Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
We've passed the "delivery deadline" for the proof, and DreamCraft has officially categorized it as DBU -- Down Black Hole. It's been too long since it was shipped to hold out much, if any, optimism that it'll show up.
The proof has been reordered. Allow 14 days minimum for it to be delivered here, so it can be eyeballed and given the OK, and cleared for sale.
Alas, this puts us right in the middle of the holidays, so it looks like the paperback launch of IWF will have to be put back into January, 2010.
Rats. You can get it as an ebook, but ... what can I tell you? US Mails and/or Australia Post strike again.
In the meantime, here's some eye-candy, guy-candy, to put the smile back on your face:
...and it would be fair to say, in all sincerity, that I am so gobsmacked, my bog has never been so smacked. Want more: you need to be on Jade's Adventures in 3D. There's a new digital fantasy every day -- makes me feel like I'm stuck in reverse! I have GOT to get my creative act in gear in 2010. I'm supposed to be a writer, not a website administrator ... right?!
NARC ... Hellgate, The Swordsman, the Vampyre, all need to be finished. Okay: deep breath. The work starts (I said starts!) in January.
Bear with me...
Monday, December 14, 2009
In all seriousness, folks. I'm trying to attract the attention of the Google Bot. This post is about search engines, and getting properly listed by them. So, once again, being pellucidly clear:
FREE GAY STORIES ONLINE!!! (Click here)
Well -- they're GAY, they're FREE, and they're STORIES, right?
- not straight, bent, counter-het, curvy;
- not charged for; without cost; sans price; gratis;
- fiction, as in ... well, as in fiction. You know, stories, not documentaries or text books. In other words, interesting stuff not likely to serve as a sleeping pill.
Therefore, GAY FICTION, which is FREE, and on the Internet. Online. Downloadable. To be downloaded without payment.
(Have I jammed in enough keywords yet? You see, Google doesn't read the sense of anything you're saying. You could be William Shakespeare; Google wouldn't care. You could be trying to get the Gettysburg Address crawled, indexed and on Page One -- Google would curl its lip. You see, the 'bot reads something nasty called keyword density. It also recognizes when words are embiggened and emboldened, and made into headlines, like this:
GAY FICTION, FREE ONLINE -- GET YOURS HERE!
So, having said all that (and not forgetting to speak the 'bot's language and shove in some more associated keywords along the way, such as GLBT, and Manlove, and M/M, and Gay readers, Gay Books and GLBT publishing) where do you actually get the aforementioned (here comes the keyword again Free Gay Online Fiction ...?
And if this post doesn't get Google's attention, and get the URL in front of you -- YOU, the surfer who is actually looking for (here it comes again) FREE GAY ONLINE STORIES, well, I give up. It's all about keyword density, you understand ... meaning, you only need to put in just enough semi-coherent babble between the keywords to get Google to literally count the words and divide by keywords which its peanut-sized intellect can understand. "Free gay fiction online" is a keyword. "Squashed banana" is not a keyword. However, if you put in too much semi-coherent babble between the keywords, Google can't understand what your page is about...
This next, from Google's perspective, would be the perfect paragraph:
FREE GAY ONLINE FICTION teddy bear's picnic and the pet dragon bit off Tigger's head, so Captain Ron had to glue it back on, and FREE ONLINE GAY FICTION when the aliens brought back Elvis, who'd been run over by Mad Max's new lawnmower, but FREE ONLINE GAY FICTION would be the last thing Uncle Joe expected when he tore up the old carpet to polish the floor and discovered FREE ONLINE GAY FICTION in the trunk of Eddie's rusted-up old Ford, but he'd been dead for three days before FREE ONLINE DAY FICTION.
That' to Google, makes perfect sense. It's not the beauty of the language; it's not the wisdom of the content, nor the harmony of the prose, the artistry of the literature. It's the KEYWORD DENSITY.
And according to the rules, I have to say the keyword one more time, and include a link to the pertinent subject matter at the end of the page. So here we go:
FREE ONLINE GAY FICTION ... available (free) here.
There. Let's see Google misunderstand this!
Sorry. I promise to speak English next time, and make sense to humans.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
But -- two things to blog about today!
GLBT Bookshelf has just launched its fiction wing ... free gay fiction, online, glbt romance in any of its thousands of permutations: ALL GAY ROMANCE is launching at this time. There's quite a nice range of fiction online even now, and it's very early days as yet. A good time is being had by all, and we hope readers will soon find the site, bookmark is, and return often.
The other piece of news is personal: I just received the cover proof for my next-up novel, and to say that I'm thrilled to bits is a terrible understatement:
Will you take a look at that! It's by Jade ... who else?! ... and it was done in the new 3D art prog to which I intriduced the artist back in August. I'm still trying to figure out my specular from my ambient --! Jade, meanwhile, is doing stuff like this:
And I guess, now that the cover art for MINDSPACE is done and waiting for me, I better get on and finish the story! It's about 75% done, I just need to find the time to hammer out the rest of it and then send it over to DreamCraft for the edit and proof phase ... and somewhere along the line, maybe I'll find the time to blog again!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
However, we all survived, we've almost dug ourselves out from under, and we're launching the ebook version of the novel on the blog right here, right now.
It will eventually be at Kindle, but don't wait for that: it'll also be $2 more expensive at Kindle ... and *our* prices have NOT risen. Amazon whacked 20% on the price of Kindle books recently, at the same time as still paying the publishers only $3.50, and paying affiliates zip. Zero. Nada. However (and this should interest you strangely), they also have a free file conversion service. You can send a PDF to them, and they'll convert it the the Kindle format, and then you download it again, directly to your Kindle.
Whenever you do this with a book published by an indie press, the publisher gets the full price to divvy up between press, writer, editors, cover artist, advertising, review copies ...
On the other hand, whenever you buy an $11.99 direct from the Kindle store, the publisher receives just $3.50 to divvy up among the above.
Is it any wonder indie publishing is having a bloody rough time? Is it any wonder writers and artists have to work part time jobs to keep the lights on?
So do us all a favor, folks, next time you're thinking about downloading books for your Kindle: buy the PDF direct from the publisher, and use the free file conversion process --
And to get you started on this new habit, here are the buy-now buttons for ICE, WIND AND FIRE, as PDF:
EBOOK DESIGNED FOR PC & MAC: $9.99
EBOOK DESIGNED FOR SCREENREADER: $9.99
This mini-launch is actually intended for my newsletter members who know all about this book, and have known about it for a very, very long time indeed. The general book launch will be happening in a few weeks, when the paperback comes along.
The book is celebrating its own 20th Anniversary at this time! Here's the back cover material from the original edition:
"A raunchy gay adventure with a Caribbean setting..."
Alex Connor and Greg Farris are investigative journalists on holiday in Jamaica to escape their usual hectic schedule of worldwide assignments. But their tranquility is shattered by their discovery of a skeleton in the wreck of a light aircraft which went down in shallow waters just off the coast. Reporting the incident to local officials only marks the start of their troubles, and they are soon caught up in car chases, kidnapping, drug smuggling and murder, with events complicated by a hurricane and a bushfire raging across the island. Cover notes from the original printing: "Ice, Wind and Fire introduces the work of an exciting new Australian writer, in a fast-moving and colourful thriller set against the skillfully evoked background of the Caribbean."
