Book reviews

Book Review: The Kindle Publishing Bible: How to Sell More Kindle Ebooks on Amazon, by Tom Corson-Knowles

the image shows the cover of The Kindle Publishing Bible: How to Sell More Kindle Ebooks on Amazon

Three posts in a row about books? That’s a little unusual for me. Yet, since books, reading and writing are such important parts of my life, it’s possibly more strange that I don’t write about books more often.

As a writer I’m always keen to learn how to write, publish and market books more effectively. Which is why The Kindle Publishing Bible: How to Sell More Kindle Ebooks on Amazon, by Tom Corson-Knowles, published by TCK Publishing, was of such interest to me
Even though this book was published a few years ago and certain Amazon features may have changed since then, it was a book full of useful information and great resources to assist an author considering self-publishing on the Amazon platform.

However, the book doesn’t stop there. There are also great tips to assist with the writing process included. I especially found the chapter about selecting a title for a book of interest, since this is something I’m currently battling with myself. The suggestions given will definitely stay with me.
While I have not yet had a chance to investigate the many promotional tools given in the book, there are bound to be at least a few that can assist with the marketing of a self-published book, which often proves a stumbling block for new authors.

In conclusion, I found this quick-reading book both practical and easy to follow. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to publish and market a book through Amazon.

Literary Tour of Africa

The image shows a map of the African continent

Okay, okay, so I’m not actually touring round Africa. But what else would you call it?

This year I set myself two reading goals: to read some of the classics I didn’t get to when I was at school, and to focus on reading outside the genres I tend to default to. The first book I read was Homegoing, by Ghanaian-born Yaa Gyasi. That was the book that shifted my reading into an unexpected direction, and focused me specifically on authors from the African continent.

One of the characters in Homegoing is a history teacher in Ghana. At one point he cautions his students that the texts they study often reflect only a single perspective. That they should try to find the voices that are silenced in the texts. And I became intensely aware of how few books I had read by authors from Africa. Even more, how few of those that I had read were by authors whose voices had traditionally been marginalized in the publishing industry.

Rather than spending time researching possible books, I posted a question on a Facebook book group. And received more than 75 recommendations of books written by authors based in Africa. From numerous countries. In fact, I have so many books and authors to try that I feel slightly overwhelmed. Which isn’t a bad thing when it comes to books!

So far I’ve read three books, each from a different country.

1 Homegoing – by Yaa Gyasi (Ghana)
2 If We Are to Become: A Conversation Taking Us to the Next Level – by Ruramai Sithole (Zimbabwe)
3 The Shadow King – by Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia)

I wish I could find a way to track the books I’ve read on a map of Africa, but can’t think of one. It’s one of the few times that my blindness has posed me a challenge I can’t solve without sighted help. That’s just the way it is sometimes.

I know I already have a long list of authors and titles to read. But I’m always keen to learn about great books. So why not let me know a few of your favourite books by African authors. I’d love to hear them!

Closing the Chapter on My 2020 Reading Challenge

Bus

First, a very happy new year to you all! May 2021 be a year with many wonderful adventures for you! Let’s hope the year will bring a little more stability than the last one.

My tradition over the past few years has been to start off with a post about my intentions for the year ahead. Frankly, with so much uncertainty, I don’t really feel like writing on that subject. So I’m doing something else instead.

In 2020 I set myself a goal of reading at least one non-fiction book per month. While I have always been a prolific reader, somehow I’ve just never found myself drawn to non-fiction books. Last year I decided to try and change that. At least a little.

And I think I succeeded – in total I read 17 non-fiction books during the year. So I met and exceeded my target. In a previous post I listed the books I read in the first half of the year. You can find the list in the post published on 14 July 2020.

Here’s the list of the non-fiction books I read in the second half of the year:

9 Make Money from Non-Fiction Kindle Books: How to Maximise Your Royalties, Get Paid to Capture Leads, and Rapidly Build A Successful Backend Business – by John Tighe.
10 Timeless on the Silk Road: An Odyssey from London to Hanoi – by Heather Ellis.
11 One More Croissant for the Road – by Felicity Cloake.
12 Walking without Skin: A Journey of Healing from Fear to Forgiveness to Freedom – by Lois Wagner.
13 Kong Boys: Seven Friends from Hong Kong Take on Eleven European Cities for Their Thirtieth Birthdays – by Gerald Yeung.
14 Fundamentals of Leadership: Your Treasure Map for Leading in a New Era Where Everything Has Changed and You Have Become Lost – by Rowan van Dyk.
15 Podcast 101: Simple Steps to Create Your Own Podcast, Build Relationships and Grow Your Business – by Paul Brodie.
16 Ditch the Fear and Just Write It: The No Excuses Power Plan to Start Your First Book – by Alexa Bigwarfe.
17 Adventure by Chicken Bus – by Janet LoSole.

