My most ridiculous review yet, and a site disclosure

Sometime last year, I think, I decided to simplify my life a little bit and threw out nearly all of my socks and bought about three weeks’ worth of new ones, all from the same brand and style. Since then I’ve just been tossing my socks in my sock drawer unpaired, where previously I had to laboriously pair every set of socks while putting my laundry away, a chore I despised. Now, with nearly every sock matching every other sock, that was no longer necessary.

The only exceptions: I kept a few pairs of ankle socks and I couldn’t make myself throw away a certain set of socks that were both pretty new and really comfortable. And, in fact, when I went out to buy a mess of new socks, I went looking for more of that kind, and couldn’t find any. So, whatever, they’re socks; I bought another kind.

And then I discovered something about the new socks that I didn’t think was possible: they were too tight. I’d never had sizing problems with socks before. Sometimes the elastic died and they became too loose, but that was a wear and tear thing. I’d never managed to buy socks that required even a small amount of effort to put on. These felt fine once I was wearing them, but putting them on was more of a pain in the ass than I was willing to tolerate while putting on socks.

(That is, as you may guess, an area where I don’t have a lot of tolerance for being annoyed. Putting on socks should never be even a little annoying.)

Every so often, when I was in a place where I could buy socks, I’d go looking for that white whale style, and I could never find them. Making things worse, I couldn’t identify the logo on them, which seemed ridiculous– helping you identify the brand is literally the only purpose of a logo. And the other day I lost patience with the entire process after yet another trip to Target revealed that Target basically only carries Hanes now, and took a picture of one of the Good Socks and posted it to Twitter, thusly:

It took less than five minutes, because Twitter is awesome; that is Champion’s logo, but of a special no-longer-existing Target-specific Champion brand called C9. I hadn’t been able to find the socks anywhere because that logo only existed for Champion socks sold at Target, which it doesn’t do any longer.

It’s also upside down.

But Champion still makes socks, right? Surely the socks Champion makes under their own name aren’t inferior to the ones they were only making for Target.

I immediately ordered twelve pairs of Champion Men’s Double Dry Moisture Wicking Logo 6-Pack Crew Socks. And I’m about to throw out twelve pairs of the too-tight ones, because these new socks are the shit. If you have the patience to do so, look closely at that picture up top. See how they’re ribbed (for your pleasure, uhuhuhuhuhuh) along the long axis of your foot right along the arch? That shit is genius, and it makes the sock both fit better and feel more comfortable while it’s on, and the fact that the soles are double-padded too is just icing on the sock cake. They’re also double-reinforced at the toe and the heel, and while I suspect they’re a touch more expensive than other socks it’s certainly not bad enough that I’m going to notice it.

(I am not Googling “sock cake,” because that will make one exist.)

So, yeah. Throw out all of your white socks, buy as many as you need of these, and just toss them into your sock drawer with wild abandon, because you don’t need to match them anymore.


Let’s talk about that link for a second. I doubt anyone actually has, but you might have noticed that the frequency with which I’m linking to Amazon has gone up a bit around here recently. I have joined the Amazon affiliates program, so if you purchase something from their site through a link here I get a tiny piece of the sale. For example, someone read my review of Scarlet Odyssey and bought a book through that link. It made me twenty cents!

To be perfectly clear: this isn’t going to change what I think of anything; it’s going to take a hell of a lot of twenty-cent referrals before I hit the $10 threshold where they actually pay me, and I decided to go ahead and take my payment in gift cards, so any money I make from book referrals (which are most of what I review) through this site is going to go right back into buying books. It’s not worth it to me to fake enthusiasm for something I didn’t like in order to make a fiftieth of a gift card. It is worth it to occasionally put a link somewhere I might not have a few weeks ago, which is, for example, why the Monthly Reads post today has some links in it. For that matter, too, I have to make a certain number of sales in the first three months or they cut me out of the program, and that one copy of Scarlet Odyssey hasn’t quite done it yet. I also don’t know if they’re going to get pissy about referral links to my own books, so we’ll see what happens if people start buying books by me through affiliate links.

