Category Archives: Book sales

Happy New Year! 2018

Been too quiet in these parts. When my nose hasn’t been on the grindstone, the hours have been consumed in lassitude.

Great word, eh? Trans.: Too darned lazy to wiggle.

Yesterday I finished edits and returned another of those wonderful Chinese math papers. This particular set of authors has been popping like a panful of Orville Redenbacher’s! They churn out a new paper every time you turn around.

And you can’t accuse them of dwelling in the Ivory Tower. This latest magnum opus? Tracking and predicting the spread of influenza epidemics. Damned if they haven’t come up with a method that works.

LOL! I should have majored in math. These things are great fun, sort of like fiddling with some kind of online puzzle-game, complete with its own arcane language.

Unfortunately, back in the day girls were not invited to study math and science…but, as I was told, you’d make a great secretary.

The two large indexes that were promised have not been forthcoming. Too bad: we could’ve used the income. But on the other hand, I must allow to feeling relieved that, for a change, we did not get a freaking MOUNTAIN of ditzy, mind-numbing work to complete on a December 31 deadline.

That does tend to put a damper on the holidays…

Has any progress been made on the noveloid in hand?

Well, yeah. A little. Some in writing, most of it inside the noggin. Our heroine Ella now has a plot to deal with, complete with two life-threatening complications. I have yet to figure out how she’s going to resolve the second one. But she’s coming along.

Here she is, finally meeting a man she’s noticed in the past and admired silently from a distance.

After her shift one evening she wandered over to the lounge where the great arm of the galaxy sparkled through the clear domed roof. She’d missed the chow line’s last full meal of the “day,” but she could get a hearty snack at the lounge’s food bar. If she wanted an alcoholic drink, which she did, she’d have to pay for it from the pennies she was given for consistent good work, but that was fine. She had quite a few such pennies.

Plenty of other workers were sitting around, taking in the slack. Formless music and relaxed chatter filled the air. Stars like sand scattered across black velvet glittered overhead. She sat at one of the small bars intended for singles or small groups, nursing the remains of a bowl of stew and a mug of dark ale. Tired, she wasn’t ready to go to bed but neither did she feel like socializing. She just wanted to eat and sit quietly for awhile.

No such luck.

She felt him come up to her before he pulled out the chair next to her and sat down.

“Hello, babe,” he said.

She looked at him, surprised. “Hello there, butch,” she replied. “Do I know you?” She did, of course – everybody knew who he was. Everybody knew who everyone was: the colony* was like a small town.

“Well, we haven’t had a formal introduction. Your name is Eliyeh’llya, right?” He spoke Samdi with a smooth NorthCity accent. “They call you Ella here.”

“Mm hmm,” she gave him a vague smile and an assenting nod.

“My name is Lo’hkeh jai-degh Inzed Mafesth. ‘Lohkeh’ to the overseers.”

“I’ve heard the name,” she allowed. “Good to meet you, brother.”

Handsome fellow, this one. Sandy hair spread a golden late-afternoon shadow across his sturdy jaws, his green-flecked brown eyes framed with black lashes under dark brows. He wore a red gem in his ear-stud. Whether it was real or not, she could not tell, though she assumed it was glass.

She wondered at this. The blacksuits took away every piece of jewelry or decoration on a newly convicted felon, especially the ear stud that marked a Samdi** man’s coming of age. Once in service, he could buy another one – if he managed to earn enough…if his owner agreed to it.

So…sure, he bought himself a stud. But did they – the overseers, the management here – know what the red jewel signified?

Depended on the shade of red, o’course. His had some deep orange overtones: imitation garnet, she figured. That would make him…what? A midlevel boss in the Syndicate’s transport and communication business. Way over her head, that much was for sure.

But why would they let him make a statement like that, about his past life? They must not know, she thought. The blacksuits and the overseers were always dumber than you expect, Teryd used to say. Once again, he was right.

“Would you like another drink?” he offered.

She would. Careful, she thought…take it slow. “Thanks,” she said. “But I’m pretty beat and it’s getting late – don’t think I should.”

“Next time, then.” He smiled and leaned back in the chair, displaying a finely muscled torso.

“All right.” She returned the smile, trying not to look over-eager.

“So, Ella. You’re pretty well settled in by now, no? You’ve been in-colony for awhile.

“Yeah… I’ve kind of lost track of time, without real days or months.”

