Stats – StoryGraph and Goodreads were, surprisingly, neck and neck until about 3 or 4 days from the end, then Goodreads pulled away by a thousand (Since this is StoryGraph’s first giveaway, all giveaways end at the same time, so there’s no Ending Soon rush at the end). StoryGraph lists impressions with their stats (62.3k) which I assume is how many users were on the main results page. They also list pageviews (4.53k) which lets you know if they actually clicked on the link to see your specific giveaway. Then you get the entrant count (2,623) which is what matters the most. Dividing the entrant count by the pageviews gives me a click through rate of 58%. The CTR is 4% if you use the impressions instead of the pageviews. Usually, 2% is considered successful, so I’m happy with that. I’m more drawn to the pageview ratio, even though I have no idea what a good CTR is for that. 58% sounds good to me, but that also means that 42% bounced after reading the description. Either way, for StoryGraph, 2,623 more people know about my book. Goodreads stats simply include the entrant count (3,762).
Reader info – Both sites give you info on the winners, though StoryGraph gives you their emails so you can contact them directly. Goodreads gives you a link to their profile page and you can search via email on StoryGraph to get to the user’s account. You can then either add them as a friend or follow them for both sites. A great way to connect and see what other books interest them.
Takeaway – So a couple of weeks later, how many people found out they didn’t win and bought the book anyway? One. It’s slightly disconcerting that out of 6,385 total potential readers, only one decided to buy it after not winning. And I really don’t even know that the one purchase was linked to the giveaway. I don’t know what the reality is for other authors who have done this, but I expected maybe 20 or 30 sales in the aftermath. I guess the real measure will be whether I can garner any reviews out of this.
Diversity – While Goodreads allows entrants from the US and Canada only, StoryGraph allows you to offer giveaways to 163 countries (actually a little more, but we can’t ship to them, so they don’t count). It’s super cool to get my hands on such a diverse crowd of readers. I have winners from so many different countries: Germany, The United Kingdom, Switzerland, Canada, India, Netherlands, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Singapore and Florida. Yes, Florida is its own nation now. Or hopefully will be in the near future (Sorry, Florida winner). I love working with and reaching out to places I can never afford to visit because I’m a writer. Speaking of being financially challenged, I had taken the cost of shipping to other countries into account but 1) changed my giveaways from 5 to 15 at the last minute without thinking and 2) didn’t really imagine that all but one winner would be from so far away (I’m in the US). I had to fund the shipping by selling myself on the streets, a quarter at a time. During Covid. Like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, I did everything but the kissing. I have standards, you know.
So my tandem, month-long giveaways are just short of the midway point. Being the slight geek that I am, I’m mad with myself for not monitoring the numbers daily. I wanted to present a pretty line graph at the end to visually compare StoryGraph’s numbers with Goodreads, but didn’t remember until day 4. As of this writing, it’s day 13 and StoryGraph is at 2,050 while Goodreads is at 2,237. I would say that StoryGraph is holding their own very well against the behemoth that is Amazon. For Goodreads, I finally made it above the fold (15 books deep) if you select the Popular button and then filter by Horror. By default, StoryGraph’s first giveaway is a month long. You can pick your own date range from Goodreads, and I picked a month to match the StoryGraph date range, though it seems like a good many authors pick the three week range.
IngramSpark’s software (or lack thereof)
Extremely irritated with IngramSpark’s site. Turns out if you try to upload an interior only change and it fails with errors, there’s no way to navigate back to where you can try again (safely) and it returns you to square one, literally. You see all seven tabs and have to start again, then they want you to pay $50 instead of $25. A week to get that reset. Then I hired someone on Fiverr to fix the PDF and color errors and that went perfect and quick. And Ingram’s site uploaded it with no errors. Cool. Then came the payment screen. By this time I’m wise to their software and I use Screenpresso to record everything I’m doing. And sure enough, if you click on the Use Existing Card button and don’t recognize the card number (I didn’t) then once again there are no navigation buttons to take you back to the screen before. To rub salt in the wound, they actually have a banner telling you not to refresh or hit the back button. This is it, they seem to be proclaiming. If you chose wrong, you’re fucked. I went back to Pending Orders and found the order, checked the check boxes, and filled the emails in only to have it spin continuously and do nothing. I refreshed and went back and cleared my cache and screamed at them through my monitor. It finally went through. The whole process has left a very bad taste in my mouth. I’m not sure how such a large company can have such horrible software. As I found out from my local library, there are other choices out there, and I’ll be researching those, but for now Ingram seems to be preferred by the only major bookstore I’ve talked to. After catching their crappy software in the act, I couldn’t figure out how to get Screenpresso to stop recording and had to stop the process, thereby not saving anything I’d recorded. More screaming. (It’s the PrintScreen key for some strange reason).
