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As some of you may have seen I’ve been in Europe for nearly two months (August through to end of September) and maybe you thought that I had no publishing results while I was away.

I did a few things before I left Australia to make sure things were ticking over and while I wasn’t fully engaged in the promotion or writing side of Indie publishing, things were happening and somethings are easy to do on the run or the fly so to speak.

It is a bit early in the game to talk of trends, but I’m happy to say that August outperformed July. Let me cast my mind back and check my notes for August.

I had my books still up on Instafreebie by the way and I wrote to my newsletter subscribers to tell them I might be quiet. Travelling meant that I couldn’t participate in a lot of cross promotions. I had had Argenterra for free on a Freebooksy promotion and I left it free when I left. There seemed to be a tail there and ‘shrug’ it couldn’t hurt to leave it for free.

My Freebooksy results were around 2500 thousand copies given away and I earned the cost of it I think with people buying the second and third books.

I had signed up for a number of promos on Kobo which didn’t do anything at all. However, I did make $19 in August from Kobo, mostly people buying from the Silverlands series box set and the Dragon Wine Box set.

The great thing about Kobo is that the promotions are really easy to sign up for. I could do them on my phone. If Kobo accepts your submission for a promo it makes the changes to your prices if required. Some of these promos might be 30% off a box set. I thank case you need to do nothing at all as the promo is applied at point of sale. Most of these promos are free and you pay through a cut in royalties. This is a good thing if a promo doesn’t work for example. There are paid promos and I’ve only ever applied for a cheap one for $12 but haven’t been successful in getting one of those.

Streetlib was a no earner for me in August, but some freebies did go through there via Google Play.

Draft to Digital, which for me is Barnes and Noble, gave me around $35 Australian in earnings. Biggest for me. They would have to be the Freebooksy follow through purchases.

Surprisingly iTunes/iBooks was a big earner for me in August with $82.33 in earnings. Again I think some of that is the Argenterra Freebooksy and other sales are just random or coming from my newsletter.

Smashwords also came through for me with someone buying a whole set of the dragon wine books so about $15 Australian there.

And the big earner for me was Amazon with around $135 Australian in sales.

That’s approximately $285 from sales in August.

I also had a lovely person who had bought the ebooks order the full set of Dragon Wine in print so I can safely say my earnings were $300. Still small bickies but a steady increase. I was also glad I didn’t just take a rejection for Argenterra from Bookbub and used Freebooksy instead. That’s $100 US but that was money that was refunded from previous promotions that didn’t work so well.

Instafreebie was still ticking over but giveways were slowing down with no active cross promotion going on.

That’s double July folks.

I also had help from Patty Jansen’s ebookaroo which lifted the tail on the Freebooksy for Argenterra.

And I got news that I had been successful in gaining a Bookbub, International Only, but that’s excellent.

September

I don’t have all the figures in yet but I can work it out. Seeing as some of this money doesn’t get paid for months.
I found out today that Draft2Digital did not have my payment details. However, their tax interview process is so easy it was done in a jiffy.

As I was travelling, the main promotion in September was the International Bookbub for Shatterwing, Part One of the Dragon Wine series. I was so excited by this but didn’t really have anyone to share it with who really understood how amazing it was to finally get one. I think it has to be the wonderful covers from Frauke at Crocodesigns and the cover blurbs from Craig Cormick and Glenda Larke that swung it for me.

The international Bookbub runs in Canada, Australia, UK and India. It was for 99 cents. It cost around $200 to run it. I put all the stores to 99 cents, or so I thought. I didn’t realise that Canada and Australia were listed on Googleplay for $1.99 so the emails from Bookbub said my book was $1.99  and the sales were pretty lame in those countries as a result. Canada wasn’t too bad, Australia maybe I had four sales. I don’t really know. I was devastated and had to work out what happened. I sorted it out but still what a way to blow a good chance. UK sales though were pretty awesome and I must say the sell through in both UK and Canada has been good. So I’m thinking that the Bookbub paid for itself or will do.

I think there is a sweet spot there at 99 cents and $1.99. People are willing to try a book at 99 cents if you are unknown. If you are known and they want your book they will pay $1.99 and up. So in Australia that has to be true, Canada less so because books actually sold there despite the $1.99 price tag.

