Monday, December 9, 2019

The Rest of 2019 is a Wash

In case you missed it on yesterday's post at The Writing Spectacle, I talked about giving up on writing for the rest of the year.  And giving up on talking about writing.  And how it will probably mean a loss of posts here at Outside the Box.    If you stop by here on regularly scheduled posting days and there isn't anything new, I hope you'll stop over at The Writing Spectacle.  The posts there won't necessarily be writerly, of course.  I talk about all sorts of stuff over there.

I'm doing this because, right now, I'm not writing and everything I have to say about writing is depressing.  Plus, I think that talking about writing, or lack thereof, is actually not doing me any good as far as writing goes. 

Don't worry.  I am not quitting writing or this blog.  I'm merely taking a break.  Or as Hubs is fond of saying, "When you're lost in the woods, just stop."  It's a time to get my bearings without further thrashing around getting more lost.

Maybe it's like trying to coax a rabbit out of hiding.  The more noise you make and the more you try, the more it will shrink away from you.  But, if you sit very still, it may come out of its hole.  :shrug:  It's a theory.

Anyway, thanks for following this blog.  I hope you'll continue to do so in the coming year.  I'm not entirely sure there won't be any posts here between now and then, but I wanted to give you a heads-up that the regular schedule won't be regular.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Not Here Today

Since I don't have anything writerly to talk about today, I decided to post over at The Writing Spectacle.  Head on over there if you want to read about us tromping around in the woods trying to determine our property line.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Time Again for Spreadsheets

I said something yesterday about doing a post about spreadsheets over here today.  Then it occurred to me that I've probably done a similar post in years past.  So, basically, if you've heard it all before, you can skip this post.

If you've been around here long enough, you know that I'm kind of a spreadsheet geek.  (Okay, I'm a geek in other ways, too.)  I make spreadsheets for all sorts of stuff - books I acquire, weight loss, word counts, expenses...  I also do spreadsheets for work, but that's another story. 

I like being able to see the data, track the data, research the data.  Look for patterns, compare  numbers, check for errors, etc.  Whether any of this does me any good is anyone's guess.  It keeps me out of trouble.  Right now, it's the time to start working on the spreadsheets for 2020.

My two main writerly spreadsheets are for tracking book sales.  There's a small one and there's a big one.  The small one - Book Sales Data - feeds the big one - Sales Totals.

Any time I see any sales activity, I plug it into Book Sales Data.  That one has tabs for each month and on each tab, it has each book and each book has a column of dates.  It also has columns for the price it sold at and where (country-wise), pages read, etc.  So, if I sell a book today, I'd type a one in say the Dying Embers section in the $3.99 column.  Or if someone in the UK read 100 pages of Wish in One Hand, I'd put 100 in the KU UK section (which could then feed a formula in another column to give me the percent of book read).

It's all very geeky. 

Anyway, the numbers go into Book Sales Data, which then feeds the behemoth Sales Totals spreadsheet to give me yearly totals and allow me to analyze things like how many books I've sold in any given month, how much money I've made, etc.  And then compares it against previous years, etc. With things color coded by book, so I don't get lost in the data forest.
It's a rainbow! Yep, geeky.

I'm not sure I like all the colors I chose for the books, but it's there now and after all this time, changing colors would totally harsh my groove.  BOAI is brown, dammit, and it will always be brown.

I suppose this all comes from my sales/management/computer tech/data entry background.  The sales force (me) needs to know what's selling and what's not and the management (me) needs to be able to see it all at a glance, so the computer tech (me) need to put it all in a useable format so data entry (me) can input everything easily.  Umm...

I can also take all of this and be able to provide the CFO (Hubs) with answers to any questions he might ask pertaining to book sales.  He doesn't ask, but it's there if he does.  Sometimes, I just blurt out stuff like 'hey, I reached 3000 books sold this morning'.* Or I show him the graphs when compare sales by month or by year.  Because they're pretty.
Oh, to have a sales spike like May of 2015 again...

I have another spreadsheet that tracks expenses pertaining to each book, but let's not talk about that one.  It depresses me and I haven't updated it in months. I should probably do that before year end, though.  Blerg.

Now, I started doing this when I first started selling books in 2015, so it made adding to it each year relatively easy.  If you were going to do one, that's the time to do it.  If you're already years into your book sales, it can still be done, but it would be a bear to recapture all that old data if you haven't already got it.  You could start from here.  You know, if you want to be geeky like me.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I just had a geeky spreadsheet idea to fix a problem I've been having with something I do for the office.

Any questions?  Comments? 

*happened last week, but I forgot to add it to the Sunday Update.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Notice of Error in Wish Hits the Fan

If you didn't see this on Facebook, yesterday I was notified of a problem with WISH HITS THE FAN.  (If you already saw it, here it is again.)

