“The Portal” is now $1.99 at Barnes & Noble!

Marked down from $4.99 — such a deal!  Amazon will be forced to follow suit when it sees the hordes of ebook buyers deserting it when they hear about the new price.

This gives me an excuse to reprint the very kind review by JF Owen, a loyal reader of this little blog:

It’s been quite a while since I read any young adult science fiction or fantasy. After reading “The Portal”, I think I’ve been missing out on some enjoyable reading. Richard Bowker has crafted an entertaining and captivating story about the adventures of two young boys from New England who travel to an alternate universe where some of the folks and surroundings are familiar but the times and events are totally different…and dangerous. Larry and Kevin, the two main characters, are faced with a complicated array of challenges as they struggle to find their way home.

The story itself is exceptionally well done, but for me the best part of the book was how believable Larry’s and Kevin’s characters are. Based on the finely detailed descriptions he weaves into the young boys’ thoughts and actions, I suspect that Mr. Bowker either has a son near that age or he’s one of those rare people who never truly forget what it’s like to be young.

“The Portal” was a marvelous read that’s suitable for readers of all ages. It took me back in time and reminded me why I fell in love with science fiction all those decades ago. In just a few more years, when my grandson is old enough, I’ll make a point to introduce him to Kevin, Larry and their adventures. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go have a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. After that, I think I’m going out back to see if I can find a secret portal.

Here’s the cover, in case you’ve forgotten:


Two legs to darkclaw and weasel

That’s the title of a five-star review of Dover Beach on Barnes & Noble.  Here is the text of the review:

He kicks darckclaw into a tree and takes weasel to my house result twelve.

I dunno.  Somehow, this review did not make me all tingly and proud.  Those of you who are familiar with Dover Beach  will recall that it contains no weasels, and probably very few trees.

My publisher says I should respond to all my customer reviews, but I can’t figure out how to respond to Barnes & Noble reviews.  If I could respond, what should I say?

Thanks for the insightful comments!  Somehow, you have intuited deeper truths about my novel than even I have heretofore recognized.  For that, I will be forever grateful!

Does that work?  By the way, I Googled Darkclaw and found out that he is a character in Brian Jacques’s Redwall books, which my kids liked once upon a time.  I never thought they went anywhere, but I wasn’t a kid when I read them.

Meanwhile, here’s a review from Amazon that does make me tingly and proud.  It’s entitled “I won’t bore you with praise…”:

This is an incredibly good book. Clearly, the absolute best post apocalyptic detective novel I’ve ever read. I want more, Richard Bowker. More!

That’s more like it.  On the other hand, I was unaware that there are more post-apocalyptic detective novels out there.  That’s a little discouraging.  I thought I had cornered the market!

Authors are hard to please.

Thoughts on sales ranking; also, a bad review and a good sunflower

After getting as high as about #46 on the Nook bestseller list, Senator is starting to fade like the Tampa Bay Rays.  Its sudden rise in the rankings got me thinking about how they are calculated. A brief tour of the Internet convinced me that this is a rat-hole from which one may never return.  The algorithms are proprietary and probably change periodically, so it’s all guesswork.

Since I’m dealing with a publisher rather than publishing my books myself, I don’t see the daily sales figures on Amazon and B&N, so there is no easy way for me to see how the ranking tracks these sales numbers.  But lots of self-published writers apparently have nothing better to do, and they are more than happy to opine about who the rankings are calculated.

The consensus, if you care, is that the ranking represents something like a 30-day moving average, with more recent sales weighted more heavily than sales earlier in the cycle. There is probably some residual effect from sales prior to the 30-day period, so a book that sells five copies a year will have a higher ranking than a book that sells one copy. I have no idea if this is anything like the truth, but it seems plausible to me.  And how many sales does a particular ranking represent?  This looks like a reasonable guess.  Of course, that’s for Amazon.  Barnes & Noble would presumably be something like 20% of that.

Anyway, the sales on Barnes & Noble have started to get Senator some reviews there.  Here is a remarkably bad one that I enjoyed (sort of).  It’s by our friend Anonymous and is titled “Awful”:

Was there a good guy anywhere in this mess? However samples at end were even worse and can now avoid all in future mom

What’s impressive about this is that the writer feels obliged to trash the samples as well as the novel.  Also, what’s up with the word “mom” at the end?  Is the writer trying to insinuate that “Anonymous” is actually my mother?  That’s harsh.

To make myself feel better, here’s a photo of some sunflowers from my garden:



Also, the Red Sox just beat the Yankees for the third time in a row, so there’s that.

Senator currently one of “101 Nook Books Under $2.99” at Barnes & Noble

Senator is currently on sale at Barnes & Noble for the ridiculously low price of $0.99.  (Yes, friends, you heard right!)  So now would be a good time to pick it up if you’ve got a Nook.

I don’t know how this sort of thing works, but my publisher got the novel a spot on B&N’s “101 Nook Books Under $2.99” promotion.  It’s currently on the third page, but the book moves up the pages as its sales rank improves. This promotion is having an effect.  A couple of days ago Senator‘s sales rank was somewhere north of 300,000 on B&N, meaning (I suppose) that no one had bought it recently.  Currently its sales rank is 460.  Maybe someone will finally review it!

Here’s what the cover looks like, in case you’ve forgotten:


Marlborough Street is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble!

Kindly purchase it for the Kindle or the Nook.  Presumably it’ll show up in other places before long.  It’s only $2.99, and Christmas was expensive this year.

Marlborough Street’s summary and first chapter are here.  And here’s the cover, which maybe is OK:

Marlborough Street cover

I have to tell you that Marlborough Street is a pretty strange novel.  It’s partially about the meaning of life (which, incidentally, I explain on the last page), but it’s also about the difference between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, and what it means to be a psychic.  It’s a suspense/thriller/horror type of thing, but I also tried to make it funny.  It all makes sense to me, but your mileage may vary.