REVIEWS: "This rip-roaring and colourful new gay thriller zooms along with a breathless enthusiasm that never flags" — Time Out.
Now, sample chapters are not available yet, but if you've been waiting to get your hands on the ebook for eons, you don't need to read the first 10% ... you've been hanging on for this moment!
If you're not a member of the above party -- bookmark this page and come back in about 48 hours. I'll be out of the office tomorrow, but on Tuesday I'll be making the pages on my own site and at the wiki, and the sample readings will be right there, in both places.
Suffice to say, the new cover looks fantastic ... this is what I imagined when I wrote the book 20 long years ago. Imagine my joy when I saw the new cover proof a few weeks ago. Jade has come to the rescue again. The book is absolutely the same, interior-wise, but the packaging (which left a lot to be desired in the original) is astonishing.
Incidentally, if you want ICE WIND AND FIRE for your Blackberry, iPhone, smartphone ... Tuesday. It's also going to Smashwords, where these formats are provided.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
GROUND ZERO has finally, and I mean finally, shown up in the Amazon engine, as a paperback. It's been month getting there. The proof was delivered and approved weeks ago, and ... well, it's probably that Amazon is fairly overwhelmed with the volume of prep work for Christmas that's going on behind the scenes. Because we've never seen them take so long to process a book through from proof to "buy it here."
...there is it, on PAPER. At last.
I'd intended to have a booklaunch for this one, but the fact is, the book has been out for so long now, and the ebook has been announced, advertised, tweeted, promoted, reviewed, massaged -- it's actually too late to have a booklaunch for GROUND ZERO, so ... we'll have a book punt. That is to say, the book is already out there, floating in mid-stream. It drifted off from its moorings almost unnoticed, and now is gently dragging its anchor in midwater. So let's give it a punt.
Consider it punted. If you've been waiting for the paperback, this is your chance to give yourself a Christmas gift!
So much is happening behind the scenes, one hardly knows where to begin. GLBT Bookshelf is still growing ... I just wish it would grow faster. Why? Because when it's twice the size there will be enough members to raise enough funding to hire a professional programmer and get the whole thing automated! Right now, we're in a kind of twilight zone, with about 500 members, *all* of whom would have to put up a ten-spot to get together the five grand to get the programming done. Not going to happen.
So, as the wiki sloooooowly grows, the amount of work involved in nurturing it, keeping it running smoothly, continues to increase, and increase, yet at the same time the growth curve (the rate of acceleration ... if you know anything about logarithmic curves?? No?? Don't worry about it) has flattened right out. We're riding a plateau right now, with about 10 new members per week. That's not bad at all, but it means another YEAR to get to the 1,000 member mark.
Now, what would make the wiki grow faster? Advertising! But that would also cost more funding than can be raised at this moment, so -- nose to the grindstone, Keegan! Stop being daft, get your head down and do some work. And in fact -- am doing. Am doing.
My apologies if I sound a little "out there" today. The weather is not cooperating. It's 141 degrees Fahrenheit in the courtyard at the side of the house, and if you step away from the a/c, you're swiftly reduced to a slurpy, blubbery mass of semi-congealed goo. This doesn't tend to contribute to sanity and clarity of thought.
Meanwhile, we've FINISHED the new design for the GLBT Bookshelf bookstore. It's part-way based on the Diesel Ebooks model, but with a greater depth of content, and a lot of "free listings," as well as numerous "sponsored ad" spots, with various rates of "oomph factor." They range from a big leaderboard ad which will grab anyone's attention, to "micro-ads" which give a cover and a slogan. Prices will range between $2/month (with a minimum "spend" of $4 ... now, there's a hardship...) and about $12/month for the leaderboard
Here's the plan: funds raised through the advertising on the bookstore are pumped into advertising FOR the bookstore. And we might even register a new domain for this, something like (!) gaybooksonline.com, or gay-books-galore.com, something that even Google, in its infinite density, couldn't fail to understand.
More about this in due course. Right now, we've hit a wrinkle with the OpenX code which handles the actual content placement for the page ... this is a plug-in from an external server and something got stuffed up when we set up the account. It could take a few days to sort it out, but then we'll be off and running.
Right now, I want to thank everyone who's been helping with the Bookshelf -- there's a couple of dozen people whom I'm calling "angels," and they've been amazing, indispensable. THANK YOU!
And I must give a plug to one of my favorite new blogs: Adventures In 3D. If you're missing this, you need to skedaddle over there and check it out. Here's enough to get you interested --!
...all of which brings you about halfway up to date with what's been going on in the Keegan Zone. We're getting there ... slowly but surely. My most fervent wish is for a sudden rush in memberships on the Bookshelf, and then a really, really successful fund-raising campaign, enabling us to hire a programmer, automate the whole shebang ... and I can get back to doing what I used to do. I, uh, used to be a novelist! Really.
I all seriousness, I would like to get back to writing, but I'm also completely committed to GLBT Bookshelf. This project WILL work, even if I have to get out and push.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Sorry for the inconvenience, folks.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
In fact, Jade just launched a blog -- http://3d-adventures.blogspot.com/ -- which is well worth a look, if you like exotic artwork. The blog is very new, but it's already a thing of beauty. I, for one, will be watching this one unfold. Talk about eye candy?!
The OCR work for the book is 90% finished (in fact, as soon as I hit "publish" on this post, the next items on my agenda are a cup of tea, and a date with the scanner, to get it all done. With the cover designed, it'll be 4 pairs of eyeballs on the proofreading, and then the launch of the ebooks and paperback, in time for the novel's 20th Anniversary.
So, why don't I get to work, and get it done?!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
(Click on the above to see it at 1:1 size ... new titles are up, and you can access the Kindles and smartphone files right there on the first screen you get when you click on a book cover to choose a title.)
So here's the 2009 "look" for the site, with 90 days left in 2009! Brilliant. I know I've neglected the site big time during this year, but seriously -- look at what's been happening with GLBT Bookshelf. Something had to go on the back burner, and my own website was tagged as "can be left till later." In fact, I think I left it a little too long. I'm sure the neglect cost me sales after mid-year, what with titles not being listed and so forth.
So, to make up some ground I'm investing in a small ad campaign .. laying down a few dollars and tracking stats. Doing very nicely so far. I love the Project Wonderful ad server. Targeted visitors for 5c a head, many of whom are turning into customers ...?! It's made in heaven, and I have to take my hat off to these guys. They nailed it. This is how advertising should work.
News re: GLBT Bookshelf is all good: the wiki appears to be virtually running itself right now. No major cockups to repair, everyone making pages and having a great time ... book sales happening, advertising chugging along nicely. Traffic is a constant average of about 5,000 pageloads per day -- double that at a time when we're advertising.
