Tag Archives: novel

Summer Price Reduction on Playing the Game


I’ve reduced the price of the ebook version of my novel, Playing the Game, to $2.99. Take advantage of this limited time offer and download the book from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Playing the Game was the #1 financial thriller in the Kindle store last summer. One Amazon reviewer said:

Playing the Game is a page-turner from page one. The characters are clever, scheming, even diabolical—but also real, and vividly drawn. Rickover does a masterful job of keeping all the corporate balls in the air and keeping her readers guessing about how things will turn out.

Don’t keep yourself guessing—pick up a copy to enjoy this summer.

And Happy Memorial Day!

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A Good Gift Book: Playing the Game


If you need a gift for someone on your year-end list, don’t forget my novel, Playing the Game. The book has many five star reviews on Amazon, and was ranked the #1 financial thriller this summer in the Kindle store.

Here are a few of my favorite reviews of the book from Amazon:

  • [Playing the Game] has all the trappings of a great tale of corporate fiction, but throw murder into the mix and you have a thriller. The story was so well written, I sailed through it in just one day. A brilliant story wrapped around reality, with believable characters and a plausible plot makes this novel one of the best choices of 2014.
  • If you don’t know anything about the details of how organizations and HR operate and you don’t want to pick up a dry textbook, pick up Playing the Game because, I can assure you, I would have been bored out of my mind if this information wasn’t presented in such an entertaining way. Playing the Game epitomizes information fiction at its best!
  • Rickover’s brilliant prose had to be somewhat anecdotal because the reader is “right there” in those offices, dealing with one crisis after another. This is definitely a fertile story for a movie.
  • This is a fascinating, fast-paced novel about the issues facing the modern corporation: corporate succession, office politics, financing, unionization, and so forth. The characters are sharply drawn and the plot is full of interesting twists; I lost a few hours of evening sleep reading this one, as I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended!

Thank you for considering Playing the Game!

P.S. Also available in paperback and epub formats on Barnes & Noble.

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A Novel Approach to Training and Development


As the end of the year approaches, managers and HR professionals responsible for training activities might want something unusual for their development programs and opportunities. Might I suggest using a novel to provoke workplace discussions about management and leadership issues?

This isn’t a unique idea—the Navy used the movie, Twelve O’Clock High, in its well-regarded Command Excellence training program. Business school classes and diversity programs use vignettes and case studies to raise issues all the time. A book simply creates a more complex world for discussion.

My novel, Playing the Game, is set in a corporate world familiar to most employees. If you are an HR professional developing curriculum for new or middle managers, if you are an executive coach needing to launch a discussion with a client, or if you are a manager wanting to get your employees talking about workplace issues, take a look at my book and see if it might help.

Other professionals who might find uses for the novel are

  • lawyers and estate planners initiating conversations about family succession planning in small businesses
  • in-house counsel wanting to talk to managers about legal topics such as reductions in force, employment discrimination, and copyright
  • managers and HR professionals trying to improve work group communications and conflict management

You can find the questions from the discussion guide in the back of the book here. But you can also create questions more suited to your particular needs. If you’d like to chat about the book before using it in a training program, please contact me at SaraLRickover (at) gmail.com.

I’m also available for group conversations via teleconference or Skype with any work groups or book clubs discussing Playing the Game.

My novel is available in both paperback and ebook formats on Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes & Noble (Nook).

What other novels would be good for leadership and corporate training programs?

PTG Rickover cover

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Case Study on Marketing a Self-Published Novel


I am not a marketer by profession or by inclination. However, as a writer and self-employed consultant, I have to spend some time marketing my work. This post is for writers and describes a price promotion I recently conducted for my novel, Playing the Game.

The usual price of my ebook is $4.99, but I reduced it for a couple of weeks in late June and early July to $0.99.

Self-published writers debate whether free promotions or $0.99 promotions are best, but I decided on a $0.99 promotion for two reasons. First, I wanted to keep my book for sale on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble during the promotion. Amazon’s Kindle store will not permit free ebooks except (1) for a few days if the book is enrolled in Kindle Select, or (2) if the ebook is free somewhere else. Second, free ebooks work well as an enticement to get readers to buy other books, but at this point I only have one novel to sell. I had nothing for readers to buy after trying my work for free, so I wanted some money for the book I do have!

Keep in mind that at a price point of $0.99, the author earns just $0.40 per ebook—it takes a lot of books to get rich! Wealth as a writer, as of yet, has eluded me.

