18 September 2010

Book tagging on Amazon

I just spent the past half hour 'tagging' books on Amazon. Fun stuff :0

Here's the concept:

Each product on Amazon has a set of related tags. This set is dynamic - there can be none or there can be a bunch.

Tags are created by Amazon users. They can be voted up or down, improving or decreasing the popularity of the tag. If a tag on an Amazon item becomes popular, it will show up in search results more often. This is a good thing when you're trying to sell something.

Here's an example:

Say I write a book about coffee cups. When I publish it, I give it the tags 'coffee cup', 'coffee', 'cup', and 'mug.'

If others look at my description and agree that my book is about coffee cups, they increase the tag count. The higher the tag count goes, the more likely it is my book shows up when someone searches amazon for coffee cups.

But... (and there's always a but).. what if someone reads my title (One man's Journey to Find the Perfect Coffee Cup) and decides that it is also a philosophy book. They can add the philosophy tag.

Say more people come in and agree that my book, in addition to being about coffee cups, is also about philosophy.

Pretty soon, when someone does an Amazon search for philosophy, without even mentioning coffee cups, they will get a hit for my book. And maybe, just maybe, this person is a philosopher who is interested in coffee cups.

And they buy my book. Yay!

Everyone is familiar with Netflix. This is the same thing. It goes by many names : Predictive Analytics, Data Mining, and Machine Learning. This technology is used by everyone these days - banks, retail, wall street, medicine, government, you name it.

Here's a WikiPedia link that gives a little more background on the topic.

15 September 2010

A quick update

I seem to have finally punched through the editors block I wrote of last time. Over the course of this past weekend I revised seven chapters, pushing myself well into the last section of High Treason. I have only six or seven left at this point, including the prologue.


Lots of work. Glad to see it coming to a close.

Let's see .. what else is going on in my little writing Universe? Smashwords is supposed to release royalties for Kobo, Apple, Diesel, and some other eBook stores over the next day or three. I'm not expecting much, but it will be interesting to know if anyone out there is buying my stuff. I'm pretty sure I've had some sales on Kobo and I know of at least one on iBooks, but who knows about the rest? I like the way Amazon provides instant updates via the DTP site, except I tend to check it too frequently, looking for sales.

I've been debating whether or not to do a print version of High Treason or just distribute electronically. I like the idea of having a print copy on hand for posterity, but given that I've only sold two of Self Arrest in print, it's not the most fiscally responsible choice.

Maybe if someone were to buy 5-6 copies of Self Arrest in the next few weeks I'll change my mind, but I think that's unlikely. I'll probably end up doing a POD version just to have it on my shelf, but I'll focus marketing and promo on the Kindle/Nook/etc. versions. That's where the market is these days.

That's it. I'm heading over to Target in a few - I hope they have the new K3 in stock. I've been dying to play with one after hearing how much better the contrast is compared to the K2.

09 September 2010

You've heard of writer's block? Try editor's block!

I'm at the tail-end of a much needed break from editing and I'm struggling with getting motivated for the final push.

I don't know why this is so damned hard. Well, actually I do. When I wrote my first book, I didn't know nearly as much as I know now. And it shows.. Too many adverbs (suddenly, anyone?), some head hopping, too many living, breathing darlings that I didn't have the balls to kill.

Now I know about all of these things. And I want the book to be perfect. Before, I was happy with 'good enough.' In my professional life (software development), I've spent years resisting the urge to write perfect software, and instead focused on writing software that gets the job done and no more.

Writing is different. I want my next book to be perfect - or as close to perfect as I can produce. I want it to stand should to shoulder with the best commercial fiction out there. And as an indie author, it's up to me to make this happen.

Yay for me.

So, to make a long story short, the end of September may not happen. I've got twelve chapters to self edit, and about 30 to run through the critique gauntlet, plus I have to give the book to a few friends/critical readers and incorporate their feedback before I publish. Only then will I feel I've done my best. Oh yeah - I also have to do a cover.