And Keegan is presently content enough with all projects to be starting to look at a new short novel, *and* a Christmas campaign of my own, *and* the imminent reissue of the 20th Anniversary special edition of ICE, WIND AND FIRE --
Speaking of which, I expect to get the cover proof later today. I might even post a second time, if I'm as blown away as I expect to be...
Monday, September 28, 2009
Here's the review;
Here's the book itself (which is available in about 20 ebook formats, and is due in paperback next month, via Amazon, Target OnLine and so forth).
In other news, ICE, WIND AND FIRE is virtually through the OCR process, and (this is where it gets exciting) the cover is being designed at this moment.
I'm also "in talks" with DreamCraft to become an editor with them in 2010. They're slowly, sloooooowly, making the changeover from multimedia studio to publisher -- apparently there's more money and less gray hair and stomach ulcers in online publishing than in multimedia (big "duh" factor there). Stay tuned for developments ...!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
So, the IWF experience is all about OCR.
Now, the OCR process is actually easy; and the software today is virtually foolproof, so long as you scan an a high-enough dpi for the system to know what it's looking at...
The problem is in the hardware.
Hands up, all those people who paid $300 for a scanner in 2002, and having paid that much, don't really want to consign it to the bin?
Now, hands up, all those people who were running Win98 back in those days; and since then they've wandered through XP Home, XP Pro, Service Packs 1, 2, 3, Vista, Service Packs 1 and ... the dreaded SP2.
I have a computer that NASA would have drooled over. This Quad Core, with is 4x 2.4G processors and its 6G of Ram, and its unlimited storage space, would have run Project Apollo and sent Voyager to the planets -- at the same time.
And all it took to knock this paragon of cybernetics flat on its can was --
Vista, Service Pack 2. God alone knows what happened, but as soon as the "update" went through the system forced a re-start for the third time in a row, the computer went haywire. Wouldn't stay online. Wouldn't run the big, complex applications properly. The browser would lock up, and kill the whole thing. Restart (which takes 15 minutes or more). Over and over.
To top it off, Microsoft's security system had, in its infinite wisdom, decided that Lenovo's automatic update facility was a spam generator, and demanded that it be shut off ... so Leonovo was not even able to fix the problem on the fly.
After a week of cussing, bitching and getting very little done, I yelled from Dave from DreamCraft, who went into the system and worked magic on it. Turns out, Vista Service Pack 2 is so bad, Lenovo had to issue a patch to put right the damage; but with the auto-updates turned off at Microsquash's insistence, you had to go to Lenovo and *get* the patch...
Which got the computer back up on its four processors, so I could start to look at the OCR job.
Which brings me back to the point where I started ... if you can remember that far back.
My scanner is a few years old. It worked perfectly under XP Service Pack 1, and even 2. SP3? Nope. Vista? Wellll ... it's sudden death up to a point. To get scans, you have to reinitialize the scanner after every scan.
So here's the routine for the OCR work on ICE, WIND AND FIRE:
Start TOP OCR
Place Page 1 on the scanner
Acquire ... scan ...
20 seconds to get the page into text...
select all and copy;
paste into the open Word document...
UNPLUG the USB cable to the scanner!
Plug it back in.
Twiddle thumbs for 30 seconds...
Star TOP OCR
Place Page 2 on the scanner
Acquire ... scan ...
And by far the most critical part of the process is not the scanning or remembering to turn the page. It's UNPLUG the USB cable, then plug it back in, give it half a minute to reinitialize the scanner, and *then* start the software and acquire the scanner.
Because if you don't, the scanner crashes; it crashes the software; and sometimes the whole thing won't come back up without a reboot on the computer.
Repeat process 242 times.
But it beats the hell out of typing! And I have nothing bit good things to say about a little program called TOP OCR, which is free, and phenomenally accurate. I'm absolutely delighted to give them a plug here. http://www.topocr.com/ ... they do a range of software, too. Imagine being able to capture text with your digital camera, or your phone --! What won't they think of next?
So ... ICE, WIND AND FIRE is going through the scanner, and the process is simple. It's just a little bizarre.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
So ... I put the word around in my last newsletter: does anyone have an old copy of IWF that they would like to trade?? The deal was, you give us your old one ... we give you the brand new one, with a glorious new cover that you won't be embarrassed reading on the bus ... plus, we'd send the ebook version of it, which will be out virtually as soon as it's scanned and corrected ... plus, pick three other ebooks to receive right now.
Six people responded, and the first to reach us with an offer was a reader from Aus. The book has been received --
I took it over to DreamCraft, and they put it through the big paper cutter to whack the spine off it in one chop. Next: it goes onto the scanner, gets OCR'd, corrected, repackaged, rejacketed, and sent off to the ebook hosts, and Amazon itself.
The process is underway ... I'll keep you posted!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
They’re the best in a difficult business, and they’ll be tested to their limits in an assignment handed to Strachan by Metro’s most senior criminologist, DCS Maggie Jarmin.
It’s winter when the city suffers a series of bizarre murders, robberies at high-tech labs – and a virus which sprang from nowhere. Every two days, a fresh body is discovered … entirely drained of blood. Every two days, a weapons research or energy technologies facility is robbed of a seemingly bizarre list of oddments. Meanwhile, the virus known only by a codename – 2048-3a – is so new, no part of the community is immune and the city is crippled.
Murders, robberies and virus are intimately connected in a mystery that will astonish. Lee Ronson and Brendan Scott find themselves taking point in an investigation filled with unexpected hazard – and equally unforeseen reward.
Sexy very-near-future gay action/adventure from the pen of the maestro.
Read the first 10% of the novel, free!
(Caveat: material in this free sample is not suitable for juniors. Consider youreself warned!)
Novel length: 103,000 words
Rated: R (18+; sex, violence, language)
Publication date: September, 2009
Price: $9.99 - ebook; $19.95 - paper (due)
Current availability: eBook, in many formats. Paperback: due at Amazon in October 2009
eBook as PDF for iLiad, BeBook; PDB for Sony reader and iPhone; MOB for Mobipocket reader and Kindle; LRF for Sony Reader.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
First off, I want to hand out kudos: Jade excelled on this one. This cover is outta sight. We are talking about serious delight. I confess to performing a couple of laps of the office without touching the ground, when I received the proof.
So, what's the book about? I'm describing it as "a sexy very-near-future SF thriller, set in the fair city of Adelaide, South Australia, in the winter of 2048, where a couple of gorgeous guys are investigating a series of weird murders and high-tech robberies, which lead them to a specific location, at a certain time ... and a life and death struggle they didn't see coming."
I've had a lot of fun "tweaking" the present through four more decades. How will this city change and grow? How will technology affect us? I've had a blast with this book, and I know it shows in the narrative. The heroes are a couple of beauties, Lee Ronson and Brendan Scott. They're a couple; and one of the advantages of living in '48 is that the GLBT community is fully integrated into society -- prejudice has been left behind.
