Or it will be, fairly soon. I’m still messing around with the cover and so forth. Maybe in the next couple of days it’ll be done?

I realized recently that I have a couple of stories published on the blog that have never been anywhere else–and I also have stories from the September collection that could pretty easily be published separately.

So what I’m going to do is put all the Weekly Challenge stories, or all of the originals at any rate (since a few were kinda borrowed from the September collection) into a new book. And I’m going to publish most of the stories individually, too, since when I give ’em away as freebies they’ll serve as advertisements for the collection. Whichever one they “came from.”

Sheesh. I have seven stories I could put up with very little effort. I’ll probably hold off on Destiny’s Dance, ’cause it’s really more of a prologue than anything else, but the others might as well get out in the world.

I’m also quite likely to start doing print versions of at least the novels and the story collections. I’ve decided, because I decide things oddly, to put lots of time into this writing/publishing gig after all. And the new fiction is coming along nicely…I hope I’ll be able to be a bit quicker with the next novel! (And nope, I haven’t figured out what it’s about yet. I’m writing it, you understand. I just don’t know what it IS.)

So. That’s this corner of the world. How’s yours doing?

Have fun out there!

UPDATE: I actually got the thing out today. Plus five of the stories that hadn’t been published separately. So it’s been a long slog of a day, but progress does feel good under my toes.

Mailing list switch!

Posted: October 10, 2015 by David in Publishing

Sorry to bug you guys, but since most of you get this thing via email and I’m switching to another mailing list service, there are a few things that I ought to mention:

  1. To keep getting email, you may need to whitelist feedblitz@mail.feedblitz.com
  2. Future emails will share a title with the blog post instead of the annoying (I think?) generic one by MailChimp.
  3. The entire text of each post will be in the email. I’ve never liked the idea of sending just a snippet. I find them annoying. So I won’t be inflicting them on you anymore.

This applies, for now, only to the blog-post emails. This site handles comment subscriptions via my own mail server, so nothing will change there. The new release list will also be migrated, but I probably won’t be able to tell those folks (at least, those who aren’t subscribers to both) about the change until my next update to that list. Which might be a while…though after all, November is NaNoWriMo time!

Again, I apologize for taking up electrons and time with this stuff. I should’ve made the switch a while back, too, so…

Well. It is what it is.

Have fun out there!

Thoughts, of a morning

Posted: October 9, 2015 by David in Death of Amazon, Personal, Publishing, Random Rants

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI like ambiguity. See, the title of this post? Does that mean I’m telling you my thoughts this morning, or am I telling you what I think of my morning? Also, do you care? Why? Isn’t there a certain hubris involved in bothering you either way?

Hey. It’s my site.

So Roseburg, Oregon, is in the news lately. And I figured I’d weigh in…by wondering what Lawrence Block is thinking on the subject. First–though this is somewhat unrelated–I highly recommend everything he’s written. Second, though, and actually to the point? In one of his stories about an assassin named Keller, he sent the character to Roseburg. While in town Keller entertained thoughts of moving to the place permanently. Lots of other things happened, but after having written that story I’d be feeling a bit…something…fey, maybe? (I’d say “fortunately” I didn’t write it, but the truth is I’d love to be able to write as well as LB.)

That bit of woolgathering led me to think about short stories vs. longer lengths. See, I like reading short stories, and I love writing them. But LB’s Keller books aren’t actually anywhere near my favorites from his oeuvre. And why? Because the first couple of books at least (I could go check, but I ain’t gonna) are episodic in nature. Basically they’re story collections, and in fact some (most? all?) chapters were published separately. But when he finally wrote a full-length Keller novel? I loved it! And yeah, you could start with that one, but I think you’d miss some of the emotional resonance that comes from reading all the short stuff first. No conclusions to be drawn here. But it does make me think about writing a series.

