Archive for June, 2011

And the winner is…

…Andy! Congratulations, Andy – send me an email with your address, and your gift card will be on its way!!

Thanks for participating in the giveaway, everybody. 🙂

Gradual changes

Earlier today, I got bored and happened to find my elusive digital camera. Took a few pictures of myself to relieve the said boredom. Looked at them. Got a bit disturbed. Cameras don’t lie, and they reflect the objective reality a lot better than our own flawed perception system. Even though I thought I looked pretty much the same as I did a year ago, a quick comparison of my archived pictures proved otherwise: turns out, I got some more gray hair and developed fairly odd-looking circles under my eyes. (Caused by lack of sunlight or my nocturnal lifestyle? Or both?)

While neither of these changes is alarming, it got me thinking about the daily self-deception we all indulge in when we look in the mirror. Just like in the boiling frog experiment, changes are almost unnoticeable when they’re small and gradual. By the time they add up, we’re so used to them that we deny their very existence, clinging to the archived, idealized image of ourselves. It can be something as simple as minor changes to our appearance, or something as significant as new personality traits, growing slowly but surely. The simplest way to keep up with your changing appearance is to take pictures of yourself every few months, but how do you discover the changes in your personality? Most of the time, friends and relatives either don’t notice the gradual shift within you or hesitate to point it out. Nobody’s personality is completely static – we always change, if ever so slightly. You are not the same person today as you were a week ago. That version of you is gone, replaced by a slightly altered, though nearly identical duplicate. The question is, how do you track the gradual changes within yourself?..

New plan

Apparently, people don’t like free $25 gift cards as much as they used to. Odd. Thus far, my shameless online self-promotion, my announcements on all my social networks, and my giveaway have netted a grand total of *drum roll* one sale. No bueno.

New plan, then: as much as it hurts me to do so, I’ll slash the price to just 99 cents in order to get compulsive shoppers and stingy readers aboard (as well as get mentioned in a few well-read newsletters). The sale would go until June 27th, which should leave a 3-day buffer during which I’ll switch the price back to $2.99. (That way, my sales analysis for July will not be contaminated by the mix of two prices.) With any luck, this will give me a much-needed boost in the ratings. Throw a few reviews on top of that and booya! – another bulletproof source of passive income.

And now, back to work…

New book and a giveaway!

I’ve finally published my newest e-book, “Go to college without going broke: 33 ways to save your time, money and sanity” – and to celebrate it, I’m going to do my first-ever giveaway! Do you like freebies? Then you might want to enter my contest, because I’m giving away a $25 gift card to Starbucks! Edit: due to popular demand, I’ve changed the rules! Since some people don’t like Starbucks, the winner will get the gift card for his or her favorite retailer – Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Walmart, etc.

I’m giving it away because I want to spread the word about my e-book, and what better way to do this than with a giveaway? As the title suggests, my book contains advice for college students. Not the old-fashioned, one-size-fits-all advice, mind you – instead of reusing ancient generic advice (“always turn off the lights,” etc.), I came up with 33 tips and tricks that can save college students a lot of time and money. My friends and I used all of those tricks when we were in college, and now I want to pass them on to the next generation of college students.

Here is some advance praise from bloggers:
“This eBook is filled with many practical tips and has something for everyone. Taking a few minutes out of your schedule to try to apply some of these tips will go a long way in helping you save money while in college. With products like this out there’s no need to go flat broke as a college student.”
MD from

“Grigory’s e-book is full of unconventional ideas for paying for college.  I was impressed with the unique ideas he came up with.  If you’re an outside-the-box thinker, this book is definitely for you!”
Mrs.Money from

It’s an e-book, which means you can read it on your Kindle or Nook – and if you don’t have them, you can still buy it and read it on your computer. Since I want to make my e-book as accessible as possible, I set a ridiculously low price – only $2.99! (It’s the lowest price I can charge on Amazon and Barnes&Noble and still make some money.) To preview the first 15% of the book and get some idea what it’s all about, click here. Here is the book’s Amazon page and here is the Barnes&Noble page.

The best thing about this giveaway is that you don’t even have to buy it in order to win! Here is how it works:

  • No purchase required.
  • The giveaway is open worldwide – as long as there’s a Starbucks near you, you can enter to win!
  • The giveaway ends in two weeks – the deadline to enter is at midnight on Tuesday, June 21.
  • For 1 entry, post this on Twitter: “Help promote an e-book and win a $25 gift card! @grigorylukin
  • For 1 entry, write a blog post about the giveaway and post a link to this page
  • For 1 entry, post about this giveaway on Facebook (the “Share” button is right under this post!)
  • For 2 entries, write a review on either Amazon or Barnes&Noble. (Or both! It’s 2 entries per review.) If you don’t want to buy the book, you can get some idea about its content from this preview. The review doesn’t need to be super-long: a simple “Great book!!!” will work just fine. 🙂
  • For 5 entries, buy the book and either email me the screenshot of your purchase confirmation or forward me the purchase confirmation email. My email is grigorylukin at gmail dot com
If you do everything – tweet, blog, share on Facebook, post 2 reviews and buy the book, you’ll get a total of 12 entries! I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner. The winner’s name will be announced on June 22 and s/he will be emailed. If the winner doesn’t respond within 3 days, I’ll pick another winner.

