Feb 14 2019

Possible can of worms

Rosemary

I’m settling down to the task of recreating the paperback version of The Steerswoman, to match the size of the other three volumes.

Recap of the issue:

As you may recall, when I published The Steerswoman in paperback through CreateSpace, I selected the 8-inch by 5.25 inch size.  I actually put a lot of thought into this choice, taking into account the page-count, font-size, and finally, how the book would actually feel in the reader’s hand.  8×5.25 seemed like it would be just right: a good-sized, substantial book, not too big, but not too small.  And when the proof copies arrived, I was pleased with the result, certain I’d made the right choice.  Even though the smaller size meant more pages, and the cost of printing was based entirely on the number of pages — even though it raised the print costs and cut into my profit — I thought the result was worth it.

Excellent!   With that done, I went on to production on Volume 2…

One problem:

The Steerswoman comes to about 97,000 words.  The Outskirter’s Secret? 138,000.

At 138,000 words, the page count went up to around 500 pages, and the production cost was so high that not only would my profits drop to zero, they’d actually go negative.  That’s right: I’d have to pay Amazon extra every time someone purchased a copy.  Alternatively, I could raise the price of the book, but charging over $30 for a trade paperback would severely decrease my sales.  To, that is,  approximately nada.

Obvious solution: bigger format.  At 9 by 6, the problem goes away completely!  Bigger pages = more words per page = fewer pages = lower costs.  Voila.

And by now I was familiar with CreateSpace’s process, and with its excellent user interface.  So I ramped up, and got the other three volumes out –but  in the larger size. So, not really a matched set…

But I knew I’d be returning to the issue later, and would re-do the first book to match the others.

And I’ve now decided that February is the time to do it!

Slight problem: CreateSpace no longer exists.

CreateSpace has been owned and run by Amazon for a while now, but during that time the Kindle  service started adding an option to create paperbacks as well as ebooks.  They actually streamlined the process so that you  could create your paperback from the ebook pretty easily.  But I had compared the two services, and chosen to go with CreateSpace for very good reasons, including a higher royalty, better distribution to non-Amazon markets, and faster payment.

But a few months ago, Amazon warned us that they were about to axe CreateSpace, and all our books were going to be shifted over to Kindle Paperback.  And in general, that’s not a bad thing.  They’ve actually adopted a lot of the CreateSpace advantages, and it’s nice to have all my sales on one report.

But they really want you to create your paperback from your ebook, and they tossed out the lovely CreateSpace paperback-creation interface.

And now I have to do more work by hand.  Fortunately, I can; I’ve got the chops.  But it is more fuss-intensive, because of the reformatting to the larger size and all.   But I also worry — is the paperback created by the Kindle paperback process going to look different from the CreateSpace books?  In subtle ways, perhaps, like quality of paper, thickness of cover-stock, color saturation on the covers?  There’s just no way to know until I do it.

Thus: possible can of worms…

Now, you might ask: Since Kindle wants you to make your paperback from your ebook, and you alread do have an ebook of The Steerswoman, why not just let Kindle do the work?

Well.  Two reasons.

First, the paperback covers are different from the ebook covers.  And for good reason: Something that looks eye-catching as an small image on a glowing screen might look like crap when it’s printed out in physical form.  I specifically made the ebook covers  uncrowded and clean-looking.  But that openness doesn’t work for a paperback; it just looks empty.  So I added the black bar background behind the title, to give it more presence, and to differentiate it more clearly from the map. But creating paperbacks automatically from the ebooks would put the ebook cover on the paperback.

Second reason: The paperbacks have all the typo corrections!  A lot of you have been alerting me to the typos (and thank you for that), and all those corrections went into the paperback versions.  And after this, I’m going to be recreating the inside of the ebooks using the text of the (hopefully) typo-free paperback versions.

But that’s a whole other task.  Right now, let’s get that large-format edition of The Steerswoman going.  Which, by the way, will involve recreating the cover, which is actually more difficult than resizing the text pages.

