May 20, 2008

More Lulu-science

OK, the results are in – at my current level, the purchase of one book appears to bump me up about 3,000+ places on the Lulu sales rankings. I was at 50,227 last month when my friend Ginosion was kind enough to purchase a copy of my book, Honest, the Martian Ate Your Dog. Today I discovered that my Lulu sales ranking had jumped up to 47,063!

Well, there you have the results of the not-so-empirical evidence. Of course, now the question is, is the jump in rankings consistent if another book is purchased? :D To find out, somebody else will have to buy a copy of the book though. Any takers? :p

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Posted by Fahim at 12:09 pm  |  No Comments

April 29, 2008

First Review of “Honest, the Martian Ate Your Dog!”

Woo hoo! I’ve got my first review (scroll to the bottom of the page) and it’s pretty good! And no, I didn’t write it myself or get a friend to do it for me :p I do know the person who wrote the review – at least, I think I do …

I moderate a board on this writing forum called Absolute Write where writerly types gather together to help each other, to swap stories and to discuss the art and craft of writing :) I had helped somebody on the forums with a minor problem they had and they were kind enough to offer to do something back for me. I asked them to do a review of my book if they had the time.

This person actually went on to buy the book because they said that they’d read a few chapters and liked it enough to buy the book :) And then yesterday, I happened to scroll to the bottom of the Honest, the Martian Ate Your Dog page on Lulu, and happened to notice that I had a review! It appears that the review was written a couple of days ago. Not sure if it takes that much time for a review to come up on Lulu or if I had actually missed the review for a few days :p

Whatever the case, I’m happy with the review. Now to see if I can get a second review from somebody… :D

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Posted by Fahim at 6:23 am  |  3 Comments

April 25, 2008

First There Was Weird Science …

… And now there’s Lulu-science :) Laurie invented the term yesterday when talking about my curiosity to know how many places you are bumped up the ranks with one book sale on Lulu.

Thanks to my friend Ginosion, who bought a copy of Honest, the Martian Ate Your Dog, we are well on the way to learning what the impact of one book sale is on Lulu rankings :) Of course, the thing is, we probably have to wait a month for the next tabulation of rankings and so it’ll be a while before the next update on Lulu-science, but I will be sure to keep everybody posted as to how things go. (Of course, don’t let that stop you from buying a copy of my book, if you’ve been considering it :D Or simply download the free e-book version, see what you think of it and if you like it, then go buy the printed version …)

In other news, I am back to posting more regularly. I don’t know if this has anything to do with the switch back to WordPress or if I simply had been too tired of blogging, but I do find that I want to blog again. I do wonder if the WordPress interface has something to do with it though because in using it, I seem to find the WordPress control panel easier and more responsive than the MovableType one. Of course, this is not empirical data, just subject opinion …

April 24, 2008

“Honest, the Martian Ate Your Dog” Jumps 10,000+ Places in Lulu Sales Rankings!

I kid you not :) My book, Honest, the Martian Ate Your Dog, has jumped over 10,000 places in the Lulu sales ranks. Last week when I checked the rankings, I was somewhere around 61,729 or something similar. I check today and I am at 50,227 :)

OK, I’ll let you in on a little secret (and you probably knew this already if you know anything about self-publishing, Lulu etc.) – I only sold three books (as far as I know) for that huge jump in sales rankings :p

The thing that confuses me though is the fact that this jump in rankings did not take place for over a month after the sales occurred. But then again, that’s probably how the Lulu sales-ranking system works. Now that I think about it, if they have a return policy, that also probably allows them to take returns into account when calculating the sales rank.

Anyway, a month or so ago, I had sold two books within a short period of time and that’s when I thought about sales rankings. So I began checking the sales rankings to see if they changed. They didn’t as far as I could tell. Then I sold another book. I checked the sales rankings again. Still no change. So I thought that perhaps three books weren’t enough to make a dent in the sales rankings and gave up checking on them. Then today I happened to check the book page (as I normally do occasionally :p) and noticed that the sales rank had changed … and how! I guess it just takes a while for the rankings to change …

My question now is, how much more will my rankings go up if one more book is purchased? Anybody wanna give it a try? :D

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Posted by Fahim at 12:06 pm  |  2 Comments

March 28, 2007

Honestly, it’s free!

