Communion Of Dreams


Final stats for 2009.

As I have done for the last couple of years, I like to look at the stats for my sites on New Years Day – numbers don’t lie.

But they can be a bit confusing. Here’s how. In 2009, I could say that 9,619 people downloaded some or all of Communion of Dreams. That would break down as 5,877 downloads of the original “complete” .pdf of the book, 156 copies of the revised version, 3,183 of the first mp3, and 403 copies of the first chapter. Or I could say that there were a total of 6,765 downloads, using the numbers for the “complete” .pdfs plus the minimum downloads of both the mp3 and individual chapter files (on the theory that those numbers reflect “complete” downloads of the book in those formats.) For my year-end numbers in the past I have used the latter formula, and I will do so again.

So, 2009 had 6,765 downloads. That compares to 6,288 in 2007, and 6,182 in 2008. How many people have actually read the book, I have no idea – I have heard from people that they have passed on the .pdf they downloaded to friends, and others have told me that they printed the thing out and gave copies to others. So that would boost the numbers. Then again, just because someone downloaded the thing, doesn’t mean they read it. Lord knows I have plenty of books I own but have never gotten around to reading.

Which brings up another item – back in August I mentioned that I was working on a revision because there was a publisher who was interested in the book. In November I mentioned that I had submitted the manuscript with the revisions, and was waiting for them to take another look at it. Well, I’m still waiting, though the publisher said that he was going to assign it to one of their readers and go through it himself, and would get back to me soon. I’m not complaining about the wait – six weeks or so is not at all unreasonable – but I do wonder whether he just didn’t want to give me the bad news leading up to the holidays. So, we’ll see what comes of that.

I’m also in a “wait and see” mode on my two other writing projects. My co-author on the caregiving book Her Final Year still has to finish his editing before we can proceed with that, and I haven’t had a chance to get together with my sister to really get started on My Father’s Gun. But now that the end of the year is past, I hope to make progress on both of those soon.

Other aspects of life in 2009? A mix. I did get a lot of good conservation work done, though losing the one big client in the fall due to the economy hurt a lot – I have other work, but nowhere near as much, so that has hindered my efforts to resolve long standing debt leftover from the gallery. My health is better than it was a year ago, but I still need to lose several stones. The BBTI project was a huge success through 2009, and I’m sure will continue to be a source both of work and pleasure in the coming year. Otherwise, well, if you read this blog you probably already have had your fill of my introspection.

So, goodbye 2009, and best wishes to one and all for a better 2010.

Jim Downey



Hey, what are those funny characters?
June 21, 2009, 10:13 am
Filed under: Google, Humor, Marketing, OwnMade AudioBooks, Promotion, Travel, Writing stuff

This is a little weird – evidently, a Japanese site did some kind of mention/review of Communion of Dreams, and in the last couple of days I’ve had thousands of hits and about 200 downloads of the book because of it.

I say “evidently” because the site is in Japanese, and even The Mighty Google fails to give any real translation. Here’s the site:

百度音乐盒测试版

And here’s the page from whence the traffic has come.  Odd thing is, while the “MP3” is clearly in the title, only about a quarter of the downloads have been the audio files, and the rest the .pdf of the book.

Anyway, if anyone can read Japanese and would like to let me know what the site says, I’d appreciate it.  Who knows, maybe I can wheedle a trip to Japan as a “famous American author” or something out of this.

Jim Downey



Once you finish listening . . .
July 9, 2008, 7:42 am
Filed under: Marketing, OwnMade AudioBooks, Podcast, Promotion, Science Fiction

. . . to Communion of Dreams, you might hop on over to SFFaudio and check out some of the many other resources and reviews that they have. From their site:

We think audio is the best medium for Science Fiction literature and drama. We’re not against the dead tree, cathode ray, and celluloid versions, we just know them to be the inferior medium for transmission of story, mood, and ideas.

Before the creation of printed books, stories were told by the Greek aoidos, the Celtic bards and other poets of the human voice. After the printing press allowed for greater numbers of “novels” to be written, the families and friends in all the households that could afford to buy them would gather together and spend their evenings reading books aloud to each other. In the late 1970s the audio cassette allowed for the creation of a new industry, a new medium, the audiobook. Over the last three decades new technologies, CDs, MP3-CDs, and especially the portable MP3 player have made the audiobook even more popular.

Audio drama, too, is our passion. It goes by many names: audio theatre, audio cinema, and of course “radio drama” – the name of the place where it got started. We love this stuff. And if you’re reading this, we bet you do too.

Indeed.

Hat tip to Scot of OwnMade AudioBooks (who did the unabridged production of Communion available on my site) for the heads up!!

