Via Lindsay Buroker, here's an interesting run-through of what is going on in the science fiction & fantasy field, with a special emphasis on what's NOT getting measured via traditional industry measures.
The family busyness is still happening and will continue to require some attention, but I also took some time to put together those Amazon Kindle "X Rays." I'd never bothered before, but honestly, I have trouble remembering who everyone in the Trang series is, and then The Weirld is supposed to be accessible to younger readers, who of course need a little help knowing who Gracie Allen is. So I went through and did that. It's a little tedious but also kind of funny--I have to be careful to explain who someone is without giving away spoilers!
OK, Smashwords is officially driving me crazy. It was the easier one to use back when I was doing the Trang books, but it does NOT play well with illustrations, boy howdy. I'm realizing that I'm going to have to upload one version to be converted into everything, and then upload a special .epub version so that the .epub isn't completely fucked. Uuuuuugggghh......
ETA: OK, at this point The Weirld is on Smashwords itself, and seems fairly decent (like, it's readable, although not necessarily beautiful) in all formats. However, I don't know if I'll be able to set it up so that it can be offered at other retailers through Smashwords. Do I care? Should I just upload it directly? At the moment, I think this is one of those problems I'm going to kick down the road, because I'd rather focus on Trials.
The Weirld is out of KDP Select today, so I got it ready to go to Smashwords. That's a process that hasn't changed much, but is still a bit fiddly. Once again file conversions led to problems with italics--I fixed those, but then when I went to look at my Kindle version to make sure the problems weren't there, I realized that the Table of Contents has vanished. Ugh.
ETA: Ooh! I published it on Smashwords, took one look, and immediately unpublished it--the pictures are not working. OK, I think I'm going to put off working on that until tomorrow....
I'm taking a couple of days off from book stuff--I was ignoring other things, plus I'm feeling a need for a break.
Buuuut...via Lindsay Buroker, Forbes did an article about how opaque the e-book market is (citing a post from The New Publishing Standard). It's been a while since I've paid attention to this kind of thing, but it's not surprising to find out that what gets peddled around as industry data is still pretty much bullshit. Remember, "industry data" is typically generated by those within the industry, and they have their own agendas.
I finished refreshing Trust, and that's been uploaded. Whoo! I have to say, as long as you don't have the problems I did when you convert a file to DOCX, Kindle Create is really easy to use, and I will probably be using it with the next books, since they won't have art.
Speaking of a book that does have art--I downloaded the version of The Weirld that's on sale, and ARGH. I went through a lot of trouble with the HTML editor making it so there wouldn't be spaces between the paragraphs, and lo and behold, there are spaces now. Obviously it's not worth fixing because it will just break itself again, but honestly--highly irritating.
I got up to #16 in Sword & Sorcery and #104 in Teen & Young Adult!
Again, WAY better than I thought I would be doing with this campaign. Also got a couple of likes on my Facebook page, so that's promising. (Still no clicks on the Amazon campaign even with the higher price--I'm just not getting many impressions from them.)
I went through and finished my first pass fixing the paragraph breaks and italics for Trust. The paper copy I have smells too much like cat pee, though! I'm chucking it after this and will order a new copy when I order copies of The Weirld.
I finished going through Trang and fixing the hard return and italic problems, so I submitted the fancier-looking version to Amazon.
I also felt vain and impulsive and started a Facebook and Amazon ad campaign for the free days of The Weirld. Obviously that's not going to pay for itself unless people get that book for free, then get Trang for free, and then pay for Trust, but I'm hoping it will get the book some reviews and maybe get the algorithms to work for it.
My shot today wasn't entirely debilitating, so I fixed a lot of the italics and hard return issues with Trang (and did the same for the first couple of chapters of Trust, since they also appear at the end of Trang). Then I went through the Kindle Create process--that does seem to be pretty easy to use, although I've been screwed around often enough that I'm going to put in a 0.01" indent on everything that I don't want indented. It basically acts like a really easy-to-use HTML editor.
The main issue for me is that if you "publish" the file in their spanking new KPF format, you can't download the result or even sideload it onto your phone. I understand that they really, really want Kindle Create to be kind of the ultimate What You See Is What You Get editor, but 1. that's impossible, sorry, and 2. at least let me put this on my phone so I can switch chairs!
Oh well--I shall watch television instead and work on this tomorrow.
And The Weirld should become free at midnight tonight!
God, that seemed like such a process--part of it being that, if you're going to force me to learn Kompozer, I'm going to go ahead and make the book a little nicer.
Anyway: I have submitted the e-book to Amazon, and hopefully it will be up soon. Then I can do the five-day free promotion, whoo!
So, today was spent getting the hang of Kompozer--you can do a lot with it, but my God, it is not an intuitive piece of software.
I had to use Kompozer because it's an HTML editor, and Amazon has actually gone backwards in terms of what you can do with your e-book without getting into the HTML. As I mentioned, chapter ornaments are suddenly this HUGE problem, and other things are harder to do, too--it's really annoying that they've actually managed to make it harder to create a decent-looking book, because it seems like with Kindle Create, you're going to have so many nice interiors now.
Anyway, I think I'm 99% of the way there.
ETA: I do think I'm going to sacrifice the chapter ornaments for Trang and Trust and reformat them through Kindle Create one of these days. I kind of want to update them anyway, because there's stuff like the links in the back that don't work any more.
I (hopefully) fixed the cover issues, and I have submitted the whole, improved shebang to Create Space--I should be able to order a second proof tomorrow if all goes well. I turned the first proof over to my crack team of illustrators, who were both delighted and chagrined to see their artwork in an actual book.