Here’s the thing, with the international Bookbub you can apply for a US one within 30 days. I did that and was refused. Why? Because my book had been reduced for more that 14 days in the last 90 days. I had to have it explained to me as I was confused. I always thought that you couldn’t offer to Bookbub if you reduced your price in the previous 90 days, but it is actually discounted for more that 14 days, so it’s okay to have a week or a day special price and that doesn’t reset the Bookbub submission clock. I will master these Bookbub rules.

Anyway I was a bit down in the mouth as not only did I stuff my international bookbub, I had stuffed the chance at the USA deal. But lo, a light did shine on me and I put my book in for a free promo Bookbub USA. I figured they could only say no. Yet, I was accepted. This confirms what I’ve been told that there are two different decision processes, paid and free. So I will have a USA Bookbub for Shatterwing in October. This is very cool because that is what I have wanted from the beginning. You can get a massive amount of downloads via Bookbub for a free fantasy book. Shatterwing is currently free because I was advised that Amazon were having difficulties discounting. Yet, as soon as I discounted elsewhere Amazon price matched so I requested the price to zero there too. Fingers crossed this all goes to plan.

Meanwhile I had put out feelers for someone to pitch to iBooks Australia for both my series. First attempt was a no, then out of the blue I get an email saying I’d been accepted for Shatterwing. It was going to be later in the month but then changed to today. So Shattering in iBooks Australia free book of the week. Which is blowing my mind. I did not expect that. Thank you Patrick and iBooks Australia.

So my results for September while I was travelling and couldn’t do much but I had an international bookbub (slightly underdone due to silly me and book settings).

Let me see.

No sales at all through Draft2Digital. This makes sense as my main sales are for Barnes and Noble and I had an International Book Bub which excludes the USA.

Kobo (I had a number of promotions. Some worked. Some were other sales)  $90 (58 books sold). I’m using the raw figure here but that doesn’t account for Kobo’s cut or exchange rates.

iBooks $88 with 59 books sold. Again raw figure, not counting exchange rates etc. Edit. Corrected figure is $118 and a bit more for US sales.

Streetlib was about $3-$4 but I have no idea what currency and have to wait a very long time to be paid given I haven’t reached the payment threshold yet.

Amazon approximately $260. This is an estimate because it’s in different currencies. The bulk of this was books sold for 99 cents, which means I earned 35 cents or pence.

In September I had sales across all my books, the bulk, some 231 copies of Shatterwing at 99 cents or pence. The sell through I think is around 10 per cent for book two and then less for books three and four. I had a couple of sales of the Argenterra series too.

So ebook sales are around $440  $470 so an increase on August. This is also more than the biggest royalty cheque I received from my traditional publishers.

I also had a book launch and print book sales at Conflux at the end of September so I haven’t done the accounting on that yet. I think I made enough to cover the cost of the table and maybe the cost of the books, which is good I think.

That’s me. I may pop back after the Bookbub and the Book of the Week Promo and tell you the results of that.

I consider myself very lucky to have some upward movement so soon after uploading the two series. I’m very lucky to have got a Bookbub relatively quickly. I have been the person who checks the sales figures and sees no sales. Now I see sales. Modest sales but believe me that’s better than none.

Many thanks to Patty Jansen for her advice and guidance and to Facebook group for promotion that I belong too. Thanks to the buyers of books and for liking the stories enough to read the series.

Here is a pic of me from my book launch taken by Cat Sparks. I know I posted it in the previous post but hey! Different audience.

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Recently, I’ve taken the Indie Publishing thing more seriously. I believe there is only two ways to go about this. Do it or don’t.

I’ve also learned that is also hard work and that it requires a different mind set from traditional publishing.

Traditional publishing you have the acceptance of the publisher etc and they (hopefully) have a strategy to market your books. If you have the print deal you get into books stores and launches and if the publishers are pretty good you’ll have some press releases and even a marketer selling your books, getting you press in various places. These days you have to do some of your own marketing, Twitter, Facebook Pages, Blogs, Instagram etc etc.

