May 31, 2010

Trying direct sales too

I have placed a button on my Books page which takes you to Paypal, where you have the option of paying me directly through their service for a copy of 'In the Valley'$1.99. same price, but this way I keep all the revenue, instead of 35% from Amazon or 50% from Smashwords.

I will have to do a test to see if this works, but should go
1) someone gives Paypal $1.99(CAD)
2)Paypal notifies me by e-mail
3)I send them a PDF copy by e-mail

I don't expect to sell many, or in fact any, this way, but I want to try the system. If everything works well, this could ramp up; with ISBN nos to use for other books, who knows?

May 28, 2010

Final ad stats

The Facebook ad has finished its 24 hour run; stats are - 70,735 impressions, for a total of 13 clicks; @$1.08per click & total cost of $14.07
As an experiment, to see what happens,it worked; as really helpful to book downloads - nope.
Smashwords stats didn't budge, so I doubt if any clickers got further than the Facebook page.

May 27, 2010

Now published on Amazon

Just finished uploading 'In the Valley Stories' to Amazon, for sale on their Kindle reader. Have also removed Amazon as a sales channel from Smashwords, so they will sell on all their other outlets and I will sell directly on Amazon. Same price -$1.99- just a slightly bigger cut this way.
It will take about 48 hrs for approval, and then it will be available there as well. Amazon has about 170 times as many customers as Smashwords apparently.
Have also registered with the Canadian authorities as a Publisher, and will be getting ISBNs to use - about 5 business days, so late next week.

The ad is still running on Face Book; at 12.40 am Friday they record 59,000 impressions, and 11 clicks, for a cost of $11.+

Update on Facebook ad 9pm

Now over 40,000 impressions (or whatever the proper word is) and just 7 clicks, at a cost of $8 something. Quite a low percentage, but not zero, so structured and targeted better this may be a worthwhile thing to do again.
Most importantly one click has to take people directly to the book, not as with this, to my Facebook page where they have to click again to go to smashwords etc.
But some exposure, and more importantly an idea of how this all works.
Over $1 per click would be worth it perhaps, if they actually downloaded the book.

Facebook Ad update 1:15 pm Thursday

Well, I had booked the ad to run from 6am Thursday to 6am Friday.
Didn't realise it had to be approved by an office run on Pacific time, so it only started to run around noon orso (not sure of exact time)
I checked a couple of minutes ago, and had one click recorded from almost 9,000 'showings', at a cost to then of $2.25.
Will check to see if they went on to the smashwords site.
Maybe a pay-per-click option would be better? At 47cents or so per click I want to have returns- come to that, that is still better than present option.

May 26, 2010

Facebook advert

I'm stepping up the marketing/visibility drive with 2 Facebook initiatives; firstly I've put an ad on their classified ads section (free) giving the details of 'In the Valley stories' and the smashwords URL with the coupon code (GR96T)which can be used to get it free.
Secondly, I'm trying a 24 hour paid advert. from 6am Toronto time Thursday to 6am Toronto time Friday, targeted at USA residents who speak English and read books. They estimate reaching about 22,000 people per day with this, at a cost of 47cents per 1,000 people; for a total of around $10+ (0.47 x 22 = $10.34).
They have analysis software, counts % clicks- number of people who see it vs number who click and go to my page; then further stats, from smashwords number who go and download; see if there is a reasonable return for the $10 investment.
Would be better if I could direct traffic straight to either smashwords or my own sales page but they give very limited word allowance in the ad.
I will be monitoring this tomorrow for sure

Strong Scene Honourable mention

My 'action' opening for 'Eland Dances' was entered in the May Strong Scenes competition. Didn't make it to finalist, but is one of the Honourable Mentions. Good, but not quite the best. Since that is a matter of individual preference/taste I'm happy.

May 25, 2010

Kindle Boards

Joined Kindle boards this evening - another way to spend time not writing. Right now I am concentrating on building a web-presence with the idea of maybe actually generating interest in my writing.
So far quite a bit of effort for miniscule tangible returns.
Interesting though, virtually meeting people from all over, mosly fellow wannabe writers of course. Some interesting blogs out there, of course some of those are now on my Links page.

