Category archive: Technology

Record Sales Numbers

I’ve been carrying out an internet experiment over the last month.  I put two short stories up for sale on Amazon for Kindle downloads and waited to see how many random purchases might occur.  The results were pretty much what you’d expect: none.

Oh, the Amazon sales report says that I’ve sold two copies of each, but that’s just me testing out two different platforms to see how the formatting carries through.  Somehow that has netted me $1.40 US hard cash in royalties.  Yippee!  That only cost me $4.00 to acquire.

Since I’ve never sold anything before I guess I can call this a record for sales of my shorts, at least the electronic version.  I have no idea what Storyteller Magazine’s sales figures were like back when these stories were first published.

The lesson I take from this is that the internet is very crowded, and if you’re just standing back in a corner waiting to be discovered–well, you’d have a better chance of being noticed in a football stadium at the Super Bowl with two minutes left in a tie game and a field goal in the offing.

So now to part two of the plan: e-pub the rest of the Sioux Rock Falls short stories, add some new ones that have never been published and package it into an anthology.  Then I’ll put that up for sale and the true test begins: marketing.

Now I wouldn’t risk an anthology if we were talking about traditional publishing.  An author once warned me that the big book chains have programs that check the sales of your previous book before ordering your most recent.  So if you only sold five per store at the chain last time, they’ll only order five per store this time, and unless they get repeated requests they won’t reorder.  Bummer.  An author can’t break out unless, like Yann Martel, you win the Mann Booker prize for your second novel.

The problem with anthologies is they don’t sell well–see my previous post about short stories for my theory as to why–so by putting out an anthology you risk killing the sales of your NEXT book.

But e-publishing gets around that.  No sales record at the big chains to worry about.

So let’s see if I can set a new sales record!

Am I a Closet Luddite?

I think of myself as a tech using guy, but with technology changing so fast we’re always tested.  I hope I will never catch myself using expressions like “new-fangled.”  I’m determined to march through middle age without saying, “Back in my day we didn’t need…”  Refer to latest gadget here.

So I was surprised by my gut reaction to this link sent to me by The Fogel. She describes it as a toy for reviewing my novel, and her point is that there are some words I use with monotonous frequency.

This toy is designed to search your text, find those overused words and put them up in fun graphic displays.  The more you use a word, the bigger its size.

But Hemingway, Fitzgerald,  and all the greats didn’t have this toy.  I can’t imagine Margaret Atwood needing it.

Then I remembered my creative writing teacher at University of Toronto.  He told us that he prefers to write with an IBM typewriter, the way Hemmingway did back in the thirties.  I had to repress a derisive snort.  Hemingway used a typewriter because it was the word processor of his day.  I’m sure he had contemporaries who preferred to write long hand, and I bet they had all kinds of excuses like: the pen flows with my thoughts; the typewriter is too jarring and loud.

Hemmingway was using the modern tech gadget of his day. Writing a play with a quill won’t make me William Shakespeare.

So I will put my novel through this toy, because I want to use all the tools at my disposal to make it effortless for the readers.

But I admit I’m worried about the word brown.

Reader Wars: Sony vs Kindle

Nothing makes me crazier than wasting hours on the phone with a customer service representative.  Especially when he/she finally discovers that the corp has a fault with their e-store, which they attempt to blame on an external publisher.  Well, almost nothing makes me crazier.

But first: the hardware.

Touch is cool.  Sony’s e-reader has s shiny pen that lifts neatly out of the side and allows you to navigate or take notes right on the touch screen.  That’s truly great hardware, but unfortunately that’s one of the very few things that Sony does better than the Kindle.

I’ve got them both in front of me.  The Kindle has better contrast, sharper text and less glare from the screen.

But the real difference is content.  The Reader Store’s featured fiction today is mostly around $13, where as at Amazon’s Kindle Ebook store everything is $9.99 US or less, including the Man Booker 2010 prize winner The Finkler Question at $7.84US.  With the Canadian dollar essentially at par, and soon to be worth more than the US dollar if the pundits are right, this is superior pricing.

Kindle also wins for freebies.  Be it a mystery novel or the complete Sherlock Holmes, we’ve downloaded a lot of free books from the Kindle Store that were later offered at regular pricing.  Nothing is free at the Reader Store.

I admit that the e-pub format for the Reader is open source, which means there is content out there for free if you want to go sifting around the internet, but one stop shopping fits better into my schedule than visiting a dozen sites.

Apple’s i-pod took off not just because it was a spiffy gadget, but because the i-tunes store provided cheap, legal content–and lots of it.

Which brings me back to Sony’s Reader store.  The last book I tried to buy from them wouldn’t download even though I had clicked on Canadian edition.  It took two one-hour-long phone calls over two days for a customer service rep to announce that the publisher had done something wrong and the book wasn’t available to Canadians yet.   Now I bought this book because the Reader Store sent me an e-mail showing off the deals of that day.  Sure, maybe the publisher F-ed up, but the Reader Store needs to take responsibility for their content rather than just shrug their shoulders.

It took another phone call a month later to have the charges (that they claimed wouldn’t go through) reversed on my credit card.

So in my books (pun intended) Kindle wins over the Sony E-reader.  Kindle even has a better name.