Tags: arthur slade


The new iPad...an author's impressions

Last Friday, being a dutiful Mac cultist, I drank my iCool aid and headed down to my local Mac store to buy the latest version of the iPad, creatively titled The new iPad. I already owned a first generation iPad (which I blogged about here) and had found it absolutely essential to my life as a writer. I waited for the 3rd generation because I was looking forward to the rumoured retina screen (a fancy way of saying a very high-def screen) and the camera (which was lacking from the 1st generation iPad). I bought the 32GB white wi-fi, because I thought that would be enough storage space for me and I don't need a G4 connection. Wireless is most everywhere (and I do have portable Mifi wireless when needed).


The Screen

 Let's start with the screen. It's amazing. There, we're done with the screen. Okay, I'll leave it to others to explain exactly how many pixels it takes to make your eyeballs vibrate with explosive colour. But side by side it's very clear how much more "high def" this screen is. The icons for the apps have no pixelation. Does that make them easier to tap on? Nah, but it somehow makes them see more real. Netflix looks clearer. Movies sparkle. Youtube is ... well, still full of freaky videos. But they're even clearer and grosser now.


Reading Apps:


 I'm an ebook-a-holic (along with a paper-book-aholic and an audiobook-a-holic). My apps on my iPad for reading (and buying books) are as follows: Kindle app, Kobo app, iBooks, Nook, Nook for kids, Play Books, Stanza. These apps are pretty simple so I didn't notice a big difference in the speed in which they open. There is a difference in the fonts and how clear they are now to read. And I am especially impressed at how much more colourful the picture books that I have on my iPad look. Nothing replaces a "real" picture book, but the images on the iPad do leap off the page (Especially in Splat the Cat). I do have a few kids books apps that were designed for the iPod and I never noticed a big difference in clarity when they were on my old iPad, but now that I have The new Ipad, the blurred edges of the images becomes very obvious. So reading is even more of a pleasure on The new Ipad as long as what you're reading has been optimized for the iPad (though if I'm reading an ebook I often choose my Kindle because it's smaller and I'm not tempted to zoom around the internet). The new iPad is heavy enough that I usually have to prop it against my legs when I read.


Facetime and Skype

This machine is brilliant for using both these communication programs. The speaker on the back is able to put out more volume than the 1st generation iPad so it's easy to hear whoever you're Facetiming with and the mic seems to pick up fine. One could easily use this to Skype with a classroom just sitting in your reading chair or out in your back yard (assuming there wasn't much background noise). And, last night, my wife's bookclub was discussing Meg Wolitzer's latest novel and she was kind enough to do a Skype visit with the book club. It worked perfectly and in the hour and a half talk it burned 18% of the battery power. I set up a battery-powered speaker so that she could be heard clearly. I was tempted to set her up on a chair and put a coat around her, but decided that would be silly.


 Social Networking/Web Browsing


There isn't much difference between the iPads. I still use Hootsuite for most of my social "outreach": twitter and Facebook, that is. Things are faster, of course. The biggest difference is that Google+ is more accessible on this machine. Again surfing around the net does appear to be a smoother experience. I don't know if it's the extra speed of the machine or that there are more and more websites optimized for the iPad now.



I still use Keynote for my school presentation. This is by far the best aspect of the iPad for me. I can carry all of my presentations with me, and all I need extra is the VGA connector. No power cords, at all. I connect my iPad to the projector and plug in the sound and the iPad does the rest. I'm very impressed at how it runs everything I can throw at it: book trailers, mp3s, and SFX all embedded in my slides. I use my iPod Touch to run the presentation from the front of the classroom. And I can do a whole day of school visits without having to charge up. I don't miss the days when I had to lug my laptop and my projector and, sometimes, even my screen. There isn't a big change in how Keynote runs on the new iPad. Which is good, because it was running fine before.


 If I'm doing any writing on my iPad (and I do a little, usually with my wireless keyboard) I use Pages (which is my main word processor on my iMac, although I do all my first drafts in Scrivener). It's perfectly functional on the iPad, though obviously the screen is smaller. Apple's iCloud is effective, automatically updating documents between different iPods and iPads, but if I make a change on my computer it doesn't appear on my iPad. I have to upload it to icloud.com (simple drag and drop) and the new file appears on my iPad. I do hope someday there is full synchronization between all mac devices, of course. But this is workable.


