For a second there Rachel had thought she had lost her phone but it turned up after a quick search of her slim silver purse. Brushing aside a few strands of blond hair she sent a message to her boss letting him know that the clients had signed the deal. The negotiations had been concluded over an expensive meal and several bottles of champagne but it all went down on company expenses, so not to worry. Maybe it was having one too many drinks or just thought of the five figure bonus that would soon be lining her account but Rachel was feeling exhilarated.
The night air did little to stun her high as she left the clients in the hands of her assistant Gavin. Rachel might be a corporate shark willing to do a lot to get to the top but she had limits and one place she drew the line at was accompanying a group of sweaty old men to a strip club. Let them get their rocks off and throw their money away. As long as they showed up to the meeting tomorrow with the exec committee she didn’t care. And what was the point of having an assistant if you could farm the crap jobs off on him.
Even though it was late Rachel wasn’t feeling the least bit concerned. The sky train station was just a block away it would only take five minutes if she cut through the side street. If things did get dangerous she had a compressed bottle of acid in her purse that would do serious damage to any mugger or other threat. And if that didn’t work there was the collapsible carbon nanotube baton as well. Self-defence wasn’t just a suggestion in this city it was a way of life.
Turning the corner Rachel made her way quickly between the buildings. There was enough light spillage form all around and high placed security lights to ensure this wasn’t some dark alleyway. But after a less than a minute she found her way blocked by a large dumpster. Frustrated and not willing to get filthy climbing over it she detoured down a narrow alley between two older looking buildings.
The space was narrow but wide enough for her to get through without a problem but instead of opening up into another well-lit side street as she expected. Rachel found herself in a dark poorly lit intersection of alleys. She recognized a few name plates beside thick looking doors form popular neighboured restaurants but no obvious exit other than to head straight on.
“So Rachel, this where your favourite restaurants dispose of their trash, not exactly the most glamorous of spots to finish a night at” She said to herself.
Heading straight on Rachel found herself at a brick wall and beside a pile of extremely unpleasant smelling garbage. It might of have been rotting meat or fish but either way it had been sitting out far too long and Rachel quickly walked back the way she came. Turning round a sharp corner she slowed looking confused. Had she had that much to drink? It had been a straight path when she had come this way only a minute before hadn’t it? The colourful intersection of restaurants seemed the same but she felt rattled and started to jog instead of walk as she headed down a different path.
Each time Rachel turned a corner she became less sure and more panicked. This was a well-travelled area in a neighbourhood filled with bars and restaurants, so where was everyone? Why was it so quiet out? It seemed that with each passing minute that the sounds of life in the city grew fainter. Why couldn’t she find her way back to a main street? Nothing was looking familiar anymore.
Rachel turned one last corner and found herself sprinting back into the intersection of restaurant backsides. Which didn’t make sense at all. How could she have become so turned out and disoriented that she would wind up back here again. Not pausing to think about anything else she hammered on the door of the nearest restaurant. She struck the metal door and yelled at the top of her lungs for almost five minutes to avail. Again and again she repeated it trying every door she came across to with no success. They couldn’t be all closed it wasn’t that late at night. Even now people must be dining inside and kitchen staff should be working so why wasn’t anyone answering?
It had almost slipped her mind in her state of panic and agitation but her phone was just in purse. Nothing seemed to happen when she touched the screen. It remained a plain black mirror, the battery apparently dead. That made even less sense she had charged the phone before leaving the office and only made one call it couldn’t have run out over power already. Even as the thought came to her mind the lights began to darken. The high security lights were growing dim and beginning to flicker casting long shadows across the increasingly disturbing looking intersection.
Each time the lights flicked out a wave of terror unlike anything she had ever experienced washed over Rachel. She felt trapped, confined, and for the first time in her life helpless. Back the way she came that was it! She finally recognized the gap she had squeezed through. It was straight stretch and then a short run to street. From there she could get a taxi home and who cares about the expense.
Scrambling towards the gap Rachel slipped losing a shoe in the process but pressing forward without hesitating for even a second. She squeezed forward but the gap seemed so much smaller this time. It had been wide enough to walk through last time but now she could be barely fit through. This had to be the way. This had to have been the way she came. Why was it so different? Why wasn’t anything making sense.
