2013 blog summary


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 46,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 17 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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NaNoWriMo 2013


2013-Participant-Facebook-Profile Since I’m already writing the 5th book of The Year of the Dragon saga, “The Chrysanthemum Seal”, and I’m on a self-imposed schedule anyway, I figured I might as well do the NaNoWriMo this year, for the first time.

Most of you probably know what National Novel Writing Month is, and if you don’t – it’s that thing where you have to write 50,000 words in one month (of one novel) to “win” (a bucket of self-esteem and a virtual pat on the back :). It’s a big thing now, with sponsorships, meetings, discussion panels etc. etc. and it’s starting tomorrow.

The part I’m interested in is the word count tool itself. I’ve got ca. 12k words of the first draft already, and I need way more than 50,000 words to get even close to how long I want the finished book to be (the usual 80,000+ words per volume); it would be nice to finish the first draft by the end of the year. Perhaps NaNoWriMo will be that little extra motivation needed to do just that.

You can find me here, if you’d like to add me as a buddy. I’ll try to post updates there as often as possible.

E-publishing: solid numbers


publishers-weekly-logo_smallI was looking for some numbers on e-book sales per device and store, and found this article on Publisher’s Weekly.

Here are some highlights:

“According to the Book Industry Study Group’s fourth volume in its “Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading” survey series, 73% of e-book buyers bought (or got an e-book for free) from Amazon, with 21% getting their e-books from B&N (…) Apple’s content stores were only used by 10% of e-book users, but that is expected to change as device sales pick up.”

That’s just for the US, though. I expect B&N was non-existent anywhere else in 2012 – it only just started expanding into Europe at the end of the year. Kobo probably takes B&N’s place in other markets.

I’m not sure why everyone expects Apple sales to pick up, it’s not like they haven’t been selling their devices in droves before – or is everyone pinning their hopes on iPad Mini? If that’s the case, why doesn’t anyone mention Google Play, which is just as expansive globally, and available on more devices? Especially in the light of this:
“iPad is the leading tablet used on Books-OnBoard, representing 63% of all tablet downloads, but Android tablets are growing share rapidly. A year ago, iPad completely dominated this, with 93% of tablet downloads.”

Curious bit about power buyers:

“According to the BISG’s consumer reading survey, “power buyers” (those who purchase e-books weekly) show an increased preference for reading on tablets, with more than 38% indicating so, compared to 19% a year ago.”

“The Kindle Store, for example, accounted for 46% of the e-book purchases of Galaxy users compared to 83% of Fire owners, while “other” outlets represented 19% of e-book purchases of Galaxy owners compared to 5% for Fire owners.”
I wonder what are the most popular “other” people use?

And here’s the bit I was looking for:

“50% of the respondents to a Diesel survey reported that they use dedicated e-readers, 20% use a personal computer, and 16% use tablets, but the tablet component is growing.” So that’s only 20% PC purchases. I presume most of them are still using branded bookstores instead of author websites. That doesn’t bode well for the author-vendor model.

“LiVolsi also pointed to a “migration of about 34% of our readers over the last 18 months” to sub-$100 Nooks and Kindles that don’t support content from other retailers.”

It will be interesting to see where we are next year…

New Year’s Resolutions For Everyone


I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. Mostly because they weren’t a tradition when and where I was growing up, but also because they’ve always seemed a bit silly. You’re supposed to make plans, not resolutions. A plan means you’re being serious about something. A resolution is just a throwaway sentence you put at the end of the calendar. Maybe that’s why, according to a study posted on Wikipedia (and we all know Wikipedia doesn’t lie), 88% of resolutions fail.

So these are not my resolutions. These are proposed resolutions for anyone out there struggling to come up with something on the last day of the year.

4. See that place you’ve always wanted to visit.

Seriously. Stop posting pictures of exotic places captioned “I wish I could go there”. It’s 2013, and travel has never been that easy. The only thing possibly stopping you from seeing that place you’ve always wanted to see is in your head.

With no-frills airlines, the tickets are cheaper than they’ve ever been. The accommodation can be free: you can couch-surf, hire yourself out on a farm or volunteer for aid work. There are very few wars compared to any other point in history. Even places like North Korea and Burma accept tourists these days, if that’s where you want to go. If you really want to go somewhere, all you need to do is plan ahead. Save up. Make contacts. Research. And just go.

3. Think about what you eat.

This is the most universal and accurate advice I can give about eating. Whether you’re too fat or too thin, bloated or dehydrated; pay attention to your food.

Eating is one of the three most important things a living being does in its life. It always amazes me how little time people spend thinking about what they put in their stomachs.  If only we cared about food as much as we care about sex or entertainment, the world would be a far better place. And no, counting calories does not count.

Eat seasonal. Eat fresh, and as unprocessed as possible. Have a varied diet. Understand your food: where it comes from, what it does, how is one potato different from another potato, what meat is in your hot dog. If you can, convince your local shop to stock better produce. It may seem at first more expensive and time-consuming than your normal diet – but the investment will eventually recoup itself on time and money saved on doctor visits 🙂

2. Create something of your own.

There are 365 days in 2013. Put away one of those days to create something that you can call your own. Write a poem; learn a song; carve an abstract sculpture out of a block of lime wood. Make it yours, make it unique – something you can put your name on.

Like it or not, we are rapidly approaching a post-scarcity economy. In a few decades the only things of value will be the ones created by human hands – everything else will be replicated by machines. Start preparing for that future. Make the year 2013 the year of creation.

1. Hold the whine.

We’re in the middle of a global crisis. There’s recession looming, and the year will likely start with US falling off a fiscal cliff and Japan failing its recovery.

But, to quote Harold MacMillan, “we’ve never had it so good”. Maybe not compared to the year before… but compared to everyone else in history. There hasn’t been a proper war in the West in almost 70 years. Even the Cold War is over. Despite all the bad economic news, we are still better off, on average, than our parents and grandparents. Progress in all ways of life, from gadgets to medicine, is astounding. Just think of all the new technology that’s just around the corner: 3D printers! Star Trek tricorders! A slightly thinner iPad!

So do the world a favour and stop whining. There are very few things about your current life that you can’t change. Move home. Change the job. Sort out the family problems. Do something crazy. Don’t get stuck in a rut, like a broken ox-cart. And if you’re absolutely, positively certain you can’t change anything in your life for the better – well whining won’t help, will it.

So there you are. I had a few more of these prepared, but didn’t want to sound too preachy. Take care y’all, and hope you all have a good 2013. I certainly plan to.

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