(See what I did there?)

If y’all think it’s important, I’ll throw a disclaimer at the bottom of any post that includes an affiliate link. I’m not sure it’s necessary, but I’m happy to do it if folks think I should. At any rate, that’s going to be the deal for the next little while, at least until I know whether they’re going to keep me or not.

Saleswanking 2019, and Writing 2020

Don’t worry, this will be brief, because there’s not a whole damn lot to talk about: I sold exactly 114 books in 2019, 91 of which were in person and a whopping 23 on Amazon. I had no new releases of any kind this year. I intended to spend most of the summer broadening the places where my books were available (I went off KDP forever ago, so I’ve been Amazon-exclusive with no real benefits for it since then) and working on a new novel (I have three in various stages of not-finished) but the Ongoing Medical Calamity derailed the fuck out of that. I’ve written some microfictions and maybe a couple of short stories this year over at Patreon and that’s it. I went to … three cons, I think? Four? Kokomo-Con, InConjunction, ConGlomeration, and Hall of Heroes con. So four. I know I canceled at least two because of the Calamity, and right now I’m only scheduled for one in 2020– Indy Popcon, which was one of the two I cancelled last summer.

I said this yesterday, and let me repeat it: there is no risk– none– of the blog going anywhere, because it’s too important to my ongoing mental health even before you get to the part where I like writing here. But for the first time in several years I’m thinking about deliberately hitting pause on calling myself an independent author for a while. I’ve mostly been ignoring my books on here except for the occasional Station Identification post on the weekends and the static links on the right; I may as well put them back on KDP if I’m not going to do the legwork necessary to have them available all over the place. I don’t write a lot of fiction any longer because with everything going on in my life I haven’t had the mental space for it, and I require an enormous amount of headspace to be able to write fiction. Nonfiction? Blog posts? Dead easy. But I don’t like writing fiction, and I never have– what I like is having written fiction, which is an amazing high that unfortunately requires me to spend hours pulling teeth first. I think about writing fiction all day, every day, I just don’t actually do it.

It might be time to put it away for a bit and not think about it at all. I’ll either get my mojo back, which would be good, or I won’t, which really won’t be any different from now except for the guilt. My family’s health situation isn’t getting better anytime soon– there is no silver lining to this cloud and no light at the end of the tunnel, and that’s not depression talking, it’s unfortunate and inevitable fact– so the only thing to do is decide what to do about it. I can make a serious effort to reprioritize my fiction, which means finding some other things to put away, or I can put it away. I just need to decide which one I’m going to do.

In which that’s enough of that

So here’s the thing about the con I just did: I like all the people who run it. For the most part, I liked all the other vendors I talked to. I really enjoyed the panels I did; they weren’t heavily attended, but it turns out if you put a bunch of authors in a room and tell them to yap about something we’re perfectly happy just to talk amongst ourselves for a while even if there aren’t a whole lot of people there to listen.

Actually, true story: one of my panels was scheduled against the charity auction, which was heavily attended, and as a result there was literally no one there when our panel was supposed to start. The four of us just got to talking about microfiction anyway. Eventually one person showed up and joined the conversation. We did some readings, just for the hell of it. We had one person attend and it was the best panel I did, and I didn’t record it because I didn’t think it was going to last an hour– and somehow it did.

So, yeah, I’m not going back.

And, like, it’s weird– I like these people, and I had fun, and I’m not even going to use the name of the con in this post specifically because I don’t want anyone connected with the con finding it by accident, because this isn’t their fault. It’s not a poorly run show, but this is a small show, and the majority of my sales over the weekend were to other vendors, which is practically unheard of– and there were long stretches of time, especially today, where I didn’t see anyone in the vendor room who wasn’t a vendor. That’s not sustainable. It’s just not.

