Peter Laurent's Blog - Posts Tagged "covert-academy"

The Magic of KDP Select - A Debut Author's Story

What a whirlwind book launch.
My head is still spinning. I never expected there to be an audience for my writing.
Hoped, yes. Expected, no.

After publishing my debut novel, The Covert Academy, on Friday 1st Feb 2013 (NZ time), I saw around 10 sales over the weekend. Probably they were some of my faithful Facebook friends, since I had been spamming their timelines with my book's launch date.

But I joined KDP Select right away, because as a new author, I realised there would be little to no public knowledge of my book's release.

So I scheduled a single day's free promotion for Monday (USA time), and signed up to a bunch of ebook newsletters in the hopes of drumming up awareness.

The Covert Academy is now sitting at:
#13 in Amazon's bestsellers for Science Fiction Adventure,
#37 for General Fiction Action/Adventure,
#1,012 Overall in the Free Kindle Store

EDIT: By the end of the promo it had reached
#6 for Science Fiction Adventure,
#14 for General Fiction Action/Adventure,
#520 Overall in the Free Kindle Store

I know it will drop back down after the promotion, but I am still amazed. Floored even. It was at around #60-80,000 overall before the promo.
It's incredible to see people from around the world adding my work to their "to-read" list on Goodreads or "Liking" it on Facebook.

Where will it go from here? I haven't made a cent from those sales, not that I mind. The hope is that some of those readers will enjoy the read, post an honest review on Amazon, and help keep the book in the spotlight for a while longer.

I would dearly love to continue the story of the Academy. I've got many more ideas about where the series should go next!

Writing a 60k+ word novel is no small task. This was my first attempt, and it took me six months of almost full-time commitment. My wonderful parents supported me the entire time, since my animation freelancing work had slowed towards Christmas. I owe them a lot.

Still, I enjoyed every minute of the process. I want to do it again.

Six months to write a book?
...Well that's two per year!

Here's to a great 2013 :)

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Published on February 04, 2013 16:09 Tags: amazon, covert-academy, ebook, kdp-select, new-zealand

Inspiration, homages and a Progress Update

Enough about the marketing already!
I don't know if anyone is interested, but throughout The Covert Academy, there a quite a few little winks and nods to other popular media.
It's like those sayings, "Stealing from one person is plagiarism, stealing from many is research," and "If you're going to steal, steal from the best."

That's not to say I've ripped off other people's work. It has merely inspired me to write my own.

However I can not resist including homages in my book to some of them.

(Very minor spoilers below)

There are a couple obvious ones, such as: invisibility (Harry Potter's cloak, the One Ring from LOTR etc.)
the super suits (Halo, Crysis, Iron Man and many many others)

Then there are many smaller homages, like Joshua saying "I'm making this up as I go." That is a reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark.
How about "assuming direct control," which is from Mass Effect.

There are more, can you spot them?

I am a product of my media consumption like many others. My all-time favourite book and movie is The Lord of the Rings. I'm a huge geek!

It's not just media that is inspiring though. I traveled to Chicago in 2010 and seeing the layout of the city inspired me to set much of the book there.
I enjoy reading about futuristic technology. The Nyctalopia is very loosely based on the HyperSoar by Preston Carter from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. I can't remember where I first heard about it but the concept has always fascinated me.

(Minor spoilers over)

As for book two, I haven't started yet! Yes, this blog is a great way to procrastinate.
I've been going over my notes from early 2012. They are way out of date, and much has changed since writing the first one. The core ideas are still there, but it has gotten much more complex.
At the moment I'm updating old character bios and writing new ones for new characters.
It's exciting. Part 2 of a trilogy is often my favourite.

Time to get back into it!

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Published on February 12, 2013 15:16 Tags: book-two, covert-academy, homages, inspiration, progress, research, series

Book Advertising - My Results

Hi there, as promised here are my thoughts on advertising strategies for your baby er, book. I hope this can help some of the relatively unknown gems hiding out there!

First of all, there is no way to know for sure how many "clicks" your online ads get will turn into actual sales.
It seems that word of mouth is and always will be king when it comes to books (which is another reason why reviews are so helpful).
But it can't help to raise awareness of its existence a little bit, while I'm busy writing!

I've got three campaigns going for The Covert Academy at the moment. One on Goodreads, one on Project Wonderful and one on Google Adwords.

All three use a prepay system, you pay what you want then define the price per click or how often the ad is shown (though Adwords has the option to just spend forever).

The basic DIY option on Goodreads is simple and clean. It ties in nicely with word of mouth too, because if someone sees your ad, and adds the book to their shelf, then their friends can see that too.
However Goodreads uses an algorithm based on how many clicks you get a day to decide how often to show your ad. It ends up with days or weeks when you get little visibility and not much you can do about it, but when you do get a few clicks your ad can skyrocket. I noticed the most sales on those days in the last couple of months.

