Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Kobo Experience

I've dallied about, posted my work on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but sort of gave the hairy eyeball to that "Kobo Thing".

In one of my frequent chats with Michael Kingswood we got to discussing the success he's found with Kobo's platform.  My hairy eyeball came creeping out again, and I decided to take another swing around the block to peek for myself.  What was this Kobo Thing?

Plainly put, Kobo is kind of what is Amazon is... where Amazon is not.  Kobo, for instance, has a considerable presence in Japan.  KDP, Amazon's proprietary blah de blah, does not list in Japan.

This is not the only place Kobo is working it, while Amazon is lagging.  In fact, it appears Kobo is quietly becoming a powerhouse... in other parts of the world.

So, hairy eyeball intact, I signed up and took a swing around Kobo's Authors Enter HERE site, weirdly titled (at least for me) Kobo Writing Life.  It just doesn't roll off the tongue.

The site seems clean, easily navigable.  Things are logically placed.  There are notes to help you along.  The unimaginatively entitled Dashboard has very insightful and interest-piquing promises... once you've published a book, that is.  It has features like quick stats, if you just want to eyeball (hairy or no) your income.

It has a graph that shows your daily sales... you know, for you, so you don't have to swim through ugly excel sheets just trying to figure out your monthly numbers coughAmazoncough.

It conveniently lists your top sellers in order, and also has (what promises to be) a cool map showing you world interest by region!

I've been meaning to go back through the IH series with a fine-toothed comb.  I know I have typing errors, weird errors, in there.  I'm sure of it.  In fact, I went through "Cheat", the first episode today.  Oh yeah, best error?

He felt like a fool.  Except, I didn't type fool.  I typed food.  I wonder what type of food he felt like?

But I've been pondering over DWS, and the value of my time, my work, ect.  At 20k, the IH episodes should be sitting pretty at the $2.99 mark.  So that's my goal.  As I update them with the cleanest possible copies, and little teasers like "Look out for episode HARGLE" (where HARGLE = the next number in sequence) I'm going to start prodding the price points up to $2.99.  So if you're somewhere in the middle of the series, here's your warning - they won't stay $1.99 forever!

So back to Kobo.

The update process was remarkably painless, after remembering my early days stumbling through Amazon and B&N's complicated, often slow and annoying systems.

There is even a link, prominently placed and easily visible, for people to provide feedback and "I'd like to see..." suggestions.

I think Kobo's really got their heads on straight when it comes to bringing in the talent.  Honestly, Amazon's site looks like something I'd picture from the DOS age and B&N is kind of all over the place.  And one major point that Amazon just cannot understand, but that B&N at least has down - when a book has been edited, you can easily go back in and change your edits.  Leave out something in the description?  No problem, change it before it goes to review.  Kobo is fatalistically simple to get back into your queued-for-review books.  Amazon locks them down like Fort Knox, often making you wait hours, (days, in the beginning) to be able to worm back in and fix an error.

So, I uploaded "Cheat" to Kobo today.  I'm hoping to get at least 1 IH up a week until they're all up, and then we'll start on the rest.  "Shackled"'s KDPS runs out at the end of this month.  Time to get 'er back out there, and on a new market!

Oh, and the best part is that Kobo is running a special through the end of November - any titles at the 70% price point... will be bumped up to 80%!  That's not only a sweet deal for authors that just... well... sweet.  You can't help but wonder if Kobo maybe, just maybe, cares about us.

Kobo, you've got yourself a convert.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Year-on-Year (YoY), September 2012

I'll keep this pretty short, as there isn't much to say.  My YoY from September showed pretty bleak numbers... basically this whole year.  I had a nice bit in August, when my IH series was bought in completion.

July was my first 0 sales month in the 17 months I'd been publishing at that point.  (January 2011 doesn't count, I started publishing in February.)

I'm hoping to ramp up with some good offerings this Christmas, pull myself up by my bootstraps as it were.  I'll have my second full novel coming out, tentatively in November ("Youth").  It will be in BOTH digital and print!  I'm considerably excited about that.

Also, the Writer's of the Future entry I submitted in July is up for judging between now and December!  Here's hoping I hear something good from that :)

Okay, so cut the suspense - here's the chart.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Problem With Moving...

