Post delayed due to weather — Edited

Posting from my phone which is getting low on power. Storm rolled through an hour or so ago and took out the transformer for my part of the neighborhood. Will be back once power is restored and coffee has been had.

Edited to add: Okay, I lied. There will be no post today. At least not for the next few hours at least. We have power but what I hadn’t seen until an hour ago when the dog went outside and then wanted in through the front door was that part of my fence is down. So I have to deal with that before the neighbor’s pit bull decides to come visit. (Before pit lovers jump me, I love them too. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t have the room she needs to play and burn off energy and while the family loves her, they shouldn’t be allowed to have a dog. They don’t take time to walk her, play with her or to train her properly. She is the first dog in years that I have been afraid of and it isn’t because of her breed but because of temperament.) So, I need to rebuild part of the fence and that has to take precedence over everything else right now.

So give me some ideas about what you want me to discuss later. In the meantime, here is a question for you. If you have a series of books already written, what would be your publications schedule? (would you go one a week, a month, a quarter, what?) And why would you choose that schedule?

24 Comments

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24 responses to “Post delayed due to weather — Edited

  1. We got it last night. Tornadoes north and east of me, but thanks be no injuries or fatalities (thus far). We got a squall line with heavy hail, horizontal rain, and wind. The wind has swung out of the north and I suspect the joggers and dog-walkers are setting record times getting home this AM. Ah, fall on the Plains.

    Random: has anyone got any experience converting from MS Office to LibreOffice? I’m probably going to make the switch and I’d like to know any problems people had (on Mac). Thanks.

    • The Other Sean

      I’m a PC user, but I’ll offer a general note that applies to all platforms. If there’s complex formatting involved, nothing I’ve yet seen consistently produces Word or PowerPoint output that appears exactly the same as you had it, once somebody opens it in the latest version of Word or PowerPoint. This applies (to a lesser extent) even to documents created in old versions of Word opened in later versions. If you’re not interchanging Word or PowerPoint documents often, though, or you are but the formatting is fairly simple, you may be fine.

      I’m not sure how well LibreOffice Calc does at producing Excel output and can’t comment there. What I personally found with PowerPoint and Word files produced from LibreOffice was that when opened in Microsoft Office, simple formatting was almost always faithful, but more complex formatting was always an open question. Usually it was resolvable fairly quickly (say, five minutes effort for a 20 slide deck) but not always. If all you did with the word processor document was font and paragraph styling, you were usually good, but using features like tables, embedded images, etc. could sometimes be off when opened in Word.

      • TRX

        That’s a deliberate policy from Microsoft, to keep everyone on the upgrade treadmill and make it harder for competitors.

    • Chris Nelson

      Had the same storms you had last night. Small tornado missed us, but took out a semi-trailer and cab south of us in Lewisville. Probably close to the total annual rainfall record now.

      As long time data guy that uses Excel on Windows and also uses LbreOffice on Linux, there is a big difference. Excel is a whole universe of functionality that can’t be duplicated. (I can’t speak for Word and the other ilk.)

    • There’s always some formatting problems. To transfer, other than using LibreOffice for document recovery, I save it in .doc, .docx, .rtf, and .odt, and see what comes over best.

      For spreadsheets, there’s a few quirks, particularly for VBA macros.

      Note that there’s close enough compatibility that LibreOffice can sometimes open files that Office chokes on, and lets you recover the data.

    • Thank you. I do not like having to lease the software, and the purchaseable (is too a word) package has more bugs than an etymology lab, going by the reviews on Microsoft’s own site.

    • nerdgal

      I switched to LO from Word many years ago. It was far less painful than switching from Corel’s WordPerfect to Word before that. If you are primarily using Writer, you shouldn’t run into too much trouble. That’s where the bulk of the coding effort has been expended. Calc (spreadsheet) works well in itself, but runs into problems when importing more complex Excel sheets. Impress (presentations) is still more problematic, especially with page animations.
      I have found it goes more smoothly to convert from .docx to Writer’s .odt format than from plain old .doc. That may be because both are XML based formats, versus .doc’s proprietary binary. The most common problems I’ve had are with (1) fonts — I use Linux and don’t have some of the expected MS fonts installed, (2) forms — sometimes form controls get messed up and I have to hand-fix them, and (3) occasionally, proper spacing around footnotes or table formatting for more complex tables. Sometimes, margins or something will be out of whack, but that’s trivial to fix.

      • TRX

        Look for the package “msfonts” for your distribution. That’s a collection of fonts Microsoft released as a free download some years ago, to upgrade earlier versions of Windows.

        If you absolutely need Microsoft fonts you can extract them from an old Windows install and use them in Linux. There are several web pages on how to do it.

        • nerdgal

          Thanks. I actually do have msfonts installed… The problem seems to be with newer fancy fonts that certain folks use. No, I don’t absolutely need them. The substitute fonts in LO work fine for me; it’s just that sometimes they affect spacing / layout. Matters for emailed forms, for instance. On my own stuff, I select by font and change to one I have installed everywhere, just for consistency.

  2. CACS

    And this — power outages — is one reason why, even with the convenience of all the books you can put on an e-reader, I will forever insist on having some dead tree books.

  3. Uncle Lar

    Two devices worth the investment if you live where power outages are likely, a small inverter that plugs into your car lighter socket so you can recharge your phone, laptop, or e-reader. Just remember to occasionally run the engine to keep the car battery charged. And what’s called a weather radio that comes with a hand crank to recharge. Mine has a USB port that will recharge my phone, and probably the e-reader. Don’t think it has sufficient juice for the laptop.

