WordKeeperAlpha Update 12/2014

Wow… So this month has been a little bit crazy.  Yeah, National Novel Writing Month didn’t help, but MAN it’s been crazy for Word Keeper Alpha too.  Here I was, minding my own business, when I decide to look at my traffic numbers…because that’s how I validate my worth as a person… and I notice that they have tripled.  Not only that, but all of a sudden I started getting all sorts of email from WordKeeper users … granted, most of them wanted to know how to delete word counts (more on that in a bit) but they also seemed to like it!  You can ask my wife.  I’ve probably been super annoying over the last week or so.

One of the reasons is because I got linked by PCMag.com (this article, toward the bottom) and they said nice things about WKA! I’ve also been getting traffic in from other places like writing.com and the nanowrimo.org forums.  I’ve now got over 200 registered users, and my daily traffic has better than tripled!  I could not be more excited about this.  I’m just happy that people are finding and using this thing I made.

Of course, that means I have to keep polishing of the rough edges, and the roughest edge that’s been pointed out, so far, is that people can’t delete or update their word counts.  If you’re a user, and you’ve run into this, I really apologize.  Part of the problem of developing something to use yourself, is that you know exactly how to use it, and never consider that someone might come in, make a mistake, and then want a way to fix it.  I mean, everything makes perfect sense to me, the guy who made it… Yeah, I should have thought about that.  So, my bad.

Don’t leave in frustration!  I’ve read your emails (just the ones you sent me, the government is busy reading the rest) and this is my top priority now.  This weekend I’ll be rolling my programmer sleeves up (metaphorically, because my computer room gets DAMN cold) and getting this thing done.  I’ll put up a notice here, and on WKA when this function is out and ready to use.  After that, I’ll probably work on revamping how the goal graph works, so that you can use more than just the Monthly goal on it.

I’ve got even more stuff in the works, including a more organized and sensible About page, the ability to share your progress on your blog (bit bigger job that), public profile pages, collaboration and much more.  Trust me, my work on WordKeeperAlpha is far from finished and you will all reap the benefits.  Until then, I hope you enjoy using it.  Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments or get in touch via the Contact page.


The Dragon That Can’t be Fought

With the demise of Borders, the battle of eBooks is one that is primarily fought between Barnes and Nobles and Amazon. I won't discount Kobo, Sony or Apple, but in my mind they are three minor players in this particular battle. For my own part, I have a Kindle. I've had one for roughly three years now and I love it. If I were stranded on a desert island with only one piece of tech (and a solar charger) I would choose my Kindle without a seconds hesitation. Out of all the little gizmo's I have, it is without a doubt my favorite one. It even beats out the iPad, upon which I am writing this right now.

Chances are though, that if I had a Nook, it would be my favorite device. Really, the eReader itself is just the platform that allows me to enjoy well over 300 books on a device that weighs less than a paperback. I know, I know. Some people will go on and on and on about how you just can't read without the feel of the paper turning or blah blah blah. Sure, your physical book doesn't need to be recharged either…but that's not really much of a concern anymore. I plug the sucker in once a month and I'm good to go, despite how bloody much I can read when I really get into something.

Whether you like it or not, whether you have a Nook, or a Kindle or a Kobo or just use your cheap Android tablet or even your phone, eBooks are here to stay. Here me now, believe me later if you must, but eBooks are to Books, as mp3s were to CD's (as CD's were to tapes). And this is the point: There will always be a place for physical books, but the eBook will be the future, and just like with the music industry dragging its feet when digital music came about, the established publishing industry is having to be dragged into the future kicking and screaming.

Right now, Amazon is using some pretty shadey tactics to dictate its own terms to the publishing industry. Take the recent frakas between Amazon and Hatchet. Its really hard to brand Amazon as anything but the heavy of the piece. Yeah, they might be trying to get a better deal for authors, but they're also trying to get a better deal for themselves, and that's probably the most important thing for them. With every move it makes, Amazon is trying to corner more and more of the eBook market, and largely, its kicking ass.