Project Wonderful works on a similar system to Goodreads, with a nice clean interface, except you have slightly more options. You can have an ad with an image of anything you choose, not just a book cover. PW uses a bidding system where you bid for how often your ad is shown rather than the number of clicks. Consequently I get a lot of clicks on these ads, but far fewer people will be buyers since the range of websites available to advertise on is quite limited for books.

Finally, Google Adwords is the most in-depth and complicated option. I have gotten the highest "Click-through-rate" on here than any other. Adwords targets your ads very specifically to customers. However it is the most expensive option (rarely shows your ad if you pay less the $5 a day).

Overall I would stick with Goodreads advertising, at least you know that every "view" and "click" is aimed at someone interested in books in general!

A small update regarding my writing progress: I've done 20,000 words for book 2 but have hardly scratched the surface of my plot summary. So it's either going to be a very long book or I need to cut out a lot of filler maybe.
I'm also writing a short story based on a background character from The Covert Academy, which will weave in and out of the story of the novel and hopefully bridge the two novels without being required reading, if that makes sense. I'm aiming to get this out in early June!

Thanks for reading, I hope that info helped someone!

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Published on May 19, 2013 18:36 Tags: advertising, adwords, book, campaigns, covert-academy, goodreads, project-wonderful

Announcing "Scout's Honour"

Introducing my new novella, Scout's Honour, continuing the story of The Covert Academy as a bridge between the sequel!

Scout's Honour follows a new protagonist, Jayson Georgiou, who also featured as a background character in the first book, now on his own adventure.

The story weaves in and out of events from the first book to explain a few leftover questions, sets up all new mysteries to come, and is action-packed with new and returning characters.

The eBook comes out on Amazon on July 10th 2013, and will be free for the first 24 hours.
The paperback will also be available on July 10th from the CreateSpace store and should be linked to Amazon within a week.

UPDATE: Out now! Grab a copy here:

I hope you enjoy it!
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Published on July 04, 2013 18:52 Tags: amazon, book, covert-academy, kindle, peter-laurent, scout-s-honour

Book 2 - Prologue

Hello sexy people,
I thought I'd share some of my latest writing for some light weekend reading! This is from a scene around three quarters of the way through Book 2, and I am considering using this as an action packed prologue at the very start of the book.
My one major regret with The Covert Academy was to call the first chapter a prologue when it really wasn't.
What follows below, however, is very much a prologue. Which means you won't miss anything if you skip it, but sets the tone of the book nicely.

Please keep in mind this is only (updated to 2nd) draft material! That means everything is subject to change between now and publication.
Please be kind :)

So without further ado:

The Covert Academy 2


     ‘Oh, I don’t think Sarah Jensen will be leaving us any time soon,’ a silky voice, emanating from behind Ichiro, interrupted.
     Sarah tensed, reached for her sword, but it wasn’t there. Liam! He’d lifted her sword. Deal with him later. Movement from behind the sphere. Someone walking toward her. A dark shape. That voice, that calm, neutral accent, unforgettable after all these years…
     ‘Now we don’t need any undo fuss,’ said the voice. ‘In fact, Sarah, I wanted to thank you personally. You’ve delivered the last of the resistance right into my lap.’
     ‘Not the last,’ Sarah said. ‘Show yourself!’
Rhys walked into the light of the pulsing purple sphere and stood a few short steps from Sarah, hands clasped behind his back. The light-bloom from the sphere cast long shadows over his face, lending him a demonic aura.
     ‘Fletcher,’ Sarah growled. Her eyes darted around the room for a weapon. It was too dark even for her iPC. Something was interfering, or else there really was nothing to see… for all she knew the universe ended where he stood. ‘Rhys Fletcher. You knew I’d come for you one day,’ Sarah said, balling her hand into a tight fist. ‘I would, or the Academy would.’
     ‘How poetic,’ Rhys mocked. ‘Don’t be absurd. You’re not important, none of you are. There is no prophecy to be fulfilled. No secret bloodlines. It’s all just a matter of control. Control and efficiency... many hands make light work,’ Rhys chuckled at his bad joke then buttoned up into a grim smirk once more. ‘It’s for your own good, you can count on that. Now hand over the bio-ID.’
     ‘Count on this.’ Sarah charged him, aiming to get in close, fast. Rhys let her come. She ducked his oncoming elbow then dodged his outthrust leg. She twisted, using her shoulder stump as a shield to try and open a gap and plant her one closed fist on that smug face of his. Sarah rained down blow after blow in a flurry of rapid one-hand attacks. Rhys Fletcher blocked her every move with seemingly careless precision. He was a machine.
     No one is this good. Sarah gasped for air, utterly spent, and Rhys pushed her backward into the purple sphere. It flicked off just long enough to admit her inside the bubble.
     ‘Impressive, for a cripple,’ Rhys said. ‘Well if you won’t surrender the bio-ID then you can’t do any harm in there,’ he added patiently, and turned to go, fading into the blackness of the room. ‘I have all the time in the world. You will break soon enough. Let’s see how you handle the other one,’ he said, then he was gone.
     Sarah looked at Ichiro. ‘What did he mean, the other one?’
     ‘You,’ Ichiro mumbled through broken teeth. He pointed toward the transfer panel where Sarah had come aboard. ‘The other you.’
     Sarah gasped as her twin walked into the room. But it couldn’t be; Fletcher had seen to that long ago. Sarah could never forget, she’d seen it with her own eyes, had it etched onto her retinas forever.
     The woman wore a jumpsuit so new it could have come straight off the Academy factory line. Her skin was perfectly unblemished, unnaturally so, as if she’d applied too much makeup. But her eyes were bleeding - two red tears streaked down her cheeks.
     My cheeks.
     The woman scanned the room, at a loss for direction until some unseen order had been processed. Her gaze drifted onto Sarah and locked in place. Sarah stared back into her cold, dead eyes.
     My eyes.
     The woman smiled, but her eyes remained vacant. When she spoke it was in Sarah’s voice, but with Rhys’ accent. The same bland accent which had haunted Sarah’s dreams.
     ‘Hello,’ she said, cracking the knuckles on her hands.
     My hands. Two hands.
     ‘Shall we begin?’