Once again, I've set the book in winter. I did this with Storm Tide too. Two Aussie gay novels set in winter. Why?? Well, for one thing, I prefer the winter. Also, by 2048, global warming is going to so rough, I have a feeling our summers will be so hot, running around, full-tilt, will be a right royal pain. Also (fact!) everyone expects an Aussie novel to be about beaches and barbies and sweating, and I wanted (and still do) to be different.
The book is about 95,000 words, about 250pp in paperback; and it'll be launching in eBook and paper, so everyone should be happy here.
Sample chapters will be up in a few days, and the eBook will be available next week. The paperback will follow in September. (Speaking of which, the paperback of Winds of Chance will also be coming out soon: I'll update you on that next time.)
So -- yes, Virginia: two new Keegans in the same year, and a possibility (no promises) of a third before Christmas.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The names of Seattle municipal employees who belong to an LGBT affinity group will not be released for at least a week, but the city argued yesterday before a King County judge that state law requires it to release the names to an anti-gay activist who has requested the list.
Philip Irvin, a city employee and right-wing activist who claims he’s been barred from attending the club’s meetings because he is heterosexual and opposed to gay rights, has requested that the city release the names of employees who belong to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning and Friends (LGBTQF) Club at Seattle City Light, a municipal electric utility.
Private lawyers for LGBTQF members, have asked the court to order the city not to release their names.
After a hearing yesterday, Judge John Erlick continued a temporary restraining order that blocks release of the names until at least next week when both sides will be back in court. Erlick could decide then what and how much should be released...
Read the full story here:
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Welcome to the launch of Mel Keegan's
LEGENDS: The Fall of the Atlantean Empire
Book One: The Winds of Chance
At last ... fully edited, impeccably proofread, perfectly formatted for your ebook reader, desktop, laptop or netbook ... no typos, no shuffling from one blog post to another ... just read and enjoy, as a fully-featured ebook from DreamCraft!
In an era of storm and chaos, One will be born who will command the Power, but the ancient magic that flows in his veins like blood is his curse as well as his gift.
In this time of cataclysm and ordeal, the upstart Empire of Vayal has placed a bounty on the heads of all scions of the lineage of Diomedas, for the oracle foretold the doom of Vayal, and it rides on the shoulders of the One.
He lives and breathes already, hiding the old city of Zeheft and in the slowly drowning outlands. He is Faunos Phinneas Aeson, still dangerously young -- and he has one dread: the witchfinders of Vayal, who are charged with the hunting of those like himself.
Twenty years, Faunos has hidden and learned, until the gods of sea, storm and earth destroy Zeheft --and one night destiny brings Vayal's young witchfinder to the camps of the water gypsies, where a youth like Faunos should never have been. Galen lies dying; the City of the Sun is celebrating the coming of age of Soran -- althlete, hunter, beautiful as the night, Vayal's heir and greatest witchfinder ...
The Empire of the Atlantan has one slender chance to survive, and its struggle will begin on this night.
Read the first four chapters, on GLBT Booshelf!
See the Legends art gallery -- art by Jade...
And save 30% ... indulge yourself in the "blog special," right on this page!
- Published by DreamCraft
- Ebook edition: July 2009
- 98,370 words
- For PC, Mac, Laptop, desktop, netbook, BeBook, iLiad, Sony Reader, Palm Pilot, Kindle, iPhone, Blackberry, Microsoft Reader, smartphones.
Like to see more of the Mel Keegan novels? Start here:
Friday, June 26, 2009
However, it's not. It's just neglected, the reason being that my other project, GLBT Bookshelf, is such a time-gobbler, there's not a minute left after I get done there, to do anything here.
Today, for example, all I have time for is this personal note, and a swift paste-in of the press release which is going out even as I type! We registered a domain for the Bookshelf, and the first advertising campaign has begun. All very exciting, and -- here's the official press release!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sara Lansing, Press Secretary
GLBT Writers and Readers
Launch Revolutionary Online Community
Gay Indie Literature Industry Unites
Adelaide, South Australia – June 25, 2009 Bestselling gay author Mel Keegan has masterminded a web-based cohesive organization combining the skills of writers, publishers, editors, agents, reviewers and artists in the GLBT community to provide an unprecedented public access portal to independent- and small-publisher titles. GLBT Bookshelf is an online resource designed to counter the perceived discriminatory practices of major players in the book retail scene.
Frustrated by the infamous “AmazonFail” fiasco of early 2009, in which the online retail giant was suspected of attempting to deny GLBT literature the benefits of its promotional systems, Keegan conceived of an online community in which all such systems were circumvented -- replaced by “community promotion” with direct links to authors’ and publishers’ pages.
Keegan is highly motivated toward the success of this venture. “Nothing convinces you to act like being forced to the margins of an already marginalized community. In a way the AmazonFail business was a desperately-needed kick in the pants. Now we have a public contact venue and direct sales channel which is not dependant on the big boys, their promotional tools, their advertising -- not even their search engines.”
In creating GLBT Bookshelf, Keegan set out to answer the needs of most GLBT writers and artists: Create a place for their works to be cataloged, described and sampled, linked to their publishers and independent sales pages -- and promoted by joint funding amounting to peppercorn contributions from community members. In this way, all writers benefit from wide media exposure while no individual foots the advertising bill.
The site takes the form of a “wiki,” where users sign up (free) and a pilot page is created for them. They then use editing tools to flesh out their pages with text, graphics and video. They develop their own virtual website within the wiki, which is built on the EditMe engine, operated by EditMe.com.
Visitors find authors, titles and publishers via multiple, categorized contents lists, as well as the fully-featured Search function. The site features user forums, book reviews, author pages, and directories for publishers and cover artists. A free PDF user’s manual is available, and the public launch is underway.
After just one month GLBT Bookshelf boasts around 200 “authors and others” online. Writers are booking low-cost advertising in high-traffic page locations, months ahead. More than 1000 user-pages have been created, and 500+ books are currently cataloged. Projected growth rates suggest this is the tip of the iceberg.
Find GLBT Bookshelf at www.glbtbookshelf.com, and watch for developments in the months ahead. While it remains early days, Mel Keegan is highly optimistic. “We could be seeing a quiet revolution in GLBT book marketing, in which the community takes its fortunes into its own hands. Technology has freed us from the restrictive practices of the traditional industry -- the Bookshelf is the joint venture of a lifetime. We must evolve new ways of thinking to take full advantage of our opportunities.”
Mel Keegan lives with an eccentric family in South Australia and is the author of more than 25 books. “The Deceivers” won the Stonewall Fact and Fable Award in 2003, while “Death’s Head” was nominated for the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1992. GLBT Bookshelf is the culmination of Keegan’s creative vision.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
The news is all wiki news, so I'll be brief. GLBT Bookshelf is growing at a fantastic rate, and looking so good, the boss at EditMe (the company which owns and hosts the engine) has complimented it, and has Twittered about it.
All this is fantastic ... but I have to admit that it's turned into a hell of a lot more work than I thought it would. I still haven't tackled the two remaining HELLGATE books, and tomorrow is July. I want (passionately, desperately) to have the series finished by Christmas, and these are going to be two very, VERY large books... hmmm.