    • CACS

      I have seen versions of the hand crank weather radios that also include an LED flashlight. I have considered that such a product could come in handy if they really did what they were sold as being able to do.

  4. For releasing several books or stories in short order, I have two experiences.

    In 2014 I released a book every other month, if you count multiple short story releases in a month, for two of the months. It roughly doubled my income from the prior year, but still tanked in September.

    This year, I decided to try to release a cluster of shorter works at two a week. I thought perhaps I could get my Author’s rank up high enough for visibility outside my usual circle. Deliberately getting all the stories ready for publishing took forever, but I had them ready when Cedar’s labor Day sale jumped my sales very, very, nicely and they’ve stayed high since. Monthly income tripled from last year. Too late to really boost the annual income, but there’s always next year.

    I don’t know that they’d have had the same effect If I’d released them without the initial bump. I do know they’re starting to sink and I’d better get back to work!

    • My sales have stayed higher than in the past this fall, in part (I think) because I’ve been releasing something every month, a short story or novel. As you say, my author visibility is higher as well (almost cracked 10K!)

  5. The Other Sean

    We’ll be sure not to to tear the place down while you make good neighbors.

  6. Angus Trim

    As a complete nube in self-publishing, I asked myself that question earlier in the year. I set out this summer to publish seven novels, one every other week.

    It worked until it didn’t. Due to stuff happening beyond my control, things broke down after getting five up. Now that Paypal has some money in it again, it’s time to get two more covers made, and start again. The effort now is to get the next four published, one every other week.

    I still haven’t done any promotion. But, I noticed that each time a book was published, there would be a bump. The buy through of course, but there would also be a couple of people starting with the first book,

    September hit, and I went without sales for six weeks. Recently, things started again, the funny thing is that overwhelmingly it’s the later books in the series. In other words, there is quite a bit of buy through.

    Now, this is just a nube’s opinion, but I’m bettin’ that if you were to hold that every other week schedule, with the following you already have, and a little bit of promotion, you’ll see a nice bump with it.

    Just a mean Auld Dawg’s $.02

    • Try not to keep money IN PayPal. JVS can tell you the pitfalls when he tried to pay an online bill with it, and PayPal took the money from his bank account (overdrawing it) rather than the quite sufficient funds he had in PayPal.

  7. My ideal schedule would be a novel every quarter, and a short story or story set every month or six weeks. That being the ideal, in the real world I’m aiming for a novel every quarter and something else every quarter, so eight releases per year. My writing has slowed waaaaay down the past few weeks because of life, and editing has also gotten slower (life and increased business). I know I have a few fans who would buy something every week if I released it, but I don’t want to over-tax people’s budgets. And I don’t want to release junk just for the sake of having a release.

    • I’ve got a couple of ideas for serials and was wondering if an ‘installment’ (basically just a scene). One of them is for a world building project I joined years ago (several other ‘small’ writing projects there.) with a goal of a once a week release. My goal for actual book releases is three a year to start with, and four a year as a long term goal. Would something like this be effective do you think?

  8. mrsizer

    As a “bought them all” reader of most of you, it doesn’t make much difference to me. There is no way you (even collective “you”) can write as fast as I read. I’ve long since stopped being impatient for the next book (thanks, Mr. Jordan and Ms. Auel). I will buy it when I notice it (Ms. Uphoff’s post a while back led me to buy several Wine of the Gods shorts [really liked the one about Hell – but you’re going to run into the “heroes have levelled-up so far they can do anything” problem, if you keep going that way]).

    My usual pattern is: Buy the first book. If I like it, buy everything else at once.

    I do break it. There is one 1632 co-author I don’t like (way too into lineage; every walk-on character is relevant in some way to someone and we get to know, who, why, and for how many generations). I skip those. Those are also expensive ebooks, so I tend to buy them one-by-one, rather than in bulk. I think I’m caught up. Who knows? Next time I’m out of something to read, I’ll check again. [Random aside: The Barbie Consortium had a really interesting voice. It was about young adults and it “sounded” like young adults; very different from the other books.]

    In other words, I don’t think it really matters much. The only people who know you are on a schedule are here. Casual readers will not know there is a new book out. Publishing something regularly is nice because there is a good chance of something new being available the next time someone looks – but attempting to drive that “looking” by setting a schedule doesn’t seem like a good overall strategy to me.

    FWIW

    • Thanks, mrsizer. Putting magic into a story always has the issue of “Too powerful to be challenged.” I deal with it by having few extremely powerful, and the mid level magicians able to join together and mob the powerful. ::cough:: Sea Wolves ::cough::

  9. To the publication schedule question, it depends on whether you already have a loyal fanbase and the nature and size of the books. If it’s your first series, I wouldn’t leave a long gap because, as a reader, I’m less likely to invest my time in a series if I’m not seeing any evidence that it will get beyond the first book. On the other hand, ten doorstop novels coming out one-per-week would be overwhelming.

    I have two new book series planned for next year and I will be launching the first two books of each series within days of each other. That’s the plan at the moment, anyway. It’s partly because that way someone who enjoys the first book has another book to go to immediately. I like that as a reader because after reading at least two books in a series I feel properly invested, and as a writer I can translate the enthusiasm in the first book into extra revenue from the second straight away rather than risk the enthusiasm dwindle with all those other wonderful books out there.

    Then again, having the second book appear just after the first worked so well for me at the start of this year that I want to repeat my approach as closely as possible. It was probably just luck, but I don’t want to jinx it 🙂

    • And putting the first chapter of the next book at the back, with a link to buy the whole thing is handy as well. And always have a page of links to everything else you’ve written as well.