This year I have started another reading challenge – to read books by authors with diverse voices, experiences and from different cultures and geography from myself. I’m starting with a book called Homegoing, by Ghanaian author Yaa Gyasi.

I also plan to read a few classics that I either missed when I was younger, or that I disliked as a teenager and that I’d like to try again to see if my impressions have changed. The first of these is The Great Gatsby, by F Scott Fitzgerald, which I couldn’t stand when I originally read it. I’ve decided to give it a second chance as so many people hold it in such high regard. It’s always possible that I just read it at the wrong time. Only time will tell…

I think I’m in for an exciting reading year!
XXX

Book Recommendation – Guiding Emily, by Barbara Hinske

the image shows the cover of the book Guiding Emily; the cover is a beautiful black Labrador

My previous article was about the non-fiction books I’ve been reading this year. Today, to show you that I haven’t been neglecting my love of fiction, I want to share a very special book with you: Guiding Emily, by Barbara Hinske.

I don’t often get to read books about people becoming blind as an adult. I guess it’s not really a popular subject for authors unless, like me, they have a personal connection with visual impairment. Yet, this is what happens to Emily, one of the main characters of Guiding Emily.

Guiding Emily tells the story of a young woman who loses her sight on her honeymoon – the impact it has on her brand-new marriage, on her family, friends, her work, and on the way she perceives herself. It’s also the story of Garth, a delightful young black Labrador who is determined to become a guide dog.

I found parts of Emily’s story hard to read because of the parallels with my own life. What Emily was experiencing emotionally, and the basic training she underwent, brought up strong memories of my own journey after I lost my sight. Emily’s journey is well researched and is credible – unlike some of the fiction books about blindness that I’ve read!

I’m sure I’m not the only reader who will find herself cheering Emily on as she triumphs over the mental, emotional, and physical realities of losing her sight and fighting her way back to independence.

I found the young Garth’s chapters of the story delightful. They were a tonic to brighten the more challenging parts of Emily’s journey. I laughed at his mischievous puppy self and the antics he got up to while being puppy-walked. He reminded me of my beautiful guides – Leila (who was also a black Labrador), Eccles, and Fiji. I could so easily imagine the puppy versions of my girls getting up to the same antics when they were being puppy-walked. Well, to be honest, I could also imagine them doing so after being matched with me. Which made the whole Garth part of the story even funnier and cuter for me.

Why am I telling you this?

My main reason for writing A Different Way of Seeing was to help people understand a little about the world in which I live as a blind person. I believe that we will only gain greater levels of inclusion in society and the workplace once people understand what we are able to do, and the tools and techniques we have at our disposal. Guiding Emily shows the way a visually-impaired person engages with the world around her. As Emily learns the techniques and tools, so too do the readers, even if they have had no previous experience with visual impairment. So, it is a great book for anyone who is interested to learn more about visual impairment. Not to mention that the book is simply an enjoyable read – with drama, betrayal, despair, triumph, and romance of a sort. But you’ll have to read it for yourself to find out what I mean.

Why not hop onto Amazon and get hold of a copy of Guiding Emily – I’ll bet you’ll fall head over tails in love with young Garth!

Such a Great Feeling!

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It’s always such a great feeling to read a review of one’s work – especially if it’s positive! Below is a link to a review of my book “A Different Way of seeing: A Blind Woman’s Journey of Living an ‘Ordinary’ Life in an Extraordinary Way by fellow speaker and member of my MasterMind group, Charlotte Kemp:

http://charlottekemp.co.za/resources/different-way-seeing-lois-strachan/

Thanks so much for the review, Charlotte!

What Every Blind Person Needs You to Know, by Leanne Hunt

I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to read and review an advance copy of fellow blind female South African author, Leann Hunt’s new book, What Every Blind Person Needs You to Know.