Anyway, the wiki might be a lot of work, but it's also immensely satisfying. It's coming together into something that's already looking superb, and it's only been a month since I started with a blank page.
A few bugs have come out of the woodwork -- for instance, we've discovered the hard way that Mac users can't "shake hands" properly with the interfac, so can't build their own pages. This is damned annoying (and that's a euphemism!), and in the short term, the only solution we've been able to offer is, "so long as you have your materials together, we'll build your pages for you."
So, if there are Mac users out there who are cussing up a storm, don't give up just yet. Get over to the wiki and drop us a line.
In other news, AQUAMARINE has appeared on Kindle: and oddly enough, my Kindle sales have more than doubled lately. They're still not as wide, nor as lucrative, as one would have imagined, given that there are such vast numbers of Kindles out there, but we're coming along...
...That makes eight Keegans available for your Kindle now -- the 9th will be Storm Tide, next week. And then the whole NARC series will "go up" all of a piece -- they'll also go up to Smashwords at the same time, so if you've been waiting for Jarrat and Stone on the phone (and there's a thought worthy of the warm fuzzies), you don't have much longer to wait!
Little else is happening in this neck of the woods. It's just work, same old same old, although I will say that watching the wiki grow is quite exciting.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Which means the price of their ordinary paperback is shooting skywards at disastrous rates, due to the markup situation:
That's US$29, give or take loose change. Add $16 for postage. Run the conversion to Aussie dollars ... about A$65.
And what about the hard covers? Well there are several, and they come in at about US$46. Plus postage, and run the exchange rate ... A$88.75 or so. Yeeeouch.
Well, Lulu won't be selling many copies with a 30% markup over the Amazon paperbacks, but I guess I appreciate the effort. Also (as rotten as this sounds) this might help sales in a kind of backward-forwards-logicky kind of way. Potential Customer arrives on Amazon, searches on Mel Keegan, clicks 'see all copies' and all the prices are showcased, from the high to the low. S/he finds out s/he can get a paperback of (say) The Swordsman for US$22.50 rather than a hardcover for US$46 ... and the numbers are so widely disparate, the CreateSpace paperback looks comparatively cheap. This fosters the "impulse buy," and -- click.
It's not going to do much for Lulu, though. At these prices, I just can't see people buying. I ask myself, would I? Could I?! However, it could be great for Keegan, because right now, two things come out of this. One: everything I put at Lulu is showing up on Amazon without me doing one damned thing. My listings at Amazon blow out way high, which means, Two: I can call in some favors from pals, have them go in and do "clever" reviews that remark on how you don't have to pay top-dollar for the Hellgates, for instance. You can "buy direct and bank the difference.
In other words, I'll bribe Aricia with chocolate, coffee and Kirby Crow books, and hopefully she'll buzz off over to Amazon, review the Hellgate books (which she loves, if the way I'm getting harassed to finish the series is anything to go by; AG, get off my case while I get the bloody wiki up and running!) ... and in the course of the review, she'll mention that they're far cheaper if you go to Lulu and buy direct.
This whole thing is a barometer of what's going on in the POD industry since the global economic bust-up, and in the immortal words of numerous movies, "well, this can't be good."
Right now, Lulu is masking the desperate necessity to go out there as a seller with an email: "Congratulations! Your novel has been selected to enter the Amazon markeplace." Uh ... yeah, right. They used to charge A$140 for this service, and the fact is, there is no way they can compete out there, with a 30% markup.
Now, with many writers, it might work for them. Not every writer who's at Lulu has managed to get themselves onto Amazon also. I hopes Lulu *does* manage to scare up enough business to keep their oars in the water, because they've been the best in the POD printshop trade -- they have an extremely nice product, and they'll do business with people outside the USA. Lately, however, they have to be feeling the pressure from the CreateSpace competition, and I sympathize. I really do.
However, this is cool --
Ol' Mel just scored an Author Page at Amazon ... which is good going, because this is *not* something you make yourself. You can edit it, but THEY make the page. Which means someone decided it was worth making a page for MK. Right now there isn't a whole lot on it; I need to add rafts of titles (they have 4, most of then 15 years old), a bio (I'm the Invisible Author at present) and so on. But it's nice to have this.
Wiki news? It's growing like the proverbial mushroom. It's also a lot more work than I'd originally hoped. I'm manning the Help Desk, and am not-quite-surprised that people are finding an astonishing variety of ways to make it go wrong! It's not totally intuitive, it's true -- but, honest engine, guys, it's the best one out there. Trust me: after the EditMe engine, it gets progressively more complex. EditMe is simple, streamlined, and fairly inexpensive ... one hell of a lot less expensive than trying to do this with the originally-planned Joomla interface.
There have been about 60 sign-ups since I announced the wiki, and we're waiting for those folks to feed content into their pages. About half have been *very* busy, adding reams of material (thank you, all!) and it's going to be astonishing by the time everyone has added their stuff. Give it a couple more weeks.
The only downside is that it's taking a lot of my time, while my own pages are being neglected; and as for writing ...?! It's not happening! Maybe in June. I've promised HELLGATE, and good golly, HELLGATE it will be.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
A few posts ago (before the Wolverine review, I mentioned that I was working on something in the background, and would have a new project to launch soon.
It launched a few days ago, and it's already doing fine. Looking superb:
It's a wiki! Not just a book wiki (or a writing, or publishing, wiki) but specifically a GLBT book wiki, for writers, editors, publishers, reviewers, bookseller and, of course, readers.
It's also a bookstore:
...and with better than 30 writers coming online in the first few days, and many, many more about to join us in the next couple of weeks, this is certainly going to become *the* place to shop for GLBT titles ... rub shoulders with writers, check up on the community's publishing news, find a Beta reader or a cover artist, and -- so on!
Where in the world did this idea come from?
The AmazonFail three-ring circus was actually the trigger. I blogged a little about it here: http://mel-keegan.blogspot.com/2009/04/amazon-apoloigizes-profusely-hands-up.html
...in fact, I just don't/can't believe it happened as a result of human error. I have the strongest intuition that it was a covert attempt to "filter out" content that, frankly, various pundits high up in the Amazonian stratosphere, where the Board of Directors convenes, would rather not see on Amazon. Or anywhere else for that matter.
There are numerous reasons for company directors to want to see GLBT books out. They're not quite the thing you want your eight year olds stumbling into accidentally. They're inclined to make "GLBT" sound actually legitimate to the ears of older teens who know they've grown up gay and are in the process of "guilting themselves straight." And of course, since we're all going to burn in hell for our sins, we have to be saved from ourselves ... it's the only decent thing to do, evangelically speaking. Amazon lives in the States, and ... 'nuff said. (Old Glory flutters proudly over the Land of God. Oh, dear.)
Anyway, to cut to the chase: I've been aware for a long, long time that there remains a high degree of discrimination in online culture. Now, one can shrug off (or sigh off) the snarky remarks you see in YouTube comments, and so forth, as being not worth the pixels it takes to display them.