I teach an online class through the New York Times Knowledge Network. One of the things I was curious about was whether or not I'd be able to mark papers while I was on the road with my iPad. It turns out I can. I download the document, convert it to a PDF using Pages, then use an app called iAnnotate PDF to do all my fancy mark ups. It has handy highlighting and note-making features. Plus you can circle words in red just using your finger. Such fun! Then I can email it to my student and hope they don't weep when they see all the marks.

So that's my first impressions of The new iPad, so far...


What happens when you outsell Stephen King: Sept eBook Sales

Well a few posts ago I told you how I miraculously sold more books than Stephen King (in a 48 hour period)!
Well, now I can report to you the amazingly stupendous results. Yes, this is breaking news folks! Last month DUST sold a whopping 1355 copies. Since the highest monthly total before that was 360 copies, I was bountifully pleased by this result. 
Now Dust was selling for $1.49 (that's .52 cents per book for me) for the majority of those sales and then I bumped it up to 1.99. (or .70 cents a book). The book has slowly dropped down the sales charts (from a high in the 600's) and seems to be levelling out at about 10000 on the sales charts in the US (and 4000 on the UK charts). That equals about 10 sales a day (but since I've bumped the price up to 2.99 I am making 2.05 per sale). I don't know how long it will hold at this level. What, you want to see an amazing chart? Here it is:

That chart shows dust jumping up from abut 160,000th place to 600th. Then slowly falling back down. Apparently what goes up must come down. Thanks a lot for the gravitational laws Newton!
At one point I had told myself I'd be happy if I made about $1000.00 in the space of a year. Since that goal was surpassed in the space of a month...well, I'm green with happiness. I don't expect next month's sales to be anywhere near the same amount as September. But if they continue at the level they're at today (about 10,000 on the charts) I'll actually make as much money through fewer sales (because at 2.99 I make a 70% royalty, at .99-2.98 it's a 35% royalty).
Here's the overall sales chart:

Isn't that pretty? And it has different colours, too. The blue colour represents the sales of DUST. But you can see that a few of my other books are starting to pick up a bit (in fact every book had increased sales over last month). The total for all books was 1467 copies sold.
So last month was a good one. And this month I now have all three of The Hunchback Assignments books available on kindle UK (in fact I'm giving away the first one to get my British cousins to try the series). We'll see if that strategy works.
Over and out,


Nap Your Way to Writing Fame and Fortune

The cornerstone of all good writing is the nap.

Don't let those nap naysayers try to convince you that naps are for children. That somehow it is lazy and unnatural for you to nap. Don't allow them to make an outcast of you. They are only jealous of your ubernap capabilities.

Yes, I say verily to you (and somewhat unverily) that you must take hold of your inner napper. You must celebrate especially the "power" nap (20 minutes). In that time you will descend into your subconsciousness and emerge from that dank, creative cave like a writing god (or goddess or demigod or mime, depending on your background) and return to your writing desks in the perfect frame of mind. You will be refreshed. More attractive! And more powerful! All the answers to all the plot and subplot and characterization problems will be solved by a nap (this works 100% of the time, though results vary by +-101).

Sons and daughters of nap! A day may come when the courage of those who nap fails, when we forsake our naps and break all bonds of napping fellowship, but it is not this day! This day we nap! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you nap!


How I Sold more ebooks than Stephen King (for 48 hours)

We interrupt regularly scheduled blogging for an ebook update. To my surprise and delight my epubbed novel

has shot up the Kindle charts in the US and UK and is outselling Stephen King. Yes, that Stephen King!

I blame him and Ray Bradbury for turning me into a writer (and Tolkien and Frank Herbert and...). I'll explain how the sales jump came about in a second, first a few braggardly details: Currently the book is #680 on the Kindle US store and #158 on Kindle UK. It has made several bestseller charts including #15 overall on the Kindle US  Horror charts and #4 in Children's Spine-Chilling Horror (who doesn't love chilling the spines of those children?). In the UK the numbers are even higher (it's a smaller market): #1 in Children's Horror and #2 in Horror overall.

Actually, that #1 spot deserves a graphic:

Now let me attempt to explain how it was achieved:

I sacrificed an organic carrot to the god of ebooks.

