I’m a writer, not a…

We all know the joke about a writer’s browser history. But there’s also what winds up in the bookmarks, so I can find it later, and that’s even more random fun!

Some of my latest:
The Deep History of the Sonoran Desert

A Complete Guide to Pruning And Trimming Trees

EAA’s Interview of Weird Neal Hanson, an Air America pilot

Stop The Bleed (A class on tourniquet use)

DarkWater Crafting

The Geology of Uranium Deposits

The Witwatersrand Basin, South Africa: Geological framework and mineralization processes

…Sooner or later, all of these will come out in a story, possibly even the same story! Even the tree trimming, which is also going to happen in my backyard.

What’s in your bookmarks?

14 thoughts on “I’m a writer, not a…

  1. After seeing your list, I am unsurprised your books are interesting.

    On on unrelated note, I have been thinking about how authors use Amazon. The “names” seem to price their kindle versions the same as their paperbacks. And lots of authors offer their books on KU for free. But some authors of a series will (on KU) offer the first book for free and then charge a small amount (say $2.99) for the remaining books in the series. On reflection, this seem suboptimal to me. I suspect what should really be done with a series is to have, say, 3 different prices (free, $0.99, $1.99) and have the most recent book at the high price, the second to the last at the mid price, and older ones for free. As new books are published, the older books fall in price. This would actually broaden the audience, while allowing the most enthusiastic to demonstrate their support. Has anyone tried this? Are there drawbacks that I don’t understand?

    1. When a book is free on KULL, you pick up a lot of readers who otherwise wouldn’t even try it. But if you’re only pricing at $2.99, any good sized book will earn as much from a KULL read as a sale. And at $1.99 the author gets a whopping great 73¢, so why bother? Browsing readers are more likely to risk a buck on a new author, than $2. I very rarely price something at that. My first in series and shorts are at 99¢ where they get some tries. Older work above ~20K words are $2.99, above 40K and the bulk of older stuff at $3.99 and the newer at $4.99.

      At one point I tested raising novels to $5.99 and actually got a brief jump in sales. Some readers think anything cheap is poorly written, but as ereaders became more popular, I think that snob appeal became a minor part of the reader pool.

    2. What you’re seeing is a cross-section of pricing strategies implemented and not changed as Amazon changed the algorithms, and the audience changed.

      The most current market research I have done now indicates that, essentially, “99 cents is the new free.” That being, “free” (zero dollars for sale, whether in or out of KU) attracts a different crowd of readers than “paid” (any amount). So the conversion from free to paid is very low, and using that price point as a loss-leader for the series results in high downloads, but very, very little sell-through.

      Charging 99 cents drops downloads drastically, but it also has a far, far higher percentage of read-through / sell-through. That said, permanently setting to 99cents actually results in depressing sales in the long run, because there is a growing market impression in many fiction genres that “free” and “cheap” are… low-quality.

      As for $1.99, it’s a dead zone. Too high price for the $0.99 crowd, too low-price for the readers looking for “something good to read.” It doesn’t have to be logical to be true. You sales will increase if you put a $1.99 up to $2.99, which appears, for many fiction genres, to be the ground floor price for not-on-sale fiction, you will actually increase sales.

      Finally, as to price: “fiction is not produce.” By which I mean, there is no reason to drop the price on older books. Seriously; it’s not going to become a worse book just because it’s been out for 10 years. There is no sell-by date on fiction (unless you’re doing something “current and relevant”, that’s capitalizing on Crisis or Meme of the moment, or Current Political Administration. I don’t write that, I don’t research that.) It’s not like beef or onions, where if it sits too long, it gets soft. Therefore, there is only backlist and frontlist: things you have produced, and things you have *just* produced.

      You may drop the price on the entry point into the series to get people to impulse purchase it. But book #2-5 have no need for a price drop. (Initial release sale price is a different, more recent tactic of releasing at a low price for the first 24 hours to encourage fans to feel rewarded for getting it immediately upon release, and drive that initial sales spike. More on that is available elsewhere if you dig.)

      But remember: you’re not making repeated sales of the same book to the same customer. Therefore, every person who encounters and buys your first-in-series is seeing it and reading it for the first time (statistically speaking.) Therefore, there is no reason to consider historical pricing – what you did two years ago has no bearing on what this reader sees today. They didn’t see you two years ago! Also, the reader who just found you isn’t going to scroll down, see your publication date, and base a buy decision on that: they’re going to be looking at cover, title, blurb, price. Usually in that order. Sometimes they’ll download a sample, read, and then by the time they see price, they’ve already decided to buy (or they wouldn’t have made it that far), and as long as the price isn’t out of their impulse purchase range, it’s a non-factor.

      Last but actually the point of the whole thing: authors write for whatever reasons they write. Indies publish to make money. Devaluing your older work, and setting prices based on perceived worth due to age or place in series instead of what the market will bear will… usually make you less money, without significantly broadening your reach and discoverability. If the market will bear $4.99 (which is less than I’d pay for a 16-oz quad-shot mocha indulgence I’ll drink in less than half the time it takes to read the book), why would I undercut myself and only price it at $2.99? That way lies not being able to pay the electric bill, much less buy a mocha to soothe my brain while researching for the next book.