“Mm hmm. It’s been a year or so, give or take. Samdi time, that is. How are you getting on? Service suiting you all right?”

“It’s good enough,” she said. “I’m getting used to it. They treat me pretty well.”

“Yeah, they do. If they like you.”

She made no attempt to answer this odd remark.

“The work’s decent. The bed is warm. The food’s edible. What more could you want?”

He laughed. “What more?” He raised his mug to her.

He continued, after a swallow of beer. “I understand you were a lieutenant in the Tullsta Band. Back on Samdela.”

“Well, yes. I worked for the Zaïn. For B’jadaram.”

“Mm hmm.”

“How did you find that out?” she asked. One’s past life, as she had been firmly instructed, was to be left in the past: dead and buried. Never mentioned again.

“I know a guy who knows things.”

“Nobody has any secrets, hm?”

He smiled and allowed as to how that was so. After some small talk, he said, “I’m going up to Takrai in a couple of days. Would you like to come along?”

The mining colony was at Takrai, and Ella had also heard there were some exotic extra-planetary geological features near there. “Sure,” she said. “If we do some sight-seeing, too?”

“Absolutely. That’s the whole idea.”

“I’ll have to get time off from my boss. And I guess I’d need to clear it with my overseer, too.”

“Don’t worry about that—I’ll arrange it. Ask Vighdi for a pass tomorrow – wait till after mid-day. I’ll meet you here first thing, next day after tomorrow.”

He had noticed her.

*They live and work on the largest of Varnis’s two moons. They are both convicted felons, sentenced to lifetime slavery.

**They’re Samdi — natives of Samdela, an urbanized world largely dominated by criminal syndicates.

So it goes. Slowly. Very slowly.

What about 2018? Do I  have any goals?

I guess…

Develop a new business line: writing grant proposals. I do have some experience along those lines — quite a lot of it, matter of fact. The idea is to help develop proposals for nonprofit organizations.

This will require some work. Unfortunately I’ve developed an allergy to that, so…

The alternative is to continue puttering along with the novel, which mimics work but which is…not.

Find a writer’s group, I guess, that’s closer to where I live. The group I belong to, which I’m very fond of, is based in a suburb that’s halfway to Yuma. And over the past few months I’ve developed quite an aversion to driving around lovely Phoenix, an activity that gets more and more unpleasant as the roads get more and more crowded and drivers get more and more hostile.

So I’m hoping I can find a group that meets in town, but on an evening other than the one occupied by choir rehearsal. Which I ain’t givin’ up for nothin’ nohow.

Another potential goal: Consider putting one or more of the existing bookoids out through CreateSpace, which apparently can give you better distribution options than I have now. Admittedly, I haven’t worked very hard at marketing, an activity I profoundly dislike. I’m not convinced using CreateSpace would help much, but apparently it’s linked with Amazon, which would make it easier to distribute and sell print copies.

Looking into that. Eventually.

And speaking of distributing but not selling: I’m seriously considering using a blogsite to distribute the next little fantasy book. Gratis. Read it who may. And bully for them.

The God’s truth is, I just don’t want to work that hard anymore. Now that I have a new(ish) car that probably will not crap out in the middle of the desert, I’d like to spend a great deal more time making road trips around the Southwest. Maybe go back to the Utah Shakespeare Festival, which is a great deal of fun. Down to Tucson for some of the excellent cultural events that occur there. Back to Santa Fe, the retirement venue of my dreams.

If only.

Exploring the Amazon for Obscene Riches…

“Obscene” may be the operative term, all right. “Riches” certainly ain’t.

The S-corporation’s May bank statement came in and then sat on the desk for some time waiting for the proprietor to get around to examining it.

Lo! Here are not one, not two, nay not three but four deposits from Amazon: Two from what I assume is the US branch of the empire and one from Deutschebank, whose provenance I do not understand and do not want to understand. All I know is that both sources reflect book sales.

The grand total of all four deposits? $14.06

Wowsers. At $14 a month, the annual revenues of my little company’s book sales would come to all of $168. A year. Yeah. Such a deal!

Let’s see…how many books does P&S press have up on Amazon right now?

If you enter my name as author, you get a series of books whose titles read “Have Victory” in Spanish. Then you find four books I edited but have no author’s credit. Then you come to Math Magic, which I cowrote with Scott Flansburg (actually, I wrote it, but it’s his story and his profits). Then one of my books and then another that I edited. Finally, near the bottom of the first of 8 pages of hits, you come to the Plain & Simple tomes: Slave Labor, 30 pounds/4 Months, and the second of the boxed Fire-Rider sets (???). Then ONE of the short out-takes of Fire-Rider. (??? I thought I took all of those down!).

