Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Journey of Heart of Stone 0.6

How long did it take me to get Heart of Stone formatted?

Days elapsed
Total days
Date I first contacted RS**31 Dec 2010
Date I contacted RS about Heart of Stone27 Jan 2011
Manuscript sent to RS08 Mar 2011
Manuscript receipt confirmed to me08 Mar 2011
Revised manuscript sent to RS10 Mar 2011
Revised manuscript receipt confirmed to me10 Mar 2011
Queries regarding manuscript formats to me 17 Mar 2011
Answers to RS17 Mar 2011
Galley proofs to me21 Mar 2011
Galley proofs edits to RS30 Mar 2011
Edited galley proofs to me31 Mar 2011
Second round of Galley proofs edits to RS01 Apr 2011
Waiting for cover art--

* 'Days elapsed' shows the days from the last event (that is, the 'What?') until the current event.  The clock for both 'Days elapsed' and 'Total days' started when I contacted Rob Siders for work.  My first contact on the last day of 2010 was a question about fonts.
** RS = Rob Siders at

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Publishing Economics 0.3: TradPubs Pricing Methods

     There are four pricing methods:  1) Cost-plus pricing; 2) Target-return pricing; 3) Value-based pricing; and 4) Psychological pricing.  These are not exclusive; use of one does not preclude you from using another.

     Which of these methods do the TradPubs use?

     Cost-plus pricing? 
     It is doubtful that the Trad Pubs use cost-plus pricing, because cost-plus pricing implies that they have a firm grasp of their costs.  I don't believe they do.  There are more WAGs* in a TradPub accounting division than in a puppy kennel.

     Target-return pricing?
     The evidence says the TradPubs use target-return pricing.  How else can Sentinel HC justify $36 for Donald Rumsfeld's book unless they figure on it selling X number of copies and they divide the advance they paid Rumsfeld by X and add their WAG at unit cost to come up with the unit price?

     Value-based pricing?
     I have seen no evidence that the TradPubs use value-based pricing.  Second-hand sales on Amazon and eBay aside, in no instance does the reader set the price.
     If Scholastic used value-based pricing, then Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in hardcover would sell for more than $30.00 (discounted to $19.80).

     Psychological pricing?
     The evidence that TradPubs use psychological pricing is clear and convincing.  Have you noticed how many hardcovers are priced $24.99?  How many mass-market paperbacks are $7.99?  Why? 
     Price points. 
     The odd thing is that the TradPubs price against each other.  They do not appear to consider what price point will garner the greatest number of readers but rather they appear to price their products based on their competitors' pricings. 

     In short, TradPus appear to use target-return pricing and psychological pricing.  There is no evidence that they use cost-plus pricing or value-based pricing.
* Wild Ass Guesses.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The 99-cent eBook

From time to time, SF Signal puts out a great podcast.  This one is outstanding:

At 31 minutes and 48 seconds, it is the longest podcast I have heard them do, but it is worth every minute.  Download it so you can listen to it many times. 

If you can, go to iTunes and give the boys and girls at SF Signal some love; that is, some stars and a positive review.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Journey of Heart of Stone 0.5

    This week in formatting:  Rob Siders notified me that he is going on vacation.  I sent changes to the Table of Contents, because I changed the order of the pieces that follow the book:  Dedication, Thanks, Dear Reader, Bonus Short Story, and Excerpt from the next novel.  Rob can get those done when he returns.
     This week in cover art:  Wednesday, 06 April 2011, I received a draft cover art from Carl Graves.  The art needs work.  The concept is off target.


     I find it hard to believe how much energy I am expending to get this novel out.  Writing was a breeze compared to this.  The worst part is that I have no energy left for writing.  Navel of the Moon waits to be written, but so far all I have down is the prologue.
    I pray that once Heart of Stone is released that I can devote my energy to Navel of the Moon

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Publishing Economics 0.2: Pricing Methods

     Before I take on the task of describing the traditional publishing (TradPub) houses' pricing methods and independent (Indie) publishers' pricing methods, I shall give a short primer in pricing methods.

     There are four pricing methods*:  1) Cost-plus pricing; 2) Target-return pricing; 3) Value-based pricing; and 4) Psychological pricing.

Cost-plus pricing.

     Figure up your costs of production and add a percentage. 
     This is the method used in the custom home-building trade.  Before he retired, my father built custom homes, so I have some experience with this.  In the housing bizz, the mark-up quoted ran 8 to 12 percent. 
     This is the method the board gaming industry used in the 1970s.  Their mark-up ran 325%.  It should have been 400%, but they saved money on their product testing by using unpaid labor.  (It's amazing how much you can get college boys to do when you promise them free pizza and beer.)

Target-return pricing.

