sa09 has some issues

31 03 2011

Or possibly it has some subscriptions.

I wanted to get more done than these scenes, but the next ‘bit’ of the story is pretty intense, and needed more time to plan out. I’m having trouble both finding time to write, and finding my way through the writing… same problems I had with sa08.

Basically, I know “And then this happens, and then this happens, and there’s this confrontation and it’s resolved this way.” What I don’t know is “And then they talk about this and say this and Carrie realizes this and we explore that theme.” This story was built on the backbone of a comic book hero emergence and series of boss battles, without much thought beyond that. Kind of like how sa08’s entire plot summary in my notes was “And then they found out how to recharge batteries with moon magic.” The actual character meat-and-potatoes are largely being improvised.

I’m HOPING that this freewheeling dialogue writing, in which I just sort of improvisationally act back and forth in a text editor, is making some semblance of sense and isn’t just rambly and boring. I guess we’ll see when the chapter’s done.

In other news, the numbers are back on the Forsaken Shores sales for the month. I made $160 total, and had material costs (ISBNs and hosting fees) of $100. So, I made sixty bucks. Based on how First Age dropped off the map one month after it went up for sale, I can’t expect much more as it enters Long Tail mode. The price drop sale on First Age did give me a spike, but that’s not the same as consistency.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy it’s not a loss leader and I’m happy those of you who got books are enjoying them. Thank you for buying and supporting me! But… I think this does effectively kill off making a 1 or 2 book long compendium of the Second Age standalones like sa09. They’ll have to live on the web alone, or at best, in Kindle format (which costs less than paper). As the series goes on, the number of people getting the books will drop off, and that plus low uptake means I can’t afford the time and fees to fully publish 3-4 more books. Two more (LF and SF) will have to do.

I am trying to think of other ways to do it; maybe a Kickstarter project, or something. But I’ve never quite understood Kickstarter, because either A) you expect people to donate tons out of the goodness of their hearts AND actually buy the end product on top of that, or B) you offer the end product as a tiered reward but that eats into the actual money coming in and lowers the amount you can use out of what you raise. It’s a bit puzzling. We shall see.

…although, on the other hand, my day job plus lack of serious domestic money drains makes me hella wealthy enough to launch a book anyway even if it never sells a copy. Wouldn’t make a dent in my life to do so. So, question is, do stand on principle that art should pay for itself if it is a justifiable use of time+cash, or do I just make the sacrifice of time+cash and put it out there anyway knowing it won’t go anywhere serious? Choices.

Focus on the now. Gotta finish sa09. Gotta find time to do it with relatives coming in over the weekend. MIGHT have to pass on the Monday update; not sure yet.

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19 responses

31 03 2011
cmdr_zoom

Giant-Size Annuals.

31 03 2011
Anonymous

Hang on, I still haven’t bought my copy…
I’ll get around to it, don’t worry!

31 03 2011
eyeless1

“Trust your feelings”… sort of.
Carrie might not know this, but the Orbital doctor certainly would: the emotional brain in many ways can actually be better than the prefrontal cortex at making especially complex decisions. Cutting-edge neuroscience (like the last thirty years or so of modern brain-imaging research) tells us that the “rational” mind can actually be overwhelmed by decisions which have too many variables, and that “going with your gut” can actually lead to better results.
It’s sort of counter-intuitive, but the rational brain really serves to do two things: on the front-end, the prefrontal cortex works to handle the purely logical (eg. math-based) problems that the emotional brain is unequipped to handle, or problems that the emotional brain has not yet been “trained” for, and on the back-end it serves as an interrupt to check for obvious errors. It seems counter-intuitive, but when it comes to complex decisions, “trusting your feelings,” is probably the right way to go, with the obvious caveat that you use your rational brain to “check the work” and make sure you haven’t made any obvious gaps in reasoning.
The book How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer is an excellent primer on this sort of thing. I really recommend the book; it’s a fascinating and easy to read summary of recent research into how the brain actually works.
Other quick note: the “And the aftermath begins” link doesn’t jump down to the new material.

31 03 2011
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Re: “Trust your feelings”… sort of.
Link fix’d.
Interesting stuff, there. Doc is mostly correct, in that instinct isn’t an old wives tale and can be a great way to cleave through indecision. However, there’s something else going on here which will become clear at the story continues.

31 03 2011
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Re: Hang on, I still haven’t bought my copy…
The book’s not going anywhere; pick it up when you’re ready. I’m just pondering future books and their viability.

31 03 2011
doxxxicle

I guess you need to somehow promote your books and get new readers. Twitter with appropriate hashtags may do it. You could also try submitting a “Big Idea” post to John Scalzi’s blog, which could get you some new eyes.
If you do something like this, be prepared for negative feedback. There will be people who will hate your books. You gotta just let it go and not obsess over it or respond to them with anything other than a polite “thanks for your review”. There was a self-published author who is unfortunately not very good but can’t see it and literally told negative reviewers to “f*** off!!!” and various other nasty comments. She has ruined her reputation forever.

31 03 2011
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Yeah, I saw that incident. Ugh. If someone doesn’t like the stories, it’s disappointing, but there’s plenty of people who DO like them to justify still writing them. So, whatever.
Who’s John Scalzi? And what hashtags do you recommend? I’m already using #weblit.