May 24, 2010

Twitter

Signed up for Twitter yesterday, as people say it is worthwhile.
Maybe.
My handle there is philwrite
Spent some time chatting etc, finding how to Twit and so on. Then got ambitous and put a link to In the Valley along with a free ebook coupon code on several threads.
Went to Smashwords today to check the results.
Zero 'sales'(which includes free downloads) and as far as I can see, also zero samples downloaded.
However the stats show 150+ page looks, which is way up from about 4 or 5 daily.
So probably that means whoever was looking is the wrong demographic. Just not the market to aim for. What is though?
Will have to try and direct efforts at the likeliest readers - lit fic readers most likely.

May 19, 2010

Eland Dances - action opening

Welcome to the Jungle

The front edge of the wing looked wrong. I squinted against the reflected tropical sunlight and focused on the area where I’d seen something move. I hoped it wasn’t real. Maybe a hallucination, a flashback, like they said happened sometimes when you’d dropped acid. I looked away, squeezed my eyes tight shut, and then looked again.

No such luck. One of the aluminium plates vibrated up and down. Another rivet popped out, and a bigger section of the wing worked itself loose. If I hadn’t seen that rivet fly, it wouldn’t have been worth a second glance. The wings always flapped and bent around, and nothing ever happened, on these journeys from home in Zambia to school in England and back.

I grabbed one of the cabin crew by her arm as she passed. She turned quite sharply, but my face must have showed something, as she said, “There is a bag in the pocket here, if you want to be sick.”

“Oh, thanks no, I’m fine, but could you take a look out the window? I don’t think the wing is supposed to have loose pieces. I mean there're some rivets missing.”

“I’m sure it’s nothing. There is just some turbulence, that’s why the seat belt light is still on. The wings are made so they can bend, so the plane is more stable. I am sure they checked everything while we were refuelling in Brazzaville.”

“Well, I know, but this isn’t normal.”

As we watched, several more rivets gave up, and the loose plate started to move even more. She put her finger on her lips in a shushing motion, and walked away towards the front of the plane. She reappeared with a youngish man with gold braid on his shoulders. After he’d examined the view of the wing for a bit, he spoke quietly to her, and went back to the cockpit.

“Would you mind to change seats? There is nothing to worry about, of course, but we want to keep an eye on things, and this window is best for that,” she said. “Would you like a snack perhaps? We have chocolate ice cream and fresh strawberries in First Class.”

So of course I went and sat further towards the front of the plane, next to a tall lean man with a military haircut and a bristly brown moustache.

He turned in his seat and reached out his hand, “Lucien Versteeg. I am with the United Nations force in the Congo. Pleased to meet you.”

“Peter Fitt. Just going home to Zambia, from school. Well actually, I’m done with school now, so I’m going to work for the Agriculture Department for a while, and then I’m going on to University.” We shook hands, and then my promised ice cream arrived, together with a glass of whisky on ice for Lucien.

We watched as another of the cockpit crew strolled through the passenger cabin. He happened to stop and look casually out at the view by my old seat.

I explained what I'd seen out the window, and Lucien shrugged and waved a dismissive hand.

"Nothing to worry about then. So Peter, you live with your parents in Zambia? Your father is with the big mining company, or a farmer perhaps?"

"Not a farmer. He, well my stepfather actually, he works in the Ministry of Agriculture. My mother is dead now, so there's just him and my younger sister and brother. We have the same mother, had I mean, and Henry and mum married after dad died, when I was quite young."

I thought, ‘Babbling. Must be actually quite nervous. He couldn’t be interested in all that family history crap.’

"So that is why you have a job in the ministry. I see. Do you have other relatives in Zambia?"

‘This guy’s really making an effort to keep me talking. Maybe he wants to practice his English’ I thought.

"Well, Henry, my stepfather, has a sister in Salisbury, in Rhodesia, two hundred miles away. It seems further because that's another country, and they have those political problems. My real dad's family are all down in Capetown, in South Africa. That's a long way from Lusaka. I haven't seen them in a long time, but I expect we'll meet when I go down there after Christmas." I dug into the ice cream.