In other news: That non-flu cold thing knocked me back pretty hard.  I’ve been over it for a while now, but it pretty much ate up January for me, including my plan to have another internet fast.  I couldn’t just shift it on to Feebruary, because I had plans that involved a lot of internet accessing.  I felt that the internet fast did me some good, and I really do want to solidify that.  So… March?  Maybe?

News about people who are not me:

Have you seen this?

That’s right: Chad Orzel‘s latest, Breakfast with Einstein was featured in the New York Times Book Review, in a shortlist of new physics books.

“The nuclear physics of breakfast may not sound particularly appetizing, but Orzel is determined to put it on the menu. A physics professor at Union College, he is (rightly) concerned that quantum physics usually conjures up images of the bizarre and exotic, when its effects are in fact with us every day. ‘Even the most ordinary of activities, those that make up our morning routine, are fundamentally quantum,’ he reminds us.” — New York Times Book Review, Feb 9, 2019

I love it when good things happen to people I like.

Chad also writes science articles for the online edition of Forbes magazine.  If you love science, and want  layman-friendly news about what’s up lately in quantum research (like what’s all this fuss about a crisis in physics?  and do we really need another collider?), you should add him to your blog feed.

He also has his own website, of course, with all the info you might need or want,  including a personal blog.   You know, life of a scientist/science writer: family, non-science musings, dog pictures – the whole shebang.   If you think that real scientists are all  like Sheldon and the guys on The Big Bang theory — well, Chad’s blog can help you get over that.

Seriously.  Get over that.

 

 

 

 

 


Oct 21 2016

Grand central station, apparently.

Rosemary

I’m still wrestling with some intermittent fried-brain syndrome,  and thought that a touch of back-to-nature and solitude would be just the thing.

Obviously, a walk in the woods was called for.  Soothe my spirit! Clear my mind!  Plus, whenever I go for walks in the woods, I just naturally start thinking about scenes from the next Steerswoman books.   Because of the walking.  And the woods.   And the solitude.  Three things that often go together in a Steerswoman’s life.

I figured that if I wanted to take a walk in the woods, I’d better do it today (Thursday), since it’s going to rain Friday.

And it turned out that everybody else in town and all the surrounding towns had exactly the same idea at exactly the same time.

Again.   This keeps happening to me!

I had forgotten to change into my real hiking boots, so I took the flattest trail available — possibly that was a factor, too.

Well, I did have some moments alone.

Between waves of hikers, including little old ladies and dogs.

Between waves of hikers, including young couples, college students, retirees and dogs.

You know, back in my serious backpacking days, walking in the rain was just a thing that happened.   You didn’t stop hiking for a little rain.  Rain ponchos were invented for a reason!

That might solve my solitude problem.  I’ll have to give that some consideration.

In other news:  everyone keeps telling me that Scrivener is the best word processing software for creative writers.   I keep digging in my heels, due to being perfectly comfortable with MS Word, which has seen me through a lot of writing…

But I’m currently juggling multiple versions of multiple scenes, with multiple possibilities for sequencing, as well.   I thought I’d see if the Scrivener interface was better for sorting things out, as everyone claims it is.   So far, I’m just importing my current work into it, so I won’t have a verdict for a while, but I’ll keep you posted.

Let’s see, what else?

Ha!  How about a random passage from Book 5?

      Mascha met him at the mud-room door, exactly as if she had known he would step outside, and known when he would return.   Artos never understood how she managed that; the visit to the stables had been a whim.  She stood aside while Gaff took his coat and the boy knelt to brush off his boots.  
     As they headed toward the dining hall, Artos asked, “Are our guests already there, and do they have any idea how to conduct themselves?”
    “The Baron has acquired the notion that they mustn’t seat themselves until you arrive, and the others are taking their cues from him.  All our guests are simply standing about, entirely ill-at-ease.”  Mascha went on: “The daughter seems pleased at something.”
    “She’s just met me.  I should have been a boor to her.  I seem to manage that well enough when it’s not useful to me, you’d think at least it would rise to the occasion when I need it.”
    “Unfortunately, it would likely do no good.  Your occasional clumsiness is a significant part of your native charm.”
    “Wonderful. It seems I can do no wrong.”
    She made a small sound of amusement.  “A useful trait, my lord, all told.  Many people have to bludgeon themselves to do what’s right.”

