AB Kovacs

About AB Kovacs

I’m the Director of Døøm here at Empty Set Entertainment, and a contributing blogger at MadArtLab.com. I consider myself a “Creative Adjacent” — helping creative people be more productive and prolific by managing the logistics of Making for the masses. I’m a science nerd, a rabid movie geek, and an unrepentantly voracious reader. I don’t like chocolate all that much.

Happy holidays!

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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Small Business Saturday

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?

 

 

This holiday shopping post is sponsored by our great sponsored GoDaddy Coupon page. If you haven’t heard, you can get a new domain for just 99 cents using the code CJCSIGLERC. Check it out!

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Mastadon finally hits — the next next big thing?

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 @arealgirl@mastadon.social and Scott is @scottsigler@mastadon.social)

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.  

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“Permafree” ebooks — the indie publishers holy grail?

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.

 

This post is free thanks to our terrific GoDaddy Coupon page. Get a new domain for just 99 cents using the code CJCSIGLERC.

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Ding Dong the ‘Podcast Patent’ is dead!

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 […]

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More is more.

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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SiglerFest planning — working hard to play hard

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 […]

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8.2 million downloads in 2016:
The podcast, it groweth …

Our biggest year yet, with 8.2 million MP3 downloads.

We offer a weekly podcast titled “Scott Sigler Audiobooks.” You can get it, free, on iTunes, or from our RSS feed, or check out the episodes as they hit scottsigler.com every week. When we tallied our download numbers for 2016, we were expecting some growth over the 2015 totals. What we weren’t expecting was an […]

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Rules for business (and life) sometimes stink

Adults make choices, choices have consequences. This is the way of things.

When you are an adult that owns your own business, like me, sometimes you’d prefer to make bad choices. In my case, sometimes when a vendor or timeline or potential deal goes wonky, I want to yell and scream obscenities, and tell some people they smell of elderberries.

It’s understandable, I think. As adults, we lose our right to pout and ugly cry when things don’t go our way. There’s no whining and refusing to eat your dinner until the universe course corrects your way. And there shouldn’t be, honestly. We have those outlets when we’re children precisely because we don’t have ownership of our actions. We’re not making our own choices, and that can be frustrating,

Even so, some days I want my pout back. I don’t want to give up all the other things I have and gain as an adult, but if I could get some kind of add-on package so I could stamp my feet and meltdown?  Some days I’d be inclined to do so.

Anyone have an app for that?

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The best worst thing ever? Still sometimes good.

In the summer of 2014, my husband and I went on a Baltic Sea adventure. We were going to visit several countries, cruise the Baltic Sea, and general have a lovely summer vacation.

It was the best worst trip ever.

What do I mean by the best worst? Let’s back up: it was the worst vacation ever.

I acquired my 14th (yes, 14th) head/chest cold of 2014 just the week before we left, while I was at BEA in New York City. I’d gone to the doctor, and was on three antibiotic meds: systemic capsules, eye drops and ear drops. I was feeling well, and no longer contagious, the day before we were set to leave for London, so I was pretty thrilled. (As an aside, this illness led directly to me having my tonsils removed that year, and I’ve only been sick twice since!)

On the flight, my husband’s ears clogged up, as ears sometimes do.

We spent three days in London, visit all the things you visit in London when you’ve been there a bunch, and only have a few days. We visited several lovely pubs, and the Tate Modern. At the Tate, I noticed I had a prickly red rash on my arms and neck. I thought I was sensitive to the hotel soap.

We took the train to Dover the next day, and boarded our ship. By then, Peter (the husband) was dizzy due to still-clogged ears, and feverish. He visited the ship’s doctor while we were still in port to treat this nascent ear infection. As a bonus, while I waited for him to be treated, the ship’s doc *also* diagnosed my Amoxicillin Rash, and I learned I was: 1) allergic to the amoxicillin, and 2) going to have this increasing irritating rash for 10 to 13 days. At that moment there were 14 more day on our vacation.

We visited Oslo, Norway; Bruges, Belgium; Tallin, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Copenhagen, Denmark. We were essentially sick and tired the whole time. The worst trip ever.

We had to sleep in shifts because I snored so loudly due to my cold, and he couldn’t wear ear plugs due to his ear thing. We hardly saw each other on board, honestly.

And yet? It was pretty fun. We didn’t see a lot of any of these cities, but we did laugh a lot at our terrible luck. We also marveled at the audacity of the crew to choose only shipwreck movies for the entirety of the cruise — All is Lost, Cast Away and Titanic. No, really. There was a bartender who thought I looked just like his sister, so poured us many very lovely drinks native to his Greek home. We delighted in rearranging pieces on the in-progress puzzles that people left abandoned each evening in the library.

We drank great beer in a dozen great pubs in those coastal cities, and I read nine books in 14 days, including Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops series which I love so much.

So, it was a terrible vacation. The worst I’ve ever had.  And yet today I laughed and laughed and laughed thinking of the ludicrousness. So it is also good. Not the best vacation I’ve ever had, for sure, but the best worst one.

I’m sure life has more worst times in store for me. That’s the way of things. But I’m hoping to make the best of those too.

 

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