Paul Samael

Read by robots

August 22, 2014

In common, I suspect, with many authors, I write at least partly in the hope that at least a few other people will read my stuff.  So I was a little dismayed to discover that the overwhelming majority of my “readers” on Scribd appear not to have been people at all, but robots.

Until recently, Scribd was showing my total “reads” as being about 1.4K.  I was somewhat sceptical of this (see this post) and thought the true figure was probably in the low three figures – but felt that even this wasn’t bad and still justified the extra effort of putting my material up there in the first place.

Last month though, I noticed that my “reads” - now renamed “views” -  had been reduced by about 90%, to a mere 145.  Having made some further enquiries of Scribd, it turns out that the vast majority of my 1.4K “reads” were simply the result of automated web-bots crawling the site – which Scribd have now, quite sensibly, excluded.

 
Never mind, I thought, it still looks as if over a hundred people have read some of my stuff on Scribd.  But Scribd also confirmed my suspicion that even if a person looks at your work for a couple of seconds and then moves on, that counts as a “view”.  Which means that a fair proportion of those 145 “views” are just people browsing and not actually reading.  So the actual total is likely to be well under three figures – which is so low that I don’t think I’m going to bother with Scribd in future (except possibly by allowing Smashwords to distribute to it).  

Of course, it is entirely possible that the stats on other platforms are hopelessly unreliable too.  But I have more confidence in sites like Smashwords, because the count relates to downloads, so should by definition exclude web crawlers etc.  And if someone has downloaded your book, that is roughly comparable with someone buying it or getting it out of the library.  They may or may not actually go on to read it – so a discount clearly needs to be applied (and it may well need to be a pretty hefty one), but at least we don’t need to discount even further in order to exclude web-bots and the like.  

And even if their stats are unreliable, I am pretty confident at least a handful of real people have actually read my stuff on sites like Smashwords and Feedbooks because they have been kind enough to review it.  If any of those reviewers are robots, please own up now and I will happily nominate you for one these Artificial Intelligence prizes.

Robot image downloaded from Freepik.

 

HHhH by Laurent Binet

July 31, 2014



This book by the French author Laurent Binet is described in its blurb as a “novel” but I think it would be more accurate to categorise it as “faction.”  What I mean by that is that the book is based quite closely around actual historical events but it also has certain features in common with other genres, like memoir or, at times, fiction.  I have blogged about faction before – in particular a book called “Red Plenty” by Francis Spufford, who started off writing a factual accou...

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Abraham the Anchor Baby Terrorist

March 8, 2014



This is a very interesting and well written novel by Sean Boling, whose collection of short stories (“Pigs and Other Living Things”) I have already reviewed on this blog.  It’s about an attempt by Islamic terrorists to insert a long term “sleeper” agent into the US.  This is to be done by smuggling a pregnant Algerian woman into the country and passing her off as a South American immigrant;  her son, the Abraham of the title, is to be raised to carry out as yet unspecified tasks on ...


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The Hole in the Wall

February 5, 2014


"The Hole in the Wall" by Clare Fisher is another mid-length piece (longer than a short story, shorter than a novel) of the type which I have been trying to promote on this blog because it is so under-represented in modern fiction (but I recognise that I may now be in severe danger of boring people to death with this point).  Luckily, we live in the age of the e-reader, which seems to be (slowly) helping to create more of a market for mid-length fiction - so maybe, eventually...


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Stream of consciousness: what does it mean to you?

January 8, 2014



Fear not:  this blog entry is not intended to be a free-flowing word association experiment chronicling all thoughts and feelings passing through my head right now.  That may come as a relief to you, although possibly not to my employers, for whom I should really be doing some work (the trouble is, I work from home on Wednesdays and it’s easy to get distracted when you start thinking about interesting concepts like “stream of consciousness”).  It’s also easy to get distracted by gazin...

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The Free Indie Reader No.1

December 20, 2013


Just wanted to draw attention to this interesting project from Tom Lichtenberg - it's a collection of short stories he has put together from self-published authors, intended to act as a "free sampler."  As Tom explains here, it's an attempt to reach a wider audience than he has so far managed by reviewing other people's work on his blog and elsewhere - so I hope it succeeds.  

I say that with a certain amount of self-interest, because it includes one of my stories.  But even if that were not t...
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Interview with James Crawshaw

November 22, 2013





Here’s an email interview with James Crawshaw, one of the founders of bibliotastic, a free ebooks platform based in the UK, which occupies a space somewhere between a straight ebooks platform (like Smashwords or Feedbooks) and a peer review/”incubator” site for new writers (like YouWriteOn – which I have reviewed here). 

I recently submitted my novel to the site and am happy to report that it was a straightforward process – bibliotastic will also convert your Word...


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The Future Manifestations of Saint Christina the Astonishing

November 13, 2013





This short book describes eight appearances of the medieval “Saint” Christina the Astonishing (the unofficial patron saint of people affected by mental illness) in the near and distant future.  The “real” Saint Christina is said to have risen from the dead during the course of her funeral – and when I say “risen”, I mean literally soaring up to the roof of the church where the ceremony was being held.  According to Wikipedia, she flew up there because she couldn...


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3 by Moxie Mezcal

November 3, 2013



3 is a collection of three long-ish, meaty short stories by Moxie Mezcal.  By “meaty” I mean that they could almost qualify for the novella tag – because there is so much going on in terms of plot and interesting ideas that by the time you’ve finished, you are left with the kind of feeling more commonly associated with longer fiction.
 

The first story, “Home Movie,” is about a porn store DVD which has been replaced with what appears to be a snuff movie – is it ...


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The King of Infinite Space

October 18, 2013




Just published a new short story on Feedbooks.  Stylistically, it's more in the same vein as "Agricultural Production in the Sudan" i.e. quite short, verging on flash fiction - but rather different subject matter.

It was partly prompted by Jonathan Franzen's much ridiculed article in the Guardian last month, where he rails against self-publishers as worthless "yakkers and bloggers", who are wantonly destroying the delicate publishing eco-system (in contrast to highly paid professionals like hi...

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About Me


Paul Samael Welcome to my blog, "Publishing Waste" which will either (a) chronicle my heroic efforts to self-publish my own fiction; or (b) demonstrate beyond a scintilla of doubt the utter futility of (a). And along the way, I will also be doing some reviews of other people's books.
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