Pixel Scroll 6/5/16 Scroll Sung Blue, Everybody Knows One

(1) D&D. Josh Kramer at the Washington Post created “An illustrated guide to why grown-ups are playing Dungeons & Dragons again”.

With a jolt of popularity from its latest edition and a larger pop cultural footprint, Dungeons & Dragons might be making a significant comeback. (A handbook for the game topped Amazon’s best-sellers list for several days in 2014.) The largest group of players are millennials, and more of the new devotees are female than you might have thought, too. As a freelance cartoonist, journalist and a game-player in D.C., I wanted to explore why D&D isn’t just a throwback.

There are 16 frames – this is the second.

d and d

(2) WHAT WRITERS GET PAID. Fynbospress at Mad Genius Club sounds the alert – “New Author Earnings Report Out!”

This report is in far greater depth – not only did they crawl the top 100 in subgenre, but print, audio, and also-boughts as well. It’s tracking over 1 million titles, to shine a light into the previously dark unknown of who and what isn’t on a bestseller list but is still selling, and how, and where. And the results – are impressive!

Where does the information in the “May 2016 Author Earnings Report” come from?

Our methodology employs a software spider that crawls across Amazon’s bestseller lists. The 200,000+ titles on those lists make up roughly 60% of Amazon’s daily sales. This leaves an appreciable number of titles and sales unaccounted for. There’s more elephant here to uncover! We’ve long heard this might be the case, as independent authors familiar with our data have claimed to be making a livable wage without a single one of their books appearing on any Amazon bestseller list. These are the truly invisible among the already difficult-to-discern. We wanted to see if they could be found.

So for this report, we went deeper. Instead of just looking at Amazon’s bestseller lists, we had our spider follow links to also-bought recommendations and also through each authors’ full catalog. This resulted in a million-title dataset, our most comprehensive and definitive look yet at author earnings. We were able to tally up precisely how many indie authors, Big Five authors, small/medium press authors, and Amazon-imprint authors are currently making enough from Amazon.com sales to land in a number of “tax brackets”.

The report has lots of graphs and interpretive text, and ends with this comment:

When we lowered the author earnings bar to $50,000 a year, we found 142 invisible authors that were earning that much or more on Amazon.com, without any of their titles appearing on any category best-seller lists. 105 of those 142 were self-published indies.

We live in exciting times. Today it’s possible to be a full-time professional author, quietly earning $50,000+ a year — even six figures a year — without ever sending a query letter to anyone. On Amazon alone, the data shows over a thousand indie authors earning a full-time living right now with their self-published titles.

The only gatekeepers that matter now are readers.

(3) BUT THE REAL MONEY’S IN THE FUNNIES. “Comic books buck trend as print and digital sales flourish” reports CNBC.

Digital disruption has upended virtually every corner of publishing, but in the world of comic books, something curious is happening: Print sales are thriving alongside the rise of their digital counterparts.

Print comic book revenues have been on the rise in recent years, even as digital comics’ sales boom. Print receipts have held up at a time when publishers have introduced all-you-can-download subscriptions that offer thousands of comics for a flat monthly or annual fee.

In 2014, digital comics revenues excluding unlimited subscriptions reached $100 million, according to ICv2, an online trade magazine that tracks comic sales and other trends. That was up from just $1 million seven years ago, when ICv2 started collecting data.

(4) RHYSLING ANTHOLOGY. While members of the Science Fiction Poetry Association have already received a copy, the public can buy from Amazon the 2016 Rhysling Poetry Anthology with the works nominated for this year’s award.

The anthology allows the members to easily review and consider all nominated works without the necessity of obtaining the diverse number of publications in which the nominated works first appeared and serves as a showcase of the best science fiction, fantasy, and horror poetry of 2015. The Rhysling Anthology is available to anyone with an interest in this unique compilation of verse from some of the finest poets in the field of science fiction, fantasy, and horror poetry.

(5) CLARION FUNDRAISER. Clarion UCSD’S Seventh Annual Write-a-Thon is looking for participants.

What is a write-a-thon, anyway? Think charity walk-a-thon. In a walk-a-thon, volunteers walk as far as they can in return for pledges from sponsors who make donations, usually based on the number of miles the volunteer walks. Our Write-a-Thon works like that too, but instead of walking, our volunteers write with a goal in mind. Their sponsors make donations to Clarion sometimes based on number of words written, sometimes based on other goals, or just to show support for the writer and Clarion.

And there are incentives.

As always, we have prizes for our top Write-a-Thon earners. In addition, this year we have surprises as well as prizes!