(Example: Person A uploads a video of Irish dancer Michael Flatley, Person B responds with, "Amazing! The man is absolutely fantastic, never seen anything like it!" And something (god knows what) makes Person B add, "except for th fact hes gay ha ha ha lol" (and you notice the typo, the lack of punctuation, and the vapid 'ha ha ha' and 'lol' -- which are supposedly one's permit to do and say anything in cyberspace ... because it's funny. Sorry guys: not laughing.)
That kind of stupidity is something you have to live with. I wish there were a magic trick to make it vanish, but, people being what they are, we're stuck with it, permanently. However, when mega-business -- like Google, like Amazon -- decides to filter you out, it would be perfectly possible for them to make vast swathes of the world literally vanish.
Many of us (indie writers and publishers, for a start) have very little more visible profile than our online presence. Take this away from us, and we're as good as invisible. And that can't be good.
My hackles tend to rise when this sort of thing happens. I get ... motivated.
We need a hedge, I thought, against possible (probable?) filtering. Because the reason Amazon got caught is that the technology wan't quite up to the task. Yet. The reason Google has been clearly seen, filtering gay content in broad daylight, is because the programming is a few years short of where it needs to be, to get the job done invisibly.
Fast forward to 2011 or 2012. They try it again, and because of the exponential development rates in the realms of code ... yup, it works. GLBT writers and publishers will vanish off the face of the Internet --
Unless we have a hedge of some kind against this: we get together and make a noise. We develop a community that's big enough to generate its own weather patterns. We kick in about a buck apiece and buy the advertising we need to make us high-visibility...
In which case, Google, Amazon and the rest can do a lot less to hurt us than they could, say ... now. Most of us are still shockingly isolated; small groups have knotted together, but there still isn't anything remotely like the vast community which would be needed to ensure immunity to discrimination. The "power of community" blows me away. So --
The first platforms I researched were Joolma, SQL and their accompanying Apache -- and these are wonderful. They're also bloody expensive. I did look at this. I also passed on, when I saw the pricetag and the time lag. How's six months and upwards of five grand sound? Doubtless, about November we'd have launched a GLBT Bookshelf that looked a lot like Amazon itself! But who's going to put up the investment capital?! (Why are you all looking at me, suddenly?!)
So... the whole thing turned into a wiki.
If you can blog, you can wiki. In fact, even if you can't blog, you can wiki. It's no more complex than the Blogger interface ... and it's a lot of fun.
Writers are coming aboard rapidly, and I hope we're also going to attract cover artists, editors, reviewers, publishers, booksellers. It's exciting. It's very exciting. It's a place where we can not only blog and talk, but post articles, artwork galore, and (better yet) SELL our books.
Now, there are lots of book community sites around, like Author's Den and Book Hitch. But "GLBT" is yet another careful quarantine zone at these sites. In fact, Author's Den states emphatically that they don't want, won't have, "adult content" on their site, becausesaid site is open to children. That's fair enough, too, but ... where does it leave GLBT writers, whose content is always lumped in with the "adult" stuff, even when it's mild by comparison (because we're going to burn, and oughtta be saved from ourselves) ...? And also, there's no provision for using Author's Den, Book Hitch, Shelfari and so on, as a bookstore --
Got it covered, guys. GLBT Bookshelf has a bookstore designed in, and you're exhorted to get your affiliate code from Amazon, B&N, Diesel, wherever, and plug it right into the pages that are created and maintained by yourself.
From my perspective, the whole thing is the answer to a prayer.
Go over there, have a look, and ... join us. Register (FREE), and log in to start making your own pages. Enjoy!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
So I went along to the 2:00pm session yesterday at the Megaplex.
The CG effects are nowhere near as poor as the critics are blathering on about. A couple of the shots look a little bit "fake" by the standards of 2009, but in 1999, the same shots would have blown your brains out. (Get real here: a couple of less-than-perfect CGI shots do not make unmitigated crap out of an entire movie. )
There are two, maybe three, genuinely wobbly bits in the plotting. (Get real, again: it's a comic book. Turn a blind eye to the wobbly bits and concentrate on the important element: Hugh Jackman is the sexiest thing on two legs.) Unless you are terminally heterosexual, and male, or a terminally hetero female in lust for a pixie like Elijah Wood, there is no way in any world that you could call the movie "dull" or "dry." In fact, you may need a bib, because you'll spend just under two hours in a full-on drool.
The plot is NOT "overly complex," and my guess is that the critics who employed this old chestnut as a reason to smack Wolverine with a D or an F spent one half of the time texting and the other half running out to the bathroom and/or parking lot for a smoke. The plot is not complex at all, so long as you're wide awake. The same bozo-grade critics levelled the identical lame criticism at the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Guys, let me give you a tip: drink less at the press meeting before you go to the theater, and stop blaming the movie after you anaesthetised yourself on several gallons of free champagne. I hope you had the hangovers you damned-well deserve.
And no, I am NOT blind to the fact that a couple of the CG shots are less than staggering by current standards; and the plot has a hole you could drive a Mack truck through. However, Hugh Jackman acted his a$$ off, and lived in the gym while making this opus. The results are somewhat spectacular. And in Keegan's not so humble opinion (which comes to you complete with fresh bib), he's more than enough to make up for the shortcomings of the rest of the movie. And I know, I'm biased. I paid for the movie ticket (while critics get theirs free!) so I'm allowed a degree of bias. I bought the bias option with my ten bucks.
Now, let me give you the POSITIVES that 1001 critics are falling over themselves to utterly ignore ... and it beats hell out of me why they do this:
- Fully 95% of the CG work is just fine.
- A solid cast gives sterling performances.
- The dialog is, on the whole, realistic and believable.
- The film offers unexpected, and welcome, humor.
- The cinematography is stunning, with marvelous wilderness locations.
- The sets are extremely atmospheric and evocative.
- It's an ACTION movie, hence the ACTION sequences, and there are plenty ... would you go to the ballet and then call it rubbish because of all the dancing?!
- The SOUND balance is crystal clear, sharp and admirable. I never missed a word.
- The FOLEY work is spot-on. Most of the bozo-brigade critics who're currently rubbishing this movie wouldn't even know what the word "foley" means.
- The film's visual editing is crisp and clear. There is NEVER any ambiguity in the denouement, which is more than can be said for numerous movies which have been lauded by the same critics.
- The film score, or soundtrack music, is extremely good...
- ... and did I mention that Hugh Jackman is the sexiest thing on two legs?
So ends Keegan's verdict. I'm giving the movie 4 out of 5 stars, because you certainly can drive a tank through the most major hole in the plot. For myself, I don't actually give that much of a "stuff" about a couple of off-kilter CG shots; and the remainder of the production is of a very high standard.
So ... why all the rotten reviews?
