New editions of old books

Well, I’m struggling with this decision. I have a change I’ve made to one of my cover images to make it look a bit more like the rest of the books in the series. It’s been in print longest of all my books. I have the option to produce a new paperback edition or just revise the edition already there.

I can get a bit more time in the new releases lists if I produce a new edition. However, the only changes to the book are going to be the cover and some of the front and back matter. I don’t think there are any edits, although I’ll probably give the paperback a quick read through just to be sure (since I’m already needing to reload the files for review at Createspace).

I don’t plan to change the length of the book even with the front and back matter changes because I don’t want to have to do any major revisions to the cover’s spine—it was a pain in the butt the first time I did it (this was my first paperback) and I imagine it’ll be just as big a pain this time (this book is narrow and the spine is just within the limits that Createspace will accept).

If you have advice, I sure wouldn’t fuss if you decided to give it. :D

Why I don’t read reviews

Some authors read reviews. Because—

  • they want to hear their audience’s reaction
  • they want to learn what they might need to do different to meet the expectations of their audience
  • they feel obligated to read the reviews
  • they want to put out the best product they can and they think reading the reviews will help
  • some other reason I can’t fathom

Like most things in life, those reasons matter to those people, but they don’t matter to me. I’m sure someone, somewhere, thinks those reasons should matter to me, but … nope, I still don’t care. :D

I don’t read reviews (not on purpose anyway), because—

  • they affect my writing
  • they make me crazy
  • my books are products to the people who buy them, but they’re not products to me; they’re my art
  • they don’t help me learn how to write a better book because the only person I’m trying to satisfy with my books is me; no one else’s opinion on my books has any bearing on how I feel about those books

I’m happy to sell my art as a product, but like a used car it’s an “as is” purchase :D

Yes, I’m an artist. “Artist” isn’t a bad word. I’m also a business person who has looked at the business in question, decided on her priorities, and planned accordingly. :) I prioritize my own pleasure from my books higher than I prioritize money. That certainly doesn’t mean I don’t want any money for my work (quite the opposite), just that I know what I want more and that I’m willing to sacrifice some of the one to keep more of the other…

If you’re a business person, you need to decide on these things for yourself. It’ll keep you sane. ;)

My writing and publishing (non)strategy

I price high(ish) for the genre I’m in. Mostly so that I won’t have to go in and change prices anytime soon. Nothing lower than $2.99, and novels for $6.99. Collections at $8.99, but I don’t bundle novels. Too much work, tbh. Someday I might though and sell them only on non-Amazon stores where I can make a decent royalty for stuff over $9.99, because I’d likely want to charge $16.99 for a 3 novel bundle.

I don’t run sales on my books. Mostly because that would mean I had to go to some dashboard somewhere and change prices. So let me add a caveat. I’ve given away a code on my author website for my main pen name that allowed my site visitors to get a book of mine for free for a limited time, and I’ve done this twice in the last two years. It was a gift to anyone who came by my site.

I don’t study the market. In fact, I don’t read that many books in my pen names’ genres. I used to read a lot of fan fiction in related genres and I’ve been a voracious reader my whole life, but I don’t enjoy a lot of the books in the genres I write in currently. That’s why I write my own books, because I’m an unsatisfied reader.

I have a mailing list. The only time I ever send a notice is when I publish something new. I didn’t even bother to notify my list that I’d published a collection of my short stories. I might throw it at the end of my next announcement for a new book. I might not.

I publish paperbacks of all my work, but I’m behind because I do all the formatting myself. In Word. And I hate widows and orphans and runts and ugly hyphenation, so I’m a bit of a perfectionist about it. ROI means nothing to me when it comes to my paperbacks even though I keep telling myself it should. ;)

I like to write and that’s what I want to do. But I want to write what I want and publish what I want and although I do hope to make readers happy, my first goal is to make myself happy. :) Of course, I don’t talk about that on my author site. That’d be a bit rude.

I … can’t really think of anything else I do or don’t do right now but if I remember anything, I’ll update. :D

Amazon’s Six-month Cliff

It exists. Very much so. However, it does appear it’s possible to climb out of that abyss. For no apparent reason, sales in the month since the nose dive off the cliff are on an easily identified upward trend (sales dashboard graph) so apparently all is not lost when one dives off that cliff. It’s been interesting to watch. On the other hand, it’s time to publish another book. Good thing I’ve been working on a couple. :D

This is actually the most cliff-like drop in sales I’ve ever noticed. Probably because I don’t do typical promotions so all my sales tend to be spread out instead of in clumps that might trigger an algo adjustment. It’s possible I don’t know what I’m talking about here, fyi. This is also the longest I’ve gone without publishing a new novel, so I haven’t had a chance to see a six-month cliff before.

I have read about others who experience 30 day and 90 day cliffs but I haven’t noticed those before. My reports show fairly steady increases, and then declines, between releases. Spikes are unusual.