  • The top fundraiser will receive a commemorative 2016 Clarion Write-a-Thon trophy celebrating their success.
  • Our top five fundraisers will each receive a critique from a well-known Clarion instructor or alumnus. We’ve lined up Terry Bisson, David Anthony Durham, Kenneth Schneyer, Judith Tarr, and Mary Turzillo to have a look at your golden prose. A roll of the dice decides who is paired with whom. (The authors have three months to complete their critiques, and the short story or chapters submitted must be 7,500 words or less.)
  • Our top ten fundraisers will each receive a $25 gift certificate of their choice from a selection of bookstores and stationers.
  • A few small but special surprises will be distributed randomly among everyone who raises $50 or more. Lucky winners will be decided by Write-a-Thon minions drawing names from Clara the Write-a-Thon Cat’s hat. These are such a surprise that even we don’t know what they are yet. We do know that certain of our minions will be visiting places like Paris and Mongolia this summer. Anything at all might turn up in their luggage. In addition, who knows what mystery items unnamed Clarionites might donate to the loot!

(6) SECOND FIFTH. CheatSheet refuses to allow anyone to remain ignorant — “’Voltron’: 5 Things to Know About the Netflix Rebook”

For those who don’t know, the series was a top-rated syndicated children’s show during its original two-season run. Despite its initial success, previous attempts at bringing Voltron back haven’t worked out, and the show hasn’t returned to air in three decades. That’s all about to change now, thanks to Netflix. Here’s what we know about the company’s planned upcoming revival so far….

Here’s a trailer.

ROAR, created by the Voltron production team, is a special look inside Season 1 of the Netflix original series DreamWorks Voltron Legendary Defender, which reimagines one of the most popular fan-favorite shows of all time in an all-new comedic action-packed show from executive producer Joaquim Dos Santos (The Legend of Korra, Avatar: The Last Airbender) and co-executive producer Lauren Montgomery (The Legend of Korra).


(7) BRADBURY. The New Yorker published Ray Bradbury’s reminiscence “Take Me Home” the day before he died in 2012.

When I was seven or eight years old, I began to read the science-fiction magazines that were brought by guests into my grandparents’ boarding house, in Waukegan, Illinois. Those were the years when Hugo Gernsback was publishing Amazing Stories, with vivid, appallingly imaginative cover paintings that fed my hungry imagination. Soon after, the creative beast in me grew when Buck Rogers appeared, in 1928, and I think I went a trifle mad that autumn. It’s the only way to describe the intensity with which I devoured the stories. You rarely have such fevers later in life that fill your entire day with emotion.

When I look back now, I realize what a trial I must have been to my friends and relatives. It was one frenzy after one elation after one enthusiasm after one hysteria after another. I was always yelling and running somewhere, because I was afraid life was going to be over that very afternoon.

(8) MORE BANG FOR THE BILLION. The news is filled with speculation about the Rogue One reshoots – which may involve literal shooting judging by the latest hire.

Veteran stunt coordinator and second unit director Simon Crane has been tapped to assist with the lengthy reshoots for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

Rogue One, being directed by Gareth Edwards, will undergo significant additional filming this summer, it was revealed earlier this week. Disney and Lucasfilm are hoping to accomplish several goals with the reshoots, including working on the tone of what has been described by sources as a “war movie.” The lightening of the feel of the film is meant to broaden its appeal.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, and Angel Johnston for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

82 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 6/5/16 Scroll Sung Blue, Everybody Knows One

  1. Fifth?

    Voltron? They are really scraping the bottom now… I look forward to a remake of ‘Quark’…

  2. I loved Quark at the time. I have dark suspicions of how well it will have aged. I prefer to keep my memories. Let them do their worst with Voltron, and leave Quark alone. No remakes, no reruns. Ever.

  3. At least the title didn’t contain other examples of the same artist’s lyrics such as “brang” and expecting chairs to have functional ears.

    (3) Makes sense — you want the pretty colorful pictures big and be able to see a splash page in one glance. Doesn’t matter so much with prose.

    (6) Didn’t care then, don’t care now. There’s another Gundam too.

  4. (6) SECOND FIFTH – I was always more a Robotech kid, but had fond memories of Voltron. This looks pretty anyway, so I’ll give it a try.

    @lurkertype – there’s *always* another Gundam. It’s not a reboot/ remake though – it’s pretty much a series of series, like the various Macross/ Super Sentai shows. Though Gundam does do weird alternate timelines as well…

  5. Voltron? They are really scraping the bottom now… I look forward to a remake of ‘Quark’…

    One way of estimating the continuing popularity of a piece of fiction is to look at its wikipedia entry.