Okay, let’s call it a night. 

Oh, it’s morning?  Well, let’s still call it a night.

 

 


Apr 16 2016

Back in the saddle, in case you were wondering.

Rosemary

Just an update — letting you know that I’m back on task,  digging in, knuckling down, all those useful metaphors.

I shall persevere, and overcome the inherent recalcitrance of a book that thought it was one thing, but which turned out to be quite wrong about itself!

There, there: nobody likes change, but you’re just going to have to admit it and… Come on… Oof.  Okay, now… turn in this direction, please…

Hah.  Whew.

Right, there we go.

Meanwhile, here’s view of the little creek by my office, with what seems to be a permanent resident turtle.   There are also two ducks (not pictured) who have decided they like living here.

Yo, better hunker down, buddy. Freeze warning tonight.

Yo, better hunker down, buddy. Freeze warning tonight.

 


Jan 7 2016

Meanwhile, over on Twitter…

Rosemary

… Emma Watson (tweeting as @EmWatson) is starting up a book club.

A feminist book club.

Well, yes, of course I sent a tweet her way.

Including this amazon link.  Just, you know, in case.

(I tweet as @rkirstein.)

In other news: into the second week of January, and there are decisions to be made… I’ll know more shortly.

Also:  I now have insurance!  This is good.

Plus: a lot of plot that made no sense is being replaced with plot that makes sense.   It seems to be working.

Best news yet.

The cover. Just in case you happened to need the cover...

The cover.   No particular reason (walks off,  whistling innocently).


Dec 12 2015

And wishing you a merry, um.. pearlmageddon?

Rosemary

Yesterday, as I arrived at my office, I noticed they were putting up Christmassy-type lights in the windows of the second floor.    That’s nice, thought I.

The left half of the second floor is empty, after Kandu Beads had to move, due to the town getting all grumpy about their roadside sign.  They’re in a better location now, anyway.   But that leaves their space empty and dark.   So, I assumed that it was building management doing some holiday decorating.

But when I left for the night, I saw the result:

That's what it says...

That’s what it says…

Had a little conversation  about it with the guy who comes by most evenings to walk his dog.   He was as perplexed as I.

Those lower-case “d’s” disturbed me.     I felt there was some secret meaning to all this.

Possibilities were three:

  1. Someone can’t spell!  I blame the educational system.
  2. A new fringe doomsday cult, but with bling.
  3. A huge party/promotional event put on by a handmade jewelry company that allows you to personally select an actual oyster, which they will then open to find the pearl that you just bought for your custom jewelry.  With music.  BYOB.

Okay, I cheated: I googled it.

Apparently, the mayhem starts in a couple of hours.  I wish them all the best.

Other news:  Still sick with this horrible cough/congestion massive sore throat, and still livin’ on DayQuil and NyQuil.  If it’s not gone by next week, I’ll drop by the doctor’s office.

Also: dealing with the Dreaded Chores of Officialdom, as relates to losing one’s job and changing health coverage.

Got a little update note from my former co-worker, to the effect that the Old Employers are scrambling, trying to figure out on whom to dump all my former tasks. Heh.

And thanks again to you all, for your comments here and on Facebook, with encouragement and information!   I have much to mull over.

 

 


Dec 1 2015

That sale price is still up…

Rosemary

… and will be for one more week.

Why? Because each year John Scalzi graciously invites authors and artists of all sorts to use the comment thread of his blog, Whatever, to promote their own work.   Scalzi’s blog has a lot of readers.  Seriously, a lot.  It’s good of him, and great for his fellow creative artists.

What a guy!

So, Tuesday is the day for promoting non-traditionally published works, and it seemed to me that I could leave that sale price up for one more week, to tempt new readers who might be hearing of me for the first time.