PTG #1Here are the results of my promotion:

  • Playing the Game became the #1 ranked financial thriller in the Kindle store during the promotion, and stayed in the Top 100 in this category for a month—for several weeks after the promotion was over.
  • My sales at $0.99 per ebook covered the costs of paying for several book promoters to advertise the novel. I chose free and inexpensive promotional sites. Some were more successful than others.
  • The most successful site where I promoted the novel was EReader News Today. This book promoter takes 25% of the royalties earned through clicks through their site, which I thought was eminently fair, because it guarantees that the writer won’t lose money.
  • By contrast, I did not recoup my costs in advertising on The Fussy Librarian. I like the look of this site’s advertisements, but I did not sell enough ebooks through The Fussy Librarian to make it worth my while, even at the low price of $6.00.  Maybe if their readership grows, this will be a better opportunity for writers.

I learned a lot conducting this price promotion. Next time I promote my novel, I will probably invest more money up front on more expensive book advertising sites. It takes money to make money, in this context as in so many others.

And I also learned I should get back to writing!

In the meantime, I hope that my sales continue to grow and the book continues to get positive reviews.

Many thanks to readers who purchased my book. If you read and liked it, please post a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and/or Goodreads.

I appreciate those of you who have already reviewed it. Each review has made me smile.

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A Fourth of July Sale on My Novel


PTG Rickover coverI’ve had the ebook version of my novel Playing the Game on sale recently for just 99 cents, but the sale ends on July 6. This holiday weekend is your last opportunity to buy the book at this reduced price, which is offered in both the Kindle and Nook stores.

Since its publication late last year, Playing the Game has become a bestseller, and even reached #1 in the Kindle store for financial thrillers. It also was in the Top 20 legal thrillers last week. So if you like John Grisham, take a peek at Playing the Game.

One Amazon reader described the book as follows:

When Rick Players (CEO of toy company Playland) suffers a tragic accident, Playland’s head of HR, Maura Rodriguez, must fight the corporate America fight to keep the company afloat. This has all the trappings of a great tale of corporate fiction, but throw murder into the mix and you have a thriller. The story was so well written, I sailed through it in just one day. A brilliant story wrapped around reality, with believable characters and a plausible plot makes this novel one of the best choices of 2014.

I couldn’t ask for better praise than this.

Buy the book and take it on vacation with you this summer. As this reviewer said, it’s a fast read. Then let me know what you think. Click here to buy on Kindle, and here for Nook.

I hope you enjoy reading Playing the Game as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Remember, this sale ends July 6. Happy Independence Day!

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Can HR Be a Hero?


As an author, one of the tasks I had to undertake to self-publish my book was to define the category the book fits on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. In my novel, Playing the Game, the heroine is Maura Ramirez, the head of Human Resources in the fictional company PlayLand, Inc.

There aren’t many novels where an HR manager is the protagonist, so there were no categories on Amazon or Barnes & Noble that quite fit. The best I could come up with was “financial thriller.”

Playing the Game is not a thriller in the sense that good guys are trying to prevent bad guys from defrauding a company’s shareholders, nor from causing doom in global markets. But it is a thriller in that the fate of the company hangs in the balance in one crisis after another—the CEO’s injury and unavailability, renegade employees, labor disputes, and supply chain failures.

In each of these crises, how managers act—including Human Resources—determines whether PlayLand will survive. In Playing the Game, HR is definitely the hero. Many of the other managers fumble and bumble.

And, oh, by the way, someone is killed, and there is a murder to solve!

Here are some reviews of my novel that mention how it portrays HR:

PTG front cover all caps“This book shows the workings of an HR department in a large family owned business. A mystery that was a fast read. Interesting characters with many twists and turns in the plot.”

 

“Just finished Playing the Game. As an HR person, I think the book really nailed it. For those interested in an insider’s view of life in human resources, it is a great read!”

 

“If you’ve ever been in the corporate world, this is must read. Sara Rickover does a terrific job telling the powerful story of a corporate president, his staff, and most importantly, his loyal and competent HR person. I loved how the book kept me turning pages. “

To amuse myself, I tried typing in “HR thriller” in Amazon’s Kindle store to see what would happen. Playing the Game shows up as #5. “HR thriller” might not be a well-known book category, but you can find my novel with that search.

Or just search for Playing the Game, by Sara Rickover.

Or click here to find it on Amazon, or here to find it on Barnes & Noble.

Thanks!

When has HR been a hero in your experience?

