August #saleswanking (Holy crap does that suck edition)

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So, how exactly do you spell the sound you make when you noisily and deliberately clear your throat and then spit an enormous loogie onto the ground?  Because I’m in serious need of some onomatopoeia here.  May as well rip off the Band-Aid; worst month since March, and by some metrics the worst month of the year– in fact, August was so shitty of a month for book sales that it has actually and literally managed to make previous months worse than they were before.

That’s impressive.

One tiny silver lining:  Benevolence Archives, Vol. 1 had a solid month on Smashwords— not a good month, but not one I can really complain about.  All of my books are on Smashwords (and, with that, iBooks and Barnes and Noble and Kobo and all the rest) and combined they sold bupkis through all of those vendors, making me wonder if anyone but me actually ever buys books from the iBookstore.  Total Amazon sales?  Six.  Three BA 1, two Sanctum, and one lonely-ass copy of Skylights.  Total print sales for the month: 0.  Total zero days for the month of August, after only having had one in the previous three months?  Five, including two in a row at one point.


Okay, I get it, no one reads in August, and August was my worst month last year, too.  But damn.  And that’s not even the worst news of the month.  That honor goes to OpenBooks, which “recalculated how we count downloads” this month and promptly saw everyone’s downloads fall straight into the toilet.  In July I had a hundred and seventy downloads of BA 1, supposedly, and in August I had 42, none of which happened after the 19th and only four of which happened after the sixth.

So… are your numbers now crap, or are your numbers previously crap?  And how alarmed should I be that sitewide metrics used to be posted on literally every page at OpenBooks and now they can’t be found anywhere any longer?  That tells me something, and it doesn’t tell me anything good– and I’ve logged four hundred and seventy downloads through OpenBooks in 2015.  Were those actually to anyone?  Did they happen?  That’s a solid third of my downloads for the year and now I’m not sure if they were all phantoms or not.

This does not make me happy.

Hell, I even tried an Amazon sale for a few days and it really didn’t get me much of anywhere.  I got a few sales out of it, but one of the 0 days was during the sale.  I may have to go crawling back to Prime after all, and that does not make me happy, but shit has cratered since leaving, and while I do like the idea of my books being available in all markets it doesn’t seem to have actually helped me any.

Bah.  I need to come up with something clever for September, dammit.  I can’t have two months like this in a row, and right now I can’t even count on those 45 from OpenBooks showing back up again, so I’m looking at hands down the worst month of the year in September unless things improve.  I should get a little boost when Malumba launches but right now that’s late October if I spend the rest of this week completely on my game.  We’ll see.  Until then, though?  I need an idea.

In which I swear I had something for this…

archer_68157At some point last night at OtherJob I wrote an entire blog post in my head.  I was pretty convinced it was a good one, too.  Now it’s 10 AM Sunday morning and the only thing I’ve managed to achieve is a cup of coffee and a shower and I have no idea what in the world I might have gotten into my head to write about.

Let’s grab-bag a couple of things.

1) I think I’ve talked about this before, but I have no intention of purchasing or reading Go Set a Watchman.  I never believed that she actually wanted the book published (this interview with her “editor,” a man who claims he doesn’t know if the book was ever edited and apparently doesn’t realize that planes exist, is terrifyingly shady) and from what I’ve seen from people who have read it, I stand by that decision.

2) The recent footage from Comic-Con from Batman V. Superman has, for the first time, made that movie at least a tiny bit interesting.  I like the idea that Batman’s vendetta against Superman is rooted in losing people in Metropolis when Superman destroyed it.  The shot of Bruce Wayne charging into the onrushing cloud of dust from the collapsed building is great.  (Superheroes?  Saving people?  Crazy!)  Unfortunately, Snyder’s Superman is still a useless, preening dick and in addition to the character assassination of Pa Kent in Super Powered Outer Space Alien 1 he’s now going after Ma Kent in 2.  This continues to be deeply “no thank you” but at least there’s something interesting about it now.

Hmm.  I guess two is a couple.  I’m kind of going nuts over here; my lack of ability to be on vacation and the find-a-job stress is sorta starting to get to me a little.  I expect to be found in the basement chewing on my underwear within a week or so.

