Hiatus!

Posted: April 7, 2015 by David in My Fiction

That title reminds me of Carl Hiaasen, whose fiction I heartily recommend, unless maybe that was more like my liver speaking up. I’m not much of an expert on distinguishing between various human squishy-bits.

Anyway, please read something of his. Or if you don’t get fiction from Carl, please get fiction somewhere. Because I’ll be shutting up for a bit.

I kinda hate how busy we are with this move. Maybe this time we’ll finally never again accumulate so much etc.

But it is what it is. Also, I’m fairly sure something important will be left undone. Besides writing, I mean. But that too.

I hope you’re all equally busy, but with more entertaining projects! Either way, though…I’ll be mostly incommunicado for the next few weeks.

Have fun without me? {8′>

cover3Of course I mean “going south” in a literal sense, rather than as a writer. Though maybe both are true? Check this out: over at Amazon, where I released two new stories as five-day freebies last week, the total number of downloads was…wait for it…42!

That’s downright awesome. I did something similar for Shiver, and reached several thousand people. Sales were pretty good afterward for months. Now, not so much. My total sales, borrows, and Kindle Unlimited semi-sales since I released those two new titles: zero. (I had to write the word out to make it look more important than the bare digit.) (Of course these were just short stories.) (But…wow.)

It’s okay. But if it’s no longer true that Amazon will drive readers to my stuff via their algorithmic wizardry, I have very little incentive to publish stuff over there at all. (This idea makes me smile in somewhat perverse delight.)

Heck: I do lots better, freebie-wise, posting stories right here on the blog. Fer chrissakes. I could sell stuff here too. I mean, in theory. I doubt I’d do worse, anyway. To put it another way, since the blog is all I have as far as an internet “presence” goes (meaning I have no other means of sending traffic to Amazon), if the ‘Zon ain’t showing people my stuff on their own initiative? Then what’re they fer?

Heh. Well, perhaps paying them to place ads will turn out to be cashflow-positive. Or not. (I’m trying that out, using Amazon-recommended bid sizes and such, and so far it appears they’ve shown my ad precisely zero times over the last three days. But what if there’s a delay in the reporting? I mean, beyond the 24 hours they tell me to expect? More on this stuff later, probably.)

Confession: I sort of don’t care about any of the above. Got other stuff going on. But sheesh–I thought I’d at least get a few hundred copies out there. Ha!

As for the literal going-south thing: we have ferry tickets for 4/15. We gave our landlady notice & have scheduled utility turn-offage.

Therefore we need to dump a whole lot more of our crap on unsuspecting Alaskans, and quickly. Should be fun! (Suddenly I envision a whole new career: writing Craigslist and eBay ads. I mean, why not? Would the pay be any worse?)

Oh yeah! True North, this week’s story, is now available, but not yet for free, from Amazon. It’s another retread. I like the story but hate the cover. Maybe for you it’ll be the other way around?

Anyway: The story will be free for five days starting tomorrow, Thursday 4/3. Couldn’t do it any earlier because of the issues I mentioned in yesterday’s post. They finally made it available this morning. Maybe next week’s story will go a bit more smoothly. Or, you know, not! {8′>

Description:

Josh Brandenhoer has an interesting job: he takes pictures and writes about them. In his world of 2026, that sort of thing is generally automated. But not for him–his readers and viewers know him to be a purist. He’s currently searching for a reported polar bear he believes is probably an albino grizzly.

What he encounters is something entirely different. And it’s not the first time for him, either…

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon DE
Amazon FR
Amazon ES
Amazon IT
Amazon NL
Amazon JP
Amazon BR
Amazon CA
Amazon MX
Amazon AU
Amazon IN

Hey, if it turns out you actually like the damned thing? You could post a review! (That link goes to the Amazon US site, because most of you are US readers. But please feel free to post elsewhere if you’d prefer.)

Guess Amazon’s making an April Fool of me

Posted: April 1, 2015 by David in Jerks, Publishing

Not that it’s too hard for them to do so. Yesterday I tried to publish my story True North on Amazon’s site. They say they need, sometimes, 12 hours to publish English-language ebooks.

My experience is that they generally take less time than that. The thing was “In Review” for only a few minutes, and has been sitting in “Live–Updates Publishing” for over 24 hours.

The thing is, I don’t believe them. First, the “live” part of that should refer to ebooks that were previously published and merely being updated. Second, in the past when they were indeed publishing (meaning “pushing stuff out to their servers”) I’ve been able to access my ebooks well in advance of their official “you’re published!” email. Often within an hour or so.