I have two book signings in October. They will both be at 2nd and Charles, one in Oxford, AL on the 15th and one in Birmingham, AL on the 8th. Since I’ve had orders from Amazon that never arrived, I was stressing over whether my paperbacks would be here by the 8th (the date Amazon was originally showing). Fortunately, they seem to be scheduled to arrive today. My hardback proof won’t arrive until the 17th, which means there’s no way to get my hardback in either book signing. But I’m only making a few cents on them anyway (at signings), and I refuse to raise the price of a 170 page book to $27. I have principles, you know.
To Do List
There’s so many little things to do. Getting QR codes printed out that link to my giveaways. Organizing my file system on the laptop. Nothing is worse than not being able to find your latest file of an already published book. The nightmare scenario of editing a previous revision and publishing something with all manner of errors in it. Backing up said files to Dropbox or Google Drive so they don’t disappear into the void. Thinking about what to ship with winning entries – new writing, bookmarks, etc.
What do you think would be cool to get with a free book?
StoryGraph is a great alternative to Amazon and Goodreads. I’ll be a part of their first ever giveaway that’s kicking off on September 19th. A total of 10 paperbacks and 5 hardcovers will be given away in mid-October. There will be bonus material included for the winners of my new release – Bedtime Stories for the Criminally Insane (and poetry).
So I finally got my first patron on Patreon. After finding out, I walked outside in the rain and looked up to see a ray of sunshine splitting apart the dark clouds. Then I sprouted angel’s wings and flew high into the new world order. I looked down upon all the future readers who would be blessed by the presence of my words and said, “Let there be odd and disconcerting poetry.” And so there was. Then I said, “Let there be swells of adverbs and unnecessary intensifiers.” And so there was. There really, really was.
Then I realized I have to produce content, write more than once every five months, and in general deliver the goods. My wings then disintegrated and I fell through a copse of pine trees, but not like that fall in Rambo: First Blood. There was more screaming and flailing and I didn’t have the constitution to sew myself up afterwards… you know what, nevermind. The point is I have things to do now. Can I, though?
That’s largely dependent on my mental state, which ebbs and flows like an ocean on a planet with three moons. Things are little rough right now, but I have initiated a project I call: Project Do Things. As you may have surmised from the title, the main workflow of this project is to do things. This is in direct opposition to my current status quo in which I am not doing things. The roadmap is very simple and looks like this: Doing little or no things => Doing things.
I will not only be writing more, I will be reading more as well. I’m hoping to give away a book a month for my Patreon members, which means I’ll have to read at least one, unless it sucks and then I’ll have to read another one, and so on… I don’t want to give away a book that sucks. More blogging, Instagraming, Tweeting, Patreoning, you get the picture. But if there’s a way to decide on the specific type of stress and anxiety you get to deal with, I choose this kind. The reading and writing kind. The connecting with readers kind. The carbonara kind. I like carbonara.
Bedtime Stories for the Criminally Insane (and poetry) is out there now, but I haven’t pushed as hard for sales as I can because the newly edited version won’t be out for a week or so. There’ll be future posts on the importance of hiring a good editor and also some announcements about giveaways on dueling platforms. I’m also in talks with a company about offering my book as an NFT. If you’re new to NFTs, don’t shit on them until you’ve researched a little. They’re going to be much more than digital Beanie Babies.
Today, me and the wife were out walking on a plot of land next to the river. We had an interesting conversation with someone who, at first, sounded intelligent, and I’m sure thought of himself as intelligent. But while explaining in some detail about all of the mountains and lands in the southeast he has traversed, he also related that the people who owned the land we were standing on were African American, but that they didn’t seem like they were up to something. And how he taught himself chemistry and geology and used to take groups of people on field trips but can’t any more because people are so politically correct. And how patriotic he was. And how he didn’t appreciate revisionist history (but not which side of it he was on). And how common sense was disappearing. I asked him if he was a professor and he said that professors were all… a little too much… airy and all… (couldn’t quite articulate his issues with professors). He told me he was a truck driver. By the way, he’s wearing spandex leggings and a pair of blue jean shorts over them that’s three sizes too big. It’s 20 degrees outside.