    As a quick and dirty metric, the Quark entry (at the resoution of the screen I’m at right now) is 4 page-downs long. The entry for Voltron is 14 page-downs long. The single Quark entry includes everything. Voltron has several sub-entries, including (but not exclusive to) episodes (an additional 6 page-downs), and characters (an additional 27 page-downs!)

    Take that for what it’s worth.

  6. I actually kind of liked seeing the original Japanese Voltron, which was actually pretty dark and grim, while still being kind of goofy. As in Earth was devastated at the beginning, the heroes started off as slaves, and Voltron itself was a god of destruction that had to be sealed away.

    If they bring some if that in, I’m sure people still complain about making it “edgy”. But in any case, it really looks neat.

  7. Greater than or equal to fifth fifth!

    Unsolicited Hugo reading update: I managed to round out my Novella reading with Penric’s Demon and Slow Bullets at the end of last week. I enjoyed both! Penric’s Demon gave a fascinating glimpse of a fully realised world through a simple but effective storyline, and the interaction between Penric and Desdemona was precious. Not sure if I would get more out of it after reading the Chalion books? Slow Bullets is the first Alistair Reynolds thing I’ve read and I thought it was an entertaining read with a grim premise that nevertheless didn’t go out of its way to be brutal and misanthropic. Not sure the unreliable narrator hints totally worked out but that element didn’t spoil the overall plot, so.

    In general, having picked up a lot more novella/short novel length reading over the past few months, I’ve found things at this length are easy to like but hard to love – thinking also of Binti, which I nominated but whose storyline I’ve been growing increasingly dissatisfied with the more I think it, and of Every Heart a Doorway which was a good read but not the mind blowing tale I was hoping for from the premise. I enjoyed reading everything on the list and I’m definitely making an effort to seek out more novella length fiction to be able to read when life gets in the way of bigger books, but whatever ends up at the top of my ballot here (probably Penric unless I change my mind about Binti again…) isn’t going to hold the same place in my heart as my picks for best novel.

    Now most of the short stuff is out the way, I’m marathonning through Seveneves – currently 150 pages away from the end and not dreadfully invested in the turn things have taken in Part 3, both in terms of the characters and one particular aspect of the worldbuilding (ROT13: svir gubhfnaq lrnef naq nyzbfg nyy bs uhznavgl vf fgvyy erpbtavfnoyl fcyvg vagb 7 enpvny tebhcf jvgu oneryl nal vagrezvkvat? Really?). Also, I’ve found most of the physics interesting – except for all the bits about chains in orbit which I find I can’t visualise and therefore end up skimming over – but delivering it in constant narrative digressions gets quite tiring after a while. There’s one particular moment less than halfway through when a major character gets left in a perilous situation for several pages while Stephenson re-explains the risks which different sizes of meteor pose to different ships in the fleet; I was reminded of when pretentious 17-year-old Arifel decided to read Les Miserables and got almost bored to death by a huge chapter on the daily routine in a particular Paris convent which occurred right in the middle of a chase scene. That said Seveneves has kept me reading along at a pretty swift pace, which I wouldn’t be doing if I were actually bored, so there’s definitely something to it.

    Aeronaut’s Windlass next to round out novels, then a break from 2015 reading before I check out Pierce Brown for Campbell purposes. Somehow need to get Jessica Jones and Doctor Who season marathons in the schedule as well… it’s a hard life!

  8. @Arifel

    I read Penric’s Demon yesterday, and was immediately moved to go read Curse of Chalion again. Curse is excellent and I’d recommend it if you enjoyed PD, but I don’t think either adds vast amounts to the other, being set in different periods.

    PD was very good, I’d peg it at the same level as Witches of Lychford – which I nominated – so it’s definitely going to place highly for me. I’d agree with a feeling of dissatisfaction over Binti – I found the culture and worldbuilding of the opening really intriguing but didn’t really follow why it then turned into the story it did. (Not in the sense that I thought it was bad, just in the sense of promise slightly unfulfilled?)

  9. If you liked Penric’s Demon you should definitely read The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls, because they’re very good and you’d almost certainly like them too, but I don’t think that having read the latter two adds much to the former.