Leanne’s book is a practical guide on how to assist a visually impaired family member, friend or colleague who is struggling to grow from dependence to independence. She describes the psychological impact of blindness as well as the various stages she herself worked through in coming to terms with her disability and gaining independence. Leann’s is an inspiring story that is full of courage.

Though I personally did not experience anything near the same level of isolation and dependency that Leanne did when losing her sight, I could relate to her story. The book gave me reason to reconsider my own journey through blindness and I found myself gaining additional insights into my own life from both the similarities and the differences in our situations.

I will admit to having reservations about the word “every in the title, what Every Blind Person Needs You to Know, as I believe it is too simplistic to assume that the same process will apply to all blind people. However, there are certainly aspects of Leanne’s book that will be useful to each reader.

I would recommend Leanne Hunt’s book, What Every Blind Person Needs You to Know as a valuable resource for anyone supporting a blind or visually impaired person battling to discover how to increase their level of independence.

You can purchase What Every Blind Person Needs You to Know at www.blindyetfree.com/books

Speaker Savvy, by Bronwyn Hesketh – A “Must Read” for Speakers

I was fortunate to read an advance copy of Bronwyn Hesketh’s book, Speaker Savvy. Basically, it’s a great resource for anyone wanting to know more about the professional speaking world, and contains many valuable ‘do’s and don’ts” for those entering (or thinking of entering) the speaking industry.

I found the book easy to read– it’s full of stories and anecdotes from the author’s career as a speaker agent – and it includes many valuable pointers to help new and aspiring speakers.

I personally found the chapters on marketing and the speaker/agent relationship of particular interest and noted several key strategies that I will use to advance my own speaking business.

Bronwyn’s humour and distinctive and personal voice are an added bonus – I can pretty much guarantee that you will find yourself laughing at several of the stories as you make your way through the book. I know I did!

If there is one thing that concerned me about the book, it was some of the less than flattering stories that Bronwyn shared about the speaking industry and speaker bureaus in general. Having said that, at least I feel more knowledgeable about some of the possible pitfalls that can occur in this part of the industry.

I would definitely recommend Speaker Savvy to anyone who has newly entered the wonderful world of professional speaking, and anyone considering doing so. It will give you a solid understanding of the realities of this industry

Speaker Savvy should be released in late June or early July 2016 – to find out more contact Bronwyn on bronwyn@speakersinc.co.za.

Book Review: Book Yourself Solid, by Michael Port

Are you involved in a service industry? If you are, would you like to be able to find more clients/customers?
If so, then Michael Port’s “Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling” is a must read for you!

Yes, the title is long, but the book itself is easy to read, flows ell and is full of practical advice on how to grow your network, give value to your clients to build industry credibility,, improve your success rate in attracting new clients, and promoting yourself and your products in a powerful way. The book is also something of a workbook, with exercises that reinforce each of the main points.

I particularly found the chapters on how to promote yourself using different media fascinating and of immense value – they have certainly given me lots to think on as I continue building my own business!

Definitely a book I would recommend!

Book review: Keynote Mastery – The Personal Journey of a Professional Speaker

The Personal Journey of a Professional Speaker
by Patrick Schwerdtfeger

As a relatively inexperienced professional speaker, I was interested to read Patrick Schwerdtfeger’s latest book, Keynote Mastery.

As the author indicates clearly, the book is primarily a memoir of his own journey, and he discusses both his successes and his failures in a candid and human manner.

I found the book very readable. The style is conversational and relatively informal, and makes use of anecdotes and personal stories to bring home the tips that the author shares with his readers.

At times I felt the author shared a little more of his family history than was necessary, but it did not detract too significantly from my overall engagement with the book.

I found the details of the way the speaking industry operates in the USA interesting, but felt that this might be confusing for inexperienced speakers from other countries where the industry may be set up in a slightly different way. Nonetheless, the inclusion of this type of detail serves to demonstrate the importance of understanding the industry, wherever one is based.

Overall, I found the insights and helpful tips for aspiring speakers very valuable and particularly enjoyed the way the author used his personal stories and experiences to reinforce the value of each lesson. Also useful were the 16 worksheets on the author’s website that are further aids to assist aspiring speakers on their journey.

(review copy provided by Netgalley)

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