My special offers this week and: How do you market your books?

This week: OCD Update, special offers and: How do you market your books?

OCD Update
I am proud to announce that today is my first OCD-FREE day of this year (and for about 20 years for that matter!). It is probably just an excersise but if it works I will stick to it.

Basically I woke up this morning, took a long, hard look at things and decided I didn’t have time for the OCD any more. Anyway, my fear of getting fatal diseases (like AIDs for instance) simply haven’t come true, probably because I have been very careful. For whatever reason, now seems a good time to try this. I already feel I have burned my bridges somewhat so there may not be any way back in the short term.

No doubt, my mind will try to take over and my ‘OCD-self’ will try to gain the upper hand so watch this space. But if you don’t hear any more about my OCD, then I am free of it. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed.

In order to achieve an OCD-FREE state, I need to be very focused on something; I get bored very easily and I have a hyperactive mind, so expect me to be working very hard on the books and promoting myself in the near future. Read on, if you are interested in the promotion and please do buy one of my books if you are at all interested in my views or stories. I really appreciate the support of all of you and I would love to sell more books!

To mark the occasion of my OCD-FREE day attempt, I have changed one of the eyes of my twitter and Facebook header’s. It now represents blue sky, for optimism.

How do you market your books?
This question has plagued me recently. My sales almost stopped after 10 March. I could see no reason why. My sales were good for January and February. I was beginning to sell books at a higher price so I was happy. Then, the slump! I have thought long and hard about it and I conclude that the only possible cause must be that I am marketing less hard lately.

So I have created some new marketing images (see below) and I will be trying a few tools other than the infamous Facebook adverts over the next few weeks.

I have discovered these 2 tools:
https://app.adroll.com/dashboard
http://www.advertisingwebservice.co.uk

I will be spending half of my profits (after personal hours spent writing!) on adverts so I will let you know how I get on.

If anybody has tried either of these tools or knows anything else I can try other than Facebook or Google ads – both of which I have tried and had limited success, please let me know.

I have found that although I can achieve a fairly high CTR (click through rate) of 0.08% on Facebook, these simply don’t convert to sales. This may be because my blurb about the books doesn’t appeal or because my ads don’t relate clearly enough what I am offering. If anybody has any interesting views on this that they wish to share, please do.

Special offers
A reminder: Inchoate: (Short Stories: Volume I) is FREE if you are in the States and I have added Vampire Beneficence to it. Get it here: http://bit.ly/IRGYaE
Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate will be 99c from Friday 2 May until Tuesday 6 May. Get it here: http://bit.ly/15R1xOL

Below are the new marketing images, including my first attempt at a Lazlo Ferran logo. Please let me have your opinions and any other ideas I can try for marketing.

The new Lazlo Ferran logo in red

The new Lazlo Ferran logo in red

The new Lazlo Ferran logo in white

The new Lazlo Ferran logo in white

Ordo lupus and the Temple Gate advert image

Ordo lupus and the Temple Gate advert image

The Devil's Own Dice advert image

The Devil’s Own Dice advert image

Attack Hitler's Bunker advert image

Attack Hitler’s Bunker advert image

Ordo Lupus (The Order of the Wolf): who do you think they are?

This week: Grammar and Onomatopoeia and – Ordo Lupus (The Order of the Wolf): who do you think they are?

Grammar and Onomatopoeia

Grammar
I am just doing a light re-edit of the second book in the Ordo Lupus series: The Devil’s Own Dice. I have been pleasantly surprised how good it is! I occasionally go back to old books to just bring the grammar up to date. This is because, not only do my grammar skills improve as I publish more work but also there are fashions in grammar and these gradually change! Yes, it’s true!

Of course everybody knows that the meaning of a word can change over time. This field of study is called semantics. The obvious example is ‘gay’. When I was young this simply meant ‘happy’ or ‘bright and cheerful’. Now it most usually denotes someone physically attracted to the same sex.

