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.
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.
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.
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
- Pricing: eBooks vs Paperbacks (2241)
- Contribute (1807)
- The Five Elements - 12. The Four Elements (1780)
- Free Kindles for Everyone! (1439)
- An introspective on Borders' liquidation (1187)
- The Five Elements - 21. The Fifth Element (888)
- The Five Elements - 18. Amongst the Clouds (842)
- How to ruin your writing career in 1 easy step (773)
- Book Review: Honour of the Grave by Robin Laws (747)
- Classic Reread: Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles (714)
Now, let's look at the most popular posts overall:
- Tor Free E-books: The Complete List (17746)
- eBook File Formats (14890)
- Book Review: The Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb (13571)
- Publishing’s Big 6: Who are they? (12717)
- Tor Free E-book: Old Man's War by John Scalzi (11120)
- Tor Free E-book: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (8955)
- Tor Free E-Book: Starfish by Peter Watts (8045)
- Has the fantasy genre become stagnant? (7791)
- Weekend Links - 7/3/08 (7544)
- 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
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
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)
Another year has passed and so I'd like to take a look what's been happening around here.
I blogged a lot more this past year than in year's past. I also undertook LibraryThing's 50 Book Reading Challenge (results of that effort will appear in another post). Also, I made the decision to self-publish my fantasy novel, The Five Elements. That decision included serializing the novel, chapter-by-chapter, on this blog; giving it away for free in PDF format; and selling it in eBook format through Amazon and Smashwords. Making sales and collecting reviews on retailers' sites remains a challenge. I do have some things planned for the upcoming year in this regard, but I'll save that for another post.
Moving on to some numbers, here are the most popular posts written in 2010 (along with the number of views for each and the post's placing with respect to all of the 360 or so posts currently on this blog):
- Publishing’s Big 6: Who are they? (3907, 15)
- Heinlein's Rules for Writing (1828, 54)
- Selling Your eBook Without a Publisher, Part 7: Lulu (1768, 57)
- Book Review: The Dying Earth by Jack Vance (1739, 59)
- Buy Me A Book (1718, 61)
- How long should it take to write a novel? (1559, 75)
- LibraryThing's 2010 Book Reading Challenge (1548, 78)
- Kindle: First Impressions (1401, 94)
- Book Review: The Alchemist's Code by Dave Duncan (1208, 123)
- Book Review: Lord of the Fire Lands by Dave Duncan (1066, 156)
I'm not surprised to see which post came out on top. My post on publishing's Big 6 was one whose view count I saw rise steadily. Also, the fact that three of the ten positions are held by book reviews is not surprising, either; I wrote quite a few book reviews in 2010.
Now, let's look at the most popular posts overall along with their view count:
- Tor Free E-books: The Complete List (12876)
- Book Review: The Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb (9718)
- Tor Free E-book: Old Man's War by John Scalzi (7872)
- eBook File Formats (6656)
- Has the fantasy genre become stagnant? (6635)
- Weekend Links - 7/3/08 (6519)
- Tor Free E-Book: Starfish by Peter Watts (6396)
- How Much Time Should Professional Writers Spend Blogging? (5813)
- Locus Online: 2007 Cover Art Gallery (5746)
- Recommended Reference - The Synonym Finder (5678)
Compared to last year's results, the top 2 positions remained the same. My post on eBook file formats, which was not in the top 10 at all last year (but which was #2 in views for the year itself), is now at #4. That post was also the only newcomer.
I'll close with some statistics (that are probably only of interest to myself):
- Total number of posts at EOY: 363 (at end of 2009: 219)
- Total number of posts written in 2010: 143 (at end of 2009: 64)
- Total number of views for all posts: 450,053 (at end of 2009: 209,863)
- Average posts/month: 11.9 (at end of 2009: 5.3)
- Book Reviews for 2010: