To outline, or not to outline, that is the question that old Will Shakespear must have asked himself, just as ever other writer in the world has done since Billy moved on up to that deluxe apartment in the sky. We tackled this question in detail in Episode Three of our “So You Wanna Be […]Continue Reading →
I talk all the time on this blog about the ins-and-outs of running our small business. And how small our small business actually is — we’re a two-person shop. Granted, we’re lucky to have great contractors who we count on to help us bring things out into the world, but when it comes to choosing […]Continue Reading →
As 2017 comes to a close, as happens every year, I can’t help but look back on what we accomplished this year. Since my job as the Creative Adjacent is to manage logistics of our work, I tend to think in numbers: miles flown, projects accomplished, words written, books & t-shirts sold.
It’s always a moment when I’m partially surprised, a little exhausted, and certainly very proud. This year we finally added a European Tour to the Sigler Map, and it was a delightful time. You European Junkies sure know how to make a tiny bridge publishing house feel super welcome!
Our goal at Empty Set is simple: make cool things for cool people. If that’s several books and three new t-shirts, plus a handful of “hanging out with Scott Sigler” memories — as it was in 2017 — we’re happy with that. It’s good work, and it puts good things out into this increasingly fraught universe.
That said, if in 2018 we can add “TV pilot” or “sold screenplay” or something a little more visual to the list of things we accomplished, that’s surely good too, right? So we’ll add that to our 2018 list.
What’s on your list of things you’d like to accomplish in 2018?Continue Reading →
Today I stopped on my way into the office to drop off mail. This time of year the post office is always crowded and the staff probably do without all the free time and breaks that they are afforded during other times of the year. Other times that are not the holidays.
This particular post office is quite close to the office, and this time of year I am there pretty much every workday, dropping off goods purchased in our online store. That’s how the month of December works for my small business where I sell things, and it’s the way the giant business of the post office works too.
Here’s my favorite part — today everyone was happy to be there, happy to have a big ol’ line first thing in the morning, and happy to chat with people sending out holiday greetings and presents. To be honest, the staff at this post office are lovely folks all the time. They know my dogs by sight and by name, and they are always pleasant and happy to chat a bit while we’re transacting. But this time of the year some of them are doing it in Santa hats, or wearing Christmas light necklaces. Since Hanukkah starts tomorrow, someone was giving out little chocolate gelt.
It was a great reminder that life offline is often lovely and fun and unexpected and graceful. I know life online can be that way too, but it’s nice to see folks being congenial and friendly in one of the very places things are supposed to be hectic and angry this time of year.
Here’s your gentle reminder: if you’re a gift giver, gift giving starts tomorrow for Hanukkah, and pretty much keeps up until the new year. Still time to get a few last minute items for the folks you love! And when you head to your local post office to send them off to points else, be sure to enjoy the holiday cheer (and maybe spread some of your own!)
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Today is Small Business Saturday. The ideas is that you shop small businesses like ours and support small, local folk who will put money and heart back into your community. We are a pretty small business, and we always appreciate folks who support us. This year we’re not doing a Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday sale, and I’ll be honest, it’s a nice break and a little weird.
We’ve done big things and small things in years past. This year we’re sitting back and letting some of our retail partners do the heavy lifting, with Amazon and Audible putting our titles on sale today and over the weekend.
The holidays are always an interesting time for us at Empty Set, because we already price our merchandise fairly competitively, so it’s hard to make a big splash with a “50% Sale! One Day Only!” or something like without losing money on the merchandise. But sometimes that’s just fine to do. Car dealerships use loss leaders to great effect, and we’ve done the same in the past. We bundled the first four GFL books in paperback a couple of years ago and that went gangbusters.
I love shopping the sales this weekend, as a consumer. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber — I’ll take them all! I know some deals are barely deals, but I still love it for trying new things. That said, when I want or need something, I rarely wait for a potential upcoming sale. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I love to take a risk on something. Two years ago I bought my beloved Instant Pot, and last year I tried coconut oil. Both were wins.
How do you shop at this time of year? It is different than the rest of the year?
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This week Mastodon hit the interwebs hard. Hard like an extinct elephant! Haven’t yet heard of it? It’s a new social media platform, and contender for Twitter-killer. And based on the very little I’ve seen so far, I’m hopeful they might make it big. I think it would probably be a boon to the socmed landscape. That’s about as much as I can tell you about it specifically, because I haven’t had the chance to get in there and play. (I did sign up though! I’m @email@example.com and Scott is @firstname.lastname@example.org)
But the rise of the toothsome (see what I did there?) new social media site has me thinking back to all the other socmed sites that have come and gone. I understand this kinda makes me seem like an old fogey, but it’s a little breathtaking. For a medium that ostensibly started less than 25 years ago, there is so much stratification and fade it’s pretty dizzying.
I started with MySpace, although I know some of my more techy friends were all about Six Degrees. I signed up for a LinkedIn account early on, and that one is amazingly still active, although I’m still not sure what good it does me. (Note: that’s fair to say about all my social media accounts in a way, especially these days!)