  10. I did not enjoy the last part of Seveneves but, as I’ve said elsewhere, what really broke me was gur Cvatref univat gurve rkgreany travgnyvn uvqqra sbe fgernzyvavat checbfrf, ohg fgvyy univat ivfvoyr oernfgf. Ncneg sebz gur evqvphybhfarff, gurer jnf nyfb oernfg veengvbanyvgl va gung Neyna Naqerjf cvrpr sebz ynfg lrne, naq V nz abg unccl nobhg univat unq gb tbbtyr “znzznel qrirybczrag va prgnprnaf”.
    It may be a trivial point, but in light of the author having have gotten it right in literally the same scene, I am not inclined to be lenient. It just read as “jung’f gur zbfg pehpvny uhzna punenpgrevfgvp gung jr fubhyq unat bagb sbe svir gubhfnaq lrnef? V xabj! Gvgf!”

  11. 1)
    That tentacle is, um, strangely placed. And since when DO half-elves, or alchemists, have three arms and a tentacle, anyhow?

  12. PW — I think you miscounted. I see four arms, plus the tentacle. One arm is mostly folded behind another.

  13. @2 asserts that Amazon does half of all hardcopy sales and 85% of all ebook sales, but I don’t see anything backing this up, given that their spiders covered (AFAICT) only Amazon; did anyone else find data supporting this?

  14. The article on D&D is pretty decent, actually. And the writer is right about the way groups tend to form and persist for years. I haven’t tried 5th Edition (still playing 3.0, and given the number of books we bought for it over the years, 5th would have to be pretty special or it would have to be easy to adapt 3.0 stuff to 5th for us to be willing to change now.) But it’s great that people are playing it and having fun.

  15. (2): I’m still reading, but this is what jumped out at me:

    More than 50% of all traditionally-published book sales of any format in the US now happen on Amazon.com.

    In addition, roughly 85% of all non-traditionally published book sales of any format in the US also happen on Amazon.com.

    On general principals of good business practices, this is not a good thing. The only real positive I’ve gleaned so far is that the Amazon published titles don’t seem to be doing all that well – which means they’re still trying to figure things out on that end.

    Look. The objective of any large company is, at heart, to bring the control of any and all expenses inside their operation, while at the same time maximizing their profit. The royalties Amazon shares with authors is one of their expenses. In-house publishing is one way they are going to get containment on those royalties.

    If things with Amazon went entirely “Wal*Mart”, it won’t be but a decade goes by before you’ll be seeing the generic in-house romance of the week (authored by “staff” – more control over a “work-made-for-hire” than one you only have some rights to) and the generic MILSF of the week and…; they’ll be priced competitively and plastered all over the checkout line; on the racks, they’ll be positioned at eye level (the brand names will be “hidden” down on the bottom rack or up too high to reach).

    Literature of any kind used to be art, but is rapidly becoming a commodity.

    Between Amazon’s work on consumers and publisher’s over-reliance on marketing analysis, books, as books, are getting squeezed big time.

    Yet Amazon continues to be able to claim its not a monopoly because it sells furniture too….(that’s a great simplification).

    Eventually, Amazon will turn back to squeezing their suppliers (just like Wal*Mart does: when you sell to Walmart, you jump through hoops, including target costs. Once you’ve been trapped by the “look at the volume we’re selling!”, they come back at you the next year and pronounce that you need to lower your cost to them by 10, 15, 20%, and, if you can’t meet it, they can find someone else who will. All the while, they’re figuring out how to make a generic of whatever you are supplying them with. This pattern is repeated annually until they have driven almost everyone out of that market segment.)

    To think that something similar will not eventually happen with the royalty percentage Amazon “shares” with its suppliers is hiding from reality.

    But the other interesting thing is: business over the past several decades has largely been a question of cutting out the middleman (which Amazon touts itself as doing in regards to indie-authors and traditional publishers).

    I believe that the means to reach the kind of market that Amazon controls are rapidly becoming available to individuals. So the race is really between Amazon and suppliers, and whether or not the suppliers can cut out the Amazon “middleman” before Amazon renders individual authorship relatively moot.

  16. re: half-elf alchemist. The article didn’t actually say what the other half was. Maybe he’s half-elf, half Great Old One….

    (Been playing D&D with the same group since 1982.)

  17. (1) As an insufferable hipster gamer, I’m just anxious that these folks learn about all the other RPGs they can play too. 5e is pretty cool though. It’s the first edition of D&D in 30 years that really makes me want to play it.

  18. Chip Hitchcock: @2 asserts that Amazon does half of all hardcopy sales and 85% of all ebook sales, but I don’t see anything backing this up, given that their spiders covered (AFAICT) only Amazon; did anyone else find data supporting this?

