Friday, 30 September 2011

A week of promotion

As well as writing on the various ideas I've got at the moment, this week has mainly been focusing on Promotion.

I was introduced to Project Wonderful last Wednesday. It is an interesting site, allowing users to bid on advertising space on a variety of sites of all subjects and sizes. My publisher promptly opened an account as a test and put a small amount of cash into it. Perhaps because it is targeted, the banners for The Docks appear to have a better return than Google Ads, both in terms of views and clicks.

At the same time, I'm trying to arrange a few guest blogs here (look out for Nov 2nd!) and just sent off a magazine article for the new Indie Firsts Magazine due out in December.

That's all just for The Docks. Fire Season has been sent out for more reviews, and has been submitted to Virtual Pulp Press bookstore, where I'm hoping it will be accepted into their Aviation Adventure section. Their store has a very nice collection of books, but make sure adblocker is turned off or you won't see them!

In other news, the Guardian has launched a loyalty card for Independant Bookshops. It's not currently valid in the ones near me, but I'll be keeping an eye out in case that changes.

On top of all that, I've got another 6,000 words written. Just for once, I'm actually glad it's the weekend!

Update: Virtual Pulp Press have just added Fire Season to their listings.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Fire Season on Smashwords

After much discussion with the publisher, Fire Season is now available on Smashwords. This means it is available for the Nook, and in epub format for the Sony and other eReaders. There's also a DRM-free .mobi version available here for Kindle users. Fire Season will be coming to other stores, like Barnes & Noble etc. in the next few weeks.

It's still controlled by the publisher, managed by their account, and just linked to my Smashwords account. It seems rather odd to have something I can view but not directly edit. Given the number of epub downloads of Arrival, it seems sensible to have the main novel available in that format.

The only other piece of news is that adverts for The Docks should start showing up this month. I've been pointed in the direction of Project Winderful, who manage advertising for a range of online sites. The problem is that many of them are webnovels or webcomics, so my daily TBR (to-be-read) pile is growing.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

SampleSunday? Harry and Dating problems...

Rather than a sample from a book, here's a short piece inspired by a reader's question. I was asked why Harry wasn't having more success with the ladies. All I can say is, can you imagine his typical date at the moment?

"That's a nice neighbourhood." She glanced at the menu, and I hoped she wouldn't order anything too pricy.

"I'm sharing a house with my brother." I added, without mentioning I was sleeping on his couch at the moment. "So what do you do?"

"I'm a personal assistant. I work for a Vice President at Goldman Sachs." Classy lady. Why did I keep getting set up with them? What had my brother put on my profile? "What do you do?"

"I work in security. Security assessments." I could see her opinion of me dropping and suddenly remembered what my brother had drilled into me. "I'm a consultant." She thawed slightly at the magic phrase and, heartened by my success, I went on "What would you like to drink?".

"Surprise me." She glanced at the wine list and smiled. I glanced at it and suddenly realised I couldn't read it. Italian, French, floral script, it was a problem. I caught the waiter's eye, and he obligingly came over as I held the winelist up.

"A bottle of the house white?" I asked. White wine wasn't usually my thing, but with the prices in here we could split it. She didn't look happy. "If that's alright with you?"

"Fine." The waiter took the order and left.

"So what do you think you'll have for starters?"

"Just the salad."

"OK. So did you go anywhere nice on holiday?"

"Yes. Off to Greece for a month. I got a great tan." I could see. I could also see my chances of getting close to it vanishing into the distance. "Have you been on holiday anywhere?"

"Not recently. Work's been busy." She nodded sympathetically.

"So how did you get into security? It sounds interesting." I'd hoped she wouldn't ask that until the end of the date.

"I did some time. When I got out I sorted my life out."

"What for...?" She asked, warily.

"Armed Robbery and Manslaughter." She looked up, horrified, and I added lamely. "I've reformed."

"Ah." She went back to the menu, obviously hoping I wouldn't notice her easing her hand to her pocket. A moment later her phone rang.

