Friday, April 21, 2017

"Subverting Readers' Expectations through a Fictional Tarot Reading" posted online

I've recorded and posted my 2017 PCA/ACA talk and slideshow, "Subverting Readers' Expectations through a Fictional Tarot Reading in The Billionth Monkey," as I'm unlikely to reprise it elsewhere. It includes a reading from Chapter 1, plus a discussion of how I use the Tarot reading in this scene as a form of misdirection.

CONTAINS SPOILERS after the reading.

Apologies for occasional audio glitches around the slide transitions, due to how PowerPoint records audio.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Shakespeare and Marlowe acknowledged as collaborators on "Henry VI"

The long-suspected collaboration between William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe on Henry VI will be made official in the New Oxford Shakespeare. Scholars estimate that 2/5 of the Bard's plays involved a collaborator to some degree or another. Heck, there has even been serious speculation that Shakespeare collaborated on Hamlet Special Edition with some obscure Polish author.

For more on Shakespeare, Marlowe and the New Oxford Shakespeare, see here.*
For more on Hamlet Special Edition, see Wikibard and Stanley's Marvelous Comics.

* The author has taken perverse pleasure in not using the Oxford comma in this sentence.

Friday, May 20, 2016

The latest review of "The Billionth Monkey" offers high praise indeed!

I'm very honored to have a glowing review of The Billionth Monkey from fellow author Robert Dean Lurie. Better than Good Omens? *blush*
I am hugely enjoying this debut novel by Richard Kaczynski. His writing has been compared to Douglas Adams and Neil Gaiman, but I will take that one step further: I think this is better than Gaiman and Pratchett's Good Omens. I have read Kaczynski's nonfiction with avid interest for years, but The Billionth Monkey demonstrates that he is a born novelist. More please!
Thanks so much, Robert! More fiction is on the way (along with more nonfiction).

Robert is the author of No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and The Church and the eBook We Can Be Heroes: The Radical Individualism of David Bowie. He also produced and performed on the tribute album The Dark Side of Hall and Oates

To order The Billionth Monkey in paperback, ebook, or limited hardcover editions, see the right-hand sidebar.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

"The Billionth Monkey" ebook on sale this weekend for Shakespeare 400

Celebrate ‪Shakespeare400‬ (the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death) with The Billionth Monkey--including the Hamlet Special Edition mini-comic by William Shakespeare, Greg LaRocque, Robert Randle, Aaron Tatum, and Rus Wooton--on sale this weekend for 99¢ in Kindle, iBook, and Nook formats.

Friday, April 22, 2016

"The Billionth Monkey" ebook on sale this weekend

Spare a tree + feed a writer: The Billionth Monkey ebook is only 99¢ this Earth Day weekend! Available in Kindle, iBook, and Nook formats.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

What kind of book post does Facebook "like"?

One benefit of blogging virtual footnotes to The Billionth Monkey and posting links on the book's Facebook page is that it gives me data about what posts have more "reach" than others. Here's what I discovered:

Performing well: 

Links to illustrated blog posts.
On the Billionth Monkey's Facebook page, links to blog posts that contain an image had an average reach of 500 people. This number was slightly correlated to likes/shares/comments (r=.44). This makes sense, since likes potentially mean the post shows up in other users' feeds. The size of the correlation, however, isn't huge, accounting for only 20% of variation in a post's reach.

Performing poorly:

Links to blog posts with no images.
I just couldn't find an image for a handful of posts, and these performed significantly worse than those for illustrated entries. These posts had an average reach of 123. This number may be exaggerated (skewed) by one post that performed much better than all the others. The median reach for these posts was just 41, compared to a median reach of 524 for illustrated blog posts.

Non-blog posts that self-tag.
In various book-related news and announcements on the Billionth Monkey Facebook page, I also tagged the page itself. These posts also performed poorly, with an average reach of 93. As with the previos category, one high-performing post skews the distribution. The median reach for these posts was just 11.

(NB: Self-tagging the Billionth Monkey page did not affect the reach of posts that linked to illustrated blog content.)

Posts using the word "sale."There was an ebook flash-sale in February to celebrate the Year of the Monkey. All posts about the sale had an average reach of only 21. This does not include one promoted post which also appeared at this time.

Links to
Occasionally I linked to in order to let people know where to purchase the book, or to draw attention to a new review. These posts had an average reach of 24.

Post type Average reach Median reach
Illustrated blog posts 500 524
Blog posts without images 123 41
Self-tagged announcements 93 11
Using the word "sale" 21 22
Links to Amazon 24 24

This suggests that posts linking to illustrated blog content had a reach over ten times greater than non-illustrated blog content, and roughly twenty times greater than commercial posts (i.e., which used the word "sale" or linked to a commercial website).

A few caveats

I'm only counting the 61 posts since late December 2015. The way Facebook calculates reach apparently changed significantly around Christmas. Prior to that, the "reach" reported by Facebook for my posts is consistently around 1/20th of what is reported after that date. Rather than confound these results with two different methods of calculating reach, I stopped collecting data prior this point.

Since the number of post "likes" seems to affect reach, it's difficult to know whether posts are low-performing because Facebook's algorithms limit the reach of certain types of content, or if poor performance is related to people just not being interested in certain types of posts. However, I found that reach is somewhat correlated with likes (r=.44), and the number of likes on all of my posts was pretty consistent. So I'm inclined to think that the substantially limited reach of these posts has less to do with the number of likes and more to do with Facebook's algorithms for who sees what in their news feed.

In conclusion, here's an image from Giphy to help more people see this post on Facebook: