Filed under: Book Conservation, Connections, Kindle, Publishing, Religion, Society, tech | Tags: Amazon, blogging, book conservation, bookbinding, caligraphy, direct publishing, economics, Erik Kwakkel, history, jim downey, Kindle, technology
A lot of folks don’t know it, but I have an undergraduate degree in Economics (and another in German). And, while I haven’t really done anything with that degree, it does still largely inform how I see the world: in terms of economic forces at play.
So this nice little explanation of how the industry of making books worked during the Medieval Period … and the forces which led to it … as well as how it relates to modern publishing … well, let’s just say it ties a lot of my interests together. Here’s an excerpt:
The professionals who made books for profit were usually found near the biggest church in town. This was a well-chosen spot as canons and clerics (i.e. people who visited the church and who could read) formed an important part of the clientele. By the 14th century true communities of the book had formed in the neighborhoods around churches and cathedrals. Evidence from such cities as Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, London and Paris suggests that in these communities a diverse group of artisans interacted with clients and with each other. It was a world bound not only by the book, however, but also by profit.
The whole thing is worth a read, and it’s actually quite brief. Brief, but insightful.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Connections, Feedback, Kindle, Marketing, Predictions, Promotion, Science Fiction, Writing stuff | Tags: 1500, Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, Her Final Year, hospice, jim downey, John Bourke, Kickstarter, Kindle, literature, predictions, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, writing
So, yesterday’s post was #1,500 here. The last Big Round Number was posted on December 9, 2010. Since I started the blog in January 2007, that means that the pace has actually been fairly stable, in terms of my posting — about 250 a year, more or less.
I never really expected it to last this long. But I’m glad it has. And I’m glad that so many people have shared some or all of the ride with me. Have been witness to my efforts to get Communion of Dreams published conventionally. Have shared my experiences as a care-provider for someone with Alzheimer’s (and the subsequent book). Have supported me when I decided to self-publish CoD. Have helped to spread the word about that novel. Have encouraged me to write the prequel.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Arthur C. Clarke, Augmented Reality, Connections, Feedback, Google, Health, Humor, Kindle, Marketing, Science Fiction | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, April Fools, blogging, Communion of Dreams, feedback, Google, Google Nose, health, Her Final Year, humor, jim downey, Kindle, reviews, Science Fiction
I usually refrain from posting anything on April Fool’s Day. I mean, seriously, why would you want to? My sense of humor is quirky enough that most people don’t *quite* share it. And the competition for a good April Fool’s gag is really stiff. But on the other hand, if you try and post anything ‘serious’ — particularly the odd or innovative stuff I like to blog about — there’s a fair chance it will be either ignored or dismissed.
So I usually just don’t bother.
But today there’s three new reviews up on Amazon, and I thought I should share. Even if they do leave me wondering whether they’re a gag in themselves.
Well, not this one. At least I don’t think so.
Loved the premise, but the in my opinion, the book fell short of delivering. “Set up a meeting Seth, set up another meeting Seth” seemed to be a lot of the dialogue. Might have been better as a short story. Took me a long time to read as it never “grabbed” me.
That’s the whole of it. Well, other than the two stars and the title of the review: “borderline boring“
The next review isn’t much longer. In fact, it’s even a bit shorter. Here it is:
Jim Downey is evocative of Arthur C. Clarke at his best. Downey has taken Clarke and led us to the place where Clarke left us. i can’t remember a book of this genre that i’ve recently enjoyed more than this one. MORE please!
Nice, eh? Particularly with a five star rating and bearing the title: “Clarke left us, Downey is taking us onward now.“
now, with parents getting older, mother with alzheimers, father with rheumatoid arthritis and stupid doctors, this book was perfect! i passed it on to the sister that’s handling all the problems since we live over 300 miles away. she and i agree that it is invaluable for caregivers.
But that sounds serious, so …
Damn. I hate April Fools Day. It always leaves me so confused.
Say, did you hear about Google Nose?
Filed under: Amazon, Art, Arthur C. Clarke, Book Conservation, Connections, Feedback, Isaac Asimov, Kindle, Marketing, Music, Predictions, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Writing stuff | Tags: aesthetics, Amazon, art, Arthur C. Clarke, blogging, book conservation, bookbinding, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, Isaac Asimov, jim downey, Kindle, literature, Moody Blues, music, predictions, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction, Stephen King, writing, www youtube
So, a couple of things to share this morning …
One, the decision has been made: we’ll be going with a design for the leather bindings which includes raised cords on the spine. In terms of the response I got from people, it wasn’t even much of a competition — “cords” were the favorite almost 10 to 1.
But that doesn’t mean that the book has to have an old look. Not at all. I’m playing around with some design ideas which will incorporate the cords, but which will feel more modern. Watch for some preliminary posts on that in a couple weeks.
