Archive for the ‘science-fiction’ Tag

Starting something new

I’ll admit it, things are tough at the moment. I’m studying full-time on a course where we (the students) are not getting as much support as we might hope for, my funding has been cut and the workload is huge. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing and it means my motivation levels are pretty low. The last thing I wrote (not counting essays and the like) was the Christmas episode of New Dawns and that was finished in November!

So, how do I get back into the swing of things? Notes. Lots and lots of notes. I am forever writing notes about story ideas. This is how I start my stories, sometimes with a note as short as a word or two and sometimes with a note several hundred words long. Then I pick one (or two) and add more and more detail to the notes until I reach a point where I just have to start writing it.

Now, it is true, the finished story often bares only a passinbg resemblance to the original notes but they give me a starting point – a feel for the story’s shape if nothing else. All I need to do now is pick a couple of my notes and start expanding on them – another story for the Carters? New Dawns, Season Two? A detective novel? Sci-fi? Who knows?

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A short update on numbers.

Ok, time for a quick update on where I am at with download totals. Overall 5,143! Much higher than I was expecting. That breaks down to:

Second Time Lucky? 1,607
Sovereign Nation 1,639
Chasing The Future 325
New Dawns, Season One, Collected Edition 738
New Chances (New Dawbs, Season One, Episode One) 767
New Dawns, Season One, other episodes 67

The vast majority of these are free downloads although there have been a few sales – downloads are overwhelmingly in the USA: 4,808 of the 5,143. I’m starting to get some ‘borrows’ too, I should probably start tracking them too.

Failure to Launch.

No, not the awful rom-com. That is a movie so bad I think it may technically qualify as a crime. Instead I am talking about the launch of my latest book, New Dawns, which collects the serial I published recently.

For the launch two promotion were booked in, one was booked on 23rd November and the other on 28th November, both through fiverr.com. The first I have used before and confirmed I was booked in for 5th December, the other I haven’t used before and I have not heard a word from. Neither put anything up yesterday. Neither replied to questions about when the promotions would go live yesterday.

End result, no sales whatsoever.

So, a total failure of a book launch. The big problem is that you can never get back that launch day feel and the promotional value of it. Hopefully they will get back to me today, or at least soon, and run the promotions but it is a big missed opportunity. Isn’t it annoying when things out of your control wreck your plans? I guess I should have remembered the old saying ‘Men make plans and God laughs.’

Serial Fiction

The final part of New Dawns, Season One, went up on Amazon on Friday. First time I have published a novel in serial form and the first time I have written a Christmas story to finish off a book. The collected version will be out in a couple of weeks (on 5th December) so I need to work out how best to market that and see what sort of download numbers I can get.

What have I learned from writing a serial? First and formost, if I am going to commit to a publishing schedule then I need to have everything written first or specific time set aside to write that cannot be taken over by other things. Everything but the final part was ready to go when I set it all up, the final part was tough to write as I had no time to do it and a commitment to get it out in the same schedule as the rest.

Secondly, serial fiction is a complex beast and very different from writing a novel or short story. Each individual part of a serial must be a satisfying story in itself. Not necessarily stand-alone as it is part of an ongoing narrative but a satisfying read on it’s own. Did I manage this with New Dawns? Probably not with every part. Honestly, New Dawns would probably have worked better as the first novel in a series. In any future serials I will try to think more like a TV series – the first part is the pilot and the others the individual episodes. New dawns was possibly more like a mini-series – one story split into parts – and the individual episodes should probably have been longer and thus fewer in number overall.

Will there be more New Dawns? Sure there will, there are a million more stories I can tell in that setting but I need to work out the best way to tell them. For now, I am ready to move on to the next idea and see where I end up with that. Will it be another serial? That will very much depend on the idea.

New Chances Launch Results.

So I launched the first part of my new serial on Friday, New Chances is the first part of New Dawns Season One. I priced it at $0.99 / £0.77 and booked in three promos for it. It has sold 7 copies (and one Kindle ‘borrow’) since launch. Not exactly flying off the virtual shelves.

But, I have a plan. This Friday part two goes live so I am going to make part one free for one day only, with a Bknights promotion. Will free downloads of part one lead to sales of part two or pre-orders for the other parts? I have no idea, I guess I will find out Friday.

New Dawns – Season One of a new Romantic-Christian-Science-Fiction serial!

New Chances is the first episode of season one of my new serial, New Dawns, and it goes live on 3rd October! New episodes will launch weekly after that, six in total so far. They will be followed by a Christmas special and, eventually, a collected edition.

Writing a serial is new for me so it will be interesting to see how it goes. Season Two will follow as soon as I’ve got all the ideas together and actually sat down and written it!

The blurb for Season One is below:

The Earth is dying. Humanity’s only hope lies in moving to a new home, the worlds orbiting a gas giant that is a two hundred year journey away. New lives await the first colonists, if they can overcome the weight of their pasts on Earth.

Carl and Martha travel with their teenage children, hoping a new world can help them rebuild their marriage. Their children will need to find new ways to live their lives away from the technological devices that run the overcrowded city they come from.

Jordan fights to escape her past, to find a new role and a new place away from the troubles she is leaving light years behind her.

Carlton and Jacqueline travel in the lap of luxury, transferring their powerbase from Earth to the new colonies. They will remain part of the ruling elite of humanity, they will preserve their wealth. At least, that is what they think.