The e-book stuff is still fairly aggravating--I'm having to slog away editing HTML, and honestly it feels like Amazon has really made zero progress when it comes to books with art. I think I can make this work, and of course it still takes less time than a paper layout, but I also think it's been six years, and maybe they could have made this process a little easier in the meantime? Maybe?
I was hoping to be able to use Kindle Create, but it does NOT handle artwork well at all. I was thinking that, if it was easy to use, I'd go ahead and reformat the Trang books, but it can't even properly handle chapter ornaments, much less the actual illustrations in The Weirld. But it's made me a little more ambitious with my e-book formatting, so I'm fiddling with stuff by hand--we'll see how it all turns out.
I came home to...discover that CreateSpace had sent my proof to my old address (boy, it HAS been a long time since I've done a book, hasn't it!). I have now updated my shipping address with them, and hopefully it will come before long.
Tax stuff is pretty much wrapped up, with some exceptions that I'm sure will blow up in my face with delightful unpredictability over the next two months. In any case, it looks like I should be able to start working on the e-book fairly soon.
I'm a-wandering in search of...everyone's damned 2017 tax forms! In the meantime, I've been thinking about the release of The Weirld as an e-book. (And I'm feeling quite thankful that I'm not using Word and not having to worry about all kinds of random extra coding getting shoved into the book for no reason. It's so much easier!)
I saw that Amazon has really upgraded their tools for authors! What they've got looks like something (assuming it's not buggy) that will very quickly turn out an especially nice e-book. I'm genuinely looking forward to playing with that when I get home.
It doesn't look like much has changed with Smashwords, which is also nice--they've always been easy to use.
Buuuut...because I don't intend to do the long marketing push I did with Trang, I'm eyeing going exclusive with KDP, albeit just for the first 90 days since I don't like relying on a single retailer. Exclusivity would give me access to some promotional tools that are very easy to use and hopefully would get me reviews so that I don't feel like I'm completely neglecting this book. Plus I like the idea of offering the people who follow me (especially those who have stuck out this long dry period) an early-bird special price, and with exclusivity I can just make the book free for five days. So I think that's where I'm headed.
Moving in! It's happening! It's kind of a complicated process because the new place still lacks some key things (like a stove and curtains) but hopefully it will be done fairly soon!
In the meantime, here's a couple of article I thought were interesting but didn't have time to actually write posts about:
This one is about the music market in Japan. Japan has been notable because it's resisted digitization, but guess what's happening right now? Oh, yeah, digitization is happening with a vengeance and all the Japanese labels are being caught out because they thought that Japan was the one market that would never, ever change, so why should they prepare?
I also have to point out something that has always annoyed me with reporting about the Japanese music market: People always report the revenues. So they say (or rather, they used to say), Oh, the Japanese music market is so much better than the U.S. music market because evil, awful digitization hasn't happened there so their revenues are still high!
Anyone see the problem there? Revenues are not profits. If I sell something for $10 that costs me $8 to produce and ship, I have revenues of $10 but profits of only $2. What's so nice about digitization (be it music or books) is that you can sell something for $5 or $3 that costs you next to nothing to make. So yeah, your revenues go down, but who cares?
That one is about dodgy on-line reviews. Businesses are starting to sue people who post negative fake reviews for defamation--something to keep in mind if you're ever tempted to trash someone via sock-puppet.
This was in the Wall Street Journal (all emphases added):
Forty years ago, "Airport" author Arthur Hailey was one of the country's best-known novelists. Today nine of his 11 novels are out of print in the U.S. and difficult to find even in used bookstores.
That's about to change. This spring, six Arthur Hailey novels, including "Airport" and "Wheels," will be published [by Open Road] in e-book form, priced at $14.99 each.
The article goes on to say that publishers are discovering that e-books are good for backlist revenues.
The re-issuance of the writers' works reflects a broader effort by publishers to mine their inventories of "backlist" titles—books published more than a year ago—in a bid to generate revenue from younger readers.
And it quotes Mark Tavani, editorial director of fiction at the Random House Publishing Group, as saying:
"These [backlist books] aren't front list titles, books that your friends are talking about. But people who shop electronically are willing to load up and try stuff if the price is low."
Notice a slight contradiction there between the first quote and the second two? Younger readers have never even heard of Arthur Halley, and people who read e-books will buy unknown backlist books if they aren't too expensive. So Open Road's plan is to woo readers who have no idea who Hailey is . . . with a FIFTEEN DOLLAR e-book?
Fifteen dollars? For fuck's sake, that's more than any mass market paperback, and many a trade paperback. All for a license to read something--a license that you cannot sell yourself later on.
Oh, and maybe you can't find Hailey in used book stores, but on Amazon? You can buy used copies of his books for a penny. Yes, you have to pay for shipping, so it comes out to a whopping $4. For a hardcover edition.
Hailey is dead. He's been dead for a decade. He's not going to be coming out with a big new book that will create a splash and drive interest in his backlist. If you want to interest new readers in what is to them a new writer, $15 e-books are NOT the way to go.
This is a great piece (from PV) on editing. Importantly, it points out how little editing tradpub editors actually do--editing is time-intensive, and from a tradpub perspective, time spent educating writers is time wasted. Anyway, it pleases me to see that people who actually care about producing good books are finding satisfying work in this new era.
This is a neat article in the Wall Street Journal about how digitization is affecting how audiobooks are produced and consumed. Note how people will switch back and forth between the audio and e-book edition of the same book--cool!