31 03 2011
doxxxicle

Re hashtags, honestly I don’t know. I’m not in that kind of Twitter-circle. Some poking around on author’s Twitter timelines may reveal something useful. It may also pan out to nothing. Just an idea. :)
John Scalzi is a Sci-Fi author of some repute, mostly known for his book Old Man’s War and its sequels. He is the current president of the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and a/the creative consultant on Stargate Universe. His blog is at http://whatever.scalzi.com/.
The “Big Idea” posts are short articles from authors which describe the “big idea” behind their book(s). More information about it here: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/01/06/the-big-idea-open-call-to-publicists-editors-and-authors/.
Unfortunately, I just read that page and it seems that he won’t accept submissions from authors whose books are not published in the 3 mainstream American online bookstores (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Powell’s), most likely to protect his readers from self-published crazies. I don’t know if publishing on Kindle through Amazon counts.
Have you considered publishing your books through a publisher?

31 03 2011
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

I’ve always been leery of Traditional Mainstream Deadtree Publishing, and nowadays, even moreso. The blogs I’ve been reading suggest that the industry is in an RIAA-like death spasm and getting a contract that doesn’t completely screw you over isn’t in the cards anymore.
I feel there’s a definite future in indie publishing, outside of the major houses. Punk rock to their opera, basically. But the downside is lack of promotional muscle, and as far as I know (I may be wrong, I WANT to be wrong) there’s no grassroots equivalent here. I’m using social networks, I’m tweeting, I’m responding, I’m making my stuff available in various channels, I’m providing digital and paper versions, etc… but without an actual AUDIENCE there’s not much I can do.

31 03 2011
jengagne

RE: making more books, I’d say look at it this way:
Do you want more of your books on your shelf? If so, make them.
It’s never really been about making the mad profits for you, anyway. I see the books not so much as a moneymaking venture but more as a way for your devoted fans to get their hands on a paper copy of what they’ve read and loved already. (well, mostly read, considering the bonus stories. That was a great idea BTW.)
As for the story section:
— Loving it so far. The weirdness at Doc’s office is intriguing.
— WIN on the name of the restaurant. :D
— “space fairy lesbians” — Clearly this should be the genre used for your books. What is that category # in the Dewey Decimal System?
— Heheh, shades of Mallory in Carrie’s anxious little summary there. Cute.
— <3 oooh… See, the tricky thing for Carrie is detangling her wish to avoid being steretypically attracted to bad boys from her _actual_ impression of Van. He actually seems pretty insightful for his age and his thuggishness is more of a thing he does than a thing he IS.
— hubub — hubbub

31 03 2011
cmdr_zoom

Frankly, between what you describe re: Big Publishing and the lack of anything to replace it so far, and my own sense of the ongoing fragmentation of what used to be mass culture (where everyone watched the same three networks, read the same dozen magazines, etc) into an infinity of feeds and tribes, I wonder if there is such a thing as a mass audience anymore. (Plenty of those still out there, for now, but are you on a different tier or just further along the timeline/bell curve?)
We may be stuck with tiny word-of-mouth fandoms, at least until the shrews are able to grow into the vacant niches left by the extinct giants.

1 04 2011
lirazel

Well, well. Am I the only one who thinks Doc is Not Really A Nice Person and the Shiny Ball is Bad?
No? I didn’t think so.
As for books — you might want to talk to our friend . Especially as her doctoral thesis is about how fans influence the storyline in comic books.

1 04 2011
jengagne

Ooh, neat topic. Make sure she knows about this if she doesn’t already: http://www.themarysue.com/lex-luthor-forty-cakes-comic/

2 04 2011
lirazel

I shall!
And the more I think about it, the more I’m getting a Sailor Nothing vibe from Doc and Daddy…

2 04 2011
carlo_one

Books still rule
It’s something that’s both impressed and slightly puzzled me. With all of the digital media formats and devices available – books still rule. I’m counting Kindle in there as well, since it’s really an e-book that can deliver what for me at least is a similar experience in terms of comfort and readability.
I personally have trouble sitting down and reading lots of web publishing for pleasure, certainly not anything like a novel. Strains the eyes and just doesn’t do it for me in general. This is why I’m cheered by/cheering for Anachronauts book publications and would be happy with Kindle editions alone (although if you don’t lose money on the printed volumes, they are neat, too).
I confess that I haven’t actually read any of the stories yet in order to avoid spoiling the book experience – which I plan to indulge in once the series is complete. This is something I’m willing to do (and am looking forward to) because of the NWN module projects. Which really should be linked on your Codex…

2 04 2011
Anonymous

Hi!
I liked the discussion about decision making, whether it’s to be done by feeling or analysis. I tend to think it’s a combo. Certainly, one can get stuck.
The earlier discussion on the brain is very interesting. Thanks for the info and the source, eyeless1!
Lirazel, what’s creeping you out about the doc?
I like Van, especially his comment about basically rewriting yourself instead of letting others tell you who you are. While therapists can get caught up too much in labeling, sometimes naming, diagnosing, can help identify problem patterns to be afterward. However, I think therapy can be used to help people decide who they are and who they want to be.

2 04 2011
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Re: Books still rule
One option I have is to at least provide Kindle-compatible downloadable versions of the free stories, also for free. I have experience putting together Amazon’s book format and can provide that, so folks can curl up on the couch with a kindle / phone and read that way.
For now, you could grab First Age for kindle; it’s only five bucks, and will provide the exprience you want. Forsaken Shores is also available on kindle.

5 04 2011
lirazel

The Doc
1) Shiny ball hypnotic toy. Based on the thoughts it seems to arouse, I do not like the ball, at all. I distrust “special” technology in this context.
2) Lack of concern about the ball unleashing destructive impulses. Whatever you may have heard about psychoanalysis, this is not a normal response to someone breaking the furniture.
3) Carrie’s daddy was a mind manipulator. I suspect that Doc is something similar, based purely on my understanding of comic-book tropes.

9 04 2011
carlo_one

Re: Books still rule
I’ll confess that I’m a little skittish about reading the first installments of unfinished series – just like with game series (cough) – due to the possible future disappointment factor, but I may do that eventually.

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