Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

The site evolves… again!

Given my habit of changing things up on this site about every year I'm actually overdue for a new look. The biggest change this time around is that I've gone back to the 2 column layout. The 3 column layout was fine, but there were times when I thought it was just too busy. I was trying to get a lot of information in front of people but maybe sometimes less is better.

The 'About Me' box is back at the upper right, the 2 column layout allowed me to increase the width for each post, and the Silverlight tagcloud which lived beneath the two right-hand columns is gone. Silverlight was a good technology despite never really catching on beyond the Microsoft-centric developer audience, but it's time has come and gone. The advent of Windows 8, which has no support for the Silverlight browser plug-in model, proves that much. Besides, Silverlight was never supported in the Safari browser which means users of iPhones and iPads were never seeing the tagcloud, anyway.

The header image, which I love, remains the same, as does the general top menu layout.

Here, then, is the newest look, as well as an assortment of past images depicting previous designs.

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New look

old look

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It's been a while…

Every once in a while I escape from my blogging cave. The result is that this site goes quiet, the posts stop flowing, post view counts diminish if only slightly, and I hope that at least one of the three readers of this blog wonders if I've escaped for good this time. Not so.

As you can see in this ridiculously difficult to read graph, my blogging always seems to drop off in the summer months.

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You might attribute this to the usual abundance of Texas sunshine and vacation, which normally is a correct assessment. But in this case my blogging has dropped off because a couple of months ago I got myself a new job. Once again proving the adage, "It's who you know", I landed myself a very nice position with a company that is my previous employer's biggest competitor working under someone I previously worked under there. The offer was simply too good to turn down. One of the perks is that I'm 100% work-at-home now. One would think that'd be great for the writing. Alas, new job for me means new dedication to that job. Only when I feel I've settled in do I typically ease the foot off the accelerator. I think I'm reaching that point now.

Unfortunately what this has also meant is that my writing productivity was put on hold. Writing is fun and fulfills a certain need, but it doesn't pay the bills. It's not my career. I honestly can't say I'd want it to be my career—too much volatility, unreliable income, and forces beyond the writer's control come into play.

In any case, I am getting back to writing and blogging and everything else now. This unplanned break may or may not affect the completion of the second novel in The Alchemancer Series. I'm hoping to get things back on track and I'm still shooting for completion of the novel by early next year. Look for additional updates over the coming months.

The 2011 Year In Review

It's fast becoming a tradition around here to reflect a bit on the previous year both as a writer and a blogger. Previous bouts of reflection spilled out of me in 2010 and 2009. But, here we are now, in 2012, so let's dig in.

In terms of blogging, my posting decreased dramatically. In 2010, I wrote 144 posts. In 2011, only 44. This reflects an attempt to refocus myself on my novel writing and my self-promotion as an indie author. I'm not giving up blogging; I find there are important topics that, as an author, I need to know. Topics such as the growing alignment of paperback and eBook prices is one of those things that can change (and is changing) an industry. Also, Amazon's eBook strategy remains paramount for nearly every indie author out there. I can't guarantee that every post I wrote in 2011 is going to be beneficial to everyone, but they are at least beneficial to me.

In terms of what others found most useful, here are the "hottest" posts written in 2011 (numbers in parenthesis represent the total number of views for the year):

  1. Pricing: eBooks vs Paperbacks (2241)
  2. Contribute (1807)
  3. The Five Elements - 12. The Four Elements (1780)
  4. Free Kindles for Everyone! (1439)
  5. An introspective on Borders' liquidation (1187)
  6. The Five Elements - 21. The Fifth Element (888)
  7. The Five Elements - 18. Amongst the Clouds (842)
  8. How to ruin your writing career in 1 easy step (773)
  9. Book Review: Honour of the Grave by Robin Laws (747)
  10. Classic Reread: Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles (714)

Now, let's look at the most popular posts overall:

  1. Tor Free E-books: The Complete List (17746)
  2. eBook File Formats (14890)
  3. Book Review: The Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb (13571)
  4. Publishing’s Big 6: Who are they? (12717)
  5. Tor Free E-book: Old Man's War by John Scalzi (11120)
  6. Tor Free E-book: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (8955)
  7. Tor Free E-Book: Starfish by Peter Watts (8045)
  8. Has the fantasy genre become stagnant? (7791)
  9. Weekend Links - 7/3/08 (7544)
  10. Recommended Reference - The Synonym Finder (7178)

The #1 spot still belongs my list of Tor's free giveaways from a few years ago. I think the word "free" in the title has something to do with that post's longevity. My review of Hobb's Soldier Son Trilogy fell one place to #3, making room for a new #2. My post on eBook file formats spent most of 2010 skyrocketing through the ranks and really only missed the Top 10 for that year by a few places. Seeing it at #2 (and eventually #1 is my guess) is no surprise.

Other notable additions to the Top 10 Posts for 2011 is my post on the publishing industry's "Big 6". A lot of writers come by to take a look at that one, and it's even gotten linked to from several other sources as reference material. That's gratifying.

As far as writing… where to start? Lots of self-promotion via Twitter, GoodReads, and this web site. I gave away a lot of free eBooks, serialized The Five Elements, and purchased some professional art to use as the cover of The Hall of the Wood. I even re-vamped the cover for The Five Elements. Also, The Hall of the Wood went free on Amazon and I'm happy to say it's racking up over 100 downloads per day, went as far as #11 in the Kindle Free Mythology category (it's at #26 as I write this), and remains in the Top 100 Free Fantasy category for Kindle. It's even driven some sales of The Five Elements (but not enough).

Clearly, there's a lot going on right now for me on the writing front. I think I'd like to address some of these points separately in their own posts.

That being said, I'll close this up with my usual statistics:

  • Total number of posts at EOY: 407 (at end of 2010: 363)
  • Total number of posts written in 2011: 44 (at end of 2010: 144)
  • Total number of views for all posts: 716639 (at end of 2010: 450,053)
  • Average posts/month: 4 (at end of 2010: 11.9) 

Change is good

Something our former CEO often said as he was announcing the latest round of executive and organizational changes is that in order to stay ahead of the competition you have to change. If you have to change, you're better off doing it from a position of strength rather than when your back is against the wall.

I'm making some changes of my own, and I'm making them from a position of strength.

First off, I'm changing employers. As a general rule I don't discuss details about who I work for; no reason to change that policy now. Suffice to say I'm going from a mediocre situation to a brighter, more challenging one.

The second change is a reduction in the hours I spend consulting outside of my primary job. Late last year I had the opportunity to get back into some software consulting work. The conditions were too good to turn down, but adding all those hours onto a full-time job… it wears you down. This is going to be a slow wind down process as opposed to going cold turkey. I have obligations which will need to be fulfilled before I move on completely. But the end result is I get my life back. I should have more time for writing. More time for reading. More time to play with the dogs, ride my bike, mow the lawn, and, of course, spend time with my wife.

What this ultimately means for this blog is that I should be a bit more active. It's not often I get to write a single post that applies to both of my blogs, so I find myself essentially addressing two different groups. In terms of my writing blog, I completed the serialization of The Five Elements, and at this point I'd like to do some follow-up to discuss the success (or failure) of that effort. On my technical blog, while my new position isn't too terribly different from my current one, I will be focusing a lot more on Silverlight and SharePoint (two very important technologies to my new company), so expect to see the blog's focus go in that direction.

That's it for now. Looking forward to jumping back into some constructive blogging. Thanks for reading!

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