Second page of hits: not one of them has anything to do with  me or with anything I’ve written or edited. Third page: the third volume of Fire-Rider followed by the second volume of Fire-Rider, followed by 9 of the 18 short out-takes that I thought had been removed, all of them listed “for sale” at $0.00. Isn’t that cute? Fourth page: a bunch more of those plus two old editions of Math Magic. The rest of it, far as I can see, all irrelevant.

How annoying. No wonder I can’t sell anything at that place.

At any rate: We have five full-length books with Slave Labor, 30 Days, and the three installments of the Fire-Rider saga, plus 18 throwaway segments of Fire-Rider as shorties. That’s TWENTY-THREE PUBLICATIONS. On average, on 23 books and bookoids, then, Plain & Simple Press has earned 61 cents a piece.

Talk about your minimum wage…

Banner image of the day: DepositPhotos, ©-stokato

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Kindle “Preview” Tool

About two o’clock this afternoon I started on some of the publishing-related chores filling the To-Do list, after having completed some morning tasks that slopped over the noon hour. Several things really needed to get done today. None of them did get done, alas. Because… In the email came a notice from the Kindle folks bragging about their new “Preview” tool: a snippet of code that you can install in your website to direct readers to a fairly lengthy peek at just about any book published at Amazon.

Well, the sales potential is obvious, no? Since copying and pasting code into a WordPress page is fast and painless (usually…), I decided to belay the scheduled jobs and instead post “Preview” ads for key books I’m trying to peddle at Plain and Simple Press, at Fire-Rider, and at Funny about Money. This shouldn’t have taken longer than about 45 minutes or an hour. Max. With dawdling and Murphy’s Law figured in.

It’s now after 7:00. I never did get the Fire-Rider website updated or a page of reviews posted there. I’ve gone around in circles uploading data, making a horrifying discovery, and deleting data. And I. am. mad. as. a. CAT!

To make a long story short, after I had posted a “Preview” link to 30 Pounds / 4 Months, the new diet-cookbook that has been selling moderately well, compared to the other opuses we have online, I belatedly took it into my hot little mind to click on that link by way of testing it. What came up was a gawdawful formatting mess!

This, after I had checked, checked, checked, and re-checked that .mobi file in the large, clunky Kindle Previewer that you can download from Amazon and save to your hard drive. The one that downloads files and opens them in about half the time it takes for your hair to turn gray. In that Kindle previewer, downloadable from your Amazon Author “Bookshelf” — where you go to publish your golden words — the formatting appears to be PERFECT. But when you see it in Kindle’s fine new marketing tool, it’s sh!t.

The other books looked OK — I checked them at the time I uploaded the “Preview” links and foolishly assumed all was well. But this one is a screaming fiasco.

And of course, this happens to be the book that I expect will sell. Indeed, in hard copy it is selling rather briskly.

By the time I went back into all my websites, deleted all the “Previews” of the cookbook from every page I’d put them on, changed the links on the cookbook widgets away from the websites’ new PREVIEWS! pages and back to Amazon’s pages, and revised and updated a Funny about Money post burbling on joyfully about the new fine opportunity, I’d killed the entire afternoon struggling with this little headache.

If that weren’t enough to push the blood pressure into the ionosphere… At this point I have no idea whether 30 Pounds appears to be properly formatted when it’s loaded into a Kindle device or whether it’s a jumble of wacked-out heads, subheads, and wrong paragraph formatting.

I could, in theory, drop the price to 99 cents for a day or two or three (or however long it takes to return the price to the $9.99 that will return almost a whole dollar‘s net profit on the thing). Then I could pay Amazon for the privilege of letting me download it into my Kindle device so I can see what it actually looks like. But you wanna know what? I ain’t a-gunna do that!

My position is that Kindle should be able to provide publishers with a previewer that actually shows what our customers will see! And if they’re going to promulgate a previewer to be used as a sales tool, they should provide one that doesn’t make hamburger stew of formatting that looks fine in the previewer they claim shows what we’re publishing.

Ham and eggs? Or corned beef hash?

Ham and eggs? Or corned beef hash?

Woo Hoo! Cookbooks SELL!