Another word which changes meaning with time is ‘insidious’. The meaning of this word seems to actually fluctuate during cycles of about ten years. It can sometimes mean ‘subtle’ and sometimes mean ‘subtly bad’.

In two of my books, written in the mid-noughties, the phrase ‘in-control’ comes up quite a lot. People actually used said that a lot during the 80s and 90s. Now, nobody seems to use it so I take it out wherever I see it.

While I edit, I also look at ways to subtly improve the text. Occasionally, particularly when the action gets going and where most writers tend to use less commas, I find too many of the blighters. This sentence had two but by removing them, I created a much simpler sentence with a more flowing ‘feel’. Actually, I am quite pleased with this sentence; its quite difficult to create one this long which has no commas and yet is grammatically correct (correct me if it’s wrong somebody):

I did my best to stand up straight and look dignified in the doorway at the top of the stairs while the water dripped from my cloth hat onto my nose and then to the dry stone floor.

Onomatopoeia
Finally, I had the rare chance to improve on my use of onomatopoeia when I came upon this sentence:

At the sound of eight tolls of the nearby Abbey bell, I made my way back to Herleva’s room.

I instantly saw that this sentence had some onomatopoeic potential. I wanted this sentence to communicate a gloomy mood. What if eight syllables reminded me of the sound of a bell being tolled? What I ended up with is this:

At the sound of eight bells, tolled from the nearby Abbey bell, I made my way back to Herleva’s room.

Here we have the eight syllables: eight (1) bells (2), tolled (3) near- (4) by(5) Abb- (6) ey (7) bell (8).

Of course, strictly speaking this is not onomatopoeia. Nevertheless, the sounds of the words reflect the feel I want to get across so I think it’s very effective.

One wag quipped that in this case it may even simply be euphony (any agreeable (pleasing and harmonious) sound) because the sound of a bell ringing is pleasant but I would argue that I am not trying to create a pleasant sound, but a gloomy one.

See if you can find a sentence in one of your books where you can try this sort of trick. Writing can often be about mood-setting and this trick can work well.

Ordo Lupus (The Order of the Wolf): who do you think they are?
I have often been asked where my idea for the Ordo Lupus occult thriller series; Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate and The Devil’s Own Dice, came from. Well, to be honest, the idea didn’t come completely out of the blue.

I had been interested in werewolves and vampires for a while. I was also intensely interested in cults and secret societies. Long before Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, I was interested in the Knights Templar and through this came to books by Henry Lincoln like Key To The Sacred Pattern: The Untold Story Of Rennes-le-Chateau (sadly out of print but still available on Amazon as a hardback). These books led me to an interest in the lost treasure of Rennes-le-Château and from there to an interest in the Cathars.

All this interest may well be because my family’s roots are in that region of France. In fact, one of my ancestors may well have been a Cathar!

So the seeds were there for a book about mysterious treasure and secret societies were planted in my mind. Then I stumbled upon this video on youtube while googling wolf cults:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpJwzIC4G_4

I didn’t think too much about the video but at the end there was a link to a website:
http://www.ordolupus.org

I typed the address into my browser and came upon the most bizarre website I have ever encountered! The appearance is nothing special, forbidding crossed swords on a plain, black background and with nothing in the way of information about the cult apart from the enigmatic phrase ‘Don’t forget who you are’. Perhaps the introverted aspect of the website tempted me to enter my details in the hope that I would gain membership, if only for journalistic reasons.

I was to be sadly disappointed. Not only did they not respond to my submission, but when I messaged them on youtube, they didn’t respond there either. Frustrated, I copied their video, colour-corrected it and posted on my own youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFYgIWQXS4Y). I was sure this provocative act would get them talking to me but no! They have never once contacted me. In fact, apart from a brief mention in a UK national newspaper (I can’t remember which one) and two mentions in Le Monde (29 September 2009), I have been able to find no other references to the cult.

And yet the website is still there!