    I think that article includes a lot of unsupported claims. If they don’t know sales numbers (and they don’t), how are they calculating how much these authors are making?

    The other one that stuck out for me is that they’re using “also purchased” data — but Amazon’s “Improve Your Recommendations” feature allows customers to mark suggested titles as “I already own this”. I do this all the time with books I’ve obtained and read from my library, to get them off my Recommendation list and have them be used as data to make further Recommendations. I’m sure that I’m far from the only one who does this — with library books, and with books that were purchased from a source other than Amazon.

    I think that there is a serious amount of handwavium going on there — but as I am not an author, it does not matter to me. Authors, however, would do well, I think, to regard this “data” with a healthy amount of skepticism.

  19. @JJ

    Haven’t read the article yet but the excerpt reminded me a lot, in tone, of ‘I made $x,xxx last week working from home’ spam. (Will this land in moderation as false positive spam??? Let’s see 🙂 )

    @Steve Davidson

    I think your analysis is flawed with the assumption that vertical integration is a goal of large business.

    Owning the supply chain end to end sounds good in theory but reality is it can distract from the core business and isn’t necessarily efficient. You don’t see Apple running out to start chip fabs even though they certainly have the money to do it. I could also tell anecdata from a company that did try to vertically integrate and suffered badly as a result. I suspect leaving authoring to the vast pool of aspiring authors is more efficient than trying to pull it in house. Now trying to squeeze your suppliers is another topic…

    ETA: Apparently not quite edged up to the spam metric!

    ETAA: and for multiple homophone error corrections

  20. @lurkertype – there’s *always* another Gundam. It’s not a reboot/ remake though

    The latest Gundam series, The Origin OVA, is a reboot, based upon Yoshikazu Yasuhiko’s manga retelling of the original series that updates the tech and dekiddifies the story. There’s a second OVA series that’s retelling the One Year War from an alternate perspective.

    I presume you guys are talking about Iron Blood Orphans, which is the first Gundam to air on Cartoon Network in a decade. It’s noted as being a return to form as a gritty war story (about child soldiers no less), and for focusing on an entire military unit instead of one heroic pilot.

    It’s also written by Mari Okada, one of the most prolific and controversial writers in modern anime. She’s the closest thing anime has to a feminist writer (which isn’t to say she’s feminist by American standards) and that pisses off a lot of fanboys who accuse her of emasculating male characters in favor of aggrandizing her female ones.

  21. Sean O’Hara on June 6, 2016 at 7:57 am said:

    […] that pisses off a lot of fanboys who accuse her of emasculating male characters in favor of aggrandizing her female ones.

    That sounds depressingly familiar.

  22. @JJ: I do the same thing with Amazon recs; I’m sure they use this in their “also purchased” data, at least occasionally. I was confused how this company could be determing sales numbers or how someone sold with Amazon. I believe one gets a different % of sales if selling an ebook exclusively with Amazon and it’s within a certain pricepoint. If they only look at Amazon, they wouldn’t even know that (or which program you signed up for – IIRC, Amazon has a couple of different ones???). They also don’t know what discounts you (or Amazon) may have applied in the past. Even just pretending Amazon is the be-all, end-all of sales, there seem to be a lot of things they literally can’t know, to make any claims about what people make sellling at Amazon.

    I just skimmed their article and they mention “ebook unit sales, gross consumer $ spending, and author earnings” – even if they’re spidering Amazon regularly, I don’t see how they can determine these. Then I saw their graphs are showing % (which made a bit more sense), but later they have ones about actual money. (I’m also not sure how they determine copies sold per day, BTW, which they claim to know.)

    They say in comments that they’re going to release the raw data. I admit, I could only skim the article, footnotes, and comments – not enough time – so I may be missing where they explain how they can actually determine real $ or # of sales, just by spidering (!).

  23. (1) My only disappointment with the article is that it didn’t mention Critical Role, our newest time sink on Geek & Sundry. It’s a 5E game played by a bunch of professional voice actors with a superb DM, Matt Mercer. It is also on YouTube, where the first episode has well over a million views.

  24. I am not a statistician, nor do I play one on TV, but the analysis by actual math people I’ve seen over at Absolute Write is that you cannot make the data do what Author Earnings claims to be doing. They may be right, they may be wrong, but the data in its present form simply can’t tell you.