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Published on October 13, 2013 01:11 Tags: amalgamation, covert-academy, draft, prologue, writing

Previously on...

A pet peeve of mine is when an otherwise excellent series of books don't include a "Previously On" chapter.
When you've been waiting a year or more for the next part of the story, a quick refresher is incredibly handy for the reader.
So I wrote up this today, which summarises the important plot points from The Covert Academy and Scout's Honour, and will be published right at the front of the next book. I think I've covered everything (but please comment if you catch something I missed!)

Obviously, if you haven't read those two books yet, do that first because what follows below is one big SPOILER!
Ok here we go:

Previously, in “The Covert Academy” and “Scout’s Honour”…

After a brutal public uprising against their own governments, the world’s population is brought under the heel of an army of attack drones controlled by a group of powerful men and women, known as the Confederacy.
     In the decades that follow, the people of the world are left destitute and desperate under the Confederacy’s autocratic rule. Many freely submit to slavery or military service to avoid a life scraping a living off the streets.
     General Withers, a Confederate High Council member, orders the creation of a new technology called the bio-ID, capable of reading people’s thoughts. Simeon Warner, another Council member, kills General Withers. The bio-ID becomes lost, but a young street urchin called Joshua finds it while searching for his abducted younger sister Lucia.
     The Confederacy mounts a search for the bio-ID, but Joshua is rescued by Sarah Jenson. She invites him to join the Academy, an underground school for the resistance. Joshua is introduced to a wisecracking pilot, Richard; and another student, Hashi Ichiro. Upon arrival at Wake Island he meets their leader, Casey Jayne, who takes the bio-ID for safekeeping.
     In the months during Joshua’s training, Simeon commissions a new bio-ID from his specialist, Dr Brock. Simeon tests the device on the doctor, causing him to go mad.
     Joshua hatches a plan to infiltrate the Colonnade to recover Dr Brock. Another student, Ryan, betrays them to the Confederacy. Ryan is overheard to have been working with another group called the Fletchers.
     Joshua and Sarah foil Ryan’s plot, and infiltrate the Colonnade with the help of Richard and Ichiro. They find Mr Meyrick, who was Ryan’s contact, and Dr Brock, and bring them both back to the Academy.
     When Mr Meyrick is interrogated they learn that Lucia is with the Fletchers on Oahu. Sarah realises the Fletchers are the same group of assassins who attacked Jayson Georgiou and killed his team. She is determined to exact revenge, though Joshua suspects she has a more personal motive.
     In his madness, Dr Brock reveals the location of the Academy to Simeon Warner. The Academy goes on high alert for the inevitable attack.
     Joshua convinces a small band of students to attack the base on Oahu and buy time for evacuation, though Casey refuses to help and instead prepares their defences.
     Upon arrival in Oahu, the base is revealed to be a staging area for a full-scale invasion by the Confederacy. Joshua and his team fight their way to one of the dropships and hide aboard.
     On the return journey Joshua finds a supercomputer, then Lucia appears and reveals that the invasion has been staged by the Fletchers. She appears crazed, claiming she will build a dynasty in her name.
     When the fight between the Fletchers and the Academy students begins, Lucia is thrown clear of the dropship but survives.
     Casey is mortally wounded in the battle. He leaves Joshua a cryptic message to find someone called the King, a photo of all the High Council members, and General Withers’ original bio-ID.
     Simeon arrives to the battle with his private fleet of drones. Their attack accidentally ignites a failsafe bomb, destroying both Simeon and the Academy.
     Joshua realises he can now monitor the High Council members using the bio-ID with the supercomputer. Though he’d asked Sarah not to kill anymore, he silently vows to himself that he will kill them all…
     Meanwhile, Jayson Georgiou has no hope of escape as a Fletcher ship closes in after a disgraceful battle, but he is determined to redeem himself…
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Published on December 03, 2013 15:25 Tags: covert-academy, plot, previously, scout-s-honour, summary