Here’s what I posted:

I’m a bit surprised to find myself among the non-traditionally-published authors — and more surprised by what a great move it’s turned out to be.

When the original publisher of my novels allowed them to go out of print, I did the sensible thing: I got the rights back and republished them myself, as ebooks.

But it turns out that the Steerswoman Series (The Steerswoman, The Outskirter’s Secret, The Lost Steersman, and The Language of Power) is selling much better as ebooks than it ever did as paperbacks, and with a better rate of royalty, as well. I’m starting to wonder if my Day-job days are numbered…

Of course, great reviews helped:

From Hugo and Nebula winner Jo Walton: “If you haven’t read Kirstein’s Steerswoman books I envy you the chance to read them now for the first time…. I think they have a very good claim to be my favorite thing still being written. […] If you like science, and if you like watching someone work out mysteries, and if you like detailed weird alien worlds and human cultures, if really good prose appeals… you’re really in luck.”

Actual physicist Char Orzel (Eureka! and How to Teach Physics to Your Dog) said in Forbes online: “Maybe the best depiction of the process of science I’ve encountered in fiction is the Steerswoman series.”

In Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985-2010, Damien Broderick & Paul Di Filippo said: “[Kirstein] walks the tightrope between fantasy and science fiction with precision and grace… [her] compassion for even minor characters is evident on every page, and her prose is measured and alluring without being overworked.”

And noted online reviewer James Davis Nicoll: “These books are what SF should aspire to be; it is a shame they are not more widely known.”

Book One, The Steerswoman, is currently sale-priced at $.99, available everywhere ebooks are sold. Here’s the Amazon link.

By sheer luck, I hit the 10th slot in the comments.

Well. Let’s see what happens…

 

UPDATE:  Before today my sales were hovering between 10 and 20 units sold per day, occasionally dipping much lower (with  one inexplicable bounce way up, on November 17).

As of 1oPM, today’s count is 53  ebooks sold, 41 of which were The Steerswoman.

So, wow.  Thanks John!


Sep 17 2015

Sale still going on, to what I hope is our mutual satisfaction.

Rosemary

The price drop that started on Sunday is still going on, and the $.99 price for The Steerswoman is in place across all the retailers now.

Kindle, of course, had the sale price immediately.  They always respond to changes fast.  And Smashwords, who are my conduit to the other ebook sellers, so iBooks and Kobo had the change within a day.

Barnes & Noble lagged… but if you’re a dedicated Nooker, you can now get your fix.

And watch out for the pirates!   If you’re ever offered a download for a price lower than the one you see on Amazon — it’s a pirated copy.   Please don’t buy from the pirates.  Also, anytime you see my books offered for free — that’s the pirates again.  I’ve never offered them for free (yet; I might do a promo sometime next year…).

My thanks to all who are helping spread the word.  And welcome, to all my new readers!

 

Yes, that’s the jewel…

 


Aug 16 2015

On Maps

Rosemary

Way back in the misty depths of time, when I sold The Steerswoman to Del Rey Books, a conversation more or less like this took place one day:

Me:  And I think there should be a map, too.

Them: That’s a great idea.  There should definitely be a map!

Me:  Great!  Let’s have a map.

Them: Right.

(silence)

Me: So… I guess we should get this book to whoever is doing the map —

Them:  — and that would be you.

Me:  Me?

Them: You.

I had never made a map.  I loved maps.  I’d read atlases for fun, and dream of far-off lands… but I’d never done one.

But now I had to do it — and it seemed I had to do it really soon.   I grabbed every fantasy-style book with a map that I could find, got to the art store, figured out what I needed…

Hey, this was before the Internet, okay?  Well, not completely before, but well before the Internet was a useful tool for the average tech-savvy person to use for research.  All my research was in person with physical books in libraries.

In the end, I managed to produce a map that did the job.

So… if you purchased a first edition of The Steerswoman, this is what you saw:

ouch

Ouch.