    I self-publish a good chunk of stuff, I’m all for it, but Author Earnings reports have long been very….errrm….rah rah self-pub with a healthy dose of chip-on-shoulder to boot. And I don’t think that does authors any good. By over inflating successes and not focusing on the vast majority who don’t get these numbers, I feel like we hit them coming and going–not only have you not succeeded, but clearly most other people totally have! What’s wrong with you?! Etc.

  25. Today’s Read — Darkness On His Bones, by Barbara Hambly

    If “Barbara Hambly turn-of-the-20th-century vampire series” does not have you immediately reaching for your wallet, then you are … well, not me, at any rate. This 6th book in a series she’s been writing since the late 80’s finally brings the story to the beginning of World War I.

    It’s a bit shorter than most of her other books in this series, and in some ways it felt like little more than an introduction to a new storyline; I get the distinct feeling that more books are planned and that World War I is going to occupy the series for a while to come. That having been said, the book doesn’t lack for things to say; a series that has never shied from portraying vampires as true monsters manages to make their depredations look somewhat petty in comparison to the wholesale death humans are capable of inflicting on each other, not just in the horror of WWI but also in a storyline that flashes back to the clashes between Catholics and Protestants in the Europe of the 17th century. This is not exactly a change for the series, which has from the start made it clear that some humans, learning the truth about vampires, see them just as another weapon to be used on each other, but it does bring the point home with a the power of a machinegun in this one.

    That being said, the relatively slim nature of this book means we get to spend less time with the characters than I’d like; apparently after six books I still just want to read about Lydia Asher doing whatever she does for as long as she likes. And while I can understand why an author might feel we’ve gotten plenty of that in the five previous volumes, it’s part of the joy of the series for me and I miss it a bit. In fact, the lack of it makes this one of the weaker books in the series for me.

    But I’ll still give this one a tentative thumbs up on the grounds that I expect the next book in the series to take what’s been started here and run with it. She hasn’t let me down yet.

  26. @RedWombat

    I am not a statistician, nor do I play one on TV, but the analysis by actual math people I’ve seen over at Absolute Write is that you cannot make the data do what Author Earnings claims to be doing. They may be right, they may be wrong, but the data in its present form simply can’t tell you.

    Just for you, 🙂 I took a careful look at the methodology on the Author Earnings site. It looks pretty solid to me, and I was a Principal Research Scientist at Amazon.com at one time. Not only did they construct a model to convert from sales rank to sales, they tested it on some 300 books with known sales figures.

    I’d be interested to see a link to the folks who argued that you can’t extract this sort of data. I never had to actually do what these guys are doing because I had access to the real data, but they’re doing more-or-less what I would do if I were in their shoes. As a first approximation, anyway.

  27. @Sean O’Hara

    It’s also written by Mari Okada, one of the most prolific and controversial writers in modern anime. She’s the closest thing anime has to a feminist writer (which isn’t to say she’s feminist by American standards) and that pisses off a lot of fanboys who accuse her of emasculating male characters in favor of aggrandizing her female ones.

    Most of the complaints I hear about her are based on her obsessive love of forced melodrama and that she can be very inconstant in her quality of writing.

    If she is on form and is working on a story that fits her style she may be the best writer working in anime today if not it tends to turn into an insane black hole of angst. She also seems to do better with a strong director who can keep her focused. She has worked on a lot of shows that I enjoy such as the aforementioned Iron Blooded Orphans, Tatakau Shisho: The Book of Bantorra, Black Butler, Toradora!, Sketchbook ~full color’s~, Simoun, M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane, Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, Otome Youkai Zakuro, and one of my favorites Blast of Tempest.

    However she has also worked on a number of animes I have not liked at all. For a show that puts a lot of her worse traits on display while still being watchable I would suggest Selector Infected WIXOSS if you can stand cruelty to young girls.

  28. For you, Greg, I have rummaged through an ancient forum search engine, and if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is. 😛


    is one of the ones I was thinking of. Caveat–this criticism is on the 2014 report. It is entirely possible that they’ve responded to criticism, improved their methodology and walked back some of the rah-rah bits in the last two years, in which case, more power to ’em. But I am teh skeptical, as the kids say.

    (And to quote one RichardGarfinkle on that thread, “This essentially says that a piece of software we have not seen crawled through a lot of data we do not have access to, organized by Amazon’s deliberately obfuscatory system. There is simply no way, in a situation like this to evaluate the conclusions drawn, because we know next to nothing about the data from which those conclusions were drawn.” Which you may be uniquely well equipped to judge, of course!)