This time? Nothing. On all Amazon sites, the links give a “404 Not Found” error. And in their “Author Central” site, where I can typically link my books (in case there’s another person using the same name, I guess, and from the same account?) I can’t find the new story. Usually this, too, works fairly quickly.

And I can’t schedule the thing to go free until Amazon admits they’ve pushed the thing to their servers, so…it’s just stuck.

I’m not looking forward to trying to fix this. It happened once before, and I had to go through several rounds of “there’s no problem and we’re closing your support ticket immediately–you should wait 12 hours at least next time” with Amazon support staff over a couple of days before suddenly a ticket wasn’t closed right away…then the ebook finally showed up…and then I got an email telling me there was no problem, ’cause see? It’s published now!

I don’t want to go through that process today. Other things to do. I don’t know when True North will be available, or when I’ll be able to schedule its 5-day freebie.

When it happens, I’ll post. Sorry about this.

About that Amazon thing…

Posted: March 24, 2015 by David in My Fiction, Publishing

Look, giving them exclusive rights to sell/distribute my ebooks, even for 90 days at a time, doesn’t make me shit unicorn kisses any more than you’d expect. But I like getting my stuff in front of readers.

Once upon a time, I could get a couple of hundred people to read, or at least briefly view, stories right here on the blog–back at the beginning of my Weekly Challenge thing, which got some nice publicity. That number’s down about 25 percent since then, with a fair amount of turnover having happened along the way, and all signs point to at least half of those remaining being more interested in publishing tips than fiction. Or at least my fiction.

So I’m going to write less about publishing, and publishing snafus, and try to focus on the fiction. Even this post is being timed so it’ll go out via an email that also includes a couple of posts about fiction. (Incidentally, I don’t like the way the current emails include only an excerpt of each post, with a link back to this site. Seems like extra hassle to me. So in the near future I’m going to switch to a different mail list service, and include the full post each time. Just letting you know.)

I’ve tried making stories (and books!) free on Smashwords, and through them B&N, Sony (they applied DRM without my consent! Argh!!), iBooks, and lots of other places. I tried Google, too. A few readers found me, but mostly they were–weirdly–on Smashwords itself. I also received some very nice reviews, which it pained me to pseudo-delete by unpublishing the books and stories. But I did it anyway.

In principle, Amazon “should” have price-matched all those free stories eventually. They didn’t. The only thing I’ve had perma-free on the ‘Zon was Thursday Night Game–and that one took a lot of effort. Not only from me; several readers and buddies helped lobby to get it done. And for a while it seemed to work–lots of people read the story. Unfortunately, Amazon made their “free” stuff harder to find, and the download-rate dropped off a cliff. Also…I got a few reviews, and a lot more feedback via Twitter and email, but those guys never seemed to go on to buy any of my stuff. Maybe if it’d been the first of a series…but it wasn’t. Oh, and once I made the story exclusive to Amazon? The ‘Zon figured out that they didn’t need to price-match anymore, so: it’s no longer free, except for maybe five days out of 90. So much for that little adventure!

“My” readership is small. This is pretty much okay with me, as I know quite a few of you folks by name. You say stuff to me. I like that. And I get to write, when I write, for people I sort of know. It may not change what gets dumped through my keyboard a whole lot, but it’s still a good feeling. Truthfully, though I’d love to appeal to (and attract…I mean fictionally! mostly!) more readers somehow or other…it’s not going to change my life a hell of a lot either way. Because I’m already insanely lucky to be living as I do, with my goofy little family, and I’m fully aware that I’ve done very little to deserve any of my good fortune. Nobody who meets us can understand what my wife sees in me, for instance. (Me either.) (But shh!)

The thing is, all that said? I can still get several times the reader-count by going all-in with Amazon, compared to anything and everything I’ve tried on other platforms. In principle I’d rather that everything I wrote were available on all sites where people look for stuff to read. I don’t like the exclusivity thing even a little bit. But my primary goal in publishing (as opposed to my primary goal in writing, which seems way the hell fuzzier from here) is to get my stuff in front of as many readers as possible. For now, that means going all-in with Amazon. This decision sucks donkey-parts I don’t want to get too specific about, ’cause I like to think this blog is sort of a G-spot, but that’s the deal. (Come on. You smiled. At least a little. Didn’t you?)

If this chaps your hide? I get it. Let me know, and we’ll work something out. But I gotta do what I gotta do. I think.