As some of you might know, I’ve been talking about re-writing "Honest, the Martian Ate Your Dog" for a while now. But I never seem to find the time since real-life has a nasty habit of intruding :p Currently, I’m busy writing but it’s not fiction – it’s a set of user manuals for a customer. I wish I was able to type away a page here and a paragraph there like some other writers but I can’t. I need to set myself goals and do a set amount of pages (or words a day) if I’m to work and at the moment, that’s not going to be a possibility :-(

So, while I’m aware that I might rewrite "Honest" at some point in the future, I don’t know when (if?) it will happen. If it does happen, then it will be a completely different story than the current one since the re-write is supposed to be a complete change in direction. Except for broad plot outlines and a few characters from the current novel, nothing will be the same.

However, I’ve had people who’ve read the current version of the novel comment favourably on it. There’s one guy who raves about it and keeps telling me that I shouldn’t cut such and such portion out of a re-write when I do it. This leads me to believe that it’s possible that some people might enjoy this novel even in its current format. Of course, it looks as if agents or publishers (at least the ones I’ve tried) are definitely not interested in the current version :p

I hate wasting anything and since the novel is already written, it seems a waste to throw away the current version entirely. So, I’ve put up the whole thing as a free download on Lulu :) I would have made the print version free as well but unfortunately, Lulu doesn’t allow that. So that one still has a price-tag attached to it but you can download the e-book for free. So if you’re interested, go ahead and take a look. And let me know if you enjoy it :)

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Posted by Fahim at 7:05 am  |  No Comments

March 13, 2006

Publishing, pretensions and pusillanimous platitudes

One of the writing forums I habituate, Absolute Write, has a discussion about a PoD (Print on Demand) outfit called Heliographica Press. Now the folks over at Heliographica bill themselves as a "publishing company" and talks of several imprints they have etc. Their lowest package appears to be a setup fee of $240 and $5 a month after that. Quite a tidy sum to invest to see your book published. And the thing is, this amount is supposed to get you "marketing" by Heliographica. (And I’ll get to the relevance about "marketing" in a bit …)

Now Laurie and I have considered doing the same thing that Heliographica did – not bilk people out of money but provide a low-cost solution for people who do not know enough about self-publishing to get into PoD :p I wrote about it here in my blog and even received a query from somebody else who was interested. But what they were mostly interested in was the marketing aspect – like most writers, all they wanted to do was write and to leave the marketing to the publisher. Of course, being in Sri Lanka, we certainly would not have been able to provide any sort of marketing service and would not have offered the service in the first place. However, Heliographica does offer marketing but what appears evident from the posts at Absolute Write is that they have not followed through on their promise of marketing, not to mention publishing.

But the whole marketing thing is beside the point. What I find interesting is something in the discussion thread at Absolute Write. One of the people involved with Heliographica appears at Absolute Write and takes the opportunity to say that he’s left Heliographica but wants to sell the artwork he did for the Heliographica books to the respective authors for a negotiable fee. So first they bilk the people out of the money and don’t provide them with good service and then they split up and try to gouge more money out of the people separately? That’s not just dishonest but seems to verge on the criminal. I just can’t understand people like that. Is the money worth it to crush the dreams of so many? I hope for their peace of mind that it is … But then again, so many seem to find no trouble at all in sleeping well on a bed made up of the shattered dreams of others …

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Posted by Fahim at 8:30 am  |  No Comments

January 20, 2006

Directions

As I’ve indicated here previously, I’m trying to get my first novel "Honest, the Martian Ate Your Dog" published. I’ve been trying agents but after querying about 60-70 agents, only 3 even responded with something like "let’s see your work". All the others either said that they weren’t interested without seeing one word of the novel itself or didn’t respond at all :)

I was thinking of the self-publishing route but then realized that I’d be spending a lot of money without actually knowing if my book was any good. (A few people have pointed out that it doesn’t cost much to publish through Lulu or Diggory but the fact is, to do things the way I want, it would cost at least $150 or more and while that is not a lot of money in the US, here, that’s Rs. 15,000 and some people don’t even earn that much in a month here!) Since Laurie was about the only person who’d read it all the way through, I decided to ask a few other people what they thought of the novel first, to figure out if it was even worth publishing.

