Have a Nook? In the UK? Back up your books

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If you’re in the UK and you have a Nook (there must be at least ONE of you out there) be sure to back them up. Nook is pulling out of the UK market and relying on a third-party to take over for the Nook books people have already bought.

Personally, I don’t put a lot of trust in maintenance arrangements with third parties.

Details here.

Randomness for 2/20

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1) The Author Who Cyberstalked Me.

2) “Trust me. I’m an engineer.” Video.

3) You have already missed your chance to enter the first beauty contest judged by robots.

4) A small 2009 car demolishes a 1959 Chevy. Oh, what 50 years of safety regulation can do!

5) Surprising applications of the Magnus Effect. Video. This is cool.

6) Highway font Clearview being ditched in favor of older Highway Gothic.

7) Welcome to the future: Hackers hijack CA hospital computers and demand $3.6 million ransom to release them.

Eyes or No Eyes: An Advertising Conundrum

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Among all the good folks checking out my ads for The Great Way and leaving feedback, one of the most consistent is that they don’t like that ad #2 does not show Tejohn’s eyes.

I felt the same way about them, until my son showed me how it looks with the eyes. Check it out:

Original:

"banner" layout

With eyes showing:

ADTGWBANNER w eyes

It seems pretty clear to me that the ad that shows his eyes is weaker than the original, which is not what I would have expected.

I dunno. I find it interesting.

Ads for The Great Way (asking a favor)

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Sales of The Great Way trilogy have lagged pretty significantly, and while I’m working on my new project, I thought it would make sense to do some advertising.

Buying book ads isn’t the usual thing, but I keep hearing that it does well for other self-publishers, and I’m not averse to spend a little money as long as I make back more than I spent. However, before I put anything online, I thought I’d ask for feedback on the ads themselves as well as the landing page.

My son made these ads as part of a homeschool project. He’s fourteen. Please be gentle.

"leaderboard" layout

Ad number one

"banner" layout

Ad number two

"Skyscraper" layout

Ad number three

I know there’s not a lot of data there, just images and a little text, but it’s supposed to be intriguing enough to entice a click. Readers who go for the ad will arrive at this landing page. Input on that page would also be most welcome.

I’m planning to run them through Project Wonderful, probably at the forums for OOTS. I’m not sure where else. It depends on how things go. I’m told Facebook is a useful ad space, but I’m not in a hurry to go there.

Comments on this blog are usually turned off, but I’ve tried to turn them on for this post. WordPress can be cranky about this stuff, though, so if you find you can’t (or don’t want to) offer your comments below, you can tweet them at me @byharryconnolly or post them to my LiveJournal, Facebook, or Google plus pages. If you’re old school (or prefer privacy) you can email me at harryconnolly at sff dot net.

Thanks for your help.

B&N Buy links broken

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Barnes & Noble used to run their affiliate sales program through a third-party website, but they’ve now cancelled that agreement. As a result, all of the B&N “buy” links on this website go nowhere.

Sorry. Today’s non-writing writing work is replacing all of those links with direct non-affiliate links. I’ll also be stripping out the affiliate links to Kobo, even though those are still live. I don’t want to have to do this again if that affiliate loses their contract.

It’s not like I was actually making money from those affiliate links.

Mysteries with Honest Detectives and Sad Endings: Netflix Codifies Art

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This article pushes all my buttons.

The more I learn about the way Netflix determines their categories, but more convinced I am that they’re doing something really useful that will soon apply to all entertainment media. To summarize the article briefly: not only have they created over 75,000 separate “genres” (called “altgenres” at the company) but they rate and categorize films according to a very complex system of metrics. How gory are they? How romantic? Where are they set? What job does the protagonist hold? How happy is the ending?

Hiding behind those 75+K genres are all sorts of ratings that Netflix pays careful attention to. If you watch a lot of movies in the Action categories but consistently turn off the gory ones before the end, Netflix will stop suggesting action movies with a high gore rating to you. Other kinds, sure, but not that one.

I’d hoped books could get a system like this with Game of Books, but they didn’t deliver. The project was sold or abandoned, and backers’ pledges were returned.

I still interested in a system that could do something similar with books. Bleak mysteries with an honest detective and a sad/tragic ending ought to be easier to find than they are, but the personal recommendations I get through social media haven’t scratched that itch. Those books were one disappointment after another. Would the Game of Books have managed it? Would “Netpages”?

Obviously, a system like this would never be perfect; Netflix’s certainly isn’t. That’s why I miss Netflix’s “Random” category, since my recommendations are now swamped with kung fu movies and British crime shows. (And why not? Love ’em!) Random allowed me to see recs beyond what the algorithm thought I wanted.

For Netflix to survive, it has to connect subscribers with shows they love over the long term, but sometimes its recs are so narrow that we only get to see a thin slice of what they offer. Basically, they hide most of their library. Before she moved in with us, my niece thought she’d seen everything of interest the streaming service offered. Now she’s binging on all sorts of shows. That suggests that Netflix’s algorithms are too restrictive right now. More variety is needed.

As for books, well, variety is not the problem. Covering them all would be the problem. Still, I think it’s inevitable.

I know there are people who will recoil instinctively from the idea of breaking down books into component parts in order to categorize them, but I can’t help but think that, if readers were able to look for “Contemporary Fantasy Crime Fiction with a Sad Ending”, I might still be writing Ray Lilly novels.

Genres are just descriptions for the marketing department, after all. I suspect we’re coming to a time when book classification is going to have to get much more granular.

Death… I mean, Obscurity stands at your left shoulder and whispers “Soon.”

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I should have put this here instead of on Twitter, but I got into a roll and what the hell.

Here it is, my short essay on obscurity:

I wish I could edit tweets.

Anyway, re: #18, here’s Jaime Lee Moyer talking about her series being cancelled after Tor pulled her first two books just as book 3 was coming out and here’s Patrick Swenson talking about Tor dropping him after one book. Those forgotten bestsellers I mention in tweets #6 & 7? At least they made a little money first. For too many of us, even that’s beyond our grasp.

I have also been thinking about George RR Martin, who recently announced that his next Westeros novel will be delayed. It reminded me of an article I read about JK Rowling, and the pressure she felt while trying to finish the last few Harry Potter books. Those authors have had amazing success, obviously, but they still feel Imposter Syndrome. They still worry that readers will be turned off and turned away. That readers will move on.

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking about lately, as I watch the Bookbub sales bump fade, and wonder if those readers will move past the 99 cent promo novel to my other work.

Hey new readers, if you want to keep up with my future work, why not sign up for my newsletter? I only send it when I have something new out.

Also, it helps keep the specter of Obscurity a few paces behind.

Randomness for 12/24

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1) Why you don’t want to wear metal inside an MRI. Video.

2) 15 things I learnt about Islam and British values being a gay boy living opposite a mosque. h/t James Nicoll

3) MRA Dilbert. Combining Scott Adam’s own words with Scott Adam’s art.

4) Poll results: The best video essays of 2015

5) Get rich or die vlogging: The sad economics of internet fame.

6) DIY Netflix socks will automatically pause your show when you fall asleep.

7) The Ten Best Articles Wikipedia Deleted This Week.

The Way into Chaos makes the PW/Booklife “Self-Pub Stars of 2015”

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Self-Publishing Stars of 2015 is the list of self-published books that received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly’s Booklife service, which allows self-publishers to submit work for review in that venerable institution.

And I’m on it.

Apparently, only 18 books in the fiction category received stars this year. That’s a pretty small list, and I’m pleased to be on it.

Also, next time I should seriously consider how my titles turn out in alphabetized lists.

You can buy the book here