Her hands scrapped the walls, her hair was a mess and she clutched on to her purse like a lifeline. Desperately she pushed forward trying force her way along the narrow space between the brick walls. Squeezing and contorting as best she could the struggled proved futile. Somehow she had wedged herself in the tiny alley and could no longer move. Unable to go forward or back, unable to even turn her head. Tears ran down Rachel’s face as she called out, screaming at the top of her lungs until her voice was hoarse. The last of the flicking lights died out descended the world into darkness. The last conscious thought Rachel could comprehend was that foul rotting odour from before drawing closer.
I’ve hummed and hawed about this for a while but I figured I might as well share the business data from foray into self publishing. So far I’m off to a slow but from what I’ve read average start. I released my first novel Legacy as ebook only on the 17th of December. I started with the basic approach I announced it on facebook to my family and friends. I setup a goodreads author page and listed my book there as well. I add a link to the book on my blog , as well as mentioning it on two forums that regularly frequent gamdev.net and the sword and laser book club. I even spent a few hours building two book trailers which was a lot of fun to be honest and posted them on youtube and goodreads.
With all that in place I had what I feel are the basics of the initial book launch. Now I just needed to sit back and wait for the sales to roll in. Well sadly its never that easy. Even using 4 free promotion days I’m still a long way from generating regular sales.
In December I sold 8 copies and gave away 84 free copies in my first free promotion.
In January I sold 6 copies and gave away 96 free copies using 3 promotion days.
Total Sales: 14
Average book sales per week: 2
My first thought was I priced the book too high with an initial price of £4.99 so after some comparison with other books I dropped it down to £2.99 in hopes that would stimulate sales but it didn’t seem to have much of an impact. But I’ve kept it at that level in hopes that it might lead to future sales.
The other thing I did was look into different adverting options. There is of course goggle adwords but I’m dubious as to whether that would lead to any book sales. I’m not convinced adwords is applicable to books. I just do see that avenue converting. I know it works well with products and services but it don’t believe people buy books by searching google for keywords like fantasy novels. They did send my free credit though when I signed up so I will give it a try in march and see what the conversation rate is like.
The one space I have invested a small amount of money in for advertising is Goodreads. They have nice little ad space on the side and you can target the ads to people who read certain kinds of books which means in theory it should reach my audience. It doesn’t however give me that option to only target people who have read indie books. Which I personally feel would greatly increase my clicks to sales (conversion rate).
In December I had 67903 ad impressions and an average CTR(Click Through Rate) of .06%
In January I had 127561 ad impressions and an average CTR of 0.6%
Also 3 people add my book to their to-read list.
One mistake I made with setting up my Goodreads ad was I didn’t put in any place any way of tracking the sales. So I don’t know for certain if any of the people of who clicked on the ad actually bought a copy of my book. Fortunately that shouldn’t be a case going forward as I’ve now figured out how to create multiple tracking ids in my amazon affiliate account. What does that mean? Well simply put is that I can create separate tracking id for each place I advertise my book. Whether it be a paid add, the link on my blog, or mentioning it in a forum post, and I can now see the performance of each as amazon affiliate will not only show my how my clicks I received from each source but also how many sales.
How does my first two months compare to yours? Feel free to share you thoughts in the comments.
As an aspiring writer one think that has become clear to me is that getting exposure is as important as writing. It doesn’t matter how good your work is if no one reads what you’ve written. It can be discouraging and depressing to put in countless hours of time and effort to finish your manuscript of screenplay and have nothing come of it. To that end I’ve started looking into what respected competitions there are out there that give writers the chance to showcase their talents to the people who can jump start their careers. This how some big name fantasy authors did it like Patrick Rothfuss and Trudi Canavan, so if it worked for them then it can work for the rest of us.
This first competition I’m going to showcase is for all the aspiring screenwriters out there. Is from the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum they are accepting submissions from new writers until March 10th. Its not a lot of time to create something new but if you already have one ready then this ideal for you.
- Entry form via the Application Form
- Proof of payment such as like PayPal (Online Entry Fee £21)
- Industry relevant biography 100 words. It can “This is my first script” – we love discovering new talent. This should be on a single page with your name and application number.
- Short synopsis – 25 words
- Treatment or outline of the series or show (500 words max)
- Character breakdown of featured characters (50-100 words per character)
- Up to 6 episode guides – minimum 3 if it is a series.