Incidentally, from the Le Monde article I was able to find the park in Lyon where the beast was filmed and even the balcony from which it was most likely filmed. The trees are Plane Trees and from their size, I would estimate the beast was one of three things: a large alsatian/newfoundland cross, a smallish newfoundland, a wolf (they are not uncommon in Southern France although they are not known to enter the cities) or something else…

The website never changes. Clearly, my submission for membership did not arouse their interest, nor did I fit the credentials they are looking for. They ask the nascent member to say a bit about themselves and check that you are an adult but nothing I have tried, arouses their interest. Perhaps I need to be a werewolf? Ha! Ha!

In any case, I decided to write about Ordo Lupus. I made most of the detail up but speculation about this most secret, and exclusive of cult societies in inevitable.

So, tell me what you think. who do you think they are?

Will replicants inherit the Earth?

This week: OCD update and Hot off the Press: an extract from my forthcoming sci-fi novel Worlds like Dust, about replicants in a battle to save Earth.

OCD Update
I finished my course of therapy over a month ago but that is not where the treament ends. My therapist recommended a great book for me – The OCD Workbook: Your Guide to Breaking Free from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. There is a scheme in the USA and now in the UK to get copies of this from your library. It’s called Books on Prescription so go to your library and find out about the scheme, if you need the book. I can recommend it. A link to this book will be available from now on if you go to my OCD page.

I managed the first few chapters without difficulty over the last 2 weeks but when it came to ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention) I hit a barrier. My belief that something bad will happen is way higher than the book accepts as practical for this exercise. Too bad they only told me that after I did the exercise. Ha! Ha! THe book recommends a limit of 70% and I am 90%.

So the book then recommended that I skip to Chapter 7 and try Imaginal Exposure. I have never heard of this but it sounded great. I always feel that I have fears I simply am unable to articulate, even to myself. In this exercise you have to write down the situation and outcome you most fear. I won’t reveal my own fears but the document does make pretty grim reading! I am not easily shocked but I was surprised by what I wrote. You then need a means of reading it back to yourself, for an hour each day. I chose to use the Windows application Narrator although I had to slow the speed down a bit to get maximum effect (I need time to visualise each event). This then needs to be repeated until the belief comes down to about 40%

So far, mine went up slightly and now has dropped to 70%. I have a long way to go. The books suggests that this should take about 2 weeks but I guess there is no limit. It’s hard to imagine I will drop to 70% in 2 weeks, but I hope so. At the moment I am finding it really tough. This exercise is, without doubt, the hardest thing I have tried, during my battle to kick OCD. It is putting a strain on my relationship. But I must continue. I hope I will have good news in a few weeks.

Hot off the Press
What is it like to be a replicant? Will replicants inherit the Earth? These questions I explore in my forthcoming Science Fiction novel Worlds like Dust. For any that have followed the Iron Series you will remember that in Iron I: Too Bright the Sun, Jake Nanden started out feeling persecuted and isolated as an alien. All that changed. Now the story continues. The story has expanded somewhat, from my original draft, so Worlds like Dust will be published in two volumes. Below is an excerpt from near the end, where I am in my last but one edit. This is so hot off the press, I revised it between writing the last sentence of the blog and posting it!

Exiting onto Deck 41, we encountered three Ischians guarding the approach to the recycler section. However, their backs were turned to us. I drew my knife silently from its cloth pouch and stealthily crept after the rearmost alien. The noise of battle covered my approach but even so it swung to face me just before my blade reached the jugular vein in his neck. Two of my grunts were right behind me. Grabbing my Ischian as it turned, I drove my blade as deep into his neck as I could. The Ischian’s weight and strength were enough to send me spinning with it as it continued to turn. Orange blood sprayed my face as we crashed into the wall. The alien grabbed my arms and tried to push me away. I released the blade, leaving it in his neck; an old trick I learned in my frontline service days on Io. The Ischian let go of me and grabbed for the blade which was futile. The damaged was already done. I stood up and kicked his arm as it grabbed for the blade, wrenching the blade into his neck at an angle. Something grabbed me from behind just as my victim bellowed in agony and went into convulsions.”
“Got him!” somebody shouted behind me. Suddenly the huge arms released me and I fell to my knees. I glanced behind me to see two men sitting on one dead alien and three more on the other, which was still struggling. As I watched, both aliens managed to get to their feet. Both were cocking their lasers and it looked like it would be all over for us. I searched wildly on the ground for my Ischian’s laser and found; a clover leaf carbine. I wrenched it from its position, half under the alien, cocked it and fired wildly at the aliens. Both went down with gaping holes in their chests, but not before one of my grunts was wounded in the leg.
“Never seen it done sir!” said the nearest grunt to me. “Read about it. We never thought you really could kill an Ischun this way but you showed us!”
“Alright!” I said, gasping. “Let’s keep moving. Give that man a hand!”
Things became a little hotter as we neared Dragodes position.