This started me digging into my numbers a little more, and lo and behold I discovered an interesting thing. My not-as-popular novel series has barely earned more than my short story series in the last 90 days. Makes me think I should write more short stories instead of novels, unless they’re novels in my popular series, because … ouch. Those novels are 6x as long (and probably take more than 6x as long to write!) and that hurts my ego just thinking about it.

Microsoft Word and Embedded Fonts; Open Type Is a Problem

These things matter because I need embedded fonts to generate the right kind of PDF file for CreateSpace. I never noticed a problem with this before, but apparently the font I’m using is an Open Type font and Word won’t embed that font.

Now, this really surprised me when I researched the issue today, because the book I’ve been preparing is the third book in a series and is the third book to use that same font. Why I didn’t notice, or why it didn’t seem to matter, the last two times is beyond me, but this time, it came up as a problem in CreateSpace’s Interior Reviewer.

What I discovered is that Microsoft Word won’t or can’t embed Open Type fonts even if you have license permissions for those fonts to be embedded. I checked, and sure enough, I have the right permissions. Word just won’t embed Open Type fonts.

The solution was ditching the Word “save to PDF” option, and a search for a decent PDF printer that would embed those fonts for me. I installed several, including doPDF, CutePDF, and finally, PDF Creator (their website seems to be a bit broken, but this is the one that worked for me in the end). I couldn’t get any of them to print to the right sized paper for my book (5×8).

Turns out I had to create a new “form” for my printers.

That was tricky to find, since I’d never heard of this before. I found it under my control panel, printers, and when I clicked one of my printers, it was something I needed to do in the “Print server properties.” I created a new 5×8 form, with measurements of, you guessed it, 5×8 inches, and then when I “printed” my Word docx to the PDF Creator printer, it saved just fine!

A lot of work just to get some fonts embedded in a PDF file but it was worth it to know I’ve done it right.* I’m left wondering, though, how in the world did I get my last two books in this series through CreateSpace?

Also, although I ended up using PDF Creator to successfully create my PDF file, I have to wonder if the others would have worked just fine once I had created the new 5×8 form. I didn’t discover that I needed to do that until I found a FAQ on the website, Word documents with custom page size are converted in default size:

By default, PDFCreator only knows the paper formats that are created when it is installed. If a custom format is defined in Word, PDFCreator does not recognize it and thus Word will use the default page size.

To create new paper formats, they have to be created under Print Management->Server settings. There you can create name and dimensions of the format. Aftwards, you can use it in Word.

And there was the tricky bit. I had no idea what “Print Management->Server settings” meant. But once I figured it all out and did it, my file came out great.

I uploaded it earlier this evening, and there weren’t any apparent issues according to CreateSpace. Yay!

*What I really need to do is learn Adobe InDesign, but for what I do, it’s just not worth it at the moment.

My Obligation as a Writer

Hah! I start this off with a blatant misdirection because as a writer, I feel I have only one obligation. That obligation is to tell a story that means something, either to myself, or to those I want to read it.

Since no one is obligated to read my writings, I feel the same lack of obligation to make any adjustments to my story for any particular person.

A lot of people claim that if you want to publish your writings, you should pay for proofreading, cover creation, line-editing, and sometimes even more editing, but first I ask why?

And then I say, No.

Are artists obligated to have someone edit their art, adding splashes of color where maybe it needs a little something extra, or throwing on another daub of paint here or there? I don’t think so.

I’ll be honest here. I’m not that good with metaphor. That’s why I make it a point to avoid any kind of deliberate attempt at metaphors when I write.

But I can’t think of that many instances where people are sitting around telling an artist that if they don’t have the help of others, then they’re not doing their best work.

I can’t imagine writing as an interactive process, either with readers or editors. That’s not why or how I write. It really is all about me, until I’ve crafted something I want to share and then I personally feel a small obligation to make the story I wrote come across as cleanly and crisply as I imagined it in my head. So I reread, and I edit myself, but no one knows what I intended better than me, so having someone else do this stuff for me is not part of my process. I don’t want people telling me I’m not clear here or I need more description there. The story is what it is. The reader isn’t obligated to like it. The reader isn’t even obligated to read it.

Seriously, I never finish reading a story I don’t like, because I don’t have enough time in the day as it is.

When I get done with a story, I know it’s right for me when I find myself wanting to reread it, and when I do reread, I don’t find anything I don’t like. Boring parts? Don’t need to be there. Clanky sentences? Rewrote. Bad plotting? Trash it. The thing is, I’m telling a story. If it sucks, I know it. If it doesn’t, then maybe there’s someone out there who will enjoy it as much as I do.

I reread the stuff I really like. I can reread a good story within a day of my first read. And if I’m not finding myself tempted to reread my own stuff? I haven’t written a good story. Plain as that.

That’s my obligation as a writer. Admit when I haven’t written something worth rereading. For the rest, edit myself, proof myself, and take full ownership for everything in my story as my art.