Quick Update

I’ve been making slow progress at various projects, primarily trying to fix some bugs in my Brainsucking Mutants game and contemplating a paper doll system (pixel art) for it. I’m not sure if I’ll manage, but I have a few random (not very good, as you’ll see) pixel art doodles to prove that I haven’t been wasting all of my spare time playing Civilization… >_>

Kindle Experiment Update (And What I’ve Been Up To In September)

Well, September isn’t over, but my experiment with pricing my biopunk novel, Fourwar, on Amazon Kindle at $0.99 is. I reduced the price at the beginning of September, made the requisite announcements on Twitter and my other social networks, and pressed on with my (admittedly light) marketing efforts. Net result? Zero sales, no change from August.

To further my experiment, I’ve decided to go the other way and try a month priced at $4.99 instead. I suspect the price doesn’t really matter if you’re an “unknown” author. I also suspect that, like Robert Sawyer hints on his blog, self publishing is hard in SF generally – whether you take that as “speculative fiction” or “science fiction,” it seems like this stuff is just not going to fly off “virtual” shelves in the same way that a titillating romance novel or a traditional whodunit would. So, more work on marketing for me.:) Unfortunately, I haven’t yet been able to bring myself to spam the fuck out of every blog and forum in existence, so trying to find more organic ways of advertising has been challenging.

In terms of measuring general interest and exposure, I get somewhat confusing results comparing awstats reports to Google Analytics reports on my blog, and the latter can’t track certain things. What I do know is that my own website stats claim that, in September to date, the free PDF version of Fourwar was downloaded 19 times, and my first novel, Alice [free PDF], 10 times. Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, Amazon doesn’t show Kindle page traffic to authors, so you’re out of luck trying to figure out if you’re even being noticed on Amazon if you aren’t actively making sales.

Anyway, the experiment will press on. My third novel, a sort of urban sci-fantasy tale, is sitting at about 50,000 unedited words now, so small progress! I’m hoping to have a finished draft by the end of the year (but I know I said that before). I’m also working on yet-another-edit of Alice, which I’ll then place on the Amazon Kindle store as well as leaving it available under a CC license here.

I’ll close with a couple of very rough-draft thumbnails of images I’m working on – more things that I hope to finish by the end of the year.:)

Nate’s Trogdor

In case you ever wondered about why I have a sort of strange dragon (maybe a sea-dragon or sea serpent?) as my “avatar” here and there, a few years ago I stumbled over this Strong Bad email (flash video with sound, SFW) and decided I could handle drawing an S with a more bigger S.;) One day I found myself a bit bored and had scrap paper and a pencil lying around, so I sketched it out.

Click below to see the original sketch, in all of its messy glory. But definitely watch the video first!


More playing around with my tablet. This one is just intended to portray some sort of night-elementals, both the figure and the caged lantern-creature. Somebody suggested the latter is a bit like the жар-птица (firebird) from Slavic lore, which is amusing, since I was initially going for something like caged glowing birds, maybe phoenix-like, or a bird-firefly hybrid. I think it ended up being as much flora as fauna. I was initially going for “spooky,” but I never manage to pull that off.:P Anyway, just done for fun. Enjoy.:)

Nightbird drawing
Night Spirits

Fourwar on Amazon Kindle

I’ve been contemplating making my novels available on various electronic markets, and the Amazon Kindle market was particularly easy to convert one for, so I’ve gone ahead and taken the plunge with my scifi biopunk novel Fourwar. I initially intended to post it at the 99-cent price, but Amazon’s odd royalties mean that you have the choice of posting it at 99 cents for a 35% royalty (so I’d get about 34 cents, minus a few cents for the bandwidth of the book) or at a minimum of $2.99 US for a 70% royalty. While 35% is still significantly better than the traditional rates for a new author of maybe 2% (yes, two percent) if you’re lucky (from all I’ve read), I’m not really sure why I should give Amazon 65% of the royalties instead of 30% if I have the choice. So, rather than give Amazon the lion’s share, I’ve posted it at the $2.99 minimum price.

I’m not entirely sure what Amazon’s logic for the $2.99 minimum is. I’ve seen speculation that Amazon wants to force the customer expectations for ebooks to stay higher than $0.99 by dangling a carrot in front of authors who take the higher prices, and that may be possible. While Amazon stands to make about 65-70 cents on a $0.99 book, they will make about 90-95 cents on a $2.99 book (depending on bandwidth charges which are taken out of the author’s profit), so it seems evident that, at least at the bottom end of each range, they stand to make more money while keeping a nominally smaller cut if the author charges more. I’m not sure how this will work out, but I’m also not entirely sure how to go about marketing my book without obnoxiously spamming everything in sight, so I suppose I’ll figure both things out as I go.

Anyway, I took an hour or so last night and painted a little cover image and did a simple cover layout in Photoshop. See results below.:)

While the book is freely available as a PDF in my writing section (and PayPal donations are less cumbersome than Amazon.com royalties if you just want to tip me – see the right sidebar), if you have a Kindle and want to have a portable version, I’d certainly encourage you to get it:

Fourwar on Amazon.com
Cover for the Fourwar Novel

New Novel Posted – FourWar

Just a quick note to mention that I finally posted my second novel (finished right at the end of 2005!) on this website under my writing section. FourWar is a bit (okay, a lot!) less fantastic than Alice, trading off the dreamlike qualities for something best described as a sort of sociological cyberpunk scifi blend, but I’ll let my readers tell me exactly what it is.;)

Additionally, I’ve posted a reformatted version of Alice, which should be somewhat more readable than the first version (single-spaced now, Verdana instead of Courier, etc.).


Music Update

I’ve decided to go ahead and make all of my completed (and one mostly-complete) tracks available here under a CC-BY-SA License. There are 13 tracks so far, all trance-influenced electronica, some with female vocals by Naomi. Any and all feedback is appreciated, but mostly — enjoy!

On a related note, I’m making decent headway on a new track which I’ll hopefully release before the end of the year if I manage to get enough breathing room around my upcoming web-based game project which is now running a private alpha. I’ll convert that project to public alpha shortly, so keep an eye out for a post announcing this!