That is nothing like Indie Publishing. And I don’t even know the half of it. I’m at the bottom of the hill pushing the dung to the top.

So what have I learned so far?

Advice is out there. Ask. I have learned so much mostly from the generosity of Patty Jansen and her cadre of Indie Publishers. (I’ll put a link up her page at the bottom of this post). Believe me there is a lot to ask.

Putting your book up on Smashwords or Ingrams and expecting it to sell doesn’t work (except maybe in some fluke circumstances). Believe me I had a book up there and it didn’t do much. You have to write more books. I had to turn that one Indie Published book into a trilogy. And I have the rights  back to another series so by mid-year I’ll be playing with eight Indie Published books and that gives me more options marketing wise/promotion wise. This does not include my traditionally published works under my own name and my pen name.

New skill sets…administration, formatting, Photoshop, buying stock images, learning about newsletters, different places to market my books, cross-promotions, pricing etc.

That’s just a quick overview. You really don’t understand until you do it. For example, I buy my own ISBNs so they have to be registered, then I register them with the National Library Catalogue in Print, then there is listing the books with different sellers and distributors, writing blurbs (the hardest thing of all), hiring editors, proofreaders, cover artists and writing briefs for cover artists. There are the ebooks to format and upload and print files to prepare…yadda yadda

Yet, it is rewarding. This has been the most challenging thing that I have done. It’s scary. It’s empowering. But most important of all–it’s a business. That’s the biggest change in mindset for me. I want to make a living from my writing. I want people to read and enjoy my books. I have to get the books out there. I have to find my audience.

So big achievement of the week. There have been a number of them, but sending out my first newsletter is the star  moment.

I’ve called the newsletter Wing Dust. People who have read the Dragon Wine series will get the reference.

Here is my newsletter banner, which I put together on Photoshop. Thank you You Tube for the tutorial. (It’s a very complicated and powerful program btw).

Newsletter banner master amended

If you want to sign up to my newsletter click here. 

You can unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time.

Heartfelt thank you to Patty Jansen. I suggest reading a few of her posts on Indie Publishing. Great advice and good sense from her. You can find her here.

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I am taking the writing gig seriously and this year you’ll see a lot of output from me (I expect five books out by June). So I want to put together a newsletter mailing list.

I’ve signed up with Mailchimp and I have a very basic sign up form.

I was hoping some of you lovely people would test it out for me and also that some of you would be interested in being on the list.

The mailing list URL is here. Feel free to tell me if it doesn’t work.

Also feel free to tell me what topics you want to hear about.

There’s

  • the PhD study
  • Writing advice
  • Self-publishing tips (as I learn them!)
  • Retro romance reading
  • General stuff.

Also, today took a serious turn. I’ve book a proofreader for the books coming up. This saves me a world of angst and time. I can proofread, but it is hard to do your own books and it takes me several run throughs to reduce errors. So booking a proofreader is worth the cost and has been added to the book budget.

I expect two edits to come in around the same time. Egad! Not planned that way.

And I put my toe in the water folks. I submitted a request for a Bookbub promotion. I’ll let you know how that pans out. But I expect it will take a few goes.

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It is still very early days in my hybrid/self-publishing venture for the Silverlands series. Book one is out and my main focus is on gaining reviews for the book. Why is this important? Bookbub. When I have all three books out I want to submit to Bookbub. You need reviews for that. Good reviews. So far so good. I don’t have a lot of reviews but what I have I’m very pleased with. There is a lot of retweeting of a review prefaced with How Not To Write Distopian YA. I thought that rather amusing. I wasn’t writing dystopian YA, but epic fantasy with a YA feel. Yet it might have some dystopian elements, of course. My main sin is a cliffhanger ending. Apparently cliffhangers are to cause people to buy the rest of the series. Hell everyone wants their readers to buy the next book. Mine wasn’t for that purpose. I started Argenterra when I was a newbie. I’ve thought long and hard how to move the ending…before the cliffhanger….after the cliffhanger…and nothing seemed to work. To top it all off, book two has a cliffhanger too. I guess I have to own that I’m evil.