Do you think its inevitable that replicants will inherit the Earth? Have your say by leaving a comment.

What is the back-story behind your books?

This week: Here is the back-story behind my newly published volumes of The Ice Boat Volume II and The Ice Boat – 2 in 1. What is your back-story?

The Ice Boat
In the Lazlo Ferran Newsletter which went out to my friends last weekend, I announced the publication of the last volume of The Ice Boat and a 2 in 1 version, which includes both volumes in one book.

I published Volume I back in 2009. It is semi-autobiographical, largely anecdotal, and was the first novel I wrote, even further back, in 2003.

The Ice Boat is largely autobiographical, although certainly not for most of the erotic passages, which are many. It was written at a time in my life when I was frustrated by my own lack of wisdom; in particular my inability to be neither totally cynical or optimistic. Perhaps because I had just moved from a life as a full-time musician to an IT professional within the science sector, I felt a little bit ‘dislocated’.

I remember completing it while on holiday in Spain. I sat on my balcony, late into the hot evenings, writing the last chapters with a cold drink! The whole novel was written on paper. Writing in long-hand allows your thoughts to flow more freely. I think that is why this book is more like a stream-of-consciousness than any of my other books. The drawback was that ten years later when I re-located the manuscript for Volume II, I couldn’t read my own handwriting!

I lost the manuscript for Volume II when I married and it wasn’t found until late in 2013 by a cleaner! Now it is published for the first time.

That is the story behind my book The Ice Boat. What is yours?

Description of The Ice Boat
“The only reason anyone went out was to buy drinks in town. The tide of cans was always in on the studio floor.”

With plenty of drugs, sex and rock and roll; The Ice Boat is a modern pop-culture odyssey.

David Dee has almost got it; with a solicitor girlfriend, a job, a flat and a band in London, he almost has the happiness he has worked for all his life. His reluctance to compromise takes him away from London to disaster in Rio de Janeiro and on to surreal adventure and self-discovery in Amsterdam.

You can buy ‘The Ice Boat’ Volumes I and II in one book: The Ice Boat – 2 in 1 at a considerable saving.

All three eBooks and paperbacks of The Ice Boat are available on Amazon from today:
The Ice Boat – Volume I http://bit.ly/OqGsCT
The Ice Boat – Volume II http://bit.ly/1gCfK15
The Ice Boat – 2 in 1 http://bit.ly/1g08qwE

Secret Codes; Should I use them?

This week: Secret Codes; should I use them? FREE eBook and a Sneak Preview.

It’s been a very busy week. My first newsletter went out on Sunday so today’s blog will be quite a short one.

===== FREE NOW!!! ==========
Share: Occult thriller- Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate is still free until tomorrow at 8am BST. http://bit.ly/15R1xOL “Wild ride” “Exciting read” “Rich, complex” “Well plotted”

“Am I? Beautiful?” She turned her face towards me and I longed to kiss it but I couldn’t.

Download the free Kindle apps here: http://www.amzn.to/13aluuF

Secret Codes; should I use them?
My occult thriller Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate was first published with Secret Codes at the beginning of each chapter. This was a whim of mine but I quickly discovered that the codes helped me to market the book. I noticed that the Jokes and Riddles category on Amazon.com only had 200 books in it. Therefore, as long as I sold a few copies I would be guaranteed to be in the top 100 for that category. Figuring that it was better, at that stage of my career, to be a big fish in a small pond, I directed a lot of effort to reaching the top of this category. I achieved it several times and managed to shift up to 3 books per day. But that was the ceiling. I could sell no faster.

