Both book signings were terrific successes, with lots of hardcovers leaving in people’s hands—in many cases, the hands of people I did not know before the signings. (Always a good indicator.) And the folks at Menotomy Beer & Wine were fantastic, made me feel welcome and even sent me home with a bottle of wine! This continues my experience that the best place to do book signings is not necessarily at bookstores (though I’m happy to sign at bookstores, too!), but at places where something else is going on. Indoor water park, church fair, wine tasting—what’ll be next?
I’ve added a second book signing of Sunborn to the one previously announced:
- On Friday evening, Nov. 7, from 6:30 to 8:30, I’ll be doing a benefit signing at Park Avenue Congregational Church in Arlington, Mass., at the annual fair.
- On Saturday, Nov. 8, from 4:00 to 7:00, I’ll be signing as a guest at the regular wine tasting at Menotomy Beer and Wine, also in Arlington.
Click for a full rewrite, with details and locations. Stop by! Have some lasagna and pie (Friday) and some wine (Saturday).
Well, this is kind of depressing. And no, I’m not talking about the election; that’s still a few hours off. No, I’m talking about the stats for downloads of the ebooks—especially Sunborn. Turns out that my web logs analyzer, a program called Analog that I’ve used faithfully for years, has been lying to me about the number of downloads.
Well, not lying exactly, just being stupid.
I think this applies mainly just to the PDF downloads rather than the others, because people can actually open the PDF file right in their browser without downloading the file to their hard drive. And when they do, the file is sent to them in little packets, which you would only notice by the repeated little message at the bottom of the browser indicating activity. As I discovered to my dismay last night, each of those little packets gets its own line in the logs. And Analog has been counting each of those packets as a separate download request! And fooling me like a politician greasing a gullible audience.
To paraphrase one such politician of the past*, let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am not a crook. However, previous reports of the downloads of Sunborn and the other PDF files are exaggerated. A lot. A real lot. As nearly as I can tell, actual complete downloads of Sunborn are in the low-mid hundreds at this point, and the highest, Neptune Crossing, is at maybe a thousand. All told, the cumulative ebook downloads are in the thousands, but I’m not even going to try to guess a more exact number. That’s not cottage cheese, but it’s nowhere near the 20K plus that Analog was selling me.
To say that this discovery was a downer would be no exaggeration.
Anyone know a better free (or cheap) web-logs analyzer? (I’ve tried a few, but none quite fit the bill yet.)
*For the young’ns among you, or those outside the U.S.: Richard M. Nixon, the worst president in U.S. history prior to the current one.
“From my close observation of writers … they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.” —Isaac Asimov
Our panel at Umass Lowell, as part of the Concord Festival of Authors, went very well. Panelist and new writer Chris Howard blogged about it, and said everything I would say, except that he gave a nice big plug to Sunborn while he was at it. Thanks, Chris!
Funny thing: I clicked on Chris’s Amazon link to Sunborn, and noted with my usual scowl that Amazon already listed used copies for sale, three days after the book’s release. Then, out of curiosity, I clicked to look at the actual listing—and saw, first of all, that most were actually new, not used, copies from Amazon Marketplace sellers. But here’s the funny part—some sellers listed used copies for over $40, or more than twice Amazon’s price for new books! Do you suppose anybody would actually buy one of those? It’s good work if you can get it.
Sunborn is a book, available in fine stores everywhere! Yay! I even have copies myself! By a wonderful fluke, the case I ordered for the upcoming book signing at the Menotomy Beer and Wine store (see earlier post) arrived on my doorstep today. So I get to see it, too! (This may sound odd, but usually the writer is the last to get copies. Well, sometimes the editor is last, and the writer is second to last. Indeed, there’s no telling when my regular “author’s comp copies” will arrive.)
If you’d like to read before you buy, here’s the deal on downloads. I’ve put up a regular PDF version for free download. This will look nice on your computer (but probably not so great on your small device). In addition, I’m offering anyone who buys the hardcover a free ebook in other ebook formats, straight from me! Buy the book from me or from any store—and just send me proof of purchase of any kind. Details are on my downloads page.
I don’t quite have the ebook ready at this moment. I’ve been untangling the formatting on Tor’s typesetting file, which required a somewhat messy Quark to Word conversion. That’s just about done, and very soon I’ll be able to start converting it into the formats that ebook readers prefer.
The long wait is over!
