Almost Here!

Fuller’s Mine, the sequel to Newton’s Ark is finally finished, with all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed (I hope!) and is within a week of being released on Kindle and two weeks in paperback.

In the end it was a little longer than I expected, weighing in at 111,000 words (compared to 77,000 for Newton’s Ark) or 350 pages, but there is an awful lot going on so I think it’s all worthwhile.

Here’s the blurb from the paperback cover (warning mild spoilers for Newton’s Ark – come back after you’ve read the first book):

Surviving the end of the world is one thing.
Retaining your humanity is another.

A small group led by Tyra Martin survives the asteroid in an underground hideout, waiting for the murderous fight over dwindling food supplies to end. Just as they begin considering a return to a normal life on the surface, a tragic encounter drives them back into hiding.

Aboard Newton’s Ark, Cyrus Jones discovers that their virtual world may not be the utopia James Newton envisaged. As he and his brilliant son work tirelessly to find a way to return to the surface and the physical world, oppression grows unchecked, tearing his family apart.

Hell-bent on re-population, the leaders of what remains of the United States steadily sacrifice basic rights and freedoms, especially for women, to achieve their goal.

When these three groups cross paths, Cyrus and his family confront difficult choices about love, revenge, and belonging, and he is forced to decide just how willing he is to wield the almost unlimited power at his disposal in order to protect the people he cares about.

Fuller’s Mine, the sequel to Newton’s Ark, explores the challenges of rebuilding society after modern civilization is destroyed.

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Kindle MatchBook

Amazon have just announced a new program known as Kindle MatchBook which allows publishers to offer Kindle versions at a discounted price to customers who have purchased a hard copy version of the book.

For past and future buyers of the paperback edition of Newton’s Ark, the Kindle edition will be available for free.

The same deal will apply to the sequel, Fuller’s Mine, due to be released this month.

Decoding Amazon Best Seller Rankings

It has been interesting over the past few months to try to decode how Amazon calculates sales ranking by watching the relationship between sales of Newton’s Ark and its best seller ranking. Amazon guards its algorithm closely, saying very little about what the best seller ranking actually means or how it is calculated.

My key conclusion is that the ranking measures the rate of sales rather than total sales. That means it tells you what is popular recently, but not necessarily what has been most popular over time. That runs counter to what I always thought a best seller ranking meant – that the best selling book had sold the most copies total. But perhaps this has always been standard practice?

A sales rate based measure necessarily favors more recent works rather than classics. It also means for items with small sales volumes the ranking jumps around all over the place. I’ve noticed that two sales in a week can raise the ranking of the Kindle edition of Newton’s Ark by more than 300,000 places (it’s even worse with the paperback – once recent sale raised the ranking more than two million places!) To me that suggests the best seller ranking has a fairly low signal to noise ratio. Sure it’s still useful to distinguish between #1 and #100,000 but probably not between #75,000 and #175,000.

My other criticism is that Amazon ranks different editions of the same book separately. For example, a book that sells 100,000 copies on Kindle only would have a much higher best seller ranking than a book that sells 50,000 Kindle copies and 50,000 paperbacks. I think everyone will agree that both books are equally popular. If someone is trying to identify popular books they may wish to read, do they care what format other people are reading the books in, or just that they are reading them?

What’s my solution? Not that Amazon throw away it’s current best seller ranking but that it makes it clear what it means and also add additional measures. So for example, instead of just having one best seller ranking for a Kindle book you would have something like:

Best Seller Rankings

Kindle books – fastest selling: #102

Kindle books – most sold ever: #33,452

All formats – fastest selling: #245

All formats – most sold ever: #456,765

Front Range Retail Outlet

From Monday November 5, the paperback edition of Newton’s Ark will be available from the Brainfood Bookstore in Longmont just north of Denver (332 Main Street #C2). If you are in the area check it out and if not, take a minute to like their Facebook page.

They were quite excited to carry my book since a large part of it is set in Colorado and are really looking forward to Faraday’s Mine since much of it is set quite close to Longmont.