The major publishers, the Big 6, (or is it 5 now?) don't like this. And I can understand why they wouldn't. Amazon is doing all sorts of crazy shit, like making an all you can read eBook service that tastes a lot like Netflix for books. Lets all remember what exactly Netflix did to Blockbusters for a minute. Anyone been to a Blockbuster lately, except for the going out of business sales? They're offering royalties that make a LOT of authors (myself included) wonder why they'd want to go with a traditional publisher. Not only that, but they're doing their level best to make sure that those same authors keep their books with Amazon as exclusively as possible. They've offered eBooks for a nominal price if you've bought the physical book with them any time in the past. You can RENT school books from them. They just introduced a book crowdsourcing service for indie authors that give some pretty good incentives for non-established authors.

You see that big list of stuff Amazon is doing up above? Every one of those things is something that the Big 6 should have doing. The problems they are having with Amazon being too big and powerful now? Its entirely their fault. Is Amazon right in throwing its weight around? Eh… I don't know. Will we regret it if they get an effective monopoly over the new publishing world. Most likely. Still, if the Big 6 don't like how Amazon is using its power now, they have only themselves to blame.

Seriously guys. This was your game to lose and, lets face it, you're losing. You even had a ready made ally in your corner in Barnes and Nobles. Their entire business was built on selling books… and now its half selling books, half selling other stuff and coffee. Not only that but there's TONS of indie bookstores you could have worked with. A year after Amazon started doing its “buy a physical book and get the eBook for a little more” thing, I still can't go to a Barnes and Nobles, buy the book and also get an eBook sent to me, even if I owned a Nook. That's just plain stupid.

I'll admit, several publishers are coming around, getting wise about how winds in publishing are going to blow. Tor and Baen are getting pretty good in the new digital world, as I would expect from people who publish genre fiction. It used to be you couldn't even buy Baen eBooks on the Kindle, BUT you could buy them from their own site, and all their books were priced damn good, were free of DRM and came in multiple formats. They didn't NEED to work through Amazon because they went and made their own system. If a publisher their size did it, there is absolutely no reason why the Big 6 couldn't have. If readers knew where to get their authors for cheaper, Amazon would lose a lot of its gas. Or at least, it would have.

Instead, the big publishing houses got scared of piracy. They slapped DRM on their books and raised prices because…reasons. I would love a reason from Penguine why the Dresden Files eBooks actually used to cost MORE than the paperbacks. No no… I'll wait. I am a Dresden Files FANATIC and I would have snapped them up without hesitation, even though I already own most of the paperbacks, and some hardcovers. But when you tell me that I have to pay $2 MORE for the eBook than I paid getting the paperback, there's something wrong with your brain. Its mistakes like that and many others that put you in your current position, and Amazon in their's.

I had brief hopes that the book publishing industry wouldn't have to learn the same lessons that the music publishing industry had to learn. Unfortunately, it seems that change is scary no matter what your business in. But hey, maybe its not too late. Like I said, its still your game to lose Big 6. If you want to beat Amazon at its own game you're going to have to start changing your mindset. If you embrace the digital change, start treating your authors better, and start courting the indie, there's no reason you can't take some of your own back. Not that you will… but I live in eternal hope that someone will listen to my advice. Now, if anyone of you is interested in an increasingly epic fantasy about an evil empire cast in the role of the good guys, I will instantly rewrite this to cast you as the hero of the piece. Let me know. I will completely be your bitch for a good publishing deal. Just sayin'. Think about it. Call me. Please?

Alright. Yeah. I'm coming on a little too strong. How about we give it a couple days and see how we're both feeling then?


WordKeeperAlpha is live!

Well, I'm rather sick of coding in my off hours now, but WordKeeperAlpha is pretty much fully functional and working for everyone, not just me. Just about the only thing lacking at this point is the tutorial… so … yeah. That's next on my to do list. Really though, now that its up and working I want to just take the rest of the year off of development and work on my book. That's actually the plan. I finished this version of WordKeeper, and I'm not going to be working on any more features until Impervious is done with its third draft.

