way, the AFINN model measures the use of emotions with strength. Words like “Torture” and “Ecstasy” bear a greater weight than “Good” or “Bad.”

The first interesting finding is that in general I use quite a few more negative words than Jonathan Swift. The overall balance in terms of raw scores flows from positive at the beginning of the novel to more negative in the later stages. Swift tends to be more positive throughout, in fact, using more positive words particularly near the end of Gulliver’s Travels. (Note, I’m still not talking about the actual end of On Swift Wings.)

While I tend to use more negative words than positive, by weight (AFINN) On Swift Wings has a similar weighted score to Gulliver’s Travels. Most parts of the book are positive, and to a similar degree to Gulliver’s Travels. I think this is particularly interesting. Evidently, I use stronger, more impactful words to counterbalance a general negativity.

Sentiment Word Maps

On Swift Wings Sentiment Cloud
Gulliver’s Travels Sentiment Cloud

To the point about the strength of words used, these word clouds illustrate for each book how commonly different words are used that carry sentiment (size of font) and how impactful that sentiment is (lighter colour = less impact). Both books show many similar words (Great, Like, Good, No, Dead), but there are differences. There are a greater quantity and distribution sentimental words used more frequently in On Swift Wings. Both images were generated using the same code, the difference in shape is due to a difference in style. I invite you to look at the words and compare them yourself. I could look at these two figures for hours.

Again, if you’d like to see your favourite public domain novel, let me know, I’ll run the script and send the results. (I’ll probably put the code on GitHub soon too)

Word Correlation Map

On Swift Wings Correlations
Gulliver’s Correlations

These two figures demonstrate word combinations. Words that are used frequently together are connected. The more often, the thicker and brighter the line. Again, many differences can be seen between the two works. I tend to use a few words together frequently while Mr. Swift has a few clusters of interconnected words, and few other patterns he repeats.

Word Summary Statistics

Measure On Swift Wings Gulliver’s Travels Comparison
Word Count121,426104,280116%
Unique Words11,8488,359142%
Unique Word Ratio9.758.02122%
Average Word Length6.396.21103%

Here’s a really quick little analysis counting the number of words, how many of them are unique, what the ratio of unique to total words is and average word length. It isn’t a valid measure of quality, but On Swift Wings is 16% longer than Gulliver’s Travels, there are 42% more unique words in On Swift Wings, and each word is on average 4% longer. Reading On Swift Wings, you’ll encounter a new word approximately 22% more frequently than reading Gulliver’s Travels.

Before the hate rains down, please remember that this is all good fun. Gulliver’s Travels is a great book, and I strongly recommend it. I only hope that On Swift Wings will be intriguing and entertaining as well.

Weekly Review Section

Thank You Stewart Adams

I received my first review on Amazon this week! As hoped, the book is a challenging but rewarding read. Please keep the reviews coming! Amazon.ca or Amazon.com, Goodreads, Indigo. Reviews are desperately needed to spread the word and get the book in front of more readers. Please.

An interesting modernization of Gulliver’s Travels. There are some great concepts in the book including “perfect” societies and how one person can make a difference.
It is not an easy read due to the meaty sentences, but I am glad I read it.

Worth your time. Stewart Adams – Amazon Review

International Book Tour and Book 2 Progress

At a little-known stadium somewhere in Rome. Mostly just rocks and sand as far as I can tell.

Apologies for the missed post this past week. I’ve been on an international book tour to Italy and France. Of course, when I say an international book tour, I entirely mean that I spent a couple weeks sauntering about Venice, Rome, and Imperia in Italy, and Nice in France, and a bit of time on the beach in Comox, BC. I thoroughly enjoyed inhaling and absorbing the history and locales about which I’ve read and studied so much. All of the places to which we went were incredible and have proven to be a great inspiration to me. So cool to visit three places so geographically close but so extensively different and unique. Every time I travel, my world grows and I feel a much better person for it. I hope that the inspiration I’ve received will reflect in my upcoming works.

It wasn’t all fun and games, I did get down to work and have prepared the storyboard for my second novel. I have prepared character profiles, elaborated upon the setting, and prepared the major plot markers. Alright, I admit, this is fun and games, as my wife tends to point out. Every time I figure out something clever, or funny, or I advance a key plot, I am pleased as punch to go cryptically tell her what I’ve thought up.

I’ll talk a bit about the plan for the upcoming novel next week. I intend for it to be quite different from the first in many ways, but similar in others. I’m going to take my time to plan it all very carefully to ensure the highest quality work of which I’m capable.

Thank you for reading my blog, I hope you’re enjoying On Swift Wings. On that front, I received some news that Indigo is going to put a number of copies on their shelves at Chinook and Crowfoot, and I will likely do a book signing there in the coming weeks. (More on that to come.) A few informal reviews have begun to trickle in, but nothing yet on any review site like Amazon, Indigo, GoodReads, etc. Generally people are saying that it is challenging but rewarding, and the satire is well done. I am really looking forward to hearing and reading more feedback to help with the planning of the second novel.

BW