Then there was this article I read about Amazon and empathy. Thing is, I still think Amazon’s business model is (although entirely rational) doomed to duplication and proliferation. The article’s author seemed to think Amazon’s focus on customers equated to empathy, and then confused the concept further by somehow equating this to employee characteristics that supposedly (according to the author, but I saw no foundation for it within the article) have value in the Age of Machines, but it reminded me: Amazon, at least in the ebook space, still doesn’t seem to have any competitors. And even if it did, their competitors would have the same long-term problems.

What, no competitors? Yeah–I’ve made the point before that instead they have cargo cult imitators. Sure, there are other online bookstores…but, oddly, they don’t seem to focus on book sales as much as relationships with publishers. Amazon shows you stuff based on what their algorithms “think” you may be interested in buying. Other sites show you stuff publishers have paid them to show you. So these sites are using an entirely different model. And yet folks wonder why Amazon does better. Hmm. It’s a mystery.

So my contention here is that Amazon’s algo-recommendations make all the difference. And yet a reader recently forwarded me an email from Amazon that suggested she might like to purchase Shiver on the Sky. A neat idea, of course, except that she already owns it–and even posted a review.

Here’s the thing: I don’t think Amazon’s recommendations are actually very good. They don’t work too well for me, anyway. Worse (for Amazon) is that it’s only user habits that tie recommendations and inventory together in the first place. How long will it be before some site (interesting here that Amazon purchased Goodreads) starts making better recommendations? Once that happens, given that ebook inventory is not exactly difficult to duplicate, how long before simply hosting ebook content starts to be valued appropriately? I mean, the ‘Zon gets 35-70% of the proceeds for ebook sales…it ain’t because of the hosting. It’s because people use their recommendation engine. What happens when lots of people start building sites that recommend books? Suddenly (bizarre, no?) it wouldn’t necessarily matter where content was hosted. Authors and publishers could host their own, and pay a much smaller percentage to the recommendation engines.

This has to happen. But when? Maybe next year. Probably not much later than that, sez my crystal ball. (Though it’s actually not made of crystal, and said “Reply Hazy. Try again.” Which is maybe not such a confirmation after all. Bloggers’ license, okay?)

Meanwhile, I want to post a negative review on some valve-cover gaskets I ordered for my Bug (excuse for the pic above!) from Amazon. Not because there’s an inherent problem with the gaskets, but because someone at an Amazon shipping-place-dingus screwed up the packaging (actually removing the protective cardboard backing, which was pretty dumb), resulting in damage. And a waste of my time. But Amazon won’t let me post the review. I’m supposed to give them feedback instead.

So I can post anything at all about the gaskets themselves. But nothing negative about the package as delivered. By Amazon.

Hmm. That’s sustainable. Right?

Have fun out there!

Moving on…

Posted: October 1, 2015 by David in My Fiction, Publishing

First: Thank you very much, readers and especially reviewers of The Secret! Two of you have posted very nice things–you know who you are, and to some extent I do too, and I appreciate it.

Second: The book continues to do better than I expected–especially in the UK. In fact it went to the #23 spot for contemporary fantasy, which is really quite nice. Since I expected nothing at all from the thing, its performance in the US has also been a nice surprise. Plus, I’d never sold anything at all in France or Australia before. Neat!

Third: Nearly all “sales” have been via Kindle Unlimited. I know this because I see very few sales in Amazon’s reports…but I’ve seen many thousands of “pages read,” which means either KU people or Amazon Prime people “borrowing” the book for a month. Unfortunately, sort of, Amazon seems to base the book’s Sales Rank on borrows vs. pages read, and doesn’t give me any direct data about borrows, so I have to draw inferences. (Incidentally, I’d LOVE to get data about how many people see the book’s page–or just the cover & title–and how many go on to take some action related to purchasing or reading the thing. That’d let me try out different descriptive text, covers, whatever…and that would help Amazon too. But they’re stingy with data.)

Fourth: When I’m looking at Kindle Unlimited titles, higher prices make me more likely to borrow that book–it feels more like a bargain. So I’m raising the price to $3.99 effective whenever the ‘Zon gets around to accepting and pushing out my changes. Last time that meant they screwed up my book’s description even though the one I provide via “Author Central” is supposed to prevail–see, the one I give when setting up the book doesn’t allow the formatting–but maybe that won’t happen this time. Or maybe it will. But anyway, a “sale” at $3.99 helps a lot more with the book’s rank, which affects how often Amazon shows it to people, and that may or may not apply to “borrows”…but either way I don’t see much downside.