For those of you in eastern Massachusetts or southern New Hampshire, or…okay, for those of you in the continental U.S., or neighboring countries…
The evening of October 30 will find me moderating a panel at the University of Massachusetts Lowell campus, called “We May Be On to Something Here (Science Fiction in the 21st Century).” Part of the Concord Festival of Authors, the panel will also include Craig Shaw Gardner, new writer Chris Howard, Alexander Jablokov, and Matt Jarpe. We’ll kick off at 7:30 p.m., jawbone interestingly with each other and the audience for a while, then segue into a book signing hosted by the university bookstore. This will be my first opportunity to sign Sunborn—and in all likelihood the first time I will have set eyes on the actual book myself.
If you can’t make that—or even if you can—you’ll have another chance to say hello and pick up a signature on a shiny new hardcover (if that appeals to you, and why wouldn’t it?) on Saturday, November 8, from 4-7 p.m. The venue will be a little different this time; I’ll be signing at Arlington’s Menotomy Beer and Wine store, while a free wine-tasting swirls around me. The wine tastings are a popular event at the store, and it’s a great bunch of people, with some interesting wines. Stop by and say hi!
Another signing is tentatively planned for later in November, but more about that when details firm up.
And don’t forget: you can download the first three novels of the Chaos Chronicles for free in ebook form, so even if you haven’t read them yet, you can grab them now and be all up to speed for Sunborn. Go for it!
I’ve taken a hard look at my audiobook project and reluctantly decided to pull the plug on it for now. Oh, it would be great to have Sunborn available in audio format, and no doubt it would bring in new readers. It’s something I enjoy doing, too—when I’m not feeling pressured to get it done, and to do it just so. But it was just taking too much time for too little result, and it was cutting way into my writing on the new book. So I’m putting it on ice for a while, or at least on the back burner.
I don’t consider the time wasted, and I hope some people listened to and enjoyed the sample recording. (Besides those who have posted here, I mean.) I learned a lot in the process. One thing I learned is that it’s not an easy thing to do well, and you need to spend almost as much time editing the recording of a chapter as you did editing the text in the first place. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but still. Another thing I learned is that I probably need better equipment—microphone, headphones, and so on. That will have to wait.
I do hope to return to it at some point. I may keep fiddling from time to time, to see if I can make the process go more smoothly. But for right now, I’ve put a lot of time into work that one way or another is to promote Sunborn. It’s time I started putting more of my time into The Reefs of Time.
“When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages a sick sense of failure falls on me and I know I can never do it. This happens every time. Then gradually I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all I can permit myself to contemplate and I eliminate the possibility of ever finishing.” —John Steinbeck
They’re all up, now—all three volumes to date of The Chaos Chronicles. They’re all free all the time, on my downloads page. (The Infinite Sea still has a few formats unfinished, but the most popular formats are up now.) Thanks, as always, to my friends on the Mobilread forum for their help with conversions.
And do come try the audio podcast of Sunborn. Word on that doesn’t seem to be getting out as fast, or maybe the audiobook people are a different demographic. But if you know people who listen to books while they drive, or on their mp3 players while they jog, send ’em my way. Right now I have a starter file of the prologue and chapter one. It’s an exacting and sometimes frustrating business getting a good reading down, and chapter two has been giving me fits. But we’ll get there. If you record it, they will come—right? Let’s hope so.
“Half of my life is an act of revision.” —John Irving
I’ve been submerged in the recording studio (my office) for the last few days, and have emerged with the first taste of what my audiobook of Sunborn will be like, if the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise. I’ve put the prologue and first chapter up for free download, pretty much in finished form.
“Good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason they write so very little. But we do.”
This comes under the “better late (I hope) than never” heading. Tonight—yes, tonight, Saturday Sept. 13—there will be a fund-raising auction for our church, Park Avenue Congregational (UCC) in Arlington, Mass. If you’re in the area, come by and bid on good stuff. One of the good stuff is a chance to be a character in the novel I’m writing right now! That would be The Reefs of Time, which I just spent the week hammering on while on retreat on Cape Cod. I’m back now, and I’ll be there. (All the details are under that link.)
Last time there was such an auction, a few years ago, the bidding for character-rights was energetic. We finally awarded rights to two bidders, and those characters will be appearing at long last in Sunborn.
*Our other church is the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Cambridge. Yeah, we’re part of two congregations. Weird, huh? But we have great friends and community in both. If any of our Vineyard friends are reading this, I hope you stop by!