My Books & Stories (Amazon Page)

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Random Check In

Wow, it's been almost 6 months since my last post. That's too long. Job's going well, but I'm buried in paper. Relationship attempt didn't pan out and, in fact, went horribly awry. Fire On The Suns, Volume 1 is finally finished and I'm working on a second draft and putting all the pieces together. I always knew this would be a series. I've started a new WIP, another "icky bug" with the working title Hivers. Third Pulse hit a milestone and I'm now working on the outline for the next third of the book. Gated is still on hold. Just a brief update today. I'll see about posting more frequently soon.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

New Job, New Stories, New Paths

It's been awhile (again) since I posted, but in the meantime there have been several new developments in my life and career.

First off, in the last 3 months I've published the short stories Survival, Infection, Showdown, and A Day In The Life to Smashwords, Amazon and PubIt! These are some of the best stories I've ever done, I think.

I've pushed the novel Fire On The Suns to almost 54 thousand words and the Kon'tai-Py'ron war is erupting, the Py'ron I'an is in the hands of a mad emperor, the Swarm is in the process of being completely destroyed by a mysterious and unknown enemy, and the Terran Federal Republic is finding itself caught up in an inextricable web of interstellar diplomacy and deception as it is drawn deeper into the Kon'tai-Py'ron conflict. Meanwhile, the Py'ron plot to smash the Kon'tai and drive back the Kon'tai's Terran allies by bringing in the Hee'Dra on their side of the war, and the Saurian Confederation (working name) has embarked on an expedition against the Arachnids (working name) far on the other side of the TFR. War has come to the local region of the galaxy, a war that will gradually draw in all of the known powers and many unknowns and which will leave the region forever changed.

Third Pulse has been pushed to just under 28 thousand words. Our hero Max is beginning to raise his own army to combat the sinister designs of the villain Blood Wyrm. But Blood Wyrm has plans of his own and, in a move to capture Max, has confronted and trapped him, alone, in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Against overwhelming odds, Max is fighting a desperate battle against a multitude if villains and minions, hoping his friends and allies can reach him in time.

Gated is currently sitting at 12 thousand words or so while I focus on other projects such as the short stories The Bar (zombies), another story of the 416th Space Marines Pathfinders Regiment, and a follow-up to my old story Knock On Wood.

In more, um, personal news, I've just been hired by a new employer after almost 7 months out of work. This is one of those dream jobs, a technical writing position paying $15/hour which is better pay than I've made since 2007 and excellent pay for the area I'm living in now. Plus, it's a regular M-F schedule the likes of which I haven't worked since 2002.

You might also say I'm pursuing something of a relationship with someone I'm deeply interested in. Whether or not she's as deeply interested in this, um, pursuit, remains to be seen, but I have my fingers crossed.

So, needy to say, I've been a bit busy over the last couple of months and look forward to being just as busy over the next several.

I'll try to post more often, but that will depend fully on how things go down the road (I always try, I rarely, it seems, actually succeed).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tracking Amazon Rankings

Okay, I admit it, I'm addicted to tracking my story's rankings on Amazon (and checking sales). I don't know why precisely, but I like to see when one of my stories drops below the 100k mark. That's an indicator of sales, but not an indicator of major sales (you have to drop down into the 10-20k range for decent sales and the 1-5k range for good sales, and the below 1k rank for sellng like hot cakes).

Honestly, however, the sales rankings on Amazon mean nothing to a writer. Not really. Those rankings, according to noted authority James D. MacDonald over on the Absolute Write forum, are for the readers to allow them to judge the popularity of a book they might be thinking about purchasing.

Personally, I'm beginning to think it's a mistake to put rankings up at all. It's definitely a mistake for a writer to obsess over them and fret about them.

I mean, if you walk into a brick and morter bookstore, you're not going to see books arrayed in some kind of artificial ranking system. You'll see bestsellers, new releases, and books laid out for special sales or holiday seasons, but you will never see a ranking number attached to those books or see them placed on the shelves in any specific order.

What the Amazon rankings do is tell a reader "Hey, this book is popular". The idea begins with the assumption that a reader cannot judge for themselves what book they're actually looking for. In essence, Amazon's ranking system assumes the reader is stupid in my opinion. The rankings, made by some arbitrarily mysterious algorithm, can even be "gamed" (and have been) by savvy or clever marketers. The rankings are not, as is commonly believed, based solely on sales alone (though they probably should be), but Amazon won't tell us what the rest is based on. A guess can be made that it's partially sales, partially searches, partially value, etc., etc., all of which factor into the algorthm that spits out an arbitrary number that the writers can obsess over the numbers and the readers can make entirely arbitrary decisions about the work without even sampling it.

The fact is, the only numbers that should matter to the writer are sales - and they shouldn't matter all that much. Stories either work or they don't. It is impossible to predict whether a story will sell or appeal to readers or not (believe me, some of the stuff I thought was my best work has so far flopped worse than a freshly-caught trout on a rock).

Amazon's rankings might be intended to attract readers, but I think readers should think for themselves. Only you know what you like. Amazon can make suggestions based on what you've purchased or searched for previously, but they can't tell the reader what they like any more than the writer can predict what the reader is going to like and buy.

Be your own person. Read what you want. Do not let Amazon or anyone else try to steer you in any particular direction as a reader.

As a writer, forget those rankings. They're not for you. Look at your sales instead, but don't obsess over them either. You've got better things to do.

Like writing your next piece.

Get busy.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing

I stumbled over this great post by Chuck Wendig posted by John Helfers today on FaceBook so I'm linking to it. Lots of great advice in this one and I'm guilty of doing a lot of them myself.