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Succession Planning in a Family Business: When No One Is Ready


I’ve mentioned before (see here and here) that one of the conflicts in my novel, Playing the Game, is succession planning behind the CEO who is injured at the beginning of the book. What should a family-owned business do, when none of the family members seems right to lead the organization?

Here’s a scene from Chapter 1 that describes the problem. Rick Players is the CEO of PlayLand Inc., and he is in a coma. His brothers Vince and Kevin are discussing what to do about the business.

 

Late Sunday evening, Kevin Players sat on a plastic chair in ICU beside his brother Vince. Machines beeped rhythmically, monitoring Rick’s heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and brain waves. He heard the constant patter of voices from the nurses’ station and the squeaks of carts rolling down the hall.

The doctors hadn’t given a definite prognosis. “He has some injuries in the cerebral hemispheres,” the neurologist had said. “His brain is still swelling, though not as rapidly as earlier. If it continues, we may need to surgically extract some of the dead tissue. Or at least relieve the pressure caused by the swelling. All we can do is wait.”

Now Kevin and Vince sat waiting. Kevin leaned back and stretched his arms over his head. They needed to make some plans about the business. Kevin didn’t want an argument, but Vince wouldn’t do a damn thing unless Kevin brought it up.

Kevin squinted at Vince. “We have to decide what to do about tomorrow’s officer meeting.”

Vince grunted.

Vince was forty-six, several years younger than Rick, but eleven years older than Kevin. Vince’s hair was thin on top, Kevin noticed in surprise. Rick hadn’t lost any hair yet. Kevin ran a hand over his own head. Would he go bald like Vince in another ten years? Would he get Vince’s paunch, or Rick’s six-pack abs?

“If we cancel, it’ll seem like no one’s running the show,” Kevin said.

“But you heard the doctor. How can we go on, business as usual?”

“The doctor said anything could happen,” Kevin argued. “We’ve got to think about how people will react. Employees. Customers. Lenders. What’ll they do if they think no one’s in charge?”

“How can we keep going without Rick?” Vince asked.

“I don’t know,” Kevin said. He stretched again. He’d expected some resistance, but Vince wasn’t helping at all. “We have to give the impression things are under control. Starting with the meeting tomorrow. Can you lead it?”

“Me?”

“You’re head of Product Development. You’re next in the family after Rick. People will expect you to do it.”

“Christ!” Vince groaned. “What’s on the agenda?”

“How the hell should I know? Rick keeps his own agendas.”

Vince grimaced. “What should we say? You’re the great communicator.”

Kevin shrugged. “Give the group an update on Rick. Then ask everyone for status reports. It’s mostly for show. So the rest of the company thinks we know what we’re doing. Even without Rick.”

Vince nodded. “Okay. But you back me up.”

“Sure.” Kevin closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall. With his eyes still closed, he asked, “What’s on your plate this week?”

“Nothing much Monday. Staff meetings. A couple of new product meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday. Don’t remember after that.”

“Paige gave me Rick’s cell phone,” Kevin said. “I looked at his calendar. There’s a big meeting with Toy Mart sometime this week with our Sales group. One of us should go. I think it’s mostly about marketing programs. I can get up to speed. I’ll go.”

Vince grunted again.

Kevin decided that meant Vince didn’t care who went to Toy Mart. “He was also getting ready for the bank meeting next week,” Kevin said. “It’d look pretty weird for me to go. No reason for Marketing to be there. You’ll have to cover that one. Alex will know the details. Talk to him.”

Vince glared at Kevin. “Hell, you know I hate financial crap.”

“Alex can handle the numbers. Just act like an owner,” Kevin replied. Sometimes he didn’t think Vince cared about the family business. Kevin had been the kid brother all his life, but now he spent half his time pushing Vince.

“All right.” Vince belched. “I’ll call Alex.”

Relieved that he had covered the immediate business issues, Kevin turned to the family problems—the bigger challenge, he thought. “We’re going to have to watch Paige,” he said.

“Why?” Vince asked.

“She was hysterical this evening,” Kevin said. “She’s worried about Rick, obviously. And pissed at him for racing with the boys. She said he must have been drunk. But his blood alcohol was legal.” Kevin shook his head. “I don’t know if she can cope.”

“Christ,” said Vince. “I couldn’t deal with a wife when I was married. How can we handle Paige and PlayLand both?”

Kevin squirmed to get comfortable in the small chair. Paige had always been a handful. Spoiled her whole life, first by her father and then by Rick. She’d freaked out when Jason broke his arm last year. “I don’t know,” he said. “But we’ve got to.”

* * *

To read more, go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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