And the people who do show up for this con tend to do all of the cons in the Indianapolis area, which means I’ll catch them at some point at some other show. I recognized easily 50% of the folks who walked past my booth on Friday. There was a guy who was a booth barnacle from Hell for both of the people on either side of me who was at ConGlomeration in Louisville, and I’m pretty sure he was at the last one of these cons, and when I’m recognizing even the people I don’t want to see again? Sigh.

It’s just not worth it to me as someone who at least hypothetically wants the chance to make some money at one of these damn shows. And, of course, the flip side of that was the couple of people who did buy something from me at the last show, remembered me, and bought more books– I love that. It’s a wonderful feeling. But I spent $90 on my hotel room last night and sold two books today, for an amount of money that did not cover my breakfast and lunch today.

And … yeah. I’ve still got two or three more shows coming this year– and I had to cancel two because of the family stuff I’ve been going through in the last couple of months– but I have to start being a lot more selective about which shows I go to, and this one just can’t make the cut again. I’m not happy about it, but I don’t think I have a choice.

Blech.

Day two of the show, and … this isn’t going well. My panels today were fun (in general, I’m finding I really like doing panels) but just like the last time I did this con, all of the vendors are unhappy and attendance seems really low. I mean, I’ve already sold more books than I did in 2015 with all of Sunday left to go (and I spent several hours away from my booth doing panels today) but “better than the show where I sold no books the first day” isn’t a high mark.

It’s 8:09 and I’m ready to be asleep. I’ve got a big-ass book to work my way through but I wouldn’t be surprised if I was asleep by nine.

#Saleswanking for 2018 and more

This is going to be a very short post, considering the amount of work that went into it, because Amazon and Square don’t play nice with each other and neither of them makes it especially easy to get these numbers in a format that I like. HOWEVER! I haven’t looked at book sales in a systematic way in a while, so this kinda needed to happen. And, frankly, included some nice surprises.

Note that “Amazon” includes both paid sales and free downloads, and I’ve smushed together both physical and digital copies as well; nearly all of them are digital. The Square sales are sales in person; some of those are going to be free giveaways for one reason or another but all of them involve physical books given or sold to people by me. This is 2018 only:

Eight hundred and fifty-seven books seems like a lot, honestly. The little discrepancy you see with Click from 2018 to the total includes the 14 people who got free copies through Patreon, which is one of the only ways you can get the book (pledge more than $2 a month!) and the 9 on the Square set were sold in person at conventions, which is the other way to get it.

As of right now, my books are starting to drop off of KDP Select, which means I’m about to lose the ability to give them away on Amazon. I am either trying to get all six of them (Click isn’t on Amazon) on the same schedule or about to broaden back out and put my books on other sites again. I haven’t decided. As of January 2nd, everything will be off KDP select, so I’ve got a few more days to think about it.

The overall numbers really surprised me. I didn’t think I’d moved this many books.

So, basically, if you include the occasional sale that isn’t captured here (Barnes and Noble, Apple, non-convention personal sales that I didn’t bother recording in Square,) I’m probably at right around five thousand books sold or downloaded since I started doing this.

Which, on the one hand, is a larger number than I thought it was going to be, and on the other hand, if I look at actual money earned from this … yeesh. I’m not going to share that because Amazon accepts currencies from all over the world and I’m not about to start digging through my tax returns, but suffice it to say that I’ve absolutely lost money at playing author since 2014. Cons and hotel rooms and book printings and all that cost money, and again, a lot of those Amazon numbers are from giveaways, not sales.

The totals for in-person sales, which are included in the above– this is just a summation of the “Square” lines:

Which, again, this isn’t nothing. Every one of these represents an actual human standing in front of me who bought books from me. Am I J.K. Rowling? Hell no. But this is a lot larger of a number than zero, which is what it would have been when I started doing this.

I should probably set some hard and fast goals for 2019. Not yet; I need to absorb these numbers first. But maybe that post is coming. Tomorrow, the 10 best books of the year.