My woes! Would you believe I have had the most difficult time with book 2? Firstly, I have to revise it a little and polish it before it gets edited. That’s sort of sitting there while I finish book three. Book three is totally rocking btw. However, I need to finish the draft before I go back to book two so I can align some things. Issues with agency, pulling back in some places so I can redeem a character in book three. The usual stuff.

The cover and the name of book two has been a real issue. I believe this problem crops up for authors in traditional publishing. I know I had to face it with Dragon Wine. Changing the name of the book (s). For example, in my original thinking there were three books in the Moon Fall Trilogy, Dragon Wine, Dragon Wing and Dragon Wane. Then Momentum took Dragon Wine. The editor wanted to split the book, call the series Dragon wine and I had to come up with two names for the first two parts. That was hard work and eventually I came up with Shatterwing and Skywatcher. It’s going to be a real bugger with Dragon Wing when I get around to publishing that. If I publish it in two parts what the hell and I going to call them. Barrahiem and Deathwings??? Your guess is as good as mine.

So back to the Silverlands…Book Two was called The Crystal Gate. Getting the cover together for this was proving to be hard. We tried a couple of combos but they weren’t working, particularly as I wanted the series’ covers to have some consistent feel across them. I’ve been stressed. I’ve been anxious. I’ve had sleepless nights. Then I realized I had to change the name of book two and think up a new concept for the cover. I tossed and turned and then it came to be: Book Two should be called Oathbound. That way I could have Sophy on the cover and used symbolism to denote the chaos of the oaths have brought round in the story, not just for Sophy but for others.

Yet I was so stressed because I was mucking the artist around. I like to be very straight, say what I want so all this indecision was like killing me. I know it’s a bit silly, but the responsibility for this is all mine. The cover, the content, the marketing…and I want it to be good, not crap…not just another ebook flung into the ether…I’m proud of this production. So there’s the woe. It is really tough.

I consulted with the lovely Aiki, who had beta read book two. She totally agreed with Oathbound being the best name for the book. I think I gave her a sleepless night. She’s arty, you know, not like me. She came up with the idea of binding or chains. You can find out about Aiki here. She’s multi talented and an author of an amazing SF YA story that’s coming out soon. Also she has been so supportive. High five, Aiki.

So anyway, I bit the bullet and emailed the lovely Les Petersen. I sent him my horrible sketch, some photos of my model with different expressions and he sent me this like within an hour or so.

Oathbound

I think this is amazing. I love it so much. It was just what I was picturing. Thank you Les for not sending the hit men after me.

Now I’m going to show you book one and two together. Les added the subtitle to book one (somehow I forgot that originally). Anyway, let me know what you think.

 

I should add that the cover for Book three is going well. Book three is called, Ungiven Land. I believe Sophy has a sword!

So if you are interested in checking out Argenterra. Here are the buy links. It’s available in ebook from your favourite ebook retailer.

Print copy from Book Depository here

Amazon.com Here

Amazon.com.au Here

Kobo Here

ibooks Here

Print (Amazon.com) Here.

Time to go back to work on the PhD. It’s creative project work today.

 

 

 

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Today marks the end of my working life in the Australian Public Service. It’s my last pay day. I can’t begin to express how big a change this is for me at this time of my life. I gave up my big paying job, my ‘social capital’ as an educated woman and well-paid over spender/consumer. I gave up building my nest egg and putting heaps of money into my house, or using it to go traveling or just buying shit. I’m sure this will bother me in future, but now I don’t have regrets. (I’m pretty scared about not having money but its’ not like I’ll have none just less! Okay a lot less. A $100,000 less on paper.)

The bottom line was my arthritic spine was making my life pretty miserable and I wanted to spend what productive time I have doing what I want, while I can.

Upside, I can now talk about politics and stupid things that bother me without being threatened with the sack.

I think doing the PhD allowed me not to think about anything but the Phd. It gave me something to put my mental claws in. I am enjoying it. Now, I didn’t get a stipend so that makes things tougher financially. Not that stipends are huge, but it would have helped. Needless to say I’m going to apply again (and fill out the forms correctly this time) at the end of the year. But I have to face the fact that this is it. It’s me, my superannuation and my mortgage. I have the lovely Matthew but I don’t want to impose on him at all, so I’ll be paying my way on the household stuff. My life decisions shouldn’t be reducing his quality of lifestyle.