- Introduction to extract that sets the scene (100 words)
- 10 page extract of the script (you may spill onto the 11th page to end a scene), typed and formatted to industry standards. Script pages should be numbered 1-10. Do not send full scripts. Script extracts should be typed and follow standard script format. For information on formats, we recommend you look at BBC Writersroom
- No personal details to appear on materials except on biography page. The application number should appear on support material should be no more than 3 pages (excluding biography) and arranged in the following order: Biography, Logline, Treatment, Character Breakdown, Introduction, Script.
Please do not include artwork or casting suggestions.
Also if you take a look at the judging panel below you can see that there are some high profile people who will be taking a looking at your work.
|Serena Bowman||Head of Development, Company Pictures (Secret State, Shameless, The Shadow Line)|
|Danny Brocklehurst||Screenwriter (Exile, Accused, The Street, Shameless)|
|David Chikwe||Creative Director at Blacklisted Films (Missing, Eve)|
|Lawrence Cochran||Development Editor, BBC Independent Drama|
|Richard Cookson||Head of Development, Lovely Day – (Doctor Who, Peaky Blinders, Ripper Street)|
|Emily Feller||Development Editor, Red Productions – (Last Tango in Halifax, Hit & Miss,Scott & Bailey)|
|Surian Fletcher-Jones||Head of Development, Channel 4|
|Jane Hudson||Head of Drama Series, ITV|
|Jake Lushington||Head of Drama, World Productions (The Fear, Line of Duty)|
|Tim Morris||Development Assistant, Drama Republic (The Honourable Woman, My Mad Fat Diary)|
|Kate Rowland||BBC Creative Director of New Writing & BBC Writersroom|
|Sue Vertue||Producer, Hartswood Films (Doctor Who, Sherlock)|
|Camilla Young||Literary Agent, Curtis Brown|
Tricks and Traps – Part 5
Everything went badly very quickly after V found Polly. Normally these things are easy enough question a few reliable informants, follow the trail of clues or bodies, and then you just have to kill the filthy Kine before it kills you. But tonight everything just went pete tong from the get go.
Polly was completely strung out she’d been flying with blue birds all night and was barely coherent. She was still wearing her skin tight leopard print outfit and her bleach blond hair was thick, dirty, and matted. The empty smile on her face and blank eyes made it clear she didn’t really know where she was or who she was talking to which made V even more frustrated. It wasn’t the first time she’d had to deal with Polly in this state, in fact this was generally par for the course for Polly. Not that it made it any easier.
It took almost an hour for V to drag the information she wanted out of Polly. It was hard work just to keep her focused as all Polly wanted was to sigh and giggle. The corpse had been left in a dead alley. A gap between buildings that was simply unused space and was never meant to be anything. When the collapse happened walls had shifted and cracked and it was possible to access that simple gap were one building ended another began. It was filled with trash and waste and there were signs the scavenger Kine had already devoured whatever was worth eating. But at the top of the mound was the dried husk that had once been some poor unfortunate guy. The flesh dancer clawed their way into their victims and wearing their bodies like a skin suit while they slowly drained every drop of blood and fluid that remained in the corpse until it was time to body jump into a new host.
This one was already long gone, hiding out in plain sight as its skin suit slowly withered away. Not that it needde one. They were far more deadly in their natural form but generally too stupid to realize it. Most flesh dancers only shed their skin in desperation and to feed and this one was no exception. It had probably dumped the old one down here in hopes it would never be discovered and from the signs and state of the corpse it had been abandoned days ago which meant the flesh dancer were soon be looking for a host.
V knew she had to work quickly to find this bastard before it got away. It had to be somewhere in the Hive and every fibre in her body said it was hunting even now. The hairs on the back of her neck were standing up and she could feel her skin crawl as if something was dragging its greasy claws down her back. Every sense in her body could feel the heavy predator instinct emanating for all around. There was something big nasty and hungry out there preparing to sink its teeth into some unsuspecting victim.
V splashed through a puddle of stagnant water as she ran down the dark narrow lane. The grey concrete walls hid the sky but not the light from the city above. Thin beads of sweat were already running down her back as she sprinted through yet another catacomb like passageway. Occasionally a desperate soul would wander passed but none bore the tell signs that V was looking for and all the while the hunger grew stronger as she circled ever closer to her prey.