Two, if you are expecting to get a leather-bound copy of Communion of Dreams, but haven’t yet told me of your color preferences, do so soon. Further, if you didn’t get a confirmation response from me acknowledging your choices, then please contact me again. Because I had something of a book conservation emergency drop into my lap 10 days ago, things have been delayed a bit — but I’ll still be ordering leather and starting on those bindings before the end of the month. Please don’t delay.
And three, there’s a new review up on Amazon you might want to check out. Here’s an excerpt:
this book is very well worth your time if you love classic sci-fi. i would say that so far it is a combination of arthur c. clarke, isaac asimov, and a little stephen king. not too shabby for an unknown author. not sure if this is a series, and don’t want to ruin anything for myself by finding spoilers in reading others’ reviews. i’ll finish this book first. that may be soon- already lost most of a night’s sleep reading it. this is an original alternative universe, populated by humans and their robots, being created here; that is why it reminds me of asimov.
As always, I invite you to produce your own review, rate the book or other reviews, or just leave a comment in any reviews which particularly engage you. And you don’t have to do so only on Amazon — if you participate in another venue where such a review or recommendation would be appropriate, the help is always appreciated.
One final note: yup, the writing is proceeding apace. More on that later.
Filed under: Amazon, Art, Augmented Reality, Comics, Connections, Humor, Kindle, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, tech, Writing stuff | Tags: Amazon, augmented reality, blogging, Communion of Dreams, Danielle Corsetto, Darnell Sidwell, direct publishing, Girls With Slingshots, humor, jim downey, Kindle, promotion, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, technology, Tweet, Twitter, writing
Lots of fictional characters have Twitter accounts — usually, one created by a fan to have a little fun. Well, the idea* occurred to me today to set up an account for Darnell Sidwell, who is the main character of St. Cybi’s Well.
If you’ve read Communion of Dreams (and if you haven’t, why not? I mean, seriously, go read the damned thing.) you know Darnell as the crusty old prospector with a colorful history. St. Cybi’s Well is the start of his story (OK, not really — he’s already middle-aged — but for our purposes it is), and you get to meet a man who is 40 years younger with a lot of changes ahead of him. Personally, I love the character, even if I’m going to put him through hell in this book.
Anyway. St. Cybi’s Well is not being written from Darnell’s perspective. Rather, like Communion of Dreams, it is written from a third-person narrator’s perspective.
But the Tweets are going to come directly from Darnell, from his perspective. He’ll be writing about his thoughts and experiences as the story of St. Cybi’s Well unfolds. Sometimes there will be hints about the story. Sometimes he’ll give away some insights. Sometimes he’ll (unintentionally) mislead, because he won’t understand exactly what is going on in the bigger picture.
This will be fun — and somewhat useful for me, since it is always a good thing for a writer to completely get inside the head of a character, to understand how they view the world. To a certain degree I go through this exercise with any major character, but this will be a way I can share some of that process. When all is said and done, it will form something of a supplement to the novel, and I’ll probably figure out a way to have those Tweets collected/linked in the final version. In the meantime, you can ‘follow’ him @DarnellSidwell, and we’ll put up batches of Tweets on the St. Cybi’s Well site. He’ll probably Tweet every day or two, as my schedule allows.
Now I need to get back to work. Toodles!
*Credit where it is due: this idea came to me when reading today’s Girls With Slingshots strip — note the ‘hover text’.
Filed under: Amazon, Art, Brave New World, Connections, Feedback, Humor, Isaac Asimov, Kindle, Marketing, Predictions, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Writing stuff | Tags: Amazon, art, blogging, bookbinding, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, free, humor, Isaac Asimov, jim downey, Kickstarter, Kindle, literature, promotion, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, writing
A couple weeks ago, when I was setting up the price change and promotional stuff for the one-year anniversary of Communion of Dreams, I was again confronted with something I had pondered and then ignored previously: was this book part of a “series”?
See, when you’re going through the interface to publish a book with Amazon, that’s one of the questions you need to answer. The helpful little dialog box explains the idea this way:
A series is a connected set of books. If this book is part of a series, identify where the book exists in the sequence with a volume number. We only accept volume numbers in numerical format (“1″, “2″, or “3″). Magazines and journals are also often grouped as a series. Identifying the series helps customers find other books in the series.
It makes me jealous.
Well, OK, it doesn’t really. But it does make me wonder. What would I call the series for the slightly-altered-universe in which Communion of Dreams exists?
When I first published Communion of Dreams, I thought that I would eventually like to write several other related books, but I didn’t know for sure whether I would ever get around to doing so. I mean, we make plans, and have hopes & dreams and all that, but it seemed both a little presumptuous as well as potentially risky (in the “tempting fate” sort of way) to claim that I was going to write a series of books before seeing what the response to the first one was.