My friend Nige, after reading it, responded that it was good but that it needed work and suggested that I get an editor. I looked around for editors and found that the good ones cost $850 upwards. That’s more than five times the cost I’d estimated for just publishing the book via PoD! So looks as if an editor is out of the question for the moment :p There are a few other people I’m waiting on to see what they say since so far, all I’ve gotten have been opinions of people who know me. I want the opinions of people who don’t know me :) But while waiting for that, I decided to sit down and take stock of things and decide how I wanted to proceed.

I’ve often said that I don’t want to start on the next novel without first putting this one to bed. But then again, that’s mostly because I’m that kind of person :p I am very impatient and can’t sit still for something to happen – instead, I have to be up and doing stuff and making things happen and when I don’t see something happen, I get even more impatient. However, I also realize that the world doesn’t move at my pace or my whims (I don’t know why it doesn’t though, it should darn it! :p)

As I mentioned yesterday, I am looking into submitting to Baen Books and since their electronic submission process apparently takes about a year or more, if I were to sit around waiting for something to happen, I’d probably kill myself just for the sake of having something to do :p So, I decided to sit down and re-assess things and come up with a new plan of attack. Getting an editor was out of the question for the moment and while Nige gave me enough to do another edit, I didn’t want to start another edit till I’d gotten more feedback. However, I did want to go ahead with submitting to Baen books soon since it would take about a year for the process to complete. So, it seemed about the only thing I could do was to submit to Baen, wait for comments from the people who are critting the book at the moment and integrate their suggestions into the next edit but at the same time, start working on the next novel to stop myself from driving me crazy :p So, I started work on my next novel, "Basement of the Universe" last night … but more about that tomorrow since this post is getting way too long and I need to go do some writing :)

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Posted by Fahim at 8:48 am  |  No Comments

January 18, 2006

But what next?

Now that I’ve done all of the research into Print on Demand (PoD), I’m been wondering if I should take it a step further. I have found another PoD publisher who is even a bit more cheaper than Diggory Press. I am not quite certain of the facts and figures since I am still waiting on their customer support to provide us with exact figures but on the printing side itself, they appear to be a bit cheaper than Diggory. However, if you include all the setup costs, they are much more expensive for one book.

The keyword there is *one* book. If you publish multiple books, the cost will begin to come down. This has led me to thinking about the possibility of becoming a publisher :p Yes, don’t bust out laughing just yet … Listen to the whole idea first :p You see, there seems to be a slight gap in the whole publishing hierarchy at the moment. You have your regular publishers who will only accept works that they think are commercially viable and then you have the PoD publishers where you can print whatever you want as long as you pay them. How about the area in between? What if you were to offer selective publishing for authors/books that have potential, via PoD?

Yes, I hear you saying, "Hey, if they were that good, they would have been picked up by a regular publisher!" You’re probably correct. But then again, what about the authors who cater to a niche market? What about really good authors who might not be willing to take the plunge into regular publishing because they aren’t sure about themselves? What if I (or rather we, since Laurie wants to come in on this one :p) could help somebody be published? I know I want to be published, not so much for the money as for the satisfaction of achieving something that I’ve wanted to do since I was able to read :) What if I could help somebody feel the same joy?

We’ve been discussing this quite a lot and at the moment, my biggest concern is the cost involved. We would have to go to some expense to set everything up and if nobody is interested in such a service, I don’t really want to spend all that money for nothing. At the moment, what I’m thinking of is to publish my novel through Diggory and if that makes enough money to set up this venture, and we get enough expressions of interest in such a service, we’d go ahead and set it up. But we’ll see … Of course, if you’re interested in something like that, do let us know :)

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Posted by Fahim at 8:38 am  |  1 Comment

January 17, 2006

The aunt/uncle factor – Part Trois

Yes, I know. Who is the mystery Print on Demand (PoD) company that I was talking about yesterday? :p Should I keep you in suspense? Should I drag this all out till the end of the entry? Nah, guess not :p They are Diggory Press Publishers and so far, they are the cheapest that I know of for certain, overall, to do a PoD book. Their prices actually let you have a reasonable cover price which is close to standard mass market retail prices and still make a profit.

I’ve been doing some digging on Diggory Press since I wrote my entry yesterday. There isn’t much online about Diggory Press but whatever I could find was always positive. There were a couple of people on a writing forum that I visit who were Diggory Press authors and they couldn’t praise Diggory enough – they say that they are first, efficient and do a very good job at printing. Of course, this is all hearsay. However, I did have the opportunity to experience their customer service/support firsthand when I sent in a query about cover sizes. My initial query went out on Sunday and on Monday morning, I had a response. I had a few further questions and I sent those out on Monday morning and again by business hours in the UK, I got a response and further inquiries were followed up within minutes or at least within the hour. They were very courteous and helpful and were willing to help me save money.