Wednesday evening our redoubtable choir director agreed to let me wave the new cookbook around during the break at rehearsal. And by golly! SEVEN PEOPLE bought a copy on the spot!

And I don’t even have the hard copies yet! What I showed was a page proof from the previous PoD printer.

Down at the new guy’s plant, we saw that his software (which differs slightly from his competition’s) left a quarter-inch border along the bottom edge of the cover, so he suggested I bleed the image further off the edge. So instead of ordering a bunch to fill the requests already lined up, I had to traipse back to the office, fiddle with the cover art, and order a new page proof. {gronk}

So: if you’ve ordered a copy of 30 Pounds / Four Months, be assured yours is on the way. I expect we’ll have them in another week.

And if you’d like a hard copy, which is not available at Amazon, leave a comment to that effect at this post or at the Plain & Simple Press “contact” page.

Discounted $3 for blog friends and choir members only, the price is $10 plus shipping.

Dark Kindle LoRes

This, That, & Publishing

Busy day coming up, but wanted to post a couple of updates:

The plan to publish a hard-copy version of the first Fire-Rider collection (books I-VI) developed into a more complicated project than expected. To make a long and exceptionally frustrating story short, the Wyrd template I used to lay out the pages corrupted — or else it’s PDF, which is unknown. It took quite a while to identify the problem, and once the problem was discovered, the solution required rebuilding a 371-page document from scratch.

Once that was done, though, the PDF and the cover loaded fine, I think. LOL! We’ll find out soon enough: when the page proofs get here, we can actually put our hot little hands on them. That should allow us to see any problems and fix.

The final cover came out reasonably well, I think.

FR Hard Copy 1 Take 3 LoRes. jpg

I cut the back cover blurb considerably; added a short pull-out (the italic passage). Instead of arranging the titles of books 1 thru 6 in a vertical list on the front cover, I set them horizontally, separated by bullets. They seem less distracting that way, yet they’re readable.

This book will not be sold on Amazon (at least, I have no plans to do so at this time). I’m having it printed to produce something to take to a shindig next month, where we’ll be invited to present our works.

However, if you would like a copy, I’d be happy to sell it from this site. Just leave a query as a comment to this post. It was expensive to produce — the page proofs, which are printed and bound like a final copy — came to over $11. So I’m afraid that retail price is going to have to be a little more than $11.99. However, JUST FOR YOU, and just for a limited period, I’ll offer it at that price through this website.

In the Racy Books for Racy Readers department, we’ll also have a hard-copy collection of the Family stories:

FAMILY pkg cover LoRes

This one is at the printer, too, for production of a proof. LOL! The book actually contains eight stories…that will have to be corrected on the back cover. And there, my children, is why we have page proofs! As you can see, I haven’t even placed a bar code on it, so little do I have any intention of peddling it on Amazon. Or in hard copy at all.

The final version of this one, which also will go to the December chivaree with me, probably will have the author’s byline centered above the title, with the words Eight and Stories shifted rightward accordingly. And I think I’ll put the imprint’s name — Camptown Races Press — in small type at the lower margin of the back cover, since I’m less than 100% thrilled with the logo I came up with.

At any rate, soon the book will exist. It’ll be a COLLECTOR’S ITEM, by golly! What a Christmas present!

If you’d like a copy of it, let me know — again, contact me through the comments section to this post. Printing cost for this was a little more sane. I think I can afford to sell it for about $10, providing about $2 profit.

So, come one, come all! The first Fire-Rider collection, $11.99 (a give-away!) and the first Racy Books collection, $10.

Making Money on Amazon?

The other day I learned of a gentleman who earns $30,000 a month on sales of Amazon e-books. As it develops, what he writes is erotica, which he markets in 5,000-word novelettes selling for $2.99 apiece. He cranks these things out as fast as he can, targeting a rate of one a day…at this point, he has 265 racy bookoids posted on Amazon.

Holy mackerel.

Well. I don’t need to earn 30 grand a month. Twelve hundred would free me from adjunct bondage, and that is all I want.

What I learned about the man’s enterprise inspired some insight into how to turn one porn author’s experience into the next scribbler’s profit. This morning I held forth at my personal-finance blogsite on the subject of how to accomplish this.

Right now I have to get to work for a client, and besides, I really don’t want to reiterate what I just wrote in all new words. So, if you’re interested in what I think would work to generate profit in the Amazon retail environment, come on over to Funny about Money and check out the proposed new business model.