      1. On the question of dropping price as the novel ages, the counterexample I can think of where this works is video games. If you want the latest hot game, you’re going to pay $50-60 bucks for it. Wait a few months, and the price will drop to $40. A few more months and it’ll be down to $30. After a year or two, it will probably stabilize around $20. Video games also aren’t produce, a game doesn’t go bad after a year, but the producers appear to be trying to capitalize on how many people will buy for how much money. After about three months, everyone who was willing to pay $60 for the game already has, and if you want to sell any more, you need to lower the price.

        Trad publishers do something similar, I think, by releasing the hardcover a year or so before the paperback. There isn’t an explicit change in price for the same product, but the more expensive version goes out first, and the fans who absolutely cannot wait to read it pay the premium for the hardcover (or in the case of Baen, the e-arc). Those who like it but want to save their pennies will wait for the mmpb.

        I’ve thought a bit about whether I could do something with this dynamic as a writer. Of course, in my case, “how can you get extra dollars from your most rabid fans who can’t wait for the next book?” is roughly akin to asking, “how can you make money off all those unicorn droppings in your backyard?” And even if I were to try something like that, I don’t think I’d ever reduce the price of anything other than an initial loss-leader below $2.99 or so. But I think there might be something to this idea that could be explored.

        1. There’s a network effect in gaming that isn’t present in books to the same degree, for the most part.

          Post Rowling, I don’t think we are seeing the degree of camping out, etc., that we were for Potter.

          It is a bit more routine for gaming these days.

          Okay, among my biggest exposures to computer gaming by other people is a guy who plays a bunch of ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s western RPGs. So I am aware that computer gaming is not monolithic in focusing on the newest games, and games many others are playing.

    1. Google translate is a big one for me too. I also use https://www.fantasynamegenerators.com a lot. I find it easier to make up names from the lists it provides than to struggle with making them up myself.
      Other than that, I don’t have many bookmarks. If I need to find something, I will just use DuckDuckGo to find what I want and go from there.

  2. Current browser has a boring selection of bookmarks, because relatively fresh. Amazon, youtube, fanfic mostly. Last screen is wikipedia, running from binomial coefficient to Hassler Whitney.

    Over on the next computer, which has been in use longer, I have a fair amount of text files with links copied for specific projects.

    On a browser in an account on that machine, sorted bookmarks included labeled folders for wallachia, castlevania let’s plays, and folklore magical black dogs. (All for the same, recent ish project.) Unsorted, first page has the Sakigake! Otokojuku wiki as representative of part, and a bunch of SESTA links. Last page has a bunch of interesting looking Oxford Publishing books, a couple of quanta articles, a guy who paints old cars, a couple of things on royal road, and a xianxia translation that I haven’t tried to get into.

  3. I have one tab constantly open on Google Synonym, to search for just the right words. It’s far from perfect, but it helps.

    Maps and overhead views help determine what the characters would see, how they would get from one place to another, and how long it would take.

    Lots of sources to figure out that a 3.2 GW fusion reactor would consume 420 grams of hydrogen per day. That requires the electrolytic cracking of just about a gallon of sea water every day. Two such reactors operating continuously at full power would consume enough water to lower sea level by one millimeter in 130 billion years.

    Theodore Gray’s wooden periodic table is fun and fascinating.

    Units Of Measurement at ibiblio. org/units is a compendium of measurement terms both old and new. Did you know that a ‘bind’ is an Old English word for 250 eels?

  4. I’m narrowing down my options:
    1.) hematite-rich granite breccia complex (shiny! back cubic shiny!)
    2.) pitchblende veins are in gneiss and mica schist found in the neighborhood of intrusive granite and andesite. (shiny! flaky rainbow mica variety!)
    3.) Greenstone belt formation and plutonism was
    followed in the Barberton area by the emplacement of
    voluminous, sheet-like granodiorite-adamellite (or
    quartz-monzonite) batholiths .
    Although it is difficult to accurately date the age of hydrothermal alteration in these granites, precise U-Pb dating at two localities has shown that exogenous quartz-microcline-albitepyrite-rutile veins are derived from the nearby 2880 Ma Schweizer-Reneke pluton, whereas greisen-related fluorites are broadly coeval with, and have similar Pbloss histories to, the 3086 Ma Westerdam granite within which they are hosted (Robb et al., 1992).

    (pretty pink-black-white speckled granite, with greenish-stone and white crystals and fools gold. Shiny! )
    No matter which I choose, it’s going to be shiny.
    And I can geologically justify the shiny!

  5. Most of what I’ve done recent is names, and songs.

    You know, it’s really difficult to have a character sing a period appropriate song that echoes the themes of your story but doesn’t foreshadow too much. Or the wrong things. Lyrical one are better than ballads as long as you don’t want to have, for reasons, the song repeat with more variation, because lyrical ones tend to be short.

  6. I’ma claiming the 5th… LOL And I’ll be curious to hear what you thought of the interview with Weird Neil. He’s a friend of mine.

  7. My bookmarks tend to be political and historical sites, two geology blogs (one of which is probably defunct and I should drop) and a few publishing sites. Most of my research tends to be in books, because I’m not paying $$$$ for electronic access to journal articles. Ye gads, people, that stuff should be in public domain by now!

    1. No kidding! Frustrating doesn’t begin to describe it! Especially when it IS something you need… Grrrr…

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