Then there’s the writing. Still a big part of my  life. The self publishing/Indie publishing thing well I have to see where that takes me.

My previous post I spoke about Print on Demand publishing. I have made my first stupid mistake that cost me money. Not a lot of money, but still I already paid that bugger and had to pay it again. And today is when the money just stops!

You see I found a typo on the very last line of my acknowledgements. It was one letter on a page that maybe no one would read. So I changed the files (I haven’t done iBooks yet as I need a Mac!). For everything it wasn’t a problem, except of Ingram Sparks. I didn’t realise they were going to charge me for the set up fee again, even for the epub file. They charge US $25 to upload your epub file and another $25 for the print. I think other places like Smashwords (which I didn’t use) doesn’t charge.  So fingers burnt. If I waited until other people reported typos then I could have done a lot at the same time, but no I had to change this one letter for about $60 Australian. So lesson learnt.

I’m not complaining that people have to be paid to do their job. Fair enough. I’m complaining that I was stupid, didn’t even think about it and got my fingers burnt.

Createspace hasn’t charged me to reload the print file but I have to go through the review process again. Lesson make sure the file is typo free (it’s really hard) and if you find a typo and it’s a wee thing live with it. That’s what you had to do in the old off-set days.

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Having your book in print, in physical form, is the best feeling ever! No doubt about it.

Print on Demand (PoD) services are fantastic (if you get the right ones) because with digital publishing technology you can do small print runs (one book) and the books are fairly economical to produce. No longer do you have to do an offset print run (old-style) and have a garage full of unsold books to get a price per unit down to a manageable level. With a print book you can wave it about and say look at me. You can do a book launch, sell books, and do book signings. You can take your book on holiday and photograph it in picturesque places. You can give copies to people. You can sell them. That’s the up side!

The best place for a book is in a book shop. This is because people go to book shops to buy books. They go to browse and if that shiny god of inspiration is shining on your book and your browser, you may get yourself a sale. Baring that, having reviews, word of mouth etc may get a person going into the book store to actually buy your book. Other venues for sales include conventions, but that can result in no sales, a few sales or heaps of sales, depending on a number things, including the size and the book buying inclination of the attendees. On line book stores are fab too. My own experience has been that I go to them when I know what I want and I need it now. On line is not a good place for browsing, unless you have promo! A flag waving promo that says buy me because I’m a must read before you die Alas, those promos cost big biccies.

There’s nothing stopping PoD books being in book stores. Nothing, nothing except a small thing.

Book stores traditionally get a cut from the sale of the book, usually a discount on the Recommended Retail Price (RRP) and this discount can be 40 to 45 percent (sometimes more, maybe less but not so in my experience unless the bookstore owners are awesome and treat you like a star). That’s not so bad is it? I mean I can do that. I have done that given the standard discount on my books to book stores. I’ve got to pay a percentage to the distributor too, lets say 10 to 15 percent. Okay  I’m cool with that. Bring it on! Buy my books in wonderful, awesome bookstores!

Here’s the catch. When bookstores buy from distributors and mainstream publishers they usually have a six months sales and return condition on the purchase. That is, if the books don’t sell they can send them back. This is a risk management set up so that the bookstore doesn’t have the risk of non sales.  There is, of course, firm sale options where bookstores might get a bigger discount if they take a number of books but if they don’t sell they are stuck with them. The risk is on the book seller then.

With PoD, I know with my supplier, I can opt for accepting returns, but I have no idea how that would work. In principle, with POD the book comes into being because of the order so what happens if it is no longer wanted? The options are the book gets destroyed and the purchaser gets a refund on the cost of the book (not the postage) or it gets returned to the distributor and the returnee pays the postage. After this I don’t know what happens. Can it be resold? Dunno! So I’ve opted for no returns.

