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
DEAR MISTER PRESIDENT – 8 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!

– – – – –

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
DEAR MISTER PRESIDENT – 8 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!

– – – – –

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.

PayPal problems

Two people reported yesterday that they were having trouble making payments to Manifold Press via PayPal.  On each occasion I checked the whole system through and could see nothing wrong; the test transaction went through perfectly.  (Alas, if all our test transactions were real, sales would already be through the roof!)

The only conclusion I can come to is that there was a problem with PayPal itself yesterday, specifically in North America.  There are alternate payment methods we can sign up to at a later stage, when we have more disposable income, but at the moment we are not in a position to pay either the set-up charge or the monthly fee.  For now, we will just have to rely on PayPal, and obviously we need it to be working properly!

Our first few real orders went through without a hitch, so I’m hoping this is only a temporary problem which will soon clear itself.  If not, then we’ll need to investigate more thoroughly.  All I can say at this stage is that Manifold’s set-up has a clean bill of health; the fault, whatever it is, is definitely not at our end.

P.S.  All Manifold Press orders received so far have been sent out, usually within an hour of receipt (not a record we can promise to maintain).  If yours seems not to have arrived, please check your ‘Spam’ bin to make sure your e-mail software has not sorted it into the wrong place!!!

P.P.S:  As a result of this little local difficulty I have discovered that there is a very useful PayPal users forum where such questions can be answered.  As far as I can see, this should only be a small local, technical problem which hopefully has been cleared up by now.  Time will tell, I suppose.

Sorted it out …

… can I go to sleep now, please?

Thank you to one of our authors, Jane Elliot, for spotting that the ‘Order’ buttons were not working on the website – a fairly fundamental part of the process.  It didn’t take long to fix, once I got home from scoffing chocolate fudge cake and other delights with a couple of my fellow-conspirators.  (Waves to Chris and Julie!)  If anyone’s concerned, the website now connects to the online shop the way it should have done in the first place.  Well, progress is achieved by trial and error – and now that the problem’s solved, I’m awarding myself a bit of a rest!

Nothing penultimate about this one …

Dear Friends and Fellow-sufferers,

As of a few minutes ago MANIFOLD PRESS is live; the revised website and online shop have both been uploaded satisfactorily, and we’re now open for business.  Whether it was worth all the fuss I’ve been making about it these past several months, I’ll leave it for you to judge.

As for me, I’m rewarding myself with a nice hot shower, last night’s episode of Ashes to Ashes, and later in the day a celebration lunch with two of my co-conspirators – the only two who live within a couple of hours’ journey!

Any orders that happen to come in during my absence will be processed either this evening or tomorrow morning; things tend to get done very early in the day around here, as you may have noticed.

Let me just add one final plea for anyone using the system to let us know if they find any glitches or inconsistencies – other than the problem with the .epub creation software, which we’re working towards fixing – or anything else we should be dealing with.  We’ve done our best so far, but this is a big project and it’s quite possible there are things we’ve missed; we’ll appreciate being told about them.

Now, off you go and enjoy yourselves in our friendly little world – and don’t forget to tell us what you think of our titles!

Ready, Steady, Go!

I’ve just put the finishing touches to the last .epub file.  It’s not without its faults – the software seems to get very confused whenever there are italics in the text, it just doesn’t like them.  Nevertheless we’ve done our best for now, and we’re working on finding a proper solution.  Anyone who buys an .epub file and isn’t satisfied with it will be entitled to a free upgrade as soon as we’ve solved the problem.

All four titles have now gone out for review, and we’re hoping to get some responses in the next few days.

Our loyal proof-reader phoned this afternoon, bless her, to wish us luck for the launch and to say how much she’d enjoyed working with us.  We’re going to let her take a month off, and then start her with the first title for the November list – Julie Bozza’s 165,000 word blockbuster ‘The Definitive Albert J. Sterne’ (affectionately known simply as ‘Albert’).

And, having now disposed of all the major tasks on our list, we are down to completing the paperwork for the next three ISBNs, organising deposit copies for the British Library (!!!), and planning our celebration lunch on Saturday.  This latter has caused almost as much anxiety and heart-searching as the rest of the Press project put together.

Sadly, we didn’t make a note of the date when the inspiration for Manifold Press first struck, and the best I can say is that it was about eleven months ago.  Well, it’s been quite a long and at times difficult road, but the end is in sight at last.

Fingers crossed, please.  (I type better that way anyway.)