Sad. Very sad.  But the best I could do at that point.

And I discovered something: I liked doing it.   It was fun.  And if you like something, you tend to get better at it.

Here’s the map that goes along with the  The Steerswoman now:

Use CTL+ and CTL- to zoom in and out.

Click for full size, then  CTL+ and CTL- to zoom in and out.

If you read the ebook on an iPad, or a Kindle Fire, this map is zoomable right in the book.  And you can zoom a lot.   If you’re on a Kindle Paperwhite, or other non-color Kindle, it’s not zoomable — but still clear, and rather pretty (I also provide a URL to see the map online).

I’ve always had the idea that each book’s map will expand on the previous, so that your view of Rowan’s world will expand as her knowledge grows.   When Del Rey did the omnibus of the first two books combined (as The Steerswoman’s Road) I had to combine the map for The Outskirter’s Secret with the map for The Steerswoman, and I feel we lost that sense of the world expanding.  But now that they’re separate again as ebooks, I can have a different map for the second book again:

 

As ever, bigger is but a click away.

As ever, bigger is but a click away.

 

And by the time The Lost Steersman comes around:

 

Eastward expansion...

Eastward expansion…

Each map shows Rowan’s understanding of her world as of the beginning of the book (more or less).

The latest map, of course, is for The Language of Power —

Wait, do you really want to see that one?  Because it contains MAJOR SPOILERS for The Lost Steersman!  If you haven’t read that yet, you might not want to go there…

Well, if you must, then click this link.

And what’s coming up?

More.

Also, more detail.  As well as widening the view, the next books will include some closer views of important locations.   Of course, I’m really looking forward to The Crags map, because of the extremely interesting way that city is laid out.

And in other news:  Going to Worldcon!   I might not be able to post much for the next, although I should manage a tweet or two (I am @rkirstein).

Maybe I’ll see you there…

 

 

 

 

 


May 8 2015

And then this happened…

Rosemary

Last Thursday night, just before turning in, I thought I’d check how my ebook sales were doing on Amazon…

Hm, said I.  I just looked around lunchtime, but now there’s, like… three times as many units sold.  That’s a puzzle.

And I went to bed.

The next day I did a Google search for the previous 24 hours, and this came up on Twitter:

Completely unexpected.

Completely unexpected.

 

@femfreq is the Feminist Frequency web series, founded by Anita Sarkeesian.  The series examines how women are represented in popular literature, media, and especially (as –let’s say — you just possibly have heard) gaming.

I had no idea that Sarkeesian and Feminist Frequency knew of my work at all…  This is quite a nice endorsement.  I immediately tweeted back my thanks.

It’s really encouraging how many people have said nice things about my books (including, by the way, most of you!).   It helped boost me when I was ill, and helps sustain me now.

So,to  all of you (not just Anita, and Jo and Chad…) — my thanks.

 


Jul 31 2014

Arts & Crafts. Plus: sundry unrelated but interesting items

Rosemary

Doing a bit of catch-up here — two weekends in a row chock-full of running around apparently requires at least one full weekend of Not Much of Anything Except Naps and Leisurely Walks.

The usual Post-Readercon get-together took place, with fellow authors Ann Zeddies and Geary Gravel. We hung out, talked a lot, did not stint on the wine and other imbibables, ate excellent dinners, enjoyed selected audiovisual entertainments, and shared some work in progress. Also: executed our now-traditional collage art works. The last few years we’ve been covering book-shaped boxes with collages, which has the advantage of resulting in an item that can be put on a shelf, as opposed to yet another thing to hang on one’s wall, when all the wall space has already been used up, so that the new artwork ends up admired for a day and then consigned to the basement for eternity.

 

Mine, Geary's, Ann's

Mine, Geary’s, Ann’s

 

(Because many images follow, I’ll put a page break here, so your browser won’t load them all unless you’re actually interested in seeing them. Alas, this doesn’t work if you come here via facebook or through a feed; you just get all the pictures and it will take FOR. EV. ER.)

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