And then there’s the complicating fact that at least for the time being I consider Communion of Dreams to be the end of any such series. St. Cybi’s Well is a prequel — the start of the so-called series, in fact. And I have some rough ideas for other books which would be related to the overall story arc, about one per decade of the time between now and the setting of Communion (2052). But those are just approximations. How can I number the books in the series when I have little confidence in how many there will be? And wouldn’t it be confusing to number the books in the order they are written, since they jump around in chronological sequence?
Anyway, this is all by way of saying that I could use some help and suggestions with this. If you’ve read Communion of Dreams, you have some sense of the overall arc of the series, at least as the history is outlined in that book. And I’ve chatted a fair amount about St. Cybi’s Well. Knowing those things, what do *you* think would be a good ‘series name’ for these books?
I’m serious — I’d like suggestions. Post it here in a comment, drop me an email, say something over on the FB page. If I use your suggestion, I’ll credit you with it and send you a hand-bound copy of either Communion of Dreams or St. Cybi’s Well depending on your preference (and if you’ve already got those coming as part of the Kickstarter rewards or something, we’ll work out an equitable substitute).
Filed under: Amazon, Failure, Feedback, General Musings, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction | Tags: Amazon, blogging, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, free, jim downey, Kickstarter, Kindle, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction
Well, we had a grand total of 340 downloads/sales of Communion of Dreams this week. Not impressive. Part of me is tempted to say that I can’t even *give* the book away.
But that’s not true, and to be honest I can’t say that I am terribly upset that we didn’t break the 25,000 mark. Yeah, sure, it would have been neat, but in the end it was just an arbitrary ‘big round number’, and I am still very happy with the overall performance of the book this past year.
So — thanks, everyone! For your support. For your reviews. For your kind words and comments. For telling your friends about the book. For helping to back my Kickstarter. For everything. It’s been a good year.
I’m going to leave the $2.00 discount code for my CreateSpace store in place for a while, perhaps indefinitely. I can’t really drop the overall price for the paperback sold through Amazon by very much, since the actual costs of printing and selling the book are high enough that I would lose money on each sale. But there’s more room on the pricing in my CreateSpace store, so I can offer the discount there: 99K4TNJZ
And I’ve dropped the retail price of the Kindle edition to $3.95. Such a bargain!
Filed under: Amazon, Art, Feedback, Humor, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction | Tags: Amazon, art, blogging, bookbinding, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, free, humor, jim downey, Kindle, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction
So, earlier this week I mailed off the first ‘backwards’ books, and have now heard from four of the recipients. Here are a couple of excerpts in their responses:
“The koob arrived safely – thanks! Looking forward (er, backward?) to re-reading it “
“words. fail. me. the exceptional feeling of awe at this exquisite, hand-made work of art, serendipitously brought about can hardly be conveyed. it’s beautiful.”
Damn, I wish *I* had thought to call the thing the “koob”! See? My readers are clearly more intelligent & witty than I am. Pat yourself on the back — you deserve it.
Anyway, so that’s that.
I read this and thoroughly enjoyed it. It definitely has an ‘early sci-fi’ feel to it. People have compared the writing style to Clarke. I’m more into the military sci-fi but this was a refreshing and enjoyable change.
Today’s the last day of the big promotion. So far this week things have been really slow, and we haven’t made hardly any progress since Wednesday. Meaning that there’s still something like 1,400 to go to break the 25,000 mark. Obviously, it’s not a big deal if we don’t make it. But if you haven’t yet picked up a copy of the Kindle edition, or know someone who might like it, you might as well get it for free today. And if you prefer paper over electronic format, then use the $2.00 discount code in my CreateSpace store: 99K4TNJZ
Have a great Friday!
Filed under: Amazon, Arthur C. Clarke, Feedback, Kindle, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Writing stuff | Tags: Amazon, Arthur C. Clarke, blogging, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, Facebook, feedback, free, jim downey, Kindle, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction, writing
If you read this review, please know that I stopped reading after a chapter or so.
Why? Well, it’s hard to not see the similarities to Arthur C. Clarke, even if the story eventually takes a different turn. But that would have been OK if the writing had been better. Instead the author really whips through the logistics of assembling a team and arranging transportation to investigate the phenomenon. There’s no depth, little thought and weak writing.
But other than that, he thought my post-apocalyptic world was “somewhat interesting.” That was good to hear.
I noted that this review was up last night over on the Facebook page, and a couple of people pointed out the simple truth that no matter what there are always going to be some people who just don’t like some things. That is something I have said many times myself, going all the way back to the very early days of this blog.
So why mention it? Well, I’m just trying to be honest. With myself, and with you. I like to tout the good things which have happened, the positive reviews and other forms of feedback. So I figure I should also be forthright about the more critical things people say. But I haven’t lost sight of the fact that positive reviews outnumber negative ones by more than 10 – 1.
Anyway, so there’s that. Remember, there’s still a promotion going on, and we haven’t improved much on yesterday’s numbers. Maybe it’s a bit silly, but it’d be fun to break 25,000 copies in the first year — and we still have about 1,400 to go to do that.