    The controversy over Author Earnings (AE) is fascinating to follow. It’s a good idea to read their methodology and all their previous reports if you’ve not been exposed to them previously before coming to conclusions. The raw data has always been made available after release of the report. Sometimes the reports are just amazon.com, other times they’ve looked at Amazon data across a wider world spectrum (.UK & I forget where else), other times they’ve spider crawled the data from other ebook retailers (B&N, Kobo, etc.).

    Currently there is no one collecting all the sales data of books in all formats sold everywhere in any country never mind worldwide. Studies done by Publishers weekly look at only some sales, ignore large portions of others, and claim to talk about the entire publishing industry. Same for bookscan which doesn’t capture a large portion of ebooks sold (those without ISBN – may be up to 50% of indie including bestselling) but claims its numbers count for the entire publishing industry. All studies need to be taken with a grain of salt due to unconscious bias as well as intentional sections of the industry being left out based on how the data is collected or who is surveyed.

    None of the retailers or publishing houses are willing to release actual sales and royalty information. Without transparency it’s just different people/groups using different data making declarative statements about the publishing industry – none have the full picture when doing so.

  30. However she has also worked on a number of animes I have not liked at all. For a show that puts a lot of her worse traits on display while still being watchable I would suggest Selector Infected WIXOSS if you can stand cruelty to young girls.

    I like WIXOSS. The sheer audacity to take a show that’s supposed to market a new collectable card game and turn it into a dark horror story about how the cards steal the players’ souls is stupendous.

    Likewise, there’s her idol/mecha series AKB0048 (directed by Kawamori, the creator of Macross), which rather subtly suggests that the producer behind the real AKB48 idol group is some kind of creepy demon.

    However, the series that best exemplifies everything divisive about Okada is Hanasaku Iroha. Even after five years, any time she’s announced as the writer of a series, discussion will quickly devolve into an argument about whether HanaIro is a brilliant series with one or two missteps, or the worst and most horrible anime of the 21st Century.

  31. @RedWombat

    For you, Greg, I have rummaged through an ancient forum search engine, and if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is. ?

    Mmmm. It’s nice to feel loved. 🙂 Let’s see if I can return some of it by analyzing this posting closely. Quotes below this are from the post, not File770.

    First, I’m highly skeptical that they’ve managed to crack Amazons ranking -> sales function (how many sales a given Amazon ranking equals).

    It’s not really that hard, though. It’s another case of power-law distributions, with the twist that the numbers are updated frequently. Most of the errors will only affect the five or ten best-selling works in a category. For low-selling and midlist works, it ought (in theory) to be a pretty good estimate. And, as I said before, I’m impressed that they tested it on a set of 300 works with known sales. Assuming we believe them, that’s pretty strong evidence.

    Even if we accept the raw data as accurate, a quick Google search tells me that online sales (not ebook sales, online sales of any type) account for less than half of all book sales in the U.S. (as of 2012) and that Amazon accounts for half of all online sales (as of 2013). [edit: The unreliability of these sources was pointed out downthread. See footnote #1. In general, take this point to be a point about Amazon being a portion of the market to a degree we just don’t know (unless someone can direct me to better sources!)] This means that even rounding up generously Amazon accounts for only a quarter forty percent(?) of books sales in the U.S.

    The new methodology seems to address that criticism by simply doubling the numbers for traditional publishing. I’m surprised they didn’t find a better way to do that, but it does appear that they listened at least a little bit.

    What we really want to know is, for us likely-to-be-non-bestsellers, what is the better path to choose? And these data simply don’t give us any information on that, unfortunately.

    Here, I think I agree. Although the Author Earnings folks have really tried to find more information about “Dark Matter,” I think they grossly underestimate just how much of Amazon’s catalog consists of totally dead things. So dead that not only has no one ever looked at the item, no one has ever even seen it turn up in a search result. Lacking that number, it’s not possible to estimate whether the average author would do better to self-publish or not.

    In my opinion, the data tell us little other than that it’s possible for self-published books to compete quite well in the Amazon marketplace, which I venture to say we already knew. I don’t see any conclusions that can be drawn about which path is better or more lucrative for a particular aspiring author and his book. I’m not saying that the data contradict self-publishing as the best choice: they just don’t tell us anything either way, other than that self-publishing is a viable choice.

    I don’t really disagree with him here, but I would add that it tells us that a surprising number of people are being successful at self publishing, and it definitely shows that more people (in absolute numbers) find their way to success via self publishing than via traditional publishing. That was certainly news to me. I had assumed that a tiny handful of people were doing well from self publishing but that most of the money was spread out over a huge number who were individually making peanuts. Clearly that is not the case.