There are many reasons, I'm sure. Far too many action movies have jaded the critics, since the early 1980s, when Arnie and Sly got into overdrive. Then again, is it vaguely possible that US film critics harbor a deep-seated, possibly even unconscious resentment about the fact that Hugh Jackman is an Aussie, born and bred? More than a decade of massive special effects movies have made some people so "CG happy" that when a shot or two fall short of the expected standard, they bin the entire movie ... which would be like dumping the whole live symphony orchestra performance in the bin because a few individual musicians hit blue notes here and there. I do believe that certain critics have just had enough, more than enough, of these big action movies, and would much rather be watching something else (which is fair enough; I just wish they'd bugger off and review something else, and leave someone who still enjoys actioners to cover them) ... and lastly, I wonder how many of these critics watched the movie with their partner going consistently gaga over Jackman for two hours in the seat beside them, and growled at the screen, "I'll get you for this, you Aussie bastard, if it's the last thing I do!" The pen being mightier than the claw in our own world, they unsheathed their own ballpoint weapon and did their worst -- secure in the knowledge that professional motion picture folk never, never ever respond to critics, no matter what stupidity is printed. Such is the etiquette of the trade. If you're a movie critic, you have an official license to literally babble through your hat and say what you like. And my gods, they do.
Lastly, there's also safety in numbers. When everyone else is calling a certain movie crap, you run the risk of not being "one of us," if you tell the truth and say you enjoyed the hell out of it, and could clearly see the 85% of the movie that was brilliant -- as well as the faults!
Well Keegan -- being Keegan -- is giving Wolverine four out of five stars, and is going to go see it again next week.
And no, I don't like movie critics.
To Hugh Jackman, if anyone significant sees this and forwards it: Cheers, mate. You did good.
Ciao for now,
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Exploring the Outer Reaches of Literature with Author Mel Keegan
I do know that a good number of writers and self-marketers read this blog, and I'd like to exhort you to go over to Mark's for the interview. Keegan being Keegan, there's some interesting stuff in there ... it's also tremendously interesting to take time out and look around the Smashwords blog itself. Shows you how far you can come, in a single year; http://blog.smashwords.com/
In other news, more Keegans are appearing in the Amazon engine, with "Lulu Press" as the seller. Stopover (one of the NARC books) has appeared in the last few hours; and if they're going to be out there marketing one NARC book, they'll do all five. This is incredibly odd -- to reiterate, I have no agreement with them, to facilitate this, have signed nothing, know nothing about this! To use Lulu as a springboard to get to Amazon used to cost you A$140 per book -- and technically, still does. I haven't paid a bean. What goes on? I have the strongest, unhappiest suspicion that Lulu is out there touting for business because the marketplace has "slowed down" to critical levels.
What can you say? I wish them well. If they can drive sales to the Lulu printshops (in other words, get them away from CreateSpace, which is Amazon's wholly owned subsidiary, and until extremely recently was the only easy and affordable way to get to Amazon, for a writer living in a Country Not America), then more power to them. So long as Keegan gets the royalty, I don't have a syllable to say in opposition. Go for it, kids.
And now ... back to work. I'm about a week off the launch of a brand-new project which is going to take everyone by surprise. It's not just good, it's looking great -- and it goes back to that Bright Idea I had at the time of the AmazonFail debacle.
Give me one more week -- perhaps less -- and watch out for a newsletter!
Monday, May 11, 2009
Suffice to say, I have zip, zero, nada, nil as per any idea of what goes on; but I have a sneaky feeling I might just know. And alas, it ain't good news.
Lulu is out there touting for business, right? They're actively pushing books -- mine, among those of numerous other writers, I could guess. They're doing it for nothing?? This can only mean that they, too, are feeling the recession biting, and are actively out there, selling books -- which is something they never did before.
Times are getting tougher, guys.
And audiences are getting harder to please: good gods, have you seen the WOLVERINE reviews?!!! I don't think I've ever seen a movie pounded so hard. Now, I haven't seen the movie -- and might not get the chance to, before the DVD comes out, but I really don't believe any company could spend a couple of years and about fifty million dollars on a project, and have it be as bad as the critics are saying...
- Fans of the many comic books in which Wolverine has featured will rue what has become of their favourite characters.
- Falling somewhere between noble failure and modest success, 'Wolverine' is ultimately a generic Summer film actioneer that will quickly be forgotten
- If, in real time, the dull X-Men Origins prequel actually were the first X-Men film produced, it might have been the last.
- The amount of muscle on display is the film's most remarkable aspect, unless you count how unforgivably dull it is.
- ...A story line that isn't emotionally involving and action sequences that for the most part aren't that exciting, presented within a story that's full of potholes.
- X-Men Origins is really a series of action sequences, the usual mix of bangs, chases and fights, held together by a plot so predictable that you get no points for guessing right.
- It's dull, bone-crushing, special-effects stuff, of interest only to hardcore fans who've probably read it all in Marvel comics.
- Each CGI set piece erases distance, space, weight, gravity and wit. It’s empty, soulless action -- visual noise.
- Everything that happens seems to play out as if following a checklist. It’s Paint by Numbers: The Movie.
Ciao for now,
Sunday, May 10, 2009
So far, so good: here's where the plot thickens. And I'll tell you, you could stand a spoon up in this one!
If you use Lulu.com as your printer, you pay a very hefty whack of cash to get a global distribution package for your title, which gets you onto the Big A. It costs about A$140 (US$100) for this service -- which I never optioned, because I have no need of it, and (!!) because in any case it's only available to writers residing in the USA! Being downunder, I always curled my lip at this as yet another door closed in the face of "foreigners" ... even though I admit, it didn't want to go through it in any case. Ahem. (Suppose I'd wanted to.)
So, there is no way in any world that one of my books could show up on Amazon as PUBLISHED by DreamCraft, and SOLD by Lulu, right?
You'd think so. But something weird is going on -- click this image to get the full-size, readable one, and notice where it says, Seller: LULU PRESS.
And meanwhile, here's the listing from lower down the page in the details:
Does anyone have the slightest inkling as to what what's going on? Lulu (the printer!) is out there selling at least one of my books, which is something that isn't supposed to happen, can't happen, couldn't happen until the day arrived when Satan skated to work --
Anyone looked outside lately?
As I began: curiouser and curiouser. Not that I'm complaining ... so long as I get paid, if they want to get on the stick and sell copies for me -- kids, go for it!
In fact, let's give them a little help. If you've been wanting the classic second edition cover but didn't want to order from Lulu direct, well, order from Amazon and Lulu can ship it (which is exactly what they'd do if you ordered from Lulu direct!
Here you go:
And speaking of things Amazon, take a squizz at this:
Monday, May 4, 2009
The Swordsman by Mel Keegan
...marvelous review, for which I'm most grateful.
Behind the scenes, I'm very, VERY busy with a new project which will be sprung on you soon. This one is exciting -- it's also extremely time consuming, which is why I'm blogging less lately. There's only 24 hours in day, and I have to sleep. Occasionally.
Back to work!
Ciao for now,
An invention that could change the internet for ever
Revolutionary new web software could put giants such as Google in the shade when it comes out later this month. Andrew Johnson reports...