If you want to argue with me about this whole idea? Please do! You might convince me. But…I’ve killed my Facebook and Twitter accounts, which action pleases me no end. I don’t intend to do anything ever again via so-called “social media.” I’ve demonstrated to my own satisfaction that if it’s possible to pull large numbers of readers to this site from Amazon (or any other retailer), I clearly don’t know how to go about it. So this is what’s left. Even if it feels like caving, in a non-spelunking sort of way, and leaves me with a noxious finger-stink to type. In principle, I could use soap for that. Right?

Oh, and I’ll probably try some pay-per-click advertising for The Secret when it comes out in a few weeks, too. That used to work pretty well for me, back when I sold software. Either way: it is what it is.

And it ain’t so bad, really. Right? I’m kinda just doing whatever I want over here. {8′>

Have fun out there!

cover3Here’s something new! Sort of. I’ve always liked this story. It can be found in my September collection, but this is its first solo outing beyond the blog.

I stayed up all night writing this one, passing bits to a friend and incorporating his suggestions. Well, some of them. Anyway, we had a blast. I felt as if I were somehow channeling a spirit containing elements of Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, and Douglas Adams. Which might mean I was just out of my mind (not unusual), but see…the thing is, I laughed a lot. I hope you do too.

Below are links where you can find the thing. It should be free on all Amazon sites for the next five days. As always, if you don’t have a Kindle you can read it in one of Amazon’s apps…or you can download it for free from them and use Calibre or another program to convert it to any format you like. There’s no nasty DRM to get in the way, so it ought to be fairly straightforward.

Though that does involve getting an Amazon account, which I’ll grant may be an unreasonable requirement. If this is how you feel, let me know and I’ll just email you a link to download the damn thing. Fair enough?

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon DE
Amazon FR
Amazon ES
Amazon IT
Amazon NL
Amazon JP
Amazon BR
Amazon CA
Amazon MX
Amazon AU
Amazon IN

Better yet, if it turns out you actually like the story? You could post a review! (That link goes to the Amazon US site, because most of you are US readers. But please feel free to post elsewhere if you’d prefer.)

Or, you know, tell a friend. Or an enemy. Or a neighbor’s second cousin twice removed. Or maybe try smoke signals. I don’t see how that last would help, but I could be wrong, and meanwhile you could roast a marshmallow or seven. I like mine deeply charred, if you’re of a mind to share. {8′>

Have fun out there!

Bonus freebie! The Heist!

Posted: March 24, 2015 by David in My Fiction

cover3I know, I know: where do I get off calling this a bonus? Didn’t I promise, after all?

Yup! Sure did! But it turns out my brain doesn’t work so well. And I can prove it!

  1. I figured out, based on checking stories that were live on Amazon, that Saints Alive! was next up.
  2. I created an ebook, found the (lousy) cover image on an old backup drive (because I’m sometimes sloppy with basic computer hygiene stuff), and uploaded it.
  3. While updating stuff for that story, I accidentally noticed that the “From the author” section was missing from the Amazon page for this story.
  4. Which led me to realize suddenly that…well, back on Pi Day, aka 3/14? I’d been going through and reducing all my stories to 99 cents, and apparently at some point in the past I’d set The Heist up but had never published it, but I didn’t notice, so…turned out, I published a story earlier this month! Woohoo! And it was this story!
  5. Only it didn’t have a table of contents, or that “Thanks for Reading!” thing I like to put in at the end. It was sort of…um…dumb.
  6. But nobody bought it anyway, so none of that mattered.
  7. Now I’m done with the numbering thing.

 

So, um, yeah. It’s free today from Amazon, and will be free for five days.

But, just so you know? This one was tough to write. My wife and I have shared our home with a couple of foster kids. Their lives were (and to some extent still are) difficult beyond belief. So The Heist was my attempt to capture that–but also, and maybe more importantly, to get the associated feelings out where I could look at them.

So it’s personal for me. One of the kids who used to live with us, the one I renamed “Joe Keith” for the story, cried when he read it–even though none of the events described here actually happened, and I never told him whom I’d had in mind as my model for the protagonist. So I guess it worked, sort of. But if you’re wondering: he’s tough, and he’ll be fine. Or…I guess I mean that the real kid will be fine. No spoilers for the story!

Meanwhile, here are the various links you can use, if you’re of a mind, and some basic boilerplate beggary to boot:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon DE
Amazon FR
Amazon ES
Amazon IT
Amazon NL
Amazon JP
Amazon BR
Amazon CA
Amazon MX
Amazon AU
Amazon IN

Better yet, if it turns out you actually like the story? You could post a review! (That link goes to the Amazon US site, because most of you are US readers. But please feel free to post elsewhere if you’d prefer.)

Have fun out there!