In my life, I am fairly sure I’ve held accounts (in no particular order) at MySpace, YouTube, Joost, LinkedIn, Flickr, Tumblr, Imgur, Digg, FourSquare, Pinterest, Friendster, PhotoBucket, Orkut, SecondLife, Picasa, Facebook, TikTak, SnapChat, Ello, Tsu, GroupMe, Signal, Skype, Reddit, FriendFeed, Untappd, Kik, Vine, Google + and, of course, Twitter and Instagram. And those are the ones I am remembering as I write this post — without looking at the internets to jar my memory.
I have no idea if these have added value to my life or not. Some gray area exists, obviously. Facebook is currently a tar pit, akin to and yet not nearly as bad (for me) as Twitter; yet there was a time it let me connect with a long lost friend and make amends that had stayed with me for over a decade.
I do know that these days I approach most open social media as a time suck I probably can’t afford and do not want. So if you’re bringing something new to the table, I might never get far enough into your new platform to be happily surprised. And that’s too bad for me, but still the way it has to be if I want to remain productive in my life, which I desperately want to do.
If you’d like to learn more about Mastadon, this article was helpful for me.
This episode sponsored in part by our Audible Free Trial page.Continue Reading →
If you’re an independent book publisher, you’re always wondering how best to market your books, and there are dozens of options to consider: do you advertise on GoodReads? Maybe you score a BookBub promotion? Giveaways on your website? Blog tours?
There are lots of great sites and ongoing discussions about what is successful, and how best to manage these things for yourself. Among those, there’s probably more discussion about making your ebooks “permafree” than almost anything else.
A permafree ebook is just what it sounds like. A book available on Amazon and other sites, with a permanent sale price of $0.00.
Some very successful indie authors swear by having some permafree books in your digital marketing arsenal. J A Konrath has several good posts about his experiences, and for once, reading the comments is a good thing! GoodReads has discussion boards to help authors help each other in getting permafree done.
It seems like there are several good reasons to have some permafree books. The biggest is if you have a series, giving away the first book as a freebie can lead to buying readers for the remaining books in that series. Also, if you’re actively growing your brand, free books is exposure, and exposure is good.
Alternatively, there are several good arguments for why free books aren’t a ticket to the Top Ten. Lots of authors give away lots of books, but that doesn’t always seem to effectively translate into long term fans or continued sales. I myself have downloaded more than one hundred free books over the years, but I can’t remember if I’ve ever read any of them. I might have, of course, but it doesn’t seem like the free teaser has made me into a buying reader. All of my personal experience is anecdotal, of course, but it does seem to fall in line with many other’s experiences based on blog comments and posts.
I’ll be honest, I’m torn about permafree. I see that some folks crack the Top 100 in Amazon’s Free eBook list, and that seems great. If it’s generating other sales, it’s a loss leader, which is a concept that is tried and true in the brick & mortar world, so it should certainly work in the digital world. But that’s just the thing — I’m not sure it does work. It certainly doesn’t hurt, but I can’t find much in the way of good metrics for the long tail success of this strategy.
So, after all that, why not try it? Like I said, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try it, and if we’re strategic about it, maybe it helps.
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Empty Set is a business made up of many little bits and pieces, all geared toward making cool stuff for cool people. Firstly we’re a content creation company. But we also sell merchandise, put on an annual fan-appreciation event, have an audio production studio for hire, and put out a weekly podcast. The podcast is […]Continue Reading →
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As the holiday shopping season approaches, I’d guess that every small business that is at least part retail is trying to figure out how they’re going to up their game. For Black Friday, or Small Business Saturday, or just the gift-giving season at large.
Empty Set is, in part, a retail business. We sell books, and t-shirts, and just this month, started selling stickers. We have dwindling inventory for limited edition stock (which is good) and lots of inventory for brand new stock (which is also good.)
We sell non-essential things, which are also aspirational and fun things. There’s not a single thing in our inventory that will save your life in a submerged car, or help you rake up the last autumn leaves. It’s not dangerous for you not to have our most recent t-shirts. Nothing in the Empty Set store is a necessary thing for managing the base of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
So, why buy? What makes our t-shirts worth your hard earned money? Or our tricked-out books? For me personally, it’s because Scott Sigler stories are an escape from our topsy-turvy reality, and if that’s the case, more is more.
I think everyone benefits from celebrating the things that make them happy. And if you (like me) are a huge Krakens fan, showing your team colors while running a forklift at your day job might just make you happier while you do it. It’s always the little things. And those things matter. Again, they’re not going to save your life, but they will most certainly make the life you have a little more fun. And who doesn’t want more of that?
As we descend into the frenzied end-of-year season, I’ll keep at it, putting out cool stuff for cool people. And when the holiday season is over, you’ll still find us cranking things out. More is more after all.
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If you’re a Sigler Junkie, you’ve heard of SiglerFest. If you’re not; get on that. SiglerFest is Empty Set’s fan appreciation weekend. We spend a long weekend in Las Vegas, goofing off, drinking beer, screaming at football (and at karaoke, and at bowling, and as part of the programming during the day. We scream a […]Continue Reading →
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