Week 28 – a less exhausting week!

A welcome chance to catch our breath this week after the frantic activity of the November launch; there have been no reviews posted anywhere yet, so things have been a little quieter and we’ve managed to catch up on admin at last. This is all still very much a roller-coaster ride, and we never know where it’s going to take us.

Anyway, our top seller this week was HOMOSAPIEN, and the response time averaged out to a neat and tidy 60 minutes.

We are also delighted to report that two of the titles for next May have reached us in finished form, and we have very high hopes of seeing a third before Christmas. As often seems to be the case with us, there are currently two possibilities for the fourth slot so we are not making any concrete plans in that respect just yet.

New online GLBT Bookstore

We are delighted to announce that we are now part of GLBT Bookshelf’s new online GLBT Bookstore where anyone who particularly dislikes dealing with PayPal can order our books – specifically at the moment our first four titles, ALOES, DEAR MISTER PRESIDENT, END OF THE TRAIL and SEA CHANGE – using alternative payment methods. The Bookstore will only be handling .PDF files, however, so if you need a different format it will still be necessary to order it from us. We have decided to do this because the GLBT Bookstore is capable of achieving economies of scale which are not available to us – and also because we are not ashamed to piggyback on their established customer base and their future publicity.

Our four November titles, FOOL’S ERRAND, HOMOSAPIEN, SEA CHANGE and THE DEFINITIVE ALBERT J. STERNE, will not be available from the GLBT Bookstore until 1 February 2011.

Week 27 – in which our customers are awesome

An absolutely stunning week for sales, dear readers – thank you so much for your faith in us! In fact, we have done so well out of sales on the November list already that we feel confident enough to go ahead and buy another block of ISBNs soon – this time a hundred, which should keep us going for a few years at least. (To those not familiar with the process – ISBNs are bought in blocks of either 10 or 100, with the prices heavily slanted in favour of those buying more. We were cautious and only bought 10 at first … and had dithered about whether to buy 10 or 100 next time!)

This has inevitably been a week sitting at the keyboard for yours truly, which has brought the response times down correspondingly. Our average this week has been tidy enough at 93 minutes, although one lucky customer got a record response of 4 minutes; not something we feel is likely to be repeated very often, and which only occurred because their order came in while we were already dealing with another!

If anyone is wondering which titles are proving most popular so far, it would be fair to say that THE DEFINITIVE ALBERT J. STERNE and FOOL’S ERRAND have been neck-and-neck all week with FOOL’S ERRAND just nudging ahead at the line. HOMOSAPIEN and THRACE are selling steadily, too – as well as any of the titles we launched in May – and are bound to take a leap forward when the first reviews appear; I have great faith in the merits of both of them! Reassuringly, every one of our May titles has sold at least one copy this week too.

Next time you visit our website, take a moment to scroll to the very bottom of the page. It may not be the best location for it, perhaps, but there is a map down there which records the locations of all our visitors. This is new, only added during the week, and already it’s proving its usefulness. If we have visitors to the site from locations not selected in our online shop module (as we did in the week, with people from Croatia and Puerto Rico dropping by) we’ll add them to the list of countries to which we ‘deliver’. The geographical diversity of our customers never fails to astonish us … and you are all most welcome, whether you buy anything or not. (Although we hope you will!)

Dear customers, you are – almost without exception! – absolutely awesome, and we’re learning a lot from you. Thank you for taking this journey with us.

The .mobi alternative

With the help of an enthusiastic reader (you know who you are!) we are now in a position to make .mobi format files of all our titles available for those of you with Kindle and related e-readers. These have been added to the online shop module today and are available for purchase now.

We will shortly also be announcing a means of buying our books using credit cards and other payment methods, for those who are not happy with PayPal’s service. Give us a few more days to sort it out, and with a bit of luck we will have more news for you after the weekend!

Updating PubWeb

I may have said this before but oh boy that’s a counter-intuitive interface if ever I saw one! Not helped by the fact that I was dealing with it at 6 a.m. after an uncomfortable night, but even so …

For some reason PubWeb did not recognise me as the publisher of ‘Dear Mister President’ (which was the first book we registered, since it was the first one finished) and won’t allow me to edit the record which currently shows it as ‘erotic fiction’, a description which is scarcely appropriate.

And nor is there a code for ‘futuristic romance’; romances can only be either contemporary or historical. That means that there isn’t an appropriate code for ‘Thrace’, which is neither contemporary nor historical. (I had to settle for ‘contemporary’ in this case … )

I do get frustrated by monolithic bureaucracies and their inflexible systems, I’m afraid.

Oh, you’d guessed?

The attention span/page count dilemma

As far as I’m concerned, sales over the past twenty-four hours have definitively (if you’ll pardon the expression) put to rest any worries we may have had about the popularity of longer books: THE DEFINITIVE ALBERT J. STERNE is currently the most sought-after of the four new titles and at 171,000 words it is actually 20,000 words longer than the other three put together. It’s very reassuring to know that those comments about readers and their attention span don’t refer to Manifold Press’s readership, and that as well as enjoying a good shorter book some of you are willing to batten down the hatches and settle in for a long satisfying read. As we have another blockbuster – Adam Fitzroy’s STAGE WHISPERS – lined up for next time, we’re taking this as a very good sign indeed!

Our second list goes live!

Our second set of four titles is now available for purchase, thanks to a very early start this morning which was inspired by (a) the clocks changing over in the UK and a certain editor being completely unable to adjust to the difference and (b) Staff Kitten also struggling with the time change and determined to be given breakfast at 4 a.m.! Still, our loss (of sleep) is your gain: four glorious new titles await you – go on out and enjoy yourselves with them!

Week 26

Hooray! Week 26 has arrived, and our new titles will be out on Monday! As far as I can tell (and my brain has turned to mush, so it may not be 100% reliable) all I still need to do is make the .epub files and update the online shop module; after that, all is ready for the launch of the November list at an early hour on Monday morning UK time.

Meanwhile, authors’ royalties for the second quarter are about to be sent out – and as a result we have been number-crunching like mad! One of the statistics we are able to bring you at this stage is our regular weekly report on response time: a relatively sedate five hours 42 minutes, alas, due to most of this week’s orders arriving in the middle of the night. The fact that they were dealt with at 6 a.m. UK time did not deter one customer from demanding to know, in forceful terms, where her book had got to – and having to be reminded about the explanation on our website. We are not Amazon, we are not Barnes and Noble, and we do not – contrary to rumours – sleep with our computers. It’s a shame that some people still don’t quite seem to comprehend this, and are so quick to tell us what other companies do. The short answer to this is that WE ARE NOT OTHER COMPANIES – we can’t afford some of the services they offer, although that doesn’t mean we never will. We are not a supermarket, we’re a stall in a craft market – where everything is handmade with loving care and the staff are here because they want to be; if you’re looking for mass-production and all the benefits it brings, there are other places you can find it. We’ll just continue to do what we do, to the best of our ability; we hope that’s okay with the majority of our readers.