Father Josiah, an ordinary Catholic priest, leads a pilgrimage to the new worlds. A pilgrimage that will bring him more than he knows.

Mark is an ordinary pilgrim, a man looking for a simple life. His journey will be tougher than he thinks and bring a reward he does not expect.

Together they experience good and bad times, romance and friendships, hardships and troubles as they travel toward a new dawn for mankind. Some will find their journey causes their faith to strengthen, some will find their faith shaken, some will discover faith anew in their new lives.

New Chances is the first episode of Season One of New Dawns, a series of short stories and novellettes (4,500 – 8,500 words) that tell the story of humanity’s new life on new worlds.

Promoting Books: An Experiment And A Result

This week I tried out a paid for promotion just to see if it works, I used Bknights through Fiverr as they seem to have a good reputation. I got them to promote Second Time Lucky, my murder mystery novelette (although I have been calling it a ‘novella’ it is apparently too short). As this is a year old, in a ridiculously crowded market and only short I was not expecting huge sale numbers or anything, this is just a test.

So, this is how it went (all times are UK but all sales were in the USA):

18:50, 30/08/2014, before the promo went live – Ranked #627,726 Paid in Kindle Store.

Promo goes live 19:41, 30/08/2014.

04:17, 31/08/2014 – Ranked #100,554 Paid in Kindle Store.
#71 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#76 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

05:13, 31/08/2014 – Ranked #57,349 Paid in Kindle Store.
#39 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#48 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

08:00, 31/08/2014 – Ranked: #35,885 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#22 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#32 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir
#78 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Literature & Fiction

12:15, 31/08/2014 – Ranked: #48,194 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#25 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#38 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

19:10, 31/08/2014 – Ranked: #51,327 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#37 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#41 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

07:14, 01/09/2014 – Ranked: #55,979 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#35 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 45 minutes (22-32 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
#47 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

Sales: 6 on 30/08/2014 and 3 on 31/08/2014.

9 sales, considering there were only 3 in the month before and only 4 more in the year before that (but 241 free downloads) that looks like a pretty good result to me! Bknights actually apologised for the low sales and refunded my money, they obviously had different expectations to me.

The key thing is that I have learnt that I can get sales through a paid promotion, considering it only cost about £15 (and that got refunded) I am pleased with that. So, I need a plan going forward as I intend to use this service again – I’d imagine with a free book you’d get a lot of downloads.

At the moment I am thinking this:
Maybe try this again with Sovereign Nation at $0.99 and see what happens with a longer book.
Launch my new serial with a $0.99 first part, promoted using this. Release the second part a month later at $0.99 and promote that but also make part one free and promote it too.

It has to be worth a try.

Facebook, New Work and Reviews – An Update On Many Things

Facebook promotions.

Ok, so I posted my advert for all three books on Facebook on Sunday morning. Posted it in 60 different Facebook groups, all of them dedicated to Kindles, books, authors and so on. The end result of all that posting? Nothing, nada, zilch, zero, not a dickie-bird. So after multiple postings to all those groups over the course of a month or so I got a total of 5 sales. 5. And I’m pretty sure one of those was to my brother. Time for a new marketing strategy!

I think I am going to actually have to pay for some advertising, I just cannot do it myself. Maybe it is just that my books are selling as many copies as they are going to or maybe it is that they just aren’t prominent enough, until I try something serious I won’t really know. Most of the “Writer’s Cafe” members on Kboards.com seem to believe Bknights promos are the best value, cheap but with a reasonable return, so I think I might try one of them.

I have had a brief look at their fiverr profile and it looks like I can get something for about $20, pretty cheap really.
Apparently they work best when your book is free, due to the way the Kindle Select system works I do not have any free days until 20th September (on Sovereign Nation and Second Time Lucky) or 14th October (on Chasing The Future). My next work is almost ready to begin publishing so maybe I will try it for that?

New work.

I’ve decided to do something different with my next work. Different in a lot of ways. First of all it is not a thriller or a mystery, much though I enjoyed writing them I wanted a change of pace. I’ve had a science-fiction idea rolling around in my head for a long while and I’ve tried writing it several times, only to give up after a few thousand words because it hasn’t really worked, now I think I have a handle on it. The end result has no gun fights, car chases, murders or ancient artefacts in booby-trap filled tombs – instead it has ended up with a fair amount of romance and musings on how faith affects people. There is still plenty of story their, it is not a lot of characters sitting around navel-gazing, but it is very different from what I have written before.

The other major difference is that I think I am going to release it as a serial. I’ve got a first part that is around 25,000 words and I’m already starting on follow up parts that will be anything from short stories to novelettes to novellas (check the wikipedia article on ‘Word Counts’ for definitions of these). The parts would probably be released monthly and maybe eventually I would put together omnibus editions. It just seems like the right format for the story as I have got a lot of POV characters so the story seems to naturally split into parts.

A Romantic-Christian-Science-Fiction serial from an almost unknown writer of thrillers, that should be an easy sell, right?

Reviews.

One piece of really good news, another positive review for Sovereign Nation! From one of Amazon’s top reviewers too, brilliant! I love to read reviews of my books that are honest and it really sounds like he’s enjoyed the book and my style of writing so I’m very glad to have the new review, go to Amazon and give it a read.