I had to take the step to be a small fish in one of the bigger ponds. Also, several author friends told me that the codes seemed impossible to decipher and were too jokey anyway.
“Adults won’t take your books seriously.”
I want to be taken seriously, so the third edition was published after a complete re-edit, and with the codes removed. I didn’t sell a copy for over a month! I was was worried. I unpublished this edition and republished the second edition (with Codes) and I still didn’t sell a single copy in two weeks.

Then I had the kindle free promotion, it’s still going in fact (get your copy here: http://bit.ly/15R1xOL Download the free Kindle apps here: http://www.amzn.to/13aluuF). Download figures have been very disappointing. Unlike many writers, I am not going to hide the truth; so far only about 200 copies have been dowloaded. This compares with 2500 last September!

Now this may be simply that the market is slow at the moment or because people are just bored with my book. Or it could just be that actually people miss my codes. I just don’t know.

If you have any opinion at all, please comment below. I would love to hear your views.

Sneak Preview
This week, it is from the forthcoming release of the final part of the Iron science fictions series; Worlds like Dust. I am on my second full edit and there have been some significant changes. This part described the escape of some grunts from a damaged MCS (if you don’t know what that is, read Iron I: Too Bright the Sun).

Worlds like Dust
Copyright © 2011 by Lazlo Ferran
All Rights Reserved

Lieutenant Hani Deitner thanks his God, Mech, that he hadn’t been in the two PODs on the outer side of the MCS. Having needed to negotiate their way around the MCS, they were caught in the explosion. He could see no sign of them through his tiny portion of the viewing port.
“How far to go?” he asked the pilot, trying to sound calm. He felt his teeth start to chatter.
“One hundred and twenty yards … sir!”
‘We’ll never make it!’ Deitner thought.
“Good,” he said. “Is the other POD still with us?”
“Err. Yes, but drifting, Sir, I can see something flashing in one of the Station’s ports!”
“Let me look. Move soldier!” Deitner pushed two grunts aside to get to the main port, what you might call a windscreen. He stared at the bright white light.
“Flashing irregularly,” he said, thinking out loud. “Code mebbe … Anybody know any standard codes? Lieutenant Pfenigshaven, can you take a look?”
Bodies jostled and rearranged themselves while Pfeninghaven struggled to the port.
“Oh yeah! It’s Morse code. Learned it once. Shit! Never thought I might use it. This is real old school … Wait. It says, ‘Go to Rear Dock … five,’ I think. ‘Do not acknowledge. Ischians on board,’”
“You think …?”
“Yeah. Dock 5. That’s over there!” She pointed to the rear of the slowly spinning S.4.
“Let’s go there!” said Deitner, almost shouting. He was gripping the base of the pilot’s stool as if it were his own life, ebbing away. “Why the hell aren’t they shooting at us?”
“Sir! The power must have gone out on the cruiser. Look!”
“Okay. We may only have this one chance. How much more juice?”
“None! We’re coasting! Shall I detach the tether?”
“What? Er. Wait …” Deitner looked out of a rear port, to where he could see the other POD. Pfenigshaven’s face joined his and they both nodded. “No.” Three hundred meters of tether trailed behind the POD. The tail-end has been torn off in the explosion, sending the POD off course, but the pilot had been able to correct. The other POD hadn’t been so lucky. Already out of fuel, they were now drifting away from Dock 5 on an oblique course. “They might just have a chance … Get me the other POD.” He spoke into the transmitter microphone. “POD 4 to POD 3. EVA now! All of you. In about thirty seconds the end of our tether will reach you. After that, it will be too late! If one of you can grab it …”
“But sir! It’s …”
“I know! I know! It’s a risk we have to take!”