UPDATE: The folks at SFFaudio have added Communion of Dreams to their list of goodies. You can find the entry here.

Jim Downey



May Day! May Day!

Nah, other than a mild cold, things are going OK.  But since it is the first of the month, thought I would post a quick note about how stats look hereabouts.

April saw just under 500 downloads of the .pdf of Communion.  This continues to happen in clumps, for whatever reason.  Comparing it to over 1,100 in March, you might think that things have slowed down – but that’s just the clustering effect, I think – there was a substantial cluster right at the end of March.  Had it been a few days later, the stats for both March and April would have been almost the same.  We’re now at about 9,000 total downloads.

About 50 people downloaded the MP3 of the novel last month, bringing that total to just under 100.

I still have a hard time getting a handle on how people find out about the book, or this blog.  In March I signed up for some additional stats/information about the Communion of Dreams website, which gives me all kinds of data, but it still seems that the majority of people who find out about the book do so by word of mouth.  Not a bad thing, just a bit odd.  Particularly in that I get very little feedback or commentary from people – yet they seem to be passing on a recommendation to others to download the book.  Goodness knows that I haven’t done anything remotely approaching a real effort at promotion, so something is happening of its own accord.

This blog is now at 18,000 total views, averaging upwards of 70 views a day.  The somewhat odd thing is that there is a consistent bit of traffic to look at one post: Welcome to the Hobbit House from almost a year ago.  That gets 20 – 25 people a day.  I think that the secret to getting a lot of traffic would be to write about Hobbits.  At least until the new movie is done and out.  So, if you see me mentioning Hobbits just randomly in posts, you’ll know that I am just blog-whoring, trolling for hits.

But hey, Hobbits are cool.  Right?  Just saying the word is somehow comforting:  Hobbits.

Uh, sorry.

Anyway, that’s just a brief look over the current stats.  Something more meaty later, or tomorrow.

Jim Downey



Crossing over.

[This post contains mild spoilers about Communion of Dreams, particularly chapter 5.]

As I’ve been doing some conservation work this morning, I’ve been listening again to the audio version of Communion, done by Scot Wilcox of OwnMade AudioBooks, and discussed previously. I just enjoy hearing his interpretation.

Anyway, at the end of chapter five, as the first team of researchers is about halfway to Titan to investigate the alien artifact which has been discovered there, the protagonist has an odd dream which is described in some detail. In the dream Jon (the protagonist) crosses a bridge, and there’s lots of symbolism which is important for how the rest of the book unfolds. For this reason, I worked fairly hard to get the description just right. Scot’s reading of the passage is great, and really brought that scene to life for me.

Which is fairly easy, because it is based on a real scene – a real bridge: this bridge on the campus of the University of Iowa, which I crossed often while in graduate school at the Iowa Center for the Book. And the fun thing about that bridge – which I used for my own purposes in the description in the novel – is that because of the way it is built, it has a kind of spring to it as you walk across.

I enjoy knowing from whence artists and authors draw their inspiration and imagery, and thought I would share this on the off chance that someone else might be curious . (If anyone has better images of the bridge, feel free to post them/a link in comments – those were the best I could find with a quick search, but they are very dated.)

Jim Downey



All done.

Well, late yesterday afternoon I finished listening to the audio production of Communion of Dreams. Wow. As I told Scot at OwnMade AudioBooks:

Finished the last disc this evening, before dinner. Was a little disappointed – you need to have a closing spiel like Jim Dale has for the HP books. Seriously. It will add a nice “professional touch”. If you want to tag something onto the end of the last MP3, we can swap it out on the website (about 30 people had downloaded the audio version as of last night – not bad for the first weekend!).

Anyway, you may remember that I worked in radio for a few years before going to grad school. So I had been giving some consideration to doing an audio version myself. I’m really glad I didn’t – you make it sound easy. And I know better.

Your production values are really good – only once in a while would I catch a little ‘canned’ quality, likely from getting a little off from the mic’s sweet spot. A better studio might help here, or better equipment, but it will be marginal. The different voices were pretty identifiable – and only now and again did some of the characterizations seem a little overdone.

In all honesty, for the most part I didn’t notice your reading – it was simply an audio interpretation of the book, and you got me engaged in the story. That’s about the best tribute I can offer.

I know that they’re big files – total of about 1.2 gigabytes. But seriously, download them and give ’em a try. Feel free to burn them to CDs to take on a long car trip or something. As I have mentioned, I find the interpretation that he brings to the work to be a really good additional layer of understanding. And besides, they’re free. If you were to download a comparable amount of music from I-Tunes, it’s cost hundreds of dollars. Such a bargain!