"Mind if I take this? Hi Sandra, What's up?" By now I knew the script so well I could mouth along with it. An emergency and the date cut short. Polite goodbyes, and a refusal to let me call her a cab, or take her home or anything. It was classier than the ones who went to the toilet and never came back. I even got a peck on the cheek as she left. It still left me with a bottle of overpriced wine and an empty chair.

"Would sir like that order to go?" The waiter had returned, and seemed sympathetic. For a moment I wondered about phoning a friend to join me, and checked the time. The Boar would be filling up around now. I might as well join my mates there.

"Yeah. Thanks."

The Docks

The Docks by VH Folland

Conflict of Interest

Crime novellas focusing on Harry, a chap who isn't entirely succeeding in going straight...

Monday, 12 September 2011

Current projects for the week

Type up notes. In other words, typing, typing, and more typing. I've got 2,000 words done today on various first drafts.

Other projects include a wikispaces wiki for The Docks series, waiting nervously for several more reviews of The Docks and Fire Season, revamping the look of this blog (again) since I've got Conflict of Interest out...

...and the more exciting news that Conflict of Interest is going onto Amazon in the next twenty-four hours.

It's going to be a busy week.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

SampleSunday - Conflict of Interest Ch1

I wasn't going to do Sample Sunday today, but since Conflict of Interest just got approved for distribution, and will be hitting Barnes & Noble, Amazon and more shortly, I thought I'd put up a link to a sample to celebrate. If you want the whole book now, it is available in all formats from Smashwords.

Today's SampleSunday is the complete Chapter One of Conflict of Interest, available from the website for CoI.

Read here: Chapter One: Conflict of Interest

There are a couple of Tweets going round, so please Retweet them if you like the sample:

Mugging an armed robber isn't bright. Conflict of Interest: #samplesunday #ebook


His robbery went as planned - until Harry was mugged. Conflict of Interest Ch.1: #Sample Sunday #action #ebook Pls RT

Friday, 9 September 2011

Print costs and decisions

Putting the Docks into print will cost £200. That covers the cover artwork rights, ISBN, layout, formatting, proof copies, revisions and then a base twenty copies to get the distribution chain moving. This would be POD, producing a 96 page mass-market paperback. It also gives it a shelf price of £4.99, even after distribution, P&P, author royalty and production, which createspace and lulu can't match.

The problem is that right now, I don't have that spare. I can either publish two new ebooks, or put The Docks into print. The print audience is larger, and reaches people that don't own e-readers. It gives me access to bookshops, and to a wider set of reviewers. On the other hand, the best way to promote a book online is to release another book. It's not just the sales of the new books themselves, it's the sales of the existing books that follow on.

Right now, I am going back to writing. I've got several pages of notes to flesh out, and a novella or two to finish.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Current projects

I've just been formatting some non-fiction for another penname, so I haven't updated the blog in a while.

Regarding my fiction writing, I've got a possible Docks novellas in the works, along with a Christmas short story and some notes for other possible pieces. Yes, I have written what happens when he finally ends up in court over the incidents in the Docks, after the end of Conflict of Interest. No, I am not spoiling it.

More to the point a short story set in Brooke's Vale turned into an idea for a reasonable sequel to Fire Season. I'm still at the note-taking stage, so it might not go anywhere, but so far it seems to be coming together nicely.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Conflict of Interest - Sample Sunday

Conflict of Interest

Work can be murder...

A new job, a fresh start, and things are looking up for Harry. Maybe going straight isn't so hard.

He didn't expect to stumble over a job aimed at his new employer, for the kind of money a crook could retire on. It should be simple enough: tell the police, let them arrest the criminals, claim a reward. Sorted.

Except Harry's not a snitch - and it's being organised by his mate...

Conflict of Interest is a crime novella (30,000 words) and the sequel to The Docks. Currently it is available at $0.99.

