Interview: Mark Fassett and the TrackerBox Mac Kickstarter

What is TrackerBox?

TrackerBox is software for writers that takes all of the reports they get from Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and a host of other distributors, and organizes them into a single, manageable set of reports.

TrackerBox is currently only supported on Windows, but there’s a Kickstarter campaign to fund development of TrackerBox Mac!
 


 
The Kickstarter ends on Friday, November 17th 2017, so check it out if you’d like to see a Mac version of this extremely handy tool become reality!

Meet Mark!

Mark is an author, musician, software developer, and the creator of both StoryBox, a tool for writing and publishing, and TrackerBox.

The Interview

What exactly does TrackerBox do, and why does it save authors/publishers so much time?

TrackerBox will take the spreadsheets you download from the various booksellers like Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo, and it will put them into a single database. Then you can use the various reports and filters that TrackerBox provides to look at your sales data almost any way you choose (you can’t look at it upside down, of course). The biggest benefit, I think, is that it usually only takes a minute or so to import all of the sales data from all of your various booksellers. It will take a bit longer if you’ve added new books or a new bookseller as you have to answer a couple questions each time TrackerBox sees anything it doesn’t recognize.

What retailers and distributors does TrackerBox support, and do you have plans to add more?

There’s a long list, and it’s only getting longer. It supports the major players, Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, and Nook Press, but it also supports quite a few distributors like Draft2Digital, Smashwords, XinXii, and recently added Pronoun. CreateSpace, Lightning Source, and Lulu are supported if you sell paper books, and ACX for audiobooks. That’s most of them, I think.

What’s involved with adding support for the Mac?

The Windows version was written in a language called C# and I used some software from another company to help me make it all pretty (well, as pretty as I can get it). That software is not available on the Mac (and C# isn’t really available in a way that I like, either), so I have to redo pretty much all of the code from scratch for OS X.

What kinds of reports can be generated? For example, suppose an author wants to drill down into sales of one series, or just look at sales of their stories in bundles.

You can see Net Sales or Net Income overall, or by title, or by title and vendor, and you can filter them pretty much any way you like: by Author, Title, Bookseller, Date, Sales type (Sales, Page Reads, Borrows, or Free), and more.

Also, I recently introduced filter sets into the Windows version, which lets you save a set of filters and recall them by selecting the filterset from a list. You can use this to do things like select all the titles in a series, and then you can recall that set to see just the one series, or to quickly get to the sales of all of your short stories.

Will Kickstarter supporters get a copy of TrackerBox Mac for less than the normal retail price, what will that price be, and what’s the license model?

Yes. The normal price will be $89.99 US, and I rarely do sales (I’ve done them just once before in the entire six years I’ve been selling it), so the Kickstarter pledge of $75 is about $15 off the normal price. This is a one-time fee, and will get you updates to the base software for free. There may be some add-ons at an additional cost at a later date, but they won’t ever be required to run the software. I only mention that because I have talked with some publishers about a publisher version with some additional features, but there aren’t any solid plans as of yet.

The license model is basically one copy per person using it. It’s licensed to an email address, not a machine, so you can use it on as many computers as you own. I make an exception to the one copy per person for a spouse that helps with the business, but I ask that if you hire an assistant (instead of using spouse slave labor), that you purchase a separate copy for the assistant.

Why did you develop TrackerBox in the first place?

Somewhere back in May of 2011, Dean Wesley Smith wrote a blog post about a piece of software he’d like to see, one that could ingest all of his reports and combine them into a single report that he could make sense of. The post seems to be missing now, but a couple of people took him up on it. I didn’t immediately jump on the bandwagon, because other people were already working on it.

But when I saw their solutions, I thought they had some shortcomings. The biggest one is that neither of them thought about what might happen if the writer wrote under multiple pen names. Also, I just didn’t like the UI for either of them.

So I took it upon myself to see what I could do, and twelve long days later, I uploaded version 1.0 of TrackerBox.

When will the next Grim Repo book be out?

I’m going to start writing it November 1st. A couple of writer friends and I agreed to start Dean Wesley Smith’s three novels in three months challenge a month late (and without Dean’s input, of course), and Grim 3 will be the first one. I’m probably going to write four and five for the second and third parts of the challenge. I expect they’ll all be out before the middle of next year.

Mark Fassett writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, but dabbles in other genres when he has no other choice. He lives in western Washington with his wife, children, and cats, and spends free time playing games and making music.

Find Mark at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

   
 

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