That brings us to the money itself. How much does it cost? I had done a costing for a 190 page 6" x 9" book with Lulu and it came to $8.34 for just the production cost. With Diggory the production cost for a 190 page 6" x 9" page came to $5.88 and I was actually able to prune down the number of pages by about 10 pages due to the way Diggory asks for books to be formatted/laid out for publishing as opposed to the way Lulu wants it done.

However, there are a few catches with Diggory, if you are a Lulu aficionado :p The first is that with Diggory you have to pay $50 up front as a setup fee. You also have to purchase your first proof copy at $20 (you have to tack on about $7 more if you are not in the US or UK for international postage). You can get an ISBN from them for about $80 and they throw in listings with online bookstores and some of the major wholesalers for that price and add the ISBN to your cover as well. You can of course, go with your own ISBN if you have one but you won’t get the free listings then. (The difference here is that if you use Diggory’s ISBN, they become the publisher for your book but if you use your own, you are the publisher). If you do decide to go with the ISBN option be aware that Diggory has to send out 6 copies of your book (at your cost, including postage) to the British libraries. This apparently is the law and not something that Diggory has control over.

The overwhelming advantage that I see with Diggory is that if you go through them and use them as your distributor/fulfilment agent, you can provide as low a discount as 25% to Amazon.com and you can list your books with them. At that price, I can still afford to have a cover price of $10 and hope to make a small profit … if anybody buys my book that is (and that’s a completely different story :p)

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Posted by Fahim at 8:30 am  |  No Comments

January 16, 2006

The uncle and aunt factor – Part Deux

Everything, as I said yesterday, is relative :p I had investigated a few Print on Demand (PoD) publishers a week or two ago and had settled on Lulu as the best of the lot. My decision was based on the cost per book since I wanted to set a reasonable cover price for the book and not be priced out of the market even before I began putting my books up for sale. Of all the PoD companies that I looked at, Lulu appeared to be the only one who could produce my book at a reasonable cost so that I could set a cover price of around $10 and be still able to make some sort of profit. But that was before I looked closer at Lulu’s Global Distribution Service.

If you publish with Lulu the normal way, your books are simply listed on Lulu’s own website or you can get a bunch of copies printed out and then take them around to booksellers yourself. However, your book will not be listed with any online booksellers or with the major book wholesalers and that’s where I expect most sales (if any would come in). After all, most of the people visiting Lulu are trying to sell their own books – would they actually want to buy more books?

In order to list your books with an online bookseller or the wholesalers, you need an ISBN number. You can get an ISBN from Lulu for $45 but it doesn’t get you much beyond that. If you go with Lulu’s Global Distribution Service for $150, then you get listed with the major wholesalers and with the major online bookstores as well as having Lulu act as your book distributor. I was all set to to with the Global Distribution Service before I read their FAQ and realized that if I used their Globabl Distribution Service (GDS), my cover price would have to change. According to Lulu, there are two prices when you go into their GDS channel – retail price and wholesale price. The wholesale price would be the one I originally had in mind for the book, the new retail price would be twice that! So suddenly, my book would jump from an affordable $10 to a rather high $20! Of course, according to Lulu, Amazon for instance would list the $20 retail price but also give a secondary discounted price which would be a few dollars lower but according to a friend, this doesn’t always happen and besides, even at $18 – $15 it would still be pretty expensive.

This was when I began looking around for other alternatives to Lulu and I did find one that I think is the best PoD publisher that I’ve discovered so far – they do charge an up-front fee unlike Lulu but their overall costs are reasonable and they do produce books for even less than Lulu’s production cost. Besides, they will place your books with Amazon (and other online booksellers) as well as with a lot more wholesalers than Lulu and they will act as your distributor but you would (or at least I would) still end up with a cover price around $10! So who is this mystery publisher? I will reveal all tomorrow in the third part in the It’s All Relative series after I’ve done some more investigation of this particular publisher to make certain that they are as good as they seem :p

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Posted by Fahim at 7:17 am  |  2 Comments

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