Jim Downey



Coming soon to an audio player near you!
March 21, 2008, 9:18 am
Filed under: Art, OwnMade AudioBooks, Podcast, Promotion, Science Fiction

OK, I’m a little less than halfway through the audio files that I’ve written about recently. Listening to the production is really compelling for me, perhaps moreso than it will be for most people, meaning that I get little else done when the thing is on.

Any good artist brings their own interpretation and understanding to their material, whether it is visual, performance, or written. That’s what Scot Wilcox has done with Communion of Dreams. His performance of the text adds something, even for me – and I have been listening to those voices in my head for well-on a decade now. I think that you will also find that it brings another layer to the book, and I would like to encourage all those who have already read the book to download the audio files (they should be available on my site later today). Naturally enough, there will be plenty of people who are introduced to Communion of Dreams by the audio book first, and I think that’s great – feel free to burn copies of the discs to share (it takes 12 CDs). Or if you want to pass along the MP3 files, that’s fine too (just be warned that the files are very large – it took us overnight to upload them to my host.) Scot has explicitly given me permission to share the performance freely.

So, check the site, tell your friends.

Jim Downey



Farewell.

I have been *really* enjoying the audio version of Communion of Dreams, which I discussed in my last post. And I think you will too, once we work out some additional logistical things on the hosting end (the files are very large, relative to the .pdf files of the text, and necessitate increasing my bandwidth allotment significantly.) With a little luck, we should have that ready to go by this weekend. My friend’s interpretation of the characters is quite interesting – some of them have caught me a bit by surprise, though I cannot object in the slightest to his artistic decisions. And he is very good, really getting into the pacing and mood of the story the further he goes.

In fact, listening to the book, and the need to catch up on book conservation work from the long break last week through this weekend, is responsible for my not posting anything yesterday. And that’s OK, since I would have been tempted to do what just about every other SF blogger on the planet seems to have done: write a tribute to Arthur C. Clarke.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Beyond being one of the best Science Fiction writers of the 20th century, Sir Arthur had an impact on the larger society, changing not only how we see space, but how we actually use it. It is completely understandable that everyone wants to write about him, and how his writing changed their lives (and writing). I did so in some discussion forums. And I have written about him here, and noted on my CoD site just what his influence has been on me as a writer.

But after I heard of his death all I really wanted to do was sit back and enjoy his vast vision. Tuesday night I popped open a beer, popped 2001 into the DVD player, and paid homage to the narrator of Tales from the White Hart.

Then yesterday, as I worked in my bindery, listening to my own story of humanity’s first encounter with an alien artifact, I thought about Clarke. A lot. And in thinking of him, and all that he accomplished, there was a danger, a tendency: to despair, to feel unworthy, to judge my own writing by his measure. Because I fall short, no matter how you look at it.

But that’s not what it’s all about. We all fall short of the best, at least in some areas. That does not negate the good work we do. Even Arthur C. Clarke had his failings. That does not change the fact that the world now is a poorer place for his absence.

Farewell, my old friend and mentor, though we never met.

Jim Downey



Gobsmacked!

A good friend – the one who actually got me started in book conservation (and has written a brilliant book on her time in the UICB program) – was by to visit for the first time in a long while. No discredit to her, we were just unable to have guests for the last year or two of caring for Martha Sr.

Anyway, last night, over a glass of wine and chatting, she handed over a wrapped package. “Your Christmas gift.”

(We’ve always been close enough friends that such things can be done whenever the timing works out, rather than obsessing over calendar pages.)

I unwrapped it. A small CD/DVD travel case. I unzipped it – and saw the first disc labeled “Communion of Dreams by James T. Downey.”

I was stunned. Gobsmacked, the Brits say.

My friend’s husband (also my friend – I’ve known them since they were first married) does custom audio books. He’d read Communion of Dreams last year, and really liked it. And together they conspired to produce the book as an unabridged audio production. 12 CDs worth.

I’m not sure yet just how long that is – I’m guessing about 20 hours. I just listened to the first chapter last night – and it was brilliant! A wonderful adaptation of the text, with some fun interpretations of the characters. Over the next few days I’ll get nothing much else done, I’m guessing, as I listen to the thing. Wow.

And here’s the best part: I have permission to use the MP3 versions that also came along with the gift as podcasts!

My good lady wife is starting to do the work of adapting my CoD site to host the MP3 files, and once we have all the details worked out, those will be available as a free download as well.

This is really cool – and really exciting! Just this past weekend downloads of the text of the book surpassed 7,750. I was just starting to think of contacting agents/publishers again – now having the podcasts of the book available will really help to promote the thing and make it easier to arrange conventional publishing.

Very, very cool!

Jim Downey