Every time I discuss something with someone from the right, before the conversation devolves into conspiracy theories, alternate facts, or alternate realities, they always mention how all that book learning has eroded my common sense.
So us learned group of elites have lost these magical abilities that the working, middle class folk have somehow found a way to hang on to. You see, on the spectrum of knowledge, there’s a point you get to where you need to slow down a little, stop gaining all this understanding, and start listening to Fox News, Kid Rock, and preachers. But be careful, because if you read one too many books after you hit that magical threshold of alt-right knowledge, you become… an elite.
There’s this story about an eighteen wheeler that tried to go under a bridge and got stuck. All these engineers and “smart” people tried to figure out how to get it out, but couldn’t. That is, until this old country boy came along and asked them why they didn’t just let the air out of the tires? The people who believe this fable will shake their heads knowingly. Yep. A simple solution is all you need. Not some engineer overthinking things with all his bookish knowledge. A yarn where the simple man is somehow smarter than the more educated man. The problem with this narrative is that, in the realm of public policy at least, it’s bullshit 98% of the time.
I can’t sit here and tell you, as a software developer, that I don’t overthink things. I do. I get paid to do so. And it is true that sometimes I will take an issue with a simple solution and derive a much more complicated path to solving it than was necessary. But remember, we’re talking about “common” sense. Something everyone should share, factory workers and scientists alike should all be on the same page. So common sense should be, well, common.
Everyone should have access to healthcare. This makes sense, but not to the Gallant Old Party, so I would argue that it’s not common.
You shouldn’t separate children from their parents, possibly forever, and place them in cages for fleeing dangerous environments. Republicans can tell you why this makes sense. So again, not common sense.
Climate change is real. Hundreds of thousands of scientists agree. The Right thinks it’s a hoax. That the industries of 7.6 billion people produce no lasting changes on the planet. So, not common sense. The list goes on and on and on.
These people think their cups are overflowing with common sense. They are not. They’re empty, bone dry, hollow recepticals that are filled instead with narcissism, fear, racism, and ignorance. Letting some air out of a truck’s tires means nothing if you don’t believe in science and have no empathy.
So can we please put this bullshit idea to bed that conservatives can run the country better because they, at some point, decided to stop learning? I concede that maybe the good ole country boy could solve the bridge problem quicker than me. But our nation is not a set of truck tires. It’s slightly more complicated.
I avoid stupid people. This is hard because I live in Alabama.
To set the stage, I’m listening to Kevin Hart’s audiobook The Decision. Something funny and inspiring to help you approach this negative world with its negative people in a more positive manner. In the book, Kevin offers up a 30 day, no-complaining challenge, certainly not the first of its kind, but a good exercise nonetheless. Me and the wife decided to try it using stars on the fridge. If we catch the other complaining, they have to go back to day one. I never realized I was such a whiny, little bitch.
I failed the very first day while driving. Driving is my Kryptonite during this challenge. A truck came almost to a stop in front of me to take a two inch high segue into a Subway’s parking lot. “YOU’RE IN A FUCKING TRUCK!” It was like when the doctor tests your reflexes. The idiot in the truck was the rubber mallet and my mouth was the knee. My frontal lobe was watching his cork down by the lake. My lizard brain was sitting in the clock tower, naked and reloading.
But after several restarts, I was getting the hang of this no-bitching thing. You become more self-aware. You re-word things ever so slightly. You change the tone of what you’re saying. I’m not bitching, I say to my wife in a calm voice, I’m only stating the fact that a particular driver in the red car ahead needs to take a sharp right (we’re on the side of a mountain). I’m very proud of my eleven day streak. Then I’m in Birmingham and trying to merge over a couple of lanes. It’s on 280. It’s five lanes in this spot and I only need to get over two. Although it’s hard to believe, for a few hundred feet behind me, as I begin to merge, there is only one vehicle. The lady in the car somehow manages to manipulate her speed such that neither slowing down nor speeding up allows me to get over. I miss the exit. I say things you shouldn’t say about other people’s moms. I say things you shouldn’t say if you’re a drunken sailer who’s just sit down on his own balls. If you were Yosemite Sam on HBO. You get the picture. The tiny devil sitting on my shoulder is laughing with glee. Veins are protruding from my forehead. I look at my wife. She is smiling. No star for me today. I am back to square one on our little calendar on the fridge.