  32. Here’s an excellent article that looks at the 2014 numbers: Analyzing the Author Earnings Data Using Basic Analytics, by Dana Beth Weinberg. (I found it in the comments under the post that @RedWombat pointed me to.)

    It essentially concludes that if you only count people who get at least some sales (so ignoring the ones who fail completely) then the differences between the self-published authors and the ones who go the traditional route aren’t all that great.

  33. I have finished reading Red Rising (yeah, I took a long break after the last time I mentioned it). I did not love it—way too much rape—but it had its good points. Once it gets going it’s a compulsively readable plot. The language is brisk, all the characters can be distinguished from one another, and the process of the hero learning how to lead an army, with screwups and moral ambiguities, is actually fairly believable. He still has his fiery wish to tear down the existing system, and it hasn’t yet occurred to him that he has no idea what he wants to happen after that, but it obviously will during the course of the next book.

    Now if only, if only Pierce Brown had had an editor who would tell him there was a problem with practically every woman in the book being either raped or threatened with it (several times over if they’re a major character). It is part of the hero’s character development, sadly. He is unhappy and conflicted about the people he has to kill, but at least he knows he is a good guy because he saves women from rape — repeatedly! And unlike just about everyone else, he never has an improper thought, let alone action, toward any woman he’s not married to! Sigh. I also found the constant homophobic, misogynistic trash-talking wearisome; every male character in the book, and some of the female ones, faces their enemy with a mouthful of taunts which always involve calling him a girl and/or a “pricklick”.

    I do intend to continue reading the trilogy and hope that the author learns better in this particular respect.

  34. @Jonathan: I did, and I am. Beautiful and melancholy.

    @Sean: That’s the one, on Cartoon Network. The husband’s watching it. Maybe I’ll tune in, since it sounds a bit different from all the others.

    (2) I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no statistics, to mangle a quote from an extremely best-selling book, but I just don’t see how they get any useful numbers without a lot of WAG. Their methodology and algorithms may be pretty sound (if Greg, who used to work there, says so, I accept it), but how much data are they NOT capturing? So much, particularly in trad-pub.

    @Vasha: I found the earlier part of “Red Rising” — in our protagonist’s home situation — to be far more interesting than the later manly-man all hetero all rapey all murdery parts. Would much rather see a prequel.

  35. @Steve Davidson: “Literature of any kind used to be art, but is rapidly becoming a commodity.” This is a complaint slightly less inaccurate than “Alas, children today are not as respectful as they used to be!” (reportedly deciphered from cuneiform). I refer you to Stratemeyer (first Rover Boys book in 1899, although Wikipedia suggests there were other packagers by then), or to the serialization that became Sweeney Todd, or even Walter Scott (who was clearly writing the equivalent of hairdryer novels, even if he wasn’t quite stamping them out with a cookie cutter). Even if we never again get anyone as … creative … in dealing with work-for-hire limits as John M. Ford was, the spread of e-books and the reach of the net leave plenty of room for writers and readers who despise wordwooze(*) to find each other.

    (*) If you haven’t read Lieber’s The Silver Eggheads, you should.

  36. @Chip: Don’t know about cuneiform, but definitely by ancient Greek times. Don’t forget the penny dreadfuls and the like, random writers churning out series books about cowboys or spies or whatever. Probably where Stratemeyer got his ideas from, directly.

    We only get a small percentage of literature from the past, anyway. Books get thrown into dumps. The library of Alexandria burns. We don’t know if what survives from 2000 years ago is their equivalent of trad-pub by MFA’s from NYC or this month’s Harlequin.

    Self-pub probably benefits more obscure niches, including the extremely highbrow. A big house isn’t going to print something non-wordwooze that’ll sell 500 copies, maybe even a small press won’t, but 500 people who want that will buy it. And maybe it survives 2000 years.

  37. @princejvstin/Paul Weimer:
    One of the things about ‘alchemists’ in some of the more modern D&D/Pathfinder variants is that you can get a lot of Jekyll/Hyde types… alchemists can create potions to transform themselves. If you spot an alchemist drinking one of his own concoctions, there’s a not-insignificant chance that he’s about to go all Incredible Hulk on you.

  38. (1) So this apparently refers to grown-ups who are returning to D&D as opposed to those grown-ups who never stopped playing? (Not me–but just about every time I teach a Tolkien course, there’s one or more D&D players, and given our student body, they’re often non-traditional age, who are shocked SHOCKED that I am not a D&D player because, well TOLKIEN!).

Comments are closed.