In the midst of chaos…

Sorry for the long delay in updates, the past couple of months have been highly chaotic. (I won’t bore you with the details, but they involve cons, visits from kids, job changes, illness, and a book launch.)

I’ll have more before Christmas. Hang in there, and as always, if you need something quickly, email me or reply here.

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Version 0.6 coming soon, new user interface

First, my apologies for the delay in getting updated versions released. If you need something quickly, please feel free to email or leave a comment here.
Main pushbutton UI
Version 0.6 will be released soon (not until after MileHiCon this weekend, though). It will feature a new simplified pushbutton interface to get you started if you just need the basics (adding sales data, getting information about a specific title, seeing sales info as a graph, etc).

It will look something like this:
There’s a slightly larger version on this website’s front page.

Stay tuned…

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Minor update, post Worldcon revamp in progress

The latest version is 0.5.2. This corrects a problem with processing Smashwords’ files which include a payment, and handles a minor change that Amazon made to their Kindle sales reports. (It also fixes an error introduced in 0.5.1. That version wasn’t available for more than a few minutes.)

After Worldcon in Reno, and Bubonicon the week after that in Albuquerque, I’ve had enough cons for a while (next up: MileHiCon in Denver at the end of October). I also got some great feedback on what users would like to see in the software. I’ll be introducing some user interface changes to make the easy things (or what should be the easy things) easier. Stay tuned.

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Version 0.5 available, changes database format

Magic Bakeshop 0.5.0 is now available on the download page. Note, the underlying database format changes in this version (more about that below), and if you open an old (0.4.x or earlier) database, this version will silently update it to the new version. This works fine in testing here, but if you have live data you don’t want to take chances with, make a backup copy of your .db file(s) first.

Why the database change? A couple of reasons, but first a bit of background. As it happens I have a few ebooks which have slightly different titles on Amazon than they do on other sites. Reason is, I started experimenting with Amazon first then added other sites later. Some of my short-story titles on Amazon include the text “(short story)” in the title (e.g. Into the Fire (short story)). Great for letting the buyer know what he or she is getting, not so great when trying to match up sales from other sites where the title is merely Into the Fire. The database change provides a method for tying different title versions together, reporting them all under a single title. (The code handles this fine; the user-friendly interface for tying two or more title versions together is still in progress.) A similar change is in place to handle pen-names, although this isn’t yet visible in the user interface.

Other changes include fixes to loading data files from Comixology and Google Books, and some cosmetic changes like updating the splash screen graphics.

As mentioned earlier, I’ll be at the Reno Worldcon later this week and next weekend. If you have questions or comments, or would like a demo, track me down there, or better yet, email me or reply here to schedule something. Cheers.

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A series of unfortunate events…

Okay, I cribbed the title from Lemony Snicket, but it does describe my past month. Without going into details that are probably boring to anyone who doesn’t know me personally (and many who do), suffice it to say that they involved a lot of paperwork and a house move, but are now (mostly) over. The upside is that now there’ll be more time to work on software and writing projects, and more office space in which to do that work.

The current version of Magic Bakeshop Sales Tracker is still (as of right now) 0.4.2, with 0.5 in progress and anticipating release this weekend.

Renovation, this year’s Worldcon, is coming up in Reno next week, and I’ll be there. I’ll have the latest version on my laptop, track me down if you want a demo. (Right now I’m not scheduled for any panels. I expect to be at the SFWA meeting on Saturday and the Codex breakfast Friday — and as many parties as I can find 😉 )

I hope to see some of you there.

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Dean Wesley Smith on The Magic Bakery

The name “Magic Bakeshop” was inspired in part by Dean Wesley Smith’s metaphor of a Magic Bakery. He’s been updating his “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing” blog series, and he’s just republished the chapter where he describes this metaphor in detail. Dean’s blog is always worth a read, and this installment is particularly apropos. As he puts it:

Think of us (every writer) as a huge bakery and all we make is pies. Magic pies, that seem to just reform after we sell off pieces of the pie to customers. And each pie can be divided into thousands of pieces if we want.

The Magic Pie secret ingredient is called “Copyright.”

Every story we write, every novel we write, is a magic pie full of copyright.

But go, read the whole thing.

Oh, and updated versions of the software are on the way. I’ve been making some under-the-hood changes to make some planned future enhancements easier. More on that soon.

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Slight delay on 0.5, 0.4.2 is available.

My goals for the 0.5 were a little more ambitious that it turned out I had time for this week (life kept interfering). In the meantime, I’m putting up 0.4.2 for those of you who want to give it a try. (Direct download link here.)

New features include recognition of reports from Google Books, Graphicly, and Comixology. The latter two are, as you might guess, for graphic novels and comic books. (Loading Comixology is still a bit problematic because they changed their format; it should be working for 0.5). (This brings to nine the number of different outlets, not even counting channels within each outlet such as Amazon’s overseas sites or Smashword’s third-party retailers. Nor is it counting a number of outlets I’m aware of but do not have sales data for yet. If you’re only dealing with Amazon, you’re leaving money on the table.)

Also, the Help system is now in place, although much of the actual help content remains to be written. That will keep growing with successive releases, with completion coinciding with the 1.0 release.

As always, let me know if you encounter problems, or have questions or suggestions. What else would you like to see?

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Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day, for the US folks (and a belated happy Canada Day for the Canadians here).

In the spirit of this, I really ought to have an “Independents’ Day” release of the software, but I took some time to get out of town with my kids. Rest assured that I’m still working on it. (In addition to by-date tracking, I’ve been looking at doing some statistical analysis on the sales data to highlight titles that are doing significantly better (or worse) than your average. Info that might be worth knowing.)

Look for version 0.5 sometime this coming weekend.

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Try Version 0.4.1a, it’s easier

After some early feedback on 0.4, I cleaned up the user interface to make it easier to figure out and use. No real change in function, just easier.

Download MagicBakeShop-0.4.1a.

After you start it up and load data (or open an existing database), you’ll see a dashboard panel with some options. Most of the time all you’ll need is to check “Summarize” and click “Refresh”. The Title: field lets you select by title; it is not fussy about letter case, and will take * as a wildcard character.

Some people are reporting problems loading Smashwords files that I can’t duplicate with the data I have. If you have such a file that won’t load, please let me know. Thanks.

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Version 0.4a available for download

As I mentioned in an earlier post, this version allows multiple file select for import; selection of title, vendor (seller) and/or date range for display; and summarizing by title and currency. The charting options will operate on the “current view” of the data as displayed in the table. The control area to allow this appears once you’ve
opened a database.

By the way, you can export the whole database to an Excel spreadsheet. You can also copy from the table window and paste it into a spreadsheet. (Use ctrl-C or command-C to copy the selected area, the Edit menu is not yet active.) In the charts/graphs, if you right-click you’ll get a pop-up menu which will let you print or save the chart as an image. Still working on getting that working properly for the main view.

Still working on importing the new file formats I received this week, and on documentation and help functions.

The executable file is here: MagicBakeShop-0.4a.jar

As always, please let me know if you encounter problems, inconsistencies or have suggestions for new features.

Update: I had a typo in the above link. Corrected now.

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