I’m not a quitter. I start again. I am on day two when I walk into a mom and pop grocery store in our little redneck town. You know, the type with the plywood dais right at the front of the store where someone hands out money to the cashiers. There is a lady screaming from her dais down to a customer that’s checking out about ten feet away. “- cause there ain’t but about 10,000 actual deaths from that in the whole world -” It was a very recognizable stream of stupid, and I walked right through it. I immediately shed my cloths, but I am still drenched in it. The portion of my brain that harbors logic is screaming. It has been attacked out of the blue. She continues to yell. I try to close my ears and mind, to create a cone of silence around me as I turn down the isle. But still I car hear the lady in check out validate the lady in the dais, agging her on, the dais lady with her butt cheeks proudly swelling out on either side of the shit that’s spewing out of her mouth.
There are a total of three cashiers. Two women and one young boy. When I return to the front, the dais lady is walking past the cashiers. And for the first time, I simply can’t take it anymore. The profound ignorance. The prideful stupidity. The apparent inability to simply Google something.
I say, “Excuse me, mam. I overheard you talking about Covid. I’d like to make a bet with you.”
She looks at me and then at the twenty dollar bill I’ve pulled from my back pocket.
“If you can prove to me that there have only been around 10,000 deaths worldwide due to the pandemic, I’ll give you this $20.” I offer it out to her. “I’ll give you a week to come up with proof. You can hold the money until then. I’ll be back in a week.” I regret not having more cash. $500 would be something you have to address a little more seriously.
“Well, I don’t want to take your money,” she says, “But that’s right. And by the way, that thing you got (pointing to my mask, as she’s not wearing one) is messing with your immune system. You need all those bacteria and stuff to make your immune system strong. When I was young we used to play in the dirt and chicken poop and everything else and we’re just fine. And another thing, all you need is Zinc. Take that and you can’t get it. I take it every day and I don’t got it.” And she turns and leaves.
My head is in a fog as I check out. I grab my bag to leave, but then can’t help myself and turn around to face all three cashiers. “Any of you guys want to take the bet? Prove the crap that’s coming out of her mouth and take my $20?”
Now the young boy is perking up. That’s a twenty, after all. Three hours take home in one fell swoop. The other two are silent. He looks hesitantly at me and then them, and says slowly, “All you have to do is look it up.” This is an uncertain revelation.
So I say, “Yes! All you have to do is look it up!” I am very happy he has stumbled onto this epiphany. He starts to look it up on his phone and I remind him that to get the twenty, you have to take the bet first. He doesn’t say he will, but continues looking it up.
I turn to the lady that checked me out and say, “I don’t understand, it’s not like this stuff is hiding in a library somewhere on a microfilm. You can literally Google ‘Covid US’ and the statistics are right there on the page.”
And she says, “I can tell you about that. Just ask Alexa. That whole thing is just something to disrupt the election.”
I stare for a moment like I do when someone challenges reality itself. I say, “So the pandemic that’s affecting the entire world is happening just to disrupt an election in the US?”
I walk back to my car. I tell my wife that I made the mistake of interacting with them (meaning Trumpers) for the first time in the real world. I picture aliens, some advanced life forms, coming to Earth and feeling, after first contact, the way I did then. Time to pack up and leave, they would say. The others saying, but I thought we were going to teach them how to-. No! says the alien who bore witness. We leave now!
These are real people in the real world. People who don’t seem to know you can simply Google something to find out what’s true and what’s not. People who think I’m compromising my immune system while they are standing there in front of me, maskless, compromising my immune system. People who think that somehow, somewhere, someone has orchestrated the deaths of almost 900,000 people world wide just to rig one country’s election.
I would like to apologize to Kevin Hart. I am very sorry, Kevin. I’ve lost all my stars again today.
Also, if you’ve read this and don’t know what a dais is, that’s okay. Ignorance of something is okay because you can fix that. Apparently you shouldn’t ask Alexa, though. That bitch is cray cray. But you can Google it. However, if you don’t know what a dais is and refuse to find out for yourself, that’s willful ignorance. If you’re happy remaining ignorant about things, then you’re in the same, shallow gene pool as the People of the Dais, who are both spewing and swallowing each other’s piles of shit like they’re in The Human Centipede 4: Rise of the GOP. And since I’ve already lost my stars for the day, I say to all the willfully ignorant people out there – Go fuck yourselves.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find some chicken poop to play in so I can boost my immune system.