The State of my Writing

Far past time I wrote a new blog post here!

I recently published The Covert Academy through Smashwords, finally taking down the three separated versions (Recruitment Drive, Freshman, and Graduation Day) to make room for the original complete one.

At first I put it up for free, but since changed it to $0.99 after a week or so, but now Amazon has caught on and price matched it to free as well!

I have no way to confirm this, since living in New Zealand means that Amazon's regional pricing still shows the price as $1.00, which is somewhat frustrating. I might need to invest in a VPN.

On a positive note, The Covert Academy shot back up the charts as a freebie to the Top 10 in all its subcategories! Woohoo! Thanks everyone, I hope you enjoy the read!

As for my next book, while I blitzed through the first draft to finish before Christmas 2013, I have not done much editing since then (around 1/3 of the way through the 2nd edit).
This is because I'm constantly on the job hunt at the moment. So if anyone wants to give me a grant to finish the sequel to The Covert Academy, you're more than welcome haha!

I've got a few tricks up my sleeve as far as my money problems are concerned, so hopefully I will be able to get back to writing very soon!

Stay tuned,
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Published on April 23, 2014 15:44 Tags: amazon, covert-academy, freebie, sale, sequel, smashwords

The Subplot Thickens

I admit I've been hesitant to continue writing. It's not so much writer's block since most of the creative work has been finished.

I'd been inching along the 2nd edit until I had come to a place where I looked at the page and I didn't know what to do. And I've finally figured out why.

My rushed first draft of the next book contains far too many subplots. Even with my notes I find it difficult to keep track of it all.

One of the biggest subplots revolves around a computer program which becomes self-aware. I thought it was a good idea at the time, and that I could bring something new to the concept. Now I'm not so sure. The old "rogue AI" idea has been done to death.

The payoff for this subplot came in several turning points in the story. But looking back, it comes off as feeling like a cheap "get out of jail free card". I'm considering dropping the whole idea, which means re-writing at least several thousand words, not to mention finding new ways to move the plot along without this thematic device. It might all fall apart.

There are certain passages of writing about this rogue AI which I am very proud of, but I'm hoping the book will be better off with these massive cuts.

Has anyone else looked back on their early drafts and felt the sting of regret when seeing a wonderful part of your work that needs the chop? Did it work out in the end?
I remain hopeful!
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Published on May 19, 2014 16:57 Tags: covert-academy, editing, rogue-ai, subplot, thematic-device, theme, writer-s-block

Neglected Child

Yes I'm still here, but I haven't been writing. The next book has been a neglected child, but I still love it.

It's hard to believe it's been over a year since my last blog post!

In 2013 I took some time off work to write The Covert Academy, then Scout's Honour, and in the following 6 months pumped out a 100k draft of the next book by February 2014. That's just shy of 200k words in around 15 months, not to mention editing it myself and the creating the cover art.
It burned me out.

When I began to go over the new draft I got to the point where I just couldn't read another word. It was overly complex, I needed a break, and I felt I needed to get a real job.

In the year since mid-2014 to the present I've concentrated on a new venture, entirely unrelated to writing, doing architectural visualisations.
If you're interested check out some of the work I've been doing here:

I've also been helping out with the animation on an upcoming PC game 'Cross Fate', which will be launching a Kickstarter soon-ish (it's out of my control as to when). Keep an eye out for it here:

So the next book in the Covert series has been on the backburner.
It's sad but I'd rather not release it until I'm happy with the quality, and I hold myself to a high standard. There are some chapters in the next book which I think is some of my best writing yet, far better than The Covert Academy (there's some real stinky parts too which need re-writing)!

So if there's anything to take away from this post is that I haven't forgotten about my writing, and I aim to get back into action as soon as I can.

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Published on June 17, 2015 15:46 Tags: covert-academy, cross-fate, scout-s-honour, writing