In which I provide good news and then gross you out

IMG_2397Okay, maybe I’ll gross you out immediately, because you have to look at this picture before you get any context. Bear with me.

It is possible that you may remember my blog post entitled How to Launch Your New Book: Everything I Know.  If you’ve memorized that post, or if you just clicked on it to refresh your memory, you may recall that I recommend taking the mandatory month between finishing a manuscript and rereading it for editing and redrafting and writing something else.  Now, I’m not good at taking my own advice, guys.  I’ve already broken like half the rules on that page for The Sanctum of the Sphere (preorder available now!) and I’ll likely break more before it comes out.

But!  Although I had to channel my college self, who laughed at deadlines and stayed up late when he needed to finish shit, I completed my entry for the Swords v. Cthulhu anthology last night– and, amazingly, I actually think it’s pretty damn good.  I think it’s got a solid chance of getting accepted, even if I took forever to finish it and literally didn’t send it in until 11:30 on the night before it was due when I had to be at work in the morning.

(Hah.  Do a Google Image Search for “Swords v. Cthulhu” and take a look at what comes up.)

Unfortunately, what this means is that now I have to start editing my stupid novel so that people can, like, read it and stuff, because I want that to happen for some reason.  Blargh.

Anyway.  Now the gross part.

We went to a local establishment for dinner last night, one I had not previously eaten at.  I like new restaurants, although I will admit that I’m starting to cool on the concept of the Italian restaurant, just because I’m pretty sure by now the pasta that I can make in my house is as good or better than the pasta that basically anywhere around here is going to charge me for. (I’ll make an exception for any place that actually makes their pasta fresh on-site, however I know of no such restaurants in town.)

But!  This place supposedly has really good vodka sauce.  I like vodka sauce!  And I’ve never made it!  So let’s check ’em out.

I am going to be charitable and assume that we were afflicted with a novice chef last night. Because while it has got to be true that there has been some point before last night that I couldn’t finish a meal at a restaurant because of how terrible I thought it tasted, I certainly can’t remember it– or it fits into some sort of special case where I was deliberately experimenting with something exotic and it turned out that I was overreaching.  Because if this shit is the best vodka sauce anyone has ever tasted, I have a frozen meal to recommend to you.  Because I am not joking when I say I would rather have Weight Watchers Mini Rigatoni with Vodka Cream Sauce for every meal for the rest of my life rather than eat the food at Polito’s again.  This shit was inedible.  I have looked at several different recipes for vodka sauce since we got home last night, and not one of them mentioned black pepper as a primary component of the dish, so the fact that this goddamn thing was swimming in black pepper has to represent some sort of error somewhere.  I’m not kidding.  I am a fat man, goddammit, and for better or worse I have been conditioned over my entire life to not leave uneaten food on my plate.  I couldn’t finish a quarter of this shit.

Which brings me to one of the other sins of Polito’s:  portion sizes so large as to somehow be offensive.  My wife and I ordered the following: an appetizer of garlic bread (which had a sliver of metal in it and still managed to be the highlight of the meal,) fettuccine alfredo and the vodka rigatoni.  The entrees came with a single breadstick and the salad bar.  Even the salad bar had a number of items that were far too large; we literally were unable to finish a single component of our meal, and my wife actually laughed at the breadsticks when they showed up.  The damn things are two inches across and nine inches long; I couldn’t tell if I was trying to eat a breadstick or blow a porn star.  

The punchline: before I realized what we were in for, I had some trouble deciding what I wanted to eat, and went to the unusual step of also ordering a calzone, thinking that I’d have it for lunch the next day, mostly because I still really miss being able to eat at Pockets whenever I want and I don’t really have a good source for calzones whenever I want one.  I tried to have the calzone for lunch today, and again ate maybe 20% of it before throwing the rest away and going to McDonald’s.  Why?  Because a sausage and mozzarella calzone was, inexplicably, packed with black pepper.

If I had lived in South Bend during my dating years, I’d be seriously wondering right now if I screwed our waitress at some point and never called her back or something.  Because holy shit have I never paid money for worse food.  We left with so many to-go bags it was ridiculous; I am not the type to complain at waitresses, so I just brought the boxes home and threw them away, and I’ll never darken the place’s door again.