That means some features that I've been wanting to work on will have to wait, but thems the breaks. I've gone almost two months without writing so much as a word on Impervious, while coding on WordKeeper in almost every free minute. If I can devote half of the effort to Impervious that I gave to WordKeeper over the past couple of months, I'll have that book done and polished by the end of the year. As it is, WordKeeper is telling me to finish my 120,000 word goal by the end of the year, I'll need to be writing better than 800 words per day on it. Which is certainly doable…I just need to do it.

Just a quick update for tonight. No pictures, no fancy deep thoughts. If you read this and you're interested in giving WordKeeper a try, head on over. If you'd like to keep up to date on the latest news, you can follow along on Twitter or my brand new Facebook page. I'll see you there.

 


August: The month of where I guess I don’t write

Granted, its been a very mild summer, but August is still a helluva reason to keep inside. Which is good! I don’t write or code very well outside. Trust me, I’ve considered it, even tried it a time or two but it just doesn’t work out well. The glare on the iPad impairs writing, or the bugs are distracting, or the heat is soul-crushing. No no. I was made to be an indoor creature. Melding into my seat and becoming one with the machine. Beep boop beep.

So, we’re 21 days into August now and I still have yet to put finger to keyboard in any sort of writing. While normally, this would constitute a soul-crushing failure on my part, its mostly because I’ve been pouring effort onto WordKeeperAlpha to get it done and out this month. The great news is that I should be able to do just that! The bad news is that every time I look at my writing graph I see THIS:

Graph of no writing

 

Ugh… that flat line accuses me. It mocks me. Moreover, the characters from Impervious are bouncing around in my head, leading rebellions and killing each other every time I start listening to music. Once WordKeeper is out, I won’t be looking at it for a month. I’m going to set myself a nice big writing goal and go to town on it.  It’s about time to start gearing up for NaNaWriMo at any rate.  I’ve got a lot of words to write before the year is over, and I should be able to do that a lot easier with WordKeeper finished, or at least the base features done.

While I’m cleaning up the remaining code and polishing things off, I’m also identifying the next set of features that I’ll be working on and rolling out over the coming months.

  • Blog integration
  • Rewards for completing goals
  • Challenges (1k in an hour) (Don’t know how in the hell I’m going to do that one)
  • Trophies and XP (for more gamification)
  • Author pages so that you can share your progress

I’ve seen a few other projects that are doing some of the things that I’m doing, but no one is really focusing on motivation and word metrics like I am.  I really think that if I can get WordKeeper going and get it a following that I can keep it the best motivational tool for writers our there.  I suppose I have to make it that first, don’t I?  *sigh* Its back to work then, I guess.  At least, after a nice walk in this beautiful August weather.


I’ve been quiet lately … too quiet

I know, I've been bad about updating for the last few weeks. I have this awesome week where I do three whole posts, and then I disappear for the better part of a month. I'm a bad bad man. What was I doing? Who are you, my mom? Oh… well, sorry mom.

Long story short, I've been working on version 2.0 of WordKeeperAlpha. No, this won't be WordKeeperBeta. I have no intention of securing a new domain name just to keep things straight. Also, I won't ever be able to get the wordkeeper.com domain. Yeah, I have all of three users, including myself, but there are several things that needed to be fixed, and a few I wanted to add.

On top of the bug fixes and feature additions, I'm completely redesigning the UI using Twitter Bootstrap. I think I might just be in love with that framework. Seriously, go and check out WordKeeperAlpha.com/NewHome.aspx and see the difference. Its going to be a few months yet before I role out the new site (probobly not until the New Year, since I've got a job now and can only work on it a couple hours a night) but progress continues.

What does this mean for my writing and Impervious? Eh, its slowing down a little, but not too much since I've been so bad about writing recently. I am still going to take November off from all my other hobbies and pursuits and do National Novel Writing Month. I'll be doing my best to keep my blog, Twitter and Facebook updated with my progress there. I'll most likely be working on the third Book in the Iron Principles series, which will be a lot of fun. I'm going to be doing plotting in October, along with enough writing on Edge of December to carry me into December (shut up). Speaking of which, I should get back to that. I've a chapter to finish cleaning up. I hope you're reading! Enjoy!