Here's a short exerpt from the first chapter for Sample Sunday:

Climbing out of the small window was harder than climbing in had been, but then I had the cash box under my fleece. Watching carefully through the small gap, I checked the alley was empty as best I could. Once the security camera was pointed the other way I slid my legs out, breathing in and forcing myself through the gap. The cash box dug painfully into my ribs, then went through. As my feet hit the tarmac I looked up at the back of the camera and grinned. Quickly I headed towards it, planning to wait while it panned passed the side of the alley and walk out in the blind spot. Then I just needed to turn the corner, walk to the little cash-let office I was working from and drop off the proceeds of my second break-in of the night. Simple.

"Gimme your money." OK, it should have been simple, but things so rarely go as planned. I stopped and looked at them. One of the risks of a job like mine - wandering around at night in dark alleys - was running into idiots like this. There were two this time, all designer clothes and attitude, waving these pathetic little penknives like they thought I'd faint. Usually I'd either have gone along with it or thrown a empty wallet in the street and given them a thumping for their trouble. Right now I wasn't just carrying my money and, after all the fun this evening, I wasn't handing my haul off to anyone.

"Make me." I grinned, curling my hands into fists. Any excuse for a rumble. They actually took me up on it, I'll give them that. Too bad they weren't very good.

They both attacked together, but a step to the side put them in each others' way. As the first turned, waving the short blade at arm's length in front of him like a sword, I grabbed his wrist in one hand and punched him. His mate tried to push past him, but a hefty shove sent my attacker reeling into him and they went down in a tangle of limbs. As they pulled apart, scrabbling to their feet, I sniggered. The first to his feet didn't run; he charged, leaving the other guy still trying to get up.

This time he tried to close, and I let him. Grabbing the knife arm, I swung two punches into his gut, grabbed his belt and, as he reeled, my knee came upwards hard enough to lift him off the ground. Between bar brawls and prison, I don't believe in fighting fair. He folded, eyes rolling upwards, whimpering faintly. There was a pitiful clatter as he dropped his knife. I let go, stepping back as he collapsed. His mate was on his feet, looking sick. As he turned to run, I yelled.

"Hey! He knows where you live." I kicked the whimpering lump on the ground. His friend stopped running, and looked back, the light dawning. "Now. You're going to come back here and we'll all wait for the cops. 'K?"

As he reluctantly walked back, I wondered where the security guards were. A brawl this close to the side entrance and they should either have sealed the building and called the cops or investigated and moved the problem on. Instead there was no sign of them.
The penknife was by my boot. Carefully I bent down, picked it up by the blade, and stepped away, just in case either of them decided to be stupid. The entrance was behind me and I backed slowly towards it, feeling for the edge of the steps as I put each foot down. Contact would let me know I was safe, but the steps could also trip me, and two on one with their victim sprawling even this pair couldn't mess it up.
"Are you alright?" The girl's voice came from behind me, and she sounded terrified. I edged round until I could see both muggers and the door. The night receptionist was clutching her phone, the heavy entry door ajar.

"Yes, thanks." I replied. "Could you get help?"

"I've called the police!" Her voice was shrill and scared. As I stepped towards her she darted inside and shut the door. Locks clicked. Smart bird.

"Can you call Mr. Wyatt as well?" I raised my voice, hoping to be heard through the letterbox. Inside, visible through the glass, she paused at the owner's name.

"Why?" I grinned at her.

"I've got your Accounts Department's cash box in my bag."

To find out what happens next, you can read a longer sample or purchase the book at Smashwords

Conflict of Interest Website

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Conflict of Interest & Amazon

Amazon say they will take at least 3 days to fix The Docks listing. In the meantime I am losing traffic from various features, which is frustrating (and costly) but can't be helped.

On a bright note, so far I have two issues reported with Conflict Of Interest, both in the HTML version only, and both purely stylistic. If the .mobi and .epub versions are correct, which they seem to be, I may leave this to get to distribution faster.

You can see them for yourself at Smashwords

The only other complaint was that on the page for The Docks at the end I hadn't added any nice reviews...

UPDATE: 20:30 and it looks like the Docks listing for is back up:
The Docks on The only problem is that as a UK resident I can't see the price on Fingers crossed there are no further problems.