"Salisbury? That's where I am going. I've been offered a contract. Training their security people. Of course there are some problems lately with those insurgents. You know, typical communist trained troublemakers." He swirled the liquor in his glass and watched as the ice cubes twirled and settled.

"Red revolution is what the Russians and the Chinese want, you know. The colour of blood. The more heated a war becomes, with more turmoil and hardship, the easier it is for their people to get into top positions, into power."

He put his glass down on the tray and looked directly at me. "They don't care about the people, or if the place is called Zimbabwe or Rhodesia. Just about power, to push out the British and extend their own influence. Forget about freedom and everyone having equal rights and all that liberal stuff. Democracy does not work in Africa. Power comes from the gun. Believe me, I have seen things in the Congo. You know what they like. One man one vote, maybe. But only once."

I noticed Lucien was keeping an eye on the activity up and down to my old seat, as the crew all nonchalantly strolled through in turn, while he'd kept me busy talking. Worth worrying about, then.

I scraped up the last ice cream and licked the spoon. "I don't know about all that. Of course there are a few power freaks, but Zambia is doing just fine with the elected Parliament. I mean, there aren't many jobs or industries except the mines, but we are pushing ahead with modern farming methods, what they call the Green Revolution. That way no-one will go hungry. After all this is nineteen sixty seven you know, and it's time for people to realise peace and love are what everyone wants."

Lucien smiled with his lips pressed tight, and then concentrated on his glass.
The 'buckle seat belts' signs lit up, and the cabin crew bustled around collecting everything loose and checking everyone.

The blonde stewardess took my empty bowl and Lucien's glass, and folded my tray up. Lucien took care of his own tray, and then buckled his seat belt. I followed his example.

The plane banked into a steep turn, and the overhead speaker announced, “We are going to land again, as there are still some maintenance tasks which were not performed on our stopover in Republique du Congo. Nothing important, but our Air France safety people are particular about these things, and so we are going to land again at the nearest airport.”

Of course the same announcement was made in French, which produced quite a reaction from one passenger.

May 17, 2010

Sound tech summary for Stone Song.

The premise of 'Stone Song' is that ultra and infra-sound can be used to influence people's moods and actions; this is fairly well established with the use of sound devices to keep teens from loitering in malls. Elephants use low frequency sound to communicate and may also influence predators' moods. This is the basis of 'In the Valley'
Combine those two with a crew of nasties, oppose them with a Wicca girl and a 'normal' guy. Then throw in the recent announcement that ultra sound can sterilise men; in the hands of Baddies that could lead to involuntary sterilisation of any population group - Moslems, Catholics, immigrants, anyone identifiable as a group they don't like. Coupled with the mood and action influencers,there's plenty to work on. I already have that, very simple to slip the sterilisation possibility in - wow Hitler would've loved that.

Writing more 'In the Valley'

I intend to continue the story of Ndinga the poacher, just carrying on from where the short story left him. If I can produce 1 to 2,000 words a week with a reasonable development of plot and character etc, it might be possible to serialise it for anyone interested via kwikreads, where I've posted 'the story so far'.
Would be nice if that brand new site would start getting some traffic. If not, I will have lost very little by posting it there - I wrote the story more than two years ago, and I'm not going to shop it around anymore. Best New Writing did it for me, keeping it a full year and stringing me along with 'you have reached the next round' right up to 'finalist'and then just silence. Not even 'thanks for letting us have your story exclusively for a year but we aren't going to publish it.'

May 14, 2010

published on Smashwords

I have put a 20,000 word short story collection on Smashwords; title 'In the Valley'; They convert works into all current e-reader formats, including for Kindle (Amazon) and for phones.
Priced at $1.99 which is the minimum Amazon will sell anything for.
All those stories have just been sitting in my computer, doing very little, not being read, so there's little to lose.