To submit your entries, click here. Good luck!!!


Just… whoa. I probably shouldn’t be so obsessed with my e-book’s ratings, but there’s something incredibly gratifying in watching the popularity of your creation surge.

The sales numbers started going up faster than ever, so I checked the Amazon page and I liked what I saw: Atheism-101 is currently rated #7,683 among all e-books on Amazon. Seeing as there are over 750,000 of them, I’m in the top 1%! (And there was much rejoicing.) Furthermore, my book is currently the 6th most popular e-book on atheism – at least according to this here list. It could be just a fluke – and it probably is – but at least for the time being, I’m more popular than Richard Dawkins and Stephen Batchelor (his atheist perspective on Buddhism is fascinating – read his books!). The only big-name author ahead of me in the ratings is Christopher Hitchens.

I like to think that complex events can be analyzed or at least broken down into smaller, more manageable parts. Why did my book sales surge? Most likely because of the increased search engine exposure caused by the book’s upload to SmashWords. Why did my book beat most of the competition? I like to think that it’s the combination of a low price and the simplicity of its content. The price is a big factor: when there are so many cheap independent books available on Kindle, the $9.99 price tag might as well be $1,000,000. The lower you price your book, the more sales you’ll likely get. It seems obvious, but apparently greed can cloud one’s judgement. It certainly clouded mine: the first edition of Atheism-101 had the “high” price $4.99. The content aspect is important, too: unlike my fellow authors, I didn’t dissect the Bible or attack organized religion. I merely put together a simple FAQ guide. In fact, I’m still surprised nobody else had done that before me.

I like to think that those two reasons are responsible for my book’s success, but I could be absolutely wrong. Maybe it really is just a fluke. Maybe in a week or so the sales will drop historically low levels. Or maybe, as more and more people are buying Kindles, this is just the beginning of my book’s journey to the bestseller status. Who knows. One thing is certain, however: I’ll always be able to brag that once upon a time I was more popular than Richard Dawkins himself. *g*

Horrible product names

Every now and then, I come across a product that has an utterly ridiculous name – the kind of name that belongs on The Onion and not on the market. For example, there’s the Time Timer: it’s supposed to be an advanced kitchen timer with a few extra functions thrown in. According to customer reviews, that overpriced ($21!!!) monstrosity doesn’t really work all that well. Worse yet, “Time Timer” is not just a horribly named product – no, it’s the actual company’s name. Somewhere, someone must have thought it was a great idea…

Moving on, we have a fairly cheap tablet computer (“only” $449!) from ASUS, entitled ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. I don’t even know where to begin with this one. First of all, what does “Eee” mean? Is it supposed to be pronounced in a shrieking voice at the top of one’s lungs? (“Eeeeek!!!”) What is that mysterious “Pad” and how does it transform? Does the tablet make a shrieking sound as it defies all known laws of physics and transforms into a bachelor pad? Does it transform pads into something else? Or is it a cleverly disguised transformer named Pad who lives off EEE batteries? (As opposed to, say, AAA batteries.) Looks like this gadget’s power is only exceeded by its mystery.

And of course, one can’t talk about horrible product names without mentioning Apple. It seems like their marketing department has either been playing a prank on all of us for the past few years, or has been outsourced to some third-world country that doesn’t understand the many intricacies of the English language. Case in point: iPad. As in “intelligent pad.” Pad, people – do we all know what that means? Makes me wonder how many women work at Apple’s marketing department… It gets worse, though: the video-chat feature that was introduced in the new iPhone is called – brace yourselves! – “face time.” Yep, they went ahead and called it “face time.” If you don’t know what that means, I won’t ruin your innocence. Go play some flash games or something. Deep inside, I hope that this was all intentional and that Apple is just having a ball: no matter how ridiculous their new invention is named, legions of Apple fanboys will line up and buy it as soon as they can. When you have a monopoly, why bother with things like product names?

The absolutely worst thing about this is that I’m pretty sure each of those product names was created by a PR and/or marketing team, and the “masterminds” responsible for those linguistic atrocities probably got paid for their heroic efforts. Given the caliber of ASUS and Apple (Time Timer seems to be a start-up), they probably got paid quite well. *le sigh* I should have majored in marketing…