Oh, wait that's not it.  Dust has been for sale as an ebook since February and has once before briefly cracked the top 1000. At the start of September I priced the book at free (who can refuse free?) on iBooks as a brief promotion. This was discovered by Amazon (okay, I told them) and since they have a price matching clause in their epub agreement they matched the price. On iBooks I had given away about 5 free copies. Amazon Kindle beat that in the first five minutes.  In the course of a week I gave away about 8000 books on Amazon UK and 11000 on Amazon US (that's a swack load of free books). The book reached #32 on the US free charts and #5 on the UK free charts. For me it was free advertising (the vast majority who have downloaded a free book likely won't read it...assuming they're hoarders like me). More reviews began to appear within days on both websites. I changed the price of Dust to 1.49 on KindleUS (Dust had previously been .99 cents and not doing well, so I chose 1.49 because...well...because Seth Godin's book was 1.49 and it was in the top 10). Then I chose .99 for the UK price (I chose the .99 pence for the UK because most of their top 20 bestsellers were in that price range...I have to sell 2 ebooks to equal the royalty I receive on a paperback). I changed the price to $1.99 on iBooks (anyone bored of all these geeky details yet?) and emailed Amazon to let them know that the book was no longer free on their competition's website. They changed the book back to the prices I had chosen.

And, blammo (that's an official epub word for wow), it shot up the charts. A real chart? Sure, I've got a chart for you:

This is Dust's kindle sales in the US over the last month. The lower the number the better the sales. Like golf. But more literary. Dust started at #849 on AmazonUS paid 48 hours ago and #736 on Amazon UK and has been climbing ever since (warning here are even more geeky details: it takes about 67 copies sold in the space of 24 hours to climb from #849 to #700. To add more perspective Dust sold 48 copies last month...so that's more sales in a day than the book had all month). I don't know exactly why when it switched from free to paid status it ended up in such a good position on the charts. Is it because several people downloaded it accidentally thinking that it was free (Amazon does warn when a books price is changing)? Or is it some kind of magical algorithmic kindly thing? That part is beyond my limited IQ.

I don't expect this to last. I think Dust is successful because it has been on Amazon for over ten years in one format or another and has 20 reviews that average 4 stars. This lets prospective buyers know that it's a good gamble. I think that the fact that it's for young adults and doesn't have a romance angle or vampires, will limit the audience in the long run. I just want it to find its happy "sales" place.

And I'm enjoying the ebook ride right now. Go Dust go!



Jolted: Measuring Success using Bookscan, Amazon Rankings, and NovelRank

If you're an author you've probably checked your Amazon rankings once or twice. Or every three seconds. And, perhaps you've stared at the rankings like you're trying to read your future in pig entrails. The great thing about the "modern" era is now there are even more ways to track things. Most of the time they're just charts that you stare at and learn nothing (and perhaps a little depressing) but I was recently able to track a "success" story to do with the my novel Jolted.

On May 17th or so the novel was chosen for  2011-2012 Florida Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award master list. This was great news. But because Amazon recently allowed authors (through their Author Central program) to see their Bookscan details, I was able to track the actual sales of the book from that day forward (I'm only concentrating on the paperback):

As you can see from the map, the darker the colour, the more sales. So obviously sales of the paperback had really taken off in Florida (and in one tiny corner of Louisiana...for some reason). The chart below shows the sudden increase in sales in bookstores in the U.S.:

For those of us who are chart obsessed (and really who isn't) Amazon also provides another chart to stare at (for hours at a time sometimes). This chart shows the uptick in sales through Amazon. So obviously the sales in the "ground" stores were also being reflected at the "virtual" store that is Amazon.

The final chart that I'll inundate you with is from Novelrank which also tracks sales on Amazon. It essentially gives you the same information, but with a slightly different appearance. Novelrank also can keep track of the # of copies sold per month (though this is a guesstimate on their part).

Perhaps I should end this with a chart of my geekiness (no, I better not...that would be jumping the shark). The sales in this time period might only amount to a thousand copies (so I won't go out and buy a new car), but I do find it interesting that I now have the ability to track all of this information. I won't know the actual sales until I get my royalty statements about six months from now. How to use the information is perhaps the tougher part of this exercise. It's not like I can fly down to Florida (or Louisiana) and start pitching my book (though I am beginning to get requests for Skype visits in Florida). Right now I'm filing it under the title: Interesting to know.

Plus, Jolted has been out for nearly 4 years now. It's nice to see it suddenly get zapped back to life (sorry, I couldn't resist).