... is that everything you own HAS to go with you.

For people who are not sentimental hoarders, they may find this is no problem.  Old junk?  Throw it away!

For people who ARE sentimental hoarders, like myself, this is a Big, Big Problem.

First off, just because we have all this stuff, doesn't mean we want all this stuff.  It's quite overwhelming, actually.  Memories everywhere, and no fortitude to throw any of it away.  I think, actually, negative desire to get rid of it.

Fortunately, I'm not a shopper-hoarder.  I don't go out and buy a lot of stuff and then never take the tags off any of it, or leave it in the original shopping bag...  No, my stuff is accumulated through a lifetime of interaction with other people, who shove things onto my being, and which I am then incapable of disposing of.


Moving all of that is just about the biggest pain in the rear you can picture.  Not just the packing, the mountain of boxes, of sheer stuff... but the pain inside that goes with parting with any of it.

I did good, real good, packing up my house.  In fact, I threw away twenty trash bags, and donated four boxes, including a giant box of stuffed animals and another of clothes.

I am not going to lie.  When the garbage men took away that first huge load (I did it in a few so they wouldn't get stuck with everything at once and so I could slowly make my way through the house), I had a moment of teary panic.  I had to tell myself, "You can't climb into the back of that dumpster truck, nor would you want to.  It's disgusting.  The stuff was trash.  If it wasn't, it is now.  Let it go."

Contrary to the mantra that, "It gets easier", it doesn't.  It really doesn't.  I think, if anything, you develop a stronger and more impulsive grip on things you still have.  It's like all your mania was spread over all these things, and with half of those things gone, you have twice as much mania for the remaining things.  But I managed to pack, and ship all my stuff away, and leave a lot of it in a landfill (sad face) back where I came from.

The thing about not being a shopper-hoarder, is that at least my stuff hasn't increased since then.  But it's still too much.  We moved from a three bedroom house with a full basement to a two bedroom apartment on the second floor.  We're swimming in boxes, and truthfully, I think most of it's mine.

I probably know, that most of it's mine.

So I made a pledge to myself that went something like this:
"I will throw away one thing, everyday, until I have an acceptable amount of things."

It may sound strange, but I am a minimalist at heart.  When I moved to Japan, I took two suitcases.  The airport stole one.  I survived just fine with one suitcase... for three years.

Now, of course I bought things while I was in Japan.  And a lot of those things ended up shipping back home with me (ugh).  But the point is, I felt free, happy, and unencumbered.  I loved that.  (I missed the half of my stuff that didn't make it... but... hey, whatareyagonnado.)

Today I should have throw away my 24th "thing".  I've "thrown away"... two.  One was a book that molded (BIG SAD FACE) and the other was a wallet that technically I gave to Andy because his fell apart, but I'm counting it anyway.

So today, I made the heart-string-pully decision to catch myself up and I started going through boxes.  A few of the things were easy, but when I could open a box and just go, "Nope, nothing in here" and close it... I'm in for a rough time.  So here's the things I threw away:

1. Kinex Big Ball Factory Instruction Manual
2. Kohl's Internship Lanyard with attached bracelets, nametag and pin.
3. Stuffed cow doll.  Present from high school friends.
4. Marching band saxaphone lanyard (to hold up sax while playing and marching).
5. Tiny stuffed dog with elongated velcro arms.
6. Gameboy Advance Pokemon Ruby instruction manual.
7. Waitress money collection/book thingy.
8. Starcraft Strategy Guide.
9. Brood Wars Strategy Guide.
10. Guard's Uniform shirt.
11. WoW Burning Crusade instruction manual.
12. City of Heroes quick start guide (they closed it down!!)
13 - 15. Gargoyle statues
16. Stuffed claw machine dog.
17 - 18. 2 Portal MTG decks.
19. The figurine from the top of my graduation cake.
20. Toy skeletal dragon.
21. Lipton bottle I was using as a pen holder
22. Old Starter ballcap with the Chinese symbol "star" from an ex when I was in high school and that will never fit my fat head again.

So with the moldy book and wallet, that makes twenty-four and I am all caught up :P