     Figure up your costs of production, add to that your investment (or desired profit), take a WAG** at your sales volume for the next year, and divide the costs-plus-investment by that volume to get your unit price.
     To me, target-return pricing looks like an academic doctoral thesis and a practical goat-rope.  It assumes that you can 1) figure your costs of production accurately and precisely and 2) predict the future.  If I could do 2, I wouldn't be producing anything.  I would be down at the track, playing the ponies.  Much more fun and less trouble.  At least until Manny's boys came over and said, "You never lose.  Wanna come 'splain to Manny how that is?"
     I couldn't think of any examples of target-return pricing.  Had to google 'target return pricing examples'.  Turns out the leading example of a corporation that uses target-return pricing is General Motors.  Hahahaha!
     I think we can leave target-return pricing to the eggheads at the University of Chicago School of Law.

Value-based pricing.

     "Price your product based on the value it creates for the customer. This is usually the most profitable form of pricing, if you can achieve it."
     Note the simplicity of this model.  Forget production costs (well, almost).  Forget markup.  Show the customer your product and ask him what he is willing to pay for it.  Voila!  The customer has just set the price.
     If you figure you can make money at the customer's price, you make a sale.  Then another.  And another.  As word gets around, you make as many sales as you have product.

Psychological pricing.

     The customer's perception determines the price.
     There are a number of subdivisions of psychologocial pricing, but the big one is Price Points.  Ever notice how many items are priced $19.99?  ('Cause the ATMs spit out twenty-dollar bills.)  Or restaurants advertise lunch specials for $5?  ('Cause you have a fiver in your pocket.)
    The key is setting the price to make the purchase an impulse buy.  In slang, a no-brainer.  You don't want the customer to think about the product too much.  You want the customer to think "What a bargain!"  The latter leads to a quick sale.

     You know what?  Over time all these methods converge to Value-based pricing. 
     My father said, "You can buy quality once or cheap many times."  How true that is. 
     My father used only standard grade (A grade) lumber.  Other contractors used utility grade (C grade).  As you would expect, my father's costs were higher than other contractors and so his bids for the same house were higher.  My father also used 5/8" steel in his foundations; code required only 1/2".  That was only one instance.  Every one of his construction practices exceeded code. 
     Word got around that my father delivered a quality product.  When times got rough, other contractors couldn't find work, but my father still had a 2 year backlog.  That when he was running three crews and turning out a new custom-built home every month.
     Because the perception of value was there.  The product history justified that perception. 
     I recently bought Terry Pratchett's Hogfather for my Kindle.  Someone asked me how much I paid for it.  I didn't know.  Had to look up the receipt.  I paid $9.59 for it.  But I didn't care.  I knew Hogfather to be a great book.  At the price quoted, I knew I would get value for the money, and I didn't think twice about hitting the one-click button on Amazon.
     The customer will pay for value.
     Keep that in mind.
     The customer will pay for value.
     You in the back. . .write this down.
     The customer will pay for value.

     Next time:  TradPubs Pricing.
* That there are not more pricing methods shows that economists lack imagination.
** Wild Ass Guess.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday eBook Review: Wild Night Is Calling

Product Details

JA Konrath and Ann Voss Peterson,  Wild Night Is Calling
Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 151 KB
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004P8JMNY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars (9 reviews) 
 1. Short review:   

2. Long review:
2.1. What I liked:  The writing is clean (one glitch); the pace is fast.
     Roller coaster or walk in the park?
     Roller coaster.

2.2. What I did not like:  I do not like horror.  I did not enjoy the story.  Those who do like horror may enjoy the story.

2.3. Who I think is the audience:  Horror fans, especially teenage horror fans.

2.4. Is the book appropriate for children to read?  No.  I rate it NC17.

2.5. On the basis of reading this book, will I buy the author's next book?  No, but that judgment is based on the fact that this is a genre I do not like and do not read.

2.6. Other: 
     Wild Night Is Calling is not a novel; it is a short story.
     Wild Night Is Calling has a number of twists.  One surprised me.  The others I saw coming.
     The one glitch (maybe) is the use of 'fiver' in a radio call.  I have never heard 'fiver' used.  I have heard 'niner'.
     Joe Konrath is using Wild Night Is Calling to promote his next book, Flee.  If you buy Wild Night Is Calling and email the last line from that story to Joe, he promises to send you Flee before the release date (26 April 2011). Click here for details.

2.7.  Links:
J A Konrath @
Ann Voss Peterson @

2.8.  Buy the book:

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Journey of Heart of Stone 0.4

     This week in formatting:  Corrected the Galleys and sent the edits and corrections--a total of 33--back to Rob Siders at 52 Novels Wednesday, 30 March 2011.  Rob had the revised Galleys to me Thursday, 31 March 2011.  I revised three items and sent the Galleys back today, Friday, 01 April 2011.
     This week in cover art:  Wednesday, 30 March 2011, I received a msg from Carl Graves that he will have a concept for me this weekend.

     God willing, I shall release Heart of Stone in April.  Once it is released, I will try to put a timeline of its progress on this blog.