So if you don’t have it yet, and want it for $.99? Hurry! (Or just ask me for a free copy. I don’t mind.)

Fifth: I’m going to be starting a daily writing regimen. Just half an hour a day, first thing in the morning. That’s for new material only–editing will happen later if at all. If I can keep it up, that’s a novel every 2-3 months…but I don’t know how it’ll go. Still, I’m hopeful.

Sixth: Have fun out there!

For want of a nail…

Posted: September 22, 2015 by David in My Fiction

Actually, I could go get a nail if I really decided I wanted one. What I don’t have? Any sort of credible follow-up plan for The Secret.

It’s done better than I expected. I made all my stuff free for five days, and then the newbie went free…and outperformed all the old stuff combined. Nice, I guess. Unfortunately freebie “sales” are still not only increasing but accelerating…and now what? Not much I can do. This is the last day. If it weren’t exclusive to Amazon I guess it could go fly and be free in other places, but the exclusivity was how I got the ‘Zon to let me list it as a freebie for a few days to begin with. Hrmph.

There’s been some other stuff going on too. Some Kindle Unlimited subscribers (you guys are awesome!) have been reading pages…a few thousand pages so far…and I’ll actually get paid for that. But at the same time, not a single person actually bought the book at its initial $4.99 price point. So, what the hell–I’ve dropped the price to $.99. Maybe people will buy it? Though I have to say I think it’s unlikely. I don’t actually believe Amazon is set up in such a way that a book can build a readership on its own. I think the only path is to publish lots of fiction, and regularly, and I doubt I’ll have the time for that. And the lower price may actually sabotage the book’s appeal, whatever it may be, to Kindle Unlimited readers. Sheesh. I’ll try it for a day or two and see. Then probably change it to $3.99, and move on to other things.

Back to the bright side: a UK reader posted a review. The book’s first! Title: “Good.” Review text: “Good read.”

You know what? I love it. Thanks, whoever you are! And the book is also #1 in the UK for free contemporary fantasy right now. Which is probably both a) partially the result of actually getting a review, and b) not actually indicative of a lot of copies “sold.” But still: Number one! An Amazon bestseller! Whoopee! {8′>

I didn’t expect anything at all from this release–really, nothing at all–so I’m surprised and pleased at what I expect most people would find to be less than thrilling. Too bad for them. I’m grinning a lot.

Have fun out there!

The Secret Confounded!

Posted: September 17, 2015 by David in My Fiction, Publishing

ebook3Hey, does anybody else hate the words “conjoined” and “conjunction”? They piss me off, because the “con” bit is meaningless, except maybe as some sort of class-conscious signaling mechanism. But I normally don’t let myself get started on this, ’cause…well, it’s all in the general area of “acclimatize” vs. “acclimate” and…possibly worst of all…those folks who start with “origin,” go on to use “originate” correctly, but then somehow get lost in their brain-wrinkles and throw out “origination” when they really just mean “origin” again. Ya know? Not that I mind so much when people say that stuff, but when they’re adding syllables to impress us with their erudition? Screw those people. Who needs ’em? But don’t tell them I said that, because maybe they’ll buy something I wrote if they don’t know my true thoughts.

Oh yeah. Book’s out. “Confounded” here in the sense that it ain’t a secret, except that it sort of still is, but you never know. People might like it. Aren’t you about ready to read the confounded thing? I’ll tell you another secret: I’m not. I want to do something else for a while. But then I’ve spent a lot of hours on it just recently.

And hey, “confounded” is NOT AT ALL the same as “founded.” So I’m still pure, here.

Anyway, it’ll be free for five days starting tomorrow (9/18). And I’m including links!

Have fun out there.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon DE

Amazon FR

Amazon ES

Amazon IT

Amazon JP

Amazon BR