May 13, 2010

New Website for selling short stories

I have put some short stories up on kwikreads, a brand new, still in construction site. The intention there is to supply reads to people for their phones, commuters stc. Using the fraxion payment system people can buy a few thousand words at a time.
This model works in Japan, where their best selling novels are sold as series, read on phones.
Hope it works.

May 11, 2010

Phones as reading devices

Perhaps the next big market for fiction are all those people on their daily commutes with cell/mobile phones in their pockets and time on their hands.
In Japan currently there are several best-selling authors who write serials for people to read on their phones. The rest of us will likely follow those tech-leaders.
I have recently been in contact with people who are getting the technology and web-sites together to enable written words - stories, serial episodes etc.- to be bought for pennies and read a few thousand words at a time on phones or other mobile devices.
I am probably going to try out some short stories with them, see how it goes.
hopefully it will all come together in the next short while.

May 10, 2010

Stone Songs

I have posted the first few chapters of my work-in-progress on Slushpilereader. Let's see what sort of reaction it gets. Needs editing, and is incomplete.

May 9, 2010

New Weapons Technology

This looks like a formidable advance in hand weapons. An advantage for the US until someone sells it to their opponents.

Army to test XM25 'smart' grenade launcher rifle (w/ Video)
May 9, 2010 by Lisa Zyga XM25

(PhysOrg.com) -- The US Army has recently announced plans to test the high-tech XM25 airburst grenade launcher this summer in Afghanistan, unleashing a weapon that veterans predict could be a game-changing advantage in the war. The XM25 can fire 25mm rounds that explode at any distance set by a soldier, effective at a range of up to 700 m. Because the 14-pound, $25,000 gun can fire rounds in just seconds, it could replace the need to call in fire missions, artillery or airstrikes in some situations, which can take anywhere from several minutes to an hour to arrive.

Army officials say that the XM25 could be ideal in current situations in Afghanistan, where the enemy tends to hide behind barriers such as walls and trees or in underground trenches, often at distances of 300 m or more. Right now, such targets are difficult to hit even for skilled marksmen, since a bullet is only lethal if it hits the head or vital organs.

Since the blast radius of the XM25 is equivalent to a hand grenade, it could allow US soldiers to target and kill these hidden snipers. For example, if an enemy is hiding inside a distant building, a soldier can point the gun at the building’s fa├žade, which measures the distance using lasers and sensors. The soldier can then add (or subtract) a smaller distance so that the round explodes at an estimated location close to the enemy. When the soldier fires, the microchip-embedded round tracks the distance it has traveled by the number of times it rotates. Upon exploding, the 25mm round spreads shrapnel in all directions, likely killing anyone nearby. Compared to a typical M4 carbine, the gun doesn’t require extreme precision to kill even at these long ranges, potentially making it one of the deadliest hand weapons in the Army's arsenal.

May 6, 2010

Vampires

Vampires carry an aura of elegance combined with dominance and a predatory nature; just those things which attract many women to 'Bad Boys'. Their attraction in stories relies on the possibility of their positive emotions being awoken, while the aura of mystery and danger adds spice to the mundane lives of afficionados/afficionadas.
Vampire tales seem to be a perennial, dying away and surging back into popularity again as each new generation discovers the attraction and reads, to thrill at a world of monsters lurking just maybe at the edge of the circle of firelight, beyond the lamp's glow, outside the window, in the hollow places beyond reach of the sun.

May 5, 2010

Other writers

Some other writers have quite active websites and are very good at networking. I am lucky enough to have grabbed on to Jo Ellis' coat-tails in this respect; she has very kindly added this blog to her links list. There are a number of good writers links there, as well as Jo Ellis own site, with details of her books and so on.

May 1, 2010

Slushpilereader

Eland Dances is now on a website I just found out about; people post their writing to be read and rated as 'Publish' or 'Don't publish' and read and rate that of other people. The top rated works will get published, they say. But even if that doesn't happen, this is obviously more exposure to possible agents and editors.
The site is password protected, that is, you have to register before reading and voting.

Slushpilereader - this is the url for Eland Dances there;-

http://www.slushpilereader.com/index.php?option=com_manuscripts&view=book&id=262&Itemid=5&hashb=NDc1