The final offense?  I went to the bathroom while we were waiting for the check.  The bathroom has no lock on the door and has a freestanding toilet (no walls) and two urinals that are so close together that no pair of men anywhere on earth would ever use both at the same time.  In other words, it’s not a one-seater, which would be fine; it’s just a community bathroom with absolutely no privacy allowed of any kind.  I couldn’t have taken a shit in there if I’d wanted to.

I decided to piss at Target instead.

That’s not true… that’s impossible!

ngbbs4eea41aad0f41School’s cancelled tomorrow.   Again.  The email from the central office downtown was almost apologetic this time, citing difficulties with clearing snow from all the buildings and heating issues in addition to the expected problems with the buses.  The last line was something along the lines of “Schools are expected to be back in session on Thursday.”

I am about to whine about not having to go to work; you may want to bail on this post right now.

Because oh my god I’m losing my goddamn mind over here.  I was expecting today and yesterday to get cancelled; not in a million years did I think we were going to lose Wednesday too.  I haven’t gone to work since December frickin’ 19th and I literally do not remember the last time I left the house.  I am not good at vacation, people, and vacations without clearly defined end points are worse.

(Left aside in all this drama is the very real fact that the end of the quarter is now six days of school away instead of the nine I had previously, that all my kids have an unavoidable math test next Thursday, that they’ve forgotten everything we’ve done for said test over the break, and that they’re not backing ISTEP or the ECAs up just because we had some snow days.  This is about my sanity, not my job.)

I actually miss my goddamn students.  I should be able to slap somebody for making that happen.  Seriously; all I want from life is to be able to get up and go to work like a damn normal person.  That’s not too much to ask, is it?


In which math makes me angry

Y’know, I don’t expect perfection from weather forecasts– either forecasts by actual trained meteorologists or through a weather app.  I want a vague idea of what the temperature is going to be like and a radar; I can figure out the rest on my own.  I’ve discovered a new request over the last couple of days as the weather’s approached record-shitty levels:  I would like the projections being made to make some kind of fucking sense. To not be, oh, impossible.

To wit:

2014-01-06 10.49.48

This particular screenshot is taken from the weather channel’s app; I probably ought to have taken it from Yahoo’s, as Yahoo’s app is terrible, but it’ll do.  Take a look at the forecast for today, Monday, and tomorrow.

Unless they are using definitions of what I consider simple words– “Monday,” “Tuesday,” “high,” and “low”– that I do not recognize, there is no goddamn way that these can be right, because temperature does not teleport.  If today’s temperature is not going to go above -8, it is impossible for tomorrow’s low to be 3, because at some point the temperature has to be in between those two temperatures.

Note that Wednesday’s low is Tuesday’s high, which would be expected and consistent given a gradual warming trend over those two days.  That one makes sense!

It gets worse: when I look at the hourly forecast, I find out that at 7:00 AM tomorrow, they’re expecting the temperature to be -11 and the wind chill to be in the neighborhood of -36.  This is from the same weather service that says the low is going to be three degrees. Their hourly forecast doesn’t project a positive temperature until 2 PM tomorrow, and even then expects the wind chill to be -17.

Again: it contradicts the high and low data that their own weather service is providing.  You can fit both of these inconsistent forecasts on the same screen.

Ordinarily, I’d blow this off– but it really doesn’t seem like it ought to be a terribly difficult programming challenge to get these numbers to pull from the same database, and there is a very real concern about whether my students are going to be expected to walk to fucking school, or wait for a bus, at 7:00 in the morning tomorrow.  There is a big damn difference between three degrees and 36 below fucking zero.

I fully expect school to be cancelled again tomorrow.  They haven’t done it yet, but we didn’t get the call until around 1:00 yesterday afternoon, so they’ve got a couple of hours.  But they’re going to be getting very different data depending on which forecasts they’re paying attention to (and, again, this isn’t just one app— I’m seeing nonsense like this all over the place about tomorrow’s forecasts) and I would hope they’ve got somebody who understands how goddamn numbers work doing the deciding.

I don’t expect perfect forecasts, and I have some understanding of how these things work.  I’m not the type of guy who sees a 20% chance of rain and then gets pissed off when he gets wet.  But a little bit of internal fucking consistency would be nice.