This is the verbiage I posted to FB pasted here so I didn't have to type it again... 

I was just contacted by a reader who informed me of a major error in WISH HITS THE FAN. It has been corrected with Amazon and will be live within 72 hrs, but if you downloaded the book recently, you may still have the crap version on your Kindle. (Not sure how that works.)

I am truly embarrassed and extremely sorry. If you have experienced this error, please PM me and I can send you a PDF copy of the book free of charge. (To protect myself, you must be able to tell me specifically what the error is in order to claim a PDF file.)

Again, all apologies. The error is totally on me and I have no excuses. I hope you'll forgive me for any irritation this may have caused and continue to read my books.

On the upside, he was very nice about it and said he was enjoying the series.
If you're seeing this here for the first time, you don't have to FB private message me to get your PDF.  Email me instead.  Protection still applies.  If you can tell me exactly what was wrong, then I'll email you a PDF copy for your troubles.   
Not exactly the way I wanted to start Thanksgiving, but thanks to the one conscientious reader who took the time and had the courage to contact me, it should be fixed shortly. 

All my other books appear to be fine.  I checked.

Always, if you have any issues with any of my books, please contact me.  I'm pretty approachable.

Thanks again for your support and your understanding.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Writing Shuffle

There's a little dance we do here in the writing world.  Stop me if you've heard the tune. 

Two steps forward, experience paralyzing self-doubt, two steps sideways, dodge falling book sales, two steps back, run into a wall.  Lather, rinse, repeat. 

The order of the steps changes from time to time, but however you go through them, they're all there.  Sometimes, if you're lucky, you get to do step one repeatedly and skip all the others.

I'm stuck in the 'paralyzing self doubt' and 'dodge falling book sales' loop.  No steps forward or sideways.  Thankfully, also no steps back and no wall. 

It looks like this:  "Why bother writing when it's all been done before and no one is buying your books anyway?" 

It sounds like this bit of Cabin Fever from Muppet Treasure Island. "Allemande left, allemande right, it's time to sail or sink.  Swing your partner over the side.  Drop him in the drink."

Yep, it's nuts.

Why any of us put ourselves through this escapes me sometimes.  Then I remember that I have stories inside my head that need to come out.  Getting it from inside my head through all the screaming meemees there onto virtual paper?  Ah, there's the niggle.

I'll get through this.  I always do.  I simply have to tell all those meemees to get the hell out of my way and to shut the hell up.  Or try to dance around them. 

The Writing Shuffle.  It's got a bad beat and you can't dance to it.

Have you done the dance?  Can you think of a better name for it?  Because The Writing Shuffle is kinda lame.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Best Laid Plans

If you're in the Kindle Select program (the Amazon exclusive thing), you know that you have 90 day windows in which to use their prezzies to market your stuff (i.e. free days or Kindle Countdown Deals).  Each book has a start date and an end date to show you your window.  It's all cool.

Except when you have a series and all of their dates are staggered around. 

My Once Upon a Djinn series is staggered because I wasn't planning anything when I did my releases, so there's no cohesion within the series for Kindle Select purposes.  WIOH, IDW, and WHTF are all kind of close together.  Poor UWC is hanging out there alone.  Which makes marketing a little sketchy sometimes. 

So, I figured I'd take it out of the program until it got closer to the others.  And that's where the issue came up.

Right after I set UWC to not be in the program - a program you have to be in to garner page reads through Kindle Unlimited - someone in the UK started reading the series in KU.  They went through WIOH in a couple days and started IDW, which meant that they'd be getting to UWC shortly.  Except UWC wasn't in the KU program anymore.


So, despite my idea to have the books be together as a series in the program, I had to put UWC back in right after I took it out.  Don't want to disappoint the reader.  Lucky for me, the whole thing is automatic.  Once you click that you want it in Kindle Select, it's available for KU subscribers to read.

I guess there are worse problems to have than the one where someone is reading my series so I can't be all anal about dates and junk.  I'd still like to have them be uniform, but c'est la vie.  Wishing for the ability to do so is like wishing for no page reads.  And that's just silly.

Do you get anal about stuff?  Or is it just me?

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

I Haz the Dumb

I cannot brain today.  I haz the dumb.  If you came here looking for something to semi-intelligent, go visit yesterday's The Writing Spectacle, wherein I talk about not having discipline and looking for balance between life and writing.

If you've already seen that...

Well, I could do a sale wrap-up, but that's depressing.  Or a NaNo update... but I'll leave that for Sunday. 

Tell you what.  Why don't you tell me what's going on with you and your writing?