Sunday, 3 May 2009
The biggest internet revolution for a generation will be unveiled this month with the launch of software that will understand questions and give specific, tailored answers in a way that the web has never managed before.
The new system, Wolfram Alpha, showcased at Harvard University in the US last week, takes the first step towards what many consider to be the internet's Holy Grail – a global store of information that understands and responds to ordinary language in the same way a person does.
Although the system is still new, it has already produced massive interest and excitement among technology pundits and internet watchers.
Computer experts believe the new search engine will be an evolutionary leap in the development of the internet. Nova Spivack, an internet and computer expert, said that Wolfram Alpha could prove just as important as Google. "It is really impressive and significant," he wrote. "In fact it may be as important for the web (and the world) as Google, but for a different purpose.
Tom Simpson, of the blog Convergenceofeverything.com, said: "What are the wider implications exactly? A new paradigm for using computers and the web? Probably. Emerging artificial intelligence and a step towards a self-organising internet? Possibly... I think this could be big."
Wolfram Alpha will not only give a straight answer to questions such as "how high is Mount Everest?", but it will also produce a neat page of related information – all properly sourced – such as geographical location and nearby towns, and other mountains, complete with graphs and charts.
The real innovation, however, is in its ability to work things out "on the fly", according to its British inventor, Dr Stephen Wolfram. If you ask it to compare the height of Mount Everest to the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, it will tell you. Or ask what the weather was like in London on the day John F Kennedy was assassinated, it will cross-check and provide the answer. Ask it about D sharp major, it will play the scale. Type in "10 flips for four heads" and it will guess that you need to know the probability of coin-tossing. If you want to know when the next solar eclipse over Chicago is, or the exact current location of the International Space Station, it can work it out.
...read the full feature here:
...It's brilliant. Admittedly, Wolfram Alpha still an uneducated genius at this point (read the article!) but ... how long does it take a genius with a mind the size of the WWW to soak up, cross-reference and comprehend the entirety of human culture?
Give them six months. And then, Google will have to compete with the OTHER thousand pound gorilla in its forest. And at that point, the question will be, "Who's in charge?"
The rot didn't set in at Google till after the original business was sold off, and a bunch of dollar-greedy morality police got hold of it. All the money grubbing, the cheating of publishing partners in the Adsense program, the filtering-out of content the high-mucky-mucks in the Boardroom don't like (anything gay, or gay-friendly, for a start). All this is the result of human intervention in the search engine's protocols...
And the same thing could happen to the Wolfram Alpha model. If money-grubbing morality police get hold of it, it'll just do a faster, smarter, better job of cooking the books and skewing the internet off kilter --
In fact, in a worst case scenario, Google will buy it, or controlling shares of it, and promptly reshape it in the Big G's image, so that more money sluices home to The Goog, advertising continues to stuff the web like a Christmas turkey, some people get ripped off royally, and others vanish off the face of the internet because they've been filtered out of existence.
But maybe, just maybe, the owners and developers of the new search engine will have a leeetle bit more integrity, and won't sell out. Settle for twenty billion dollars instead of shooting for the cool half trillion. Maybe the "self organizing internet" is something that can actually come to pass. Maybe the self-styled morality police won't be able to get in there and organize the internet from the standpoint of Creationism, Republicanism, or some brand of 'ism which seeks to shape the thinking patterns of the whole globe in its own image.
We can hope. I, for one, am hoping! You know me ... the eternal; optimist.
Ciao for now,
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
for more info, or to be involved, go here:
Saturday, April 25, 2009
How the blithering heck do you draw readers' attention to new formats for old titles?
It's dead easy to draw their attention to books that are new; but unless you're a hack producing a brand spanking new 35,000 word shortie very month, your basic list won't change appreciably over six months. What's changing is the formats in which books are available, and the venues they're available from.
And readers don't seem to notice.
So here's the experiment: a bloody great icon that actually SHOUTS a fair bit. Check this out:
Amazing what you can do in 84k, isn't it? Anyway, this whopping great attention-grabber is getting pasted to the browser pages for each of the books as they appear at Smashwords and Kindle -- I'll get around to Mobipocket later. Just don't have the time to get to it right now.
And when you "click here to buy..." you're teleported to a new page in my bookstore with this header -- which again is shouting, deliberately:
Interestingly, I've had readers in Finland, new Zealand and Japan who downloaded all of LEGENDS to their iPhone. That was amazing and gratifying --
Speaking of LEGENDS: it's being hammered into shape right now. Proofread (at last!) and formatted. It'll be on its way to market in about ten days, I do believe. It wasn't until I'd assembled the whole thing into one file to export it to the DTP program that I realized how long it was. According to Microsquash, it runs close to 94,000 words. Which is a lot longer than I thought it was.
Anyway, today I'm a bookseller, and while I've got this particular hat on, I guess I can talk a little bit about the new bookstore which is being designed right now. It's going to be very slick indeed ... SQL and Joomla and Apache whatever, and so forth. I've been looking at designs, and was a little bit drawn to this one:
That one is a template from a company called vjtemplates (http://www.vjtemplates.com/) -- and they have some great templates, but they all suffer from the same problem: they're "off the shelf." Nothing exactly fits what I want and need, at the same time as being fairly expensive (A$125 or so). The above template is not bad, but I find it too bright, too "in your face" for my own tastes. Which isn't to say it's not a great design -- it is. It's just not for me.
So there's nothing for it: the new bookstore is going to get done from scratch. DreamCraft to the rescue. Joomla, SQL, Apache and ... ummmmm. Right. It's also going to get a new domain to live on (or does one live IN a domain?)
This is where I am today. The bookseller has taken over, and I admit, I remain uneasy about the situation with Amazon. I went to the Big A t'other day and searched on "gay romance." I paged down through 200 books, and not a single Keegan title was anywhere in the list. Meaning, if you don't know who Keegan is, you won't be finding me at Amazon by browsing!
Lately, I've been spending a few hours here and there analysing traffic stats (Statcounter is marvelous for this), working out where readers and coming from, how the find me, what course they navigate around the sites and blogs, and what they buy in the end. It's actually extremely interesting.
Here's the info that fell out of the data: over 90% of all my sales are "driven" from my own pages. Not Amazon, not Kindle, not nuthin'. Almost all sales are coming from my own pages.
Okay, then. That's the ball I need to take up and run with. It was suggested to me a looong time ago that Amazon was a great place to be in, because people would find you by browsing. But I don't think the pundits who say this know too much about how "adult content" books are squirrelled away into the darker, dustier corners of the search engine! Thanks to the balls-up of a couple of weeks ago, everyone knows that something is not quite right at the Big A.
Since then, I've been working on a way to ... well, not to "beat the system," but to make the system work FOR me, instead of against me. I mentioned on Live Journal a little while ago that I had a Bright Idea --
It looks even brighter now than it did then, guys. Seriously, stay tuned. It'll take a wee while, because it's a lot more complex than I'd imagined, but I'm into something good here.
Gotta go back to work now, so --
Ciao for now,