So in this way, despite  allowing a discount on my books that are comparable to traditional publishers, I am most likely locked out of bookstores, unless I approach them myself and even supply them from my supply of books. My book is not competitive because it can’t be returned (it might be noncompetitive for other reasons too, like no promo, no rep, no sales history etc). The other downside which works against bricks and mortar bookstores supplying/ordering/selling POD titles, is that if they order one book they have to pay postage (usually that would have be passed on to the buyer indirectly or directly). If they ordered five or ten then it would be cheaper but they aren’t going to do that because they can’t return them. If you as a book buyer are lucky enough to have a bookstore that will order in PoD titles then stick to them. Thank them. Send them Christmas cards or seasons greetings because they are awesome. Online it’s a bit different because you expect to pay postage (or not) depending on the store.

The upshot of this is that PoDs are not going to get you heaps of sales through bookstores. They are lovely to have. (I’m going to be selling my pretties at Supanova in Sydney in June!) but we are still small biccies, unless we become big biccies.

I ask myself why I have priced my books to allow bookshops to get the 40 percent and the distributor their percentage. I should race over to my set up page and change it to the minimum, but maybe I’m optimistic that some bookstores will either buy my book or supply it to lovely people who order it in and for that, I’d like them to be compensated.

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Cover by Les Petersen

Buy links for Argenterra here.

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So Argenterra, my YA/adult crossover fantasy is out there in the world. Fly baby, fly.

I have paid for some advertising,  and stuff, but essentially the only copies that have sold so far were friends buying the pre order. I’m very grateful to them! Thanks guys.

I have sent out a couple of review copies. All reviews help! I am waiting to see what the reviewers think. If you want to review it, please let me know.

It’s early days so I’m not going to stress about sales. From past experiences it goes in ups and downs. Discoverability is the biggest challenge with ebooks or small press or Indie publishing. The book is not sitting on a shelf in a book store waving hello to you as you walk in. (As an aside the print book is discounted to book stores at 40% and can be ordered via Ingrams.) For buy links click  here or see My Books Tab.

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Cover by Les Petersen

What I did want to say is that Argenterra is first in a series and I’m committed to putting the three books out. There should be a cliff hanger warning too! For that reason I’ve included the first chapter of book two at the end of book one.

As a self/Indie publisher I can make the commitment to publish the whole series. I may not put them all out in hard copy print, but we’ll see what demand is like. I’m currently revising/polishing book 2, The Crystal Gate. It’s written but I haven’t looked at the draft since 2009. My writing has changed a bit since then. I need to have it beta read, edited before I can layout etc. The proofing and stuff can take a couple of weeks too. I’m hoping to finish the revision by the end of May.

Book Three is partially drafted at 50,000 words. At the time I was writing it, I figured it wasn’t worth finishing a trilogy that hadn’t sold. Now the publishing world is completely different. Now it’s my trilogy and I’m in control so I will get it done and out there.Drafting book three to 135,000 words may take until much later in the year.

Control is so underrated.

As Dragon Wine was put out by Momentum, I had no say in the book being split in two, which people complained about. And as the books didn’t sell sufficiently well, they declined to publish the next book in the series.  A nice blow after working on it for ten years! Thousands were downloaded for free, but unfortunately that didn’t translate to sales. However, the next book is drafted and I will try to get it out later in the year. It’s a bit hard when I don’t have the rights to the first book and given it’s lack lustre performance and it’s very dark nature I can’t quite make up my mind what to do. It’s hard not to get disheartened and lose faith in your work. Alas, Momentum is no more, but Pan Mac have the rights. The Dragon Wine series is quite complex and dark. I may have to lighten it a bit before I publish the next installment. If I publish it.

Dragonwine

Dragon Wine Series

My previous post may have sounded a bit down on traditional publishers. It wasn’t meant to be. It’s just that the crisis in publishing is affecting everyone in the industry and it makes life difficult, particularly here in Australia. I have an agent trying sell a book to traditional publishers.It’s a good book-hasn’t sold but I’m not giving up yet on that. I’ve only half written the sequel to that.  I have more books written that I’d like to see get traditional publishing deals. It’s just tough out there and it takes a lot of time. With 15 years worth of writing behind me, I have a little bit of a back list of unpublished novels. I’m also working on new ones. I may be hyper active. Here’s hoping the PhD will keep me busy, too busy to write anything else but the PhD novel.

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