At last V turned a corner and came face to face with an ashen skin girl with pale blue eyes that glowed bright in the darkness. Her skin was cracked and that same pale blue was shining through the gaps. There was as a sadness to the girl she seemed so helpless and alone. She reached out to V her hand almost shaking.
With cold detached hatred V smiled and stabbed the white hot beam from the EL Blade into the girl’s side. The flesh dancer roared in anger and leapt back. It bellowed an inhuman scream that shattered a nearby window sending out a rain of the broken glass. V shifted the dial on the handle of the EL Blade and the beam cooled and a series of rings descended forming a long whip that crackled with electricity.
The beast leapt forward arms flailing madly and V lashed out with whip striking it repeatedly causing the Kine to convulse in pain as electricity coursed through. In this form the EL Blade unleashed enough volts to fry a normal person and yet the flesh dancer merely reeled in pain. Again and again V lashed out as the beast staggered struggling to reach her and scratch out her throat. Its leg buckled cracking and shattering into dust as it fell to the ground.
Seizing the momentum V flicked a switch on the EL Blade causing the rings to recede and the energy whip to fade away. It sparked a few times and then nothing. A brief shadow of panic crossed her face and she struck the side of the tarnished cylinder hoping for it to spark to life but it just hummed ominously. Twisting and shaking it she tried to get the white hot blade to engage but it stubbornly refused.
“Not now. This is not the time to start acting up on me.” V yelled at the malfunction EL Blade. Then the alley became filled with the sound of tearing skin and falling lumps of flesh as the flesh dancer tore its way out of its skin suit. It unfolded its narrow body stretched its longs bone like arms and razor sharp talons. Its vestigial wings hung loosely from its back and pale blue veins pumped fluid rapidly to its heaving chest as the beast let out another ear piercing scream. The flesh dancer charged, springing across the gap with talons outstretched and jaws open. Bits of broken glass fell from above slowing as they descended. The Kine seemed to be moving through molasses as the world slowed for all but V. A green light blinked on her fugit belt stretching a single moment into the three long seconds. Just enough time to give her an edge and turn a desperate situation into an advantageous one.
Striking the EL Blade one last time it finally sparked to life and the white hot scalp erupted to life. Spinning to the side V imbedded the blade into the flesh dancer’s skull just as the light on fugit belt went out and time returned to normal. The air was filled with the stench of burning meat and the sound flesh being rended from the bone as the Kine continued its leap and the EL Blade burnt its way along the creatures back. The flesh dancer collapsed to ground in a pile of guts and pale blue blood.
V’s breath was ragged and sweat beaded across her face leaving a trail down to her smiling lips. It was done the Kine was a pile of garbage now and there was nothing left to do but harvest its valuable organs to sell on the black market. It was still young for a flesh dancer but its parts would fetch a high price. Even though it should have been over V couldn’t shake the feeling that something dangerous was still lurking in the darkness, a predator drawing closer to its unsuspecting prey.
Originally posted on Gods of Advertising:
I like to think I’m a good writer. I like to think I’m a good presenter. Alas, I still haven’t figured out how to sell a client a piece of work they do not want to do. Has anyone… really? Precious few clients are predisposed to do breakthrough work. For most, advertising (regardless of platform) is just a line item. An ever-smaller box to be checked. That these clients don’t behave more bullishly or even see the virtue of truly creative marketing is their part of the problem.
But what is my part? I believe in options. I like to show clients several campaigns for any given assignment. Of these we of course make a recommendation. Sometimes they go with it. Many times they don’t. We still consider it a victory (for both sides) if a client gloms on to one of the other campaigns. If none of them are runts then we have nothing to worry about. Right? Wrong?
Sometimes when you’re dreaming up locations for your writings or just have a case of writers block looking at real world locations can give you much needed inspiration. To that end I’ve found five places in Europe that have an almost fantastical appearance. All of these are real places that anyone can visit but look like something off the pages of a fantasy novel.
THE ICE CAVES OF SKAFTAFELL ICELAND
Gordes Village France
Town of Manarola Italy
Neuschwanstein Castle Germany
Plitvice National Park Croatia