Third week’s sales figures

WEEK THREE – to 0700 GMT 22 May 2010

In the past week we have sold the following:

ALOES – 2 copies
END OF THE TRAIL – 4 copies
SEA CHANGE – 4 copies

A quieter week as you’ll see, no doubt because we did not have a major review until the end of the week.

We also added a customer in an eighth different country, The Netherlands.

Average response time was back to a more reasonable three hours and two minutes, with the longest time taken being five hours and fifty three minutes and the shortest the thirty minutes referred to in yesterday’s entry.  Two other orders were also responded to in less than an hour.

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Congratulations to Chris for a very encouraging review of SEA CHANGE on Literary Nymphs. Having had it suggested to us that some of our titles are too long, it’s especially rewarding to hear of a reader who enjoyed the gentler pace and the slower character development in Chris’s story – something we here at Manifold are particularly fond of. (Also reassuring for the future, as there are a couple of much longer scripts in development at the moment.)

Response times

I have just responded to an order I received half an hour ago. (Sinner that I am, I answered another e-mail first.)

In that half-hour, I received three follow-up e-mails from the purchaser – and a telephone call asking where her e-book was. In one of the e-mails she accused me of ‘lousy customer service’.

I did point out that the website specifies a maximum response time of 48-72 hours. The day before yesterday I undertook a seven hour journey, during which nobody was processing orders at all – and for the occasional eight hours or so, I do like to sleep.

I realise that other web publishers do things differently, but we are unable to offer downloadable files; it’s simply not a system that would be cost-effective for us at the moment, given the small volume of our sales.

Orders are processed at the earliest possible moment. For some recent customers this has been 24 hours or more, and they have not complained. We make it clear that we are unable to respond instantaneously, and had hoped that customers would understand why this must be the case.

I was also obliged to advise this particular customer that while I was talking to her on the telephone I could not also be processing her order. We are not Waterstones or Barnes and Noble and we never will be, but we are doing our best with the resources available to us.

This needs to be made clearer on the website, I feel.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible …

For the past week Manifold Press has been operating from a friend’s laptop 200 miles from home, but has now returned to base. A gratifying number of orders were received during that time, and so was our third review, which we were able to mention here but have only just had the opportunity of adding to the website.

There has been a slight hold-up with registering the ISBNs for ALOES, END OF THE TRAIL and SEA CHANGE, largely due to the odd way Nielsen seem to do things. Their website isn’t all that clear, and the spelling mistakes on it don’t exactly inspire one with confidence. However we are now trying again, and we’ll see what happens this time.

We have three more scripts under consideration for future lists, too; one will need more work than we can reasonably hope to have done in time for November, so it is looking a strong possibility for next May; the other two are with our reader at the moment and we expect to receive her comments in due course.

One question has been intriguing us, however, since we started processing orders at the beginning of the month. Sometimes, people order three of our titles but not the fourth – and it’s always a puzzle to work out why they’ve chosen to omit one. Are they choosing on length, or price? But it isn’t always the same book, of course; each of our titles in turn has been omitted from some purchaser’s order. As they are so diverse in subject matter, it’s difficult to form any conclusions about what it is people don’t like about them (or, rather, don’t expect to like). And. admittedly, if we had more titles on offer we wouldn’t have time to worry about little matters like this – we’d be far too busy with other things. However we must confess that in our idle moments we really wish we knew the answer!!!

Second week’s sales figures

WEEK TWO – to 0700 GMT 15 May 2010

In the past week we have sold the following:

ALOES – 3 copies
END OF THE TRAIL – 10 copies
SEA CHANGE – 3 copies

We have also added customers in three new countries, Denmark, Finland and the Russian Federation.

I can’t give you response time details this time as I am away from my own desk – currently working on a terminal in a public library – but these will certainly have come down, as we had one of 18 hours 42 minutes in the week.

I can also report a second great review for Jane’s END OF THE TRAIL, which is to be found here. Congratulations again to Jane on impressing so many reviewers!

We are still looking around for an alternative to PayPal; this seems to be taking longer than one might reasonably have expected, but we want to make sure that we get it right. We are not looking for anything that wants a signing-up fee or a large monthly fee; anything that takes a manageable percentage on each transaction would work for us. We also have enquiries out with a potential agent in the USA who may be willing to handle credit card purchases for us, but unfortunately such decisions are not arrived at overnight and it may still take another week or two to sort out. Likewise, the .epub spectre is still haunting us; we need one more line of code in our work-around, but as our technical genius is up to his ears in having a new bathroom and kitchen installed at the moment and it is impossible to schedule any time with him this is also going to have to wait. Rome was not built in a day, alas. (Even they needed to take time out to install kitchens and bathrooms!)

[EDITED 20 May when I got home and did a recount of orders received while I was away.]

[ETA: To complete the statistical information, average response time was 6 hours 10 minutes for the week.]

Our second review

Jane’s wonderful END OF THE TRAIL has been reviewed by Rainbow Reviews who seemed to have loved it just as much as we did, so many hearty congratulations to Jane!

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The .epub creation problem has now been resolved to our almost complete satisfaction, and we’ve had good reports back from .epub customers. As a result, we’ve taken the warning notice off the online shop. There is still a slight issue with blocks of text in italics, but this is nothing that can be solved without having our technical genius completely re-engineer the software – which, in fairness, he is quite willing to do, but it is not the sort of thing which can be done overnight. We’ll leave it with him, and hope for a solution in due course.

First week’s sales figures

Making good on my promise to post weekly sales figures here on the LJ for the first three months of Manifold Press’s existence (i.e. up until the first royalty statements go out), here they are!

WEEK ONE – to 0700 GMT 8 May 2010

ALOES – 2 copies
END OF THE TRAIL – 7 copies
SEA CHANGE – 4 copies

Purchasers were in the UK, France, Germany, Australia and the USA.

The average time for order fulfilment – i.e. between time of receipt and time of sending out the e-books – was two hours and nine minutes. The slowest was five hours twenty-three minutes, the fastest seventeen minutes. THIS IS NOT A RECORD WE EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO MAINTAIN, however; I am hoping to be able to sleep occasionally, for one thing!

Our first review

This morning, MANIFOLD PRESS’s first-ever review hit the wires.

See the review here.

This reviewer’s enthusiasm is almost overwhelming, and it’s going to leave us with a bit of a tough act to follow. Nevertheless this looks like a very good moment to thank everyone who has been involved in launching MANIFOLD PRESS for all their hard work and dedication on the journey; I’m not sure that we ever really imagined that this moment would arrive!

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To revert to sordid business matters briefly, some buyers have expressed reservations about PayPal. Since alternative payment methods can be very expensive, we are looking into the idea of having a US agent/distributor handle credit card transactions on our behalf. Hopefully something should be sorted out over the weekend.

Okay, I spoke too soon.

I thought the ‘Payment method temporarily unavailable’ problem was solved when an order came through safely last night, but this morning there’s another complaint that someone has received the message again.  It looks as if it is confined to the USA/Canada and I’m pretty sure it’s PayPal’s problem, but as I wasn’t able to post to their user forum again this morning (surely a clue in itself) I tried the 24 hour helpline for the e-shop software instead.  I’m waiting for them to get back to me but she was quite confident it wasn’t a fault with their system.

I know other people have had hassles with PayPal in the past but this is the first I’ve encountered.  The alternative services are just too expensive for us at this stage in our development, although no doubt we will be able to